Training the next generation of emergency response leaders

CSTE LEAD: Leading Epidemiologists, Advancing Data

Today’s epidemiologists must be able to assert themselves in time of disasters, cutting through deterrents and using their science background to provide reliable information to the public through the media, medical care providers and political leaders.

CSTE has developed a platform to train epidemiologists with leadership potential to provide opportunities for an intensive training experience, additional mentorship, exposure to advocacy and public policy, and partnership across states, disciplines, and outside organizations.

Our objective is to provide training for high-functioning epidemiologists in areas they are not usually exposed to — major, fast-moving situations. Projects provide an opportunity to apply the program’s training, facilitate professional growth and advance an applied epidemiology project of importance. Project topics vary but include modernizing surveillance systems, promoting data sharing and data governance, organizational development, and workforce training across all program areas including COVID-19, enterics, vaccine preventable diseases, environmental health, substance use, hepatitis, HAI, and One Health. These projects advance epi capacity at their agency and frequently facilitates sharing of best practices/lessons learned nationwide.

If you would like to learn more about the program please visit CSTE LEAD


“The LEAD program has been super helpful. The curriculum has been fantastic. And I think the coaching services have been one of the most beneficial things I’ve ever come across.”


Insights from current program participants

My experience being in the CSTE LEAD project has been fruitful for where I’m at as an Epi. My work is in STDs, and I wanted to develop a surveillance unit within our state health department division, something that had been spread across multiple past programs. Being in LEAD has helped me focus and enhance skills I had going into this project because working with group coaches who were not necessarily in public health provided a third-party perspective on what you’re going through in your work and life. It’s been a really good opportunity to take where I’m at as an Epi to the next level – to see what you could do with yourself and your project and even the field you might be in in the future.

LEAD reminds me of medical school where you have two years of theoretical didactic, but in LEAD it’s paired with actual hands-on experience so you can acquire skills that are difficult to learn from a textbook. I have learned different principles of leadership and management, concepts that were somewhat abstract and intangible before, but now, going through the modules provides insights that become tangible and concrete. I haven’t had a chance to make much progress on my project, in part because of the pandemic and constantly getting pulled into never-ending cycles of surges. But still, I have that project in mind every time I listen to a module, read an article, highlight and file it away so I know in my mind how I want to use some of these tools. That’s how I ended up trying to develop the action plan for our CDC viral hepatitis grant which involves bringing stakeholders together using strategic thinking, developing outcome deliverables, and potentially navigating politics between different groups. This is not something that I’ve done before, even though it’s within the scope of my work, so it seems like a natural project that can bridge the technical work that I’m doing now as an Epi with the eventual more programmatic work and potential management work that I might see myself doing in the future.

I am a director of epidemiology at a county public health department.I was excited to be chosen to be a part of this program. As director, there’s not a lot of resources or training available for a leader in the health department. You’re not taught how to manage people; you’re not taught how to engage and strategize as a leader in public health in general. This was such a great opportunity to learn those concepts and be able to practice them. Within the program I was able to meet with coaches, and there were times when we met with other fellows. The ability to talk to one another is what I valued most about the program. Actually having other epidemiologists to talk to about a problem or issue within epidemiology is a tremendously valuable resource. Many health departments have very few epidemiologists, so you don’t really get a chance to bounce ideas back and forth about what’s going on in your department, or how to build. I’m working on a strategic plan for my unit. While it’s been really tough with the pandemic, being a part of LEAD has helped me stay focused so I am always able to allocate time on my overall goal for the program. I recommend you all apply for LEAD – it’s awesome!

I’m a current fellow and in my health department experience there is very little training in how to be a leader. Many of us were thrust into leadership positions during the pandemic as more and more staff were brought on board. Trying to find resources and mentorship with somebody, even just an ear during the pandemic as we’ve all tried to figure out how to move forward and maintain our professional relationships has been difficult. I also struggle a bit managing time so I can work on my project. My plan is to build out a workgroup that connects stakeholders and analysts to data stewards, so that as we produce data projects we’re doing so with the approval and consideration of the data owners and the data stewards in mind. The LEAD program has been super helpful. The curriculum has been fantastic. And I think the coaching services have been one of the most beneficial things I’ve ever come across.

I am the coach here at CSTE injury epidemiology subcommittee. My project emerged from some of our subcommittee activities. Our workgroup meets every quarter and at one we invited some subject matter experts from CDC’s injury center. They presented a current model for violence prevention, and I became very interested in that model because of my community. We also have a project advocating data science informatics for the use of public health surveillance data. So, my project uses an informatics approach to address or implement the current model in my community. That’s how I came up with the idea. I didn’t expect this project to move forward very fast, especially during the pandemic, but participating in the LEAD program enabled me to look at the project from the big picture.





Enhance the applied epidemiology workforce with competency-based on-the-job leadership development training for mid-career applied epidemiologists.

Develop leaders for CSTE member-led activities.

Program Framework

Competency-based and objective-focused learning

Evidence-based approaches and theory-based leadership frameworks

CDC Quality Training Standards

Training Topics and Objectives

Becoming a Leader

Motivating a Team

Leading an Organization

Navigating Politics  and Systems Change


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