Health Department Director Kelly Colopy, who has been a key figure in the city’s efforts to combat homelessness and COVID-19, is leaving her position after 10 years to lead the health department in Salt Lake City, where she has a residence, officials announced Tuesday.
Her last day will be Oct. 27.
The Health Department is a massive operation. It includes 55 programs including public health, housing and homelessness and family and youth development. It employs 500 people at 12 sites throughout the city, and has a $180 million annual budget—most of which is funded through federal, state and county grants.
“Kelly is an unwavering, motivational leader who has navigated us through an unprecedented pandemic, initiatives to end systemic racism, a homeless emergency, and many other critical public health crises,” City Manager Tom Modica said in a statement.
Long Beach’s health department is one of only three city-run health departments in the state, which means it can administer its own programs and apply for funding.
Officials credited Colopy with increasing grant revenue by nearly $90 million during her tenure and expanding many services, including violence prevention, early childhood education and establishing an office of Youth Development and more.
She was a public figure during the city’s COVID-19 response, and currently serves as an “incident commander” in the city’s state of emergency over homelessness.
Colopy said leaving was “a bittersweet moment for me,” saying in a statement that serving here was a privilege: “The members of the Department team are truly committed, passionate about their work, caring and just so creative and innovative—they have made this work possible.”
Colopy is returning to Utah, where she was working when the city hired her in 2013. She was previously director of Utah’s largest public mental health network, Optum Salt Lake County, and has maintained a residence there.
The city manager will appoint an acting director of the department, and conduct a national recruitment to permanently fill the position, the city said.