LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Ingham County Health Department is set to have a new health officer in just over a month.

Linda Vail has years of experience blended from her time in research and leading two health departments in Michigan.

She said she’s hopeful for the future of public health.

As a new generation leads the field, she hopes they understand the importance of their work.

“When I set foot in a health department, I felt like I belonged. I felt like I was doing something meaningful and something that made a difference,” Vail said.

With nearly a decade at the helm of the Ingham County Health Department, Vail said she’s ready for something new.

During her time as health officer, not only did Vail lead her team through the COVID-19 pandemic, but she also planned the county’s response to the new virus.

She said the last three years have been difficult, and she wished she could prepare for the politics behind the health crisis.

“I always tried to be transparent. This is what I know right now and in a few days I might have to take this back because of what we might of learned,” she said.

Because of the strain from the pandemic, Vail said public health is now shifting to a younger leadership pool.

“It is very huge and I think the future of public health is very much, you know rebuild[ing] trust,” she said.

Looking back, she said life and work have left her wanting to share some advice.

“Relationships are critical in all aspects of life and work, and having good communication and trust with folks,” Vail said.

She said she’s looking forward to spending time with family with a lot of travel ahead in retirement.

One of her goals is to find a way to share her decades of experience in both research and public health.

Her last day with Ingham County is February 17.