March 8 is International Women’s Day, and March is Women’s History Month. We’d like to take this opportunity to highlight three DHEC leaders who help us work towards our mission to improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians by protecting and promoting the health of the public and the environment.
Myra Reece is the Director of Environmental Affairs, and she oversees the bureaus of Air Quality; Environmental Health Services; Land and Waste Management; Water; and the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. During her more than 30 years with DHEC, she has served in leadership roles with the regional office system and as the Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Air Quality prior to becoming the director of Environmental Affairs.
Last year, Myra was named President of the Environmental Council of States (ECOS). ECOS plays a critical role in facilitating a quality relationship among federal and state agencies across the country. She has previously served in leadership roles with ECOS since 2019 as Planning Committee Chair, Secretary-Treasurer and Vice President. Myra is part of important national conversations about the successes and challenges of protecting human health and the environment in an ever-evolving and modernizing climate.
Gwendolyn (Gwen) Thompson
Gwen Thompson is the Director of Healthcare Quality, and her division’s primary purpose is to work together with health care facilities and services to protect the public’s health by assuring that safe, quality care is provided. Its programs and staff utilize licensing and regulatory tools and provide a consistent, strong approach to protecting health.
Like Myra, Gwen has served the residents of the Palmetto State as a member of the DHEC team for more than 30 years. She has held numerous positions within Healthcare Quality, including spending 25 years with DHEC’s Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing where she most recently served as bureau chief. In addition, she has held increasing leadership positions within the department as a field manager, assistant director and director.
Dr. Brannon Traxler
Dr. Brannon Traxler, MD, MPH, is the Director of Public Health. In this capacity, she provides strategic direction for public health, leading its more than 2,000 public health employees. She ensures the delivery of appropriate, timely and quality services at DHEC’s 74 public health service sites located in every county in the state and the performance of the central office bureaus of Community Health Services, Communicable Disease Prevention and Control, Maternal and Child Health, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Public Health Laboratory, Public Health Preparedness and Community Nutrition Services.
Brannon is trained and board certified in general surgery and previously practiced as a surgeon in South Carolina before changing her specialty focus to public health. Last year, she was recognized for her leadership and dedication to public health as one of The State’s 20 under 40and became a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society.