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Jill Franken reflects on time as Sioux Falls Public Health Director

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 7:07 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Jill Franken is finishing up her time as Public Health Director for the City of Sioux Falls as she heads towards retirement. Her last day will be Monday, April 12th.

Franken has spent over 20 years in public health with more than ten of those years as the Public Health Director for the City of Sioux Falls.

She’s accomplished a lot during her career, including spearheading health promotion efforts such as the “Live Well Sioux Falls” initiative and “Anyone, Anywhere, Even Here” mental illness awareness campaign.

“It truly is a really special opportunity to be able to be in this role and to be able to do such a variety of work that can impact this community in a really positive way,” said Franken.

Franken also provided critical leadership in the city’s response during the challenges of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) and COVID-19 pandemics.

She says during her career the COVID-19 pandemic topped it all and was unlike anything she’d experienced prior.

“It was very challenging, it was very stressful, but also an experience that I’ll say helps you understand what you’re capable of in a leadership role and what the community is capable of in working together to achieve a common purpose,” said Franken.

During the pandemic, many folks in the Sioux Falls community really got to know Franken as she led efforts towards community health.

“I have received so many wonderful notes, emails, texts, voicemails, you know people coming up to me and telling me how thankful they are for the work of our department and for the team and the EOC and the city as a whole. And so that has been extremely rewarding and very gratifying,” said Franken.

For several years Franken has planned to retire in 2021 but wasn’t sure that would be possible anymore given the COVID-19 pandemic. with vaccinations now underway, she feels more confident.

“And hopefully if we can continue to work hard as a community to mitigate the spread, I think we’ll all be in really good hands with the next leadership of the department for the city,” said Franken.

As far as the future goes, Franken says she plans to experience and learn new things. She doesn’t know quite what that looks like yet but knows she wants to do something to help the Sioux Falls community. She also looks forward to spending more time with her friends and family.

The city is still in the process of finding a new public health director.

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