Commissioner Julia Sheen Aaron, MPH
August 2009 – March 2011
Julia Sheen Aaron was nominated by Gov. John P. deJongh, Jr. on June 10, 2009, to head the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health. She was confirmed on August 20, 2009, by the 28th Legislature and sworn into office as Health Commissioner on September 21, 2009.
Prior to her nomination to the top post, Sheen served as Assistant Health Commissioner from October 2007 until she was promoted by Governor deJongh on February 17, 2009, to serve as Acting Health Commissioner.
Within a month of taking the job, Sheen outlined her top priorities to include pursuing Stimulus Fund dollars for construction or renovation of DOH facilities; expansion of services to clients and development of a wellness program for employees; further defining the Department’s regulatory responsibilities; establishing performance standards for DOH employees; revising the Department’s plans to include its Key Performance Indicators, Strategic Plan, IT Plan and the Virgin Islands Territorial Health Plan, and developing a strategic plan for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion.
Other priorities included developing a Systems of Care not only for the provision of health services in the Territory but to address Mental Health services as a top goal. She also began work on the implementation of the first-ever electronic health record system which will not only facilitate disease management of patients but provide reports necessary to track and monitor patient outcomes.
Sheen holds a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Prevention Science from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia; a Graduate Certificate of Public Health from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.
In heading the Department of Health, Sheen is responsible for planning, organizing and directing the work of 600 professional, technical and administrative staff engaged in the delivery of health services. She currently manages a budget of $71 Million and is directly responsible for overseeing programs with varying levels of complexity to include the Division of Mental Health, Alcoholism and Drug Dependency Services, Immunization, Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Family Planning, Environmental Health, Vital Statistics, Health Planning and the Maternal and Child Health and Children with Special Health Care Needs Program. Key accomplishments include the DOH obtaining $4 Million in Stimulus funding for its Government Insurance and Medical Assistance Program, the development of policies and procedures regarding the use of federal funds; restructuring the department’s Certificate of Need (CON) Program and the release of $1.7 Million of Substance Abuse and Prevention Funds which were restricted due to lack of compliance during FY 2005-2008. Under her leadership, the department also began work to launch a long-awaited website where residents could get access to services provided by the more than 30 programs under the Department of Health. She is credited with coordinated the establishment of an employee wellness program which resulted in the adaptation of the department’s motto: “Wellness is Our Way of Life.”
Sheen’s career at the Health Department began in 1993 as the Director of the Division of Chronic Disease Prevention. In that position, she provided strategic leadership as well as oversaw the development and implementation of program plans, goals, objectives and policies relative to Cardiovascular Health, Tobacco Prevention & Control, Osteoporosis and Breast & Cervical Cancer. For eight years, she coordinated the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Systems (BRFSS), the only source of surveillance data in the Territory which provides information on the prevalence of diseases and their associated risk factors. Key accomplishments during her tenure from 1993 to 2004 included increasing the number of federal grants received by the Department, increase access to prevalence data, with VI BRFSS data results now available at cdc.gov/brfss, the development of policies and procedures for community-based cardiovascular health screenings, facilitated the development of program plans to include a strategic plan for Tobacco Prevention & Control, Communication Policies and Developed and implemented evidence-based approaches to Cardiovascular Health at the community level.
In July 2004 Sheen founded JSA Consulting, Inc., the only professional grant-seeking business on the island of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. As President of JSA Consulting, she provided grant research, writing, and consultation to major nonprofit organizations as well as government agencies, including the Department of Health. Services to those agencies also included developing programs to serve as a basis for a fund search; conducting extensive research to identify local, federal, foundation and corporate funding to match program need and providing technical assistance workshops to include Strategic Planning, Basic Evaluation, and Positioning One’s Organizations for Funding. Sheen’s website could be found at grantsvi.com.
Publications by Sheen include Virgin Islands Behavior Risk Surveillance Systems Report 2004-2005; Policy Recommendations for Community Screenings in the Virgin Islands, 2000; Youth Tobacco Smoke (YTS) Fact Sheets. Sheen has served as a Presenter and Moderator at various Centers for Disease Control Conferences.
Present and past professional memberships include the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; President of Career Directions, Inc.; and member of the Governors Council. Served as President of Parent Council at Country Day School from 2006-2008 and National Association of Chronic Disease Directors in 1994-2004.
Sheen is married and is the mother of three Jeneen, John, and Ariel