Get to Know
Kent County Administrative Health Officer
The road to public health has been interesting for Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for Kent County. During college, he made ends meet by working at a carwash in Big Rapids. “On rainy days, we had to clean ‘the pit,’” he says. The pit was where all the dirt, salt, manure, grease, and other junk would collect, after washed off the vehicles. “It was about three feet wide, three feet deep, a hundred feet long and full of stink,” he remembers. “The project would take most of the day and we’d be covered in filth by the end. It was a rotten job but I think it was good to have ‘shovel the pit’ experiences in order to emphasize the importance of education.”
The road from ‘the pit’ to where he sits today came with a lot of hard work, effort, and determination. He was named Administrative Health Officer for Kent County in 2013. “I was born and raised in Big Rapids and I decided to stay near home and attend Ferris State,” Adam says. Adam was drawn to public health because of its sense of purpose and science-base. He earned a degree in Environmental Health Management at FSU, and joined the Delta-Menominee District Health Department in Escanaba as a sanitarian. “I loved my time in the UP but eventually wanted to be closer to home and pursue graduate studies,” Adam recalls.
This is his second time working for the Kent County Health Department (KCHD): in 2001, he was hired as a sanitarian and moved up to project specialist. “After earning a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from GVSU, I accepted a supervisor position at the Ottawa County Health Department (OCHD) in 2004,” Adam says. He was promoted to Environmental Health Director at OCHD in 2005. “While there, I began work toward a PhD in Public Health/Epidemiology through Walden University.”
Adam joined the KCHD team again in late 2010. “I love this profession because it matters,” he says. “I enjoy working with public health professionals because they understand the value of our mission.” Adam says while public health is a noble, gratifying profession, often the general public doesn’t see how public health affects day-to-day living. “It was much simpler a century ago when the public saw the catastrophic consequences of typhoid, cholera, and vaccine preventable diseases on a regular basis,” Adam says. “Public health advancements have added more years of life to the human experience than any other contribution since the development of agriculture. Explaining public health is complicated in the 21st century; the mission has grown to include chronic illness, healthy lifestyles, and emergency preparedness.”
There are always obstacles, barriers, and setbacks in public health. Adam feels readiness is one of those obstacles, and the workforce must be trained and prepared for new challenges as they develop. “These challenges may relate to human health, finances, communications, policy change, or they may be new and emerging issues such as PFAS, zika virus, and opioids” Adam says. “Whatever the type, it's important that we have the expertise to assess, act, and assure a successful outcome. Our work is not static. Our work environment and the public's needs are constantly changing. To remain relevant, we must seek opportunities to grow and improve as public servants.”
Home and family are incredibly important to Adam. He equates his family to a modern day “Brady Bunch.” He and his wife, Anne, have been married for fourteen years. He had two sons and she had a daughter. Since getting married, they’ve had two more sons and one more daughter. In addition to Zachary (21), Nicholas (17), Sydney (17), Samuel (13), Lucas (12), and Elizabeth (almost 8), the London house also has two cats. “Like the Brady Bunch,” Adam laughs, “everyday seems to have dilemma, drama, comedy, disaster and celebration.” He enjoys camping and fishing with the entire family in the summer, as well as supporting Bulldog and Laker sports.