Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah to Join U.S. CDC Leadership

Shah to serve as Principal Deputy Director at the Federal agency beginning in March

Governor Janet Mills announced today that Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), has been appointed Principal Deputy Director at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC). Director Shah will assume the new role, second in leadership under U.S. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, in March.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew appointed Director Shah to his current role as head of the Maine CDC in June of 2019, with the mission of rebuilding the agency and the State’s public health infrastructure. 

“Since his arrival in Maine before the pandemic, and every day throughout it, Dr. Shah has been a trusted advisor to me and an extraordinary leader of the Maine CDC. But even more than that, he was a trusted advisor and a leader to the people of Maine during one of the greatest public health crises of our time. Day after day, week after week, Dr. Shah spoke calmly and directly to the people of Maine, many of whom were scared and uncertain. He delivered to us the unvarnished truth, as best we knew it, and answered our questions with compassion, empathy, humor, and a clarity that gave us much-needed hope in our darkest of days,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I strongly believe that Maine’s nation-leading success in confronting the pandemic is due in large part to Dr. Shah’s leadership, and there is no doubt in my mind that he saved the lives of many Maine people. While I am saddened that we are losing Dr. Shah at the Maine CDC, I will be forever grateful for his work to protect and improve the health of Maine people. I take comfort, as Maine people should, in knowing that the U.S. CDC – and the American people at large – will soon become the beneficiaries of his leadership. Dr. Shah, on behalf of the people of Maine, thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“When Director Shah first came to Maine, rebuilding the state’s public health agency appeared to be the biggest challenge he’d face,” said Commissioner Lambrew. “Today, we look back with awe and appreciation at his ability to strengthen the Maine CDC while tackling the immense public health threat of COVID-19. His deep knowledge, commitment, and skillful communication with the people of Maine undoubtedly saved lives. We wish him the best as he transitions into his new position.”

“While I’m sad to leave the Maine CDC, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said Director Shah. “I’m thankful for the opportunity that Governor Mills and Commissioner Lambrew provided me to serve the people of Maine.  In my new role, I will be honored to serve not just Maine, but the entire nation and carry forward the good work that we have done here.  As I prepare for this next step, I thank the people of Maine for taking care of me, as I’ve always asked them to take care of each other.”

Shah will begin his new role at the U.S. CDC in March. His appointment as Principal Deputy Director comes as part of a planned, broader overhaul of that agency announced by the U.S. CDC Director in August of last year.

Maine DHHS will conduct a national search for the next Maine CDC Director. In the interim, Deputy Director Nancy Beardsley will serve as Acting Director, a position she held prior to Director Shah’s arrival.