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James Bell recognized as a rising leader in public health

James Bell, DSW, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) state assistant administrator, has been recognized as one of the 40 Under 40 in Public Health for his work with the department’s childhood lead prevention strategy. The de Beaumont Foundation announced its Class of 2023, Thursday, Sept. 7, after reviewing nominations from hundreds of professionals working to benefit state or local public health across the United States. 

“Dr. Bell is an asset at MDHHS and a champion for public health,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “His work on childhood lead prevention and his commitment to equity is making our state a better place. Dr. Bell is well-deserving of this award, and we are honored to celebrate his accomplishments.”

“I am honored to be recognized for the 40 Under 40 in Public Health,” said Bell. “It is a reflection of the opportunities I’ve had in state government and how MDHHS prioritizes protecting the health of the public.”

Bell began working at MDHHS in June 2019, and has been responsible for developing and coordinating the state’s childhood lead exposure elimination plan. Bell has also provided oversight for large-scale public health initiatives, including statewide naloxone distribution, behavioral health reform and COVID-19 testing. Additionally, Bell has co-led the department diversity hiring team, a pilot program that integrates diversity and inclusion strategies into the recruitment process to minimize bias using a race-equity lens. Bell also serves as the project manager for Michigan’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Infrastructure grant, which seeks to rebuild public health post COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to his work at MDHHS, Bell is an adjunct professor at Loyola University and part of continuing education faculty at Michigan State University specializing in equity and social justice. Bell also hosts Equity Matters podcast that looks to elevate awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“The professionals chosen for the 40 Under 40 in Public Health Class of 2023 demonstrate the determination, commitment, innovation and resilience of the public health field,” said Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, which launched the program in 2019. “Their work is strengthening communities and improving lives, and I look forward to following their careers and learning from them.” 

In addition to Bell, the program’s honorees include epidemiologists, program managers, researchers and policy analysts in state, local and territorial health departments; colleges and universities; nonprofit organizations; and the private sector. The class was selected by a distinguished panel of public health professionals for their leadership and impact on their community’s health. 

For more information about the 40 Under 40 in Public Health, including a full list of honorees, visit


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