Outcome Monitoring and Evaluation Branch Chief
Division of State and Local Readiness
Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Craig Thomas came to Claremont Graduate University to learn how to use science for the improvement of social problems. "Improving society was my main incentive for pursuing a doctoral degree at CGU. I wanted to experience the rigorous training of an academic program yet have the opportunity to apply what I had learned to the field of population-based health promotion and disease prevention."
Craig got his start in the field through a CGU collaborative with the Riverside County Department of Mental Health working as a paid intern to support the evaluation of mental health services. "I loved it, and it was a great way to gain experience outside the classroom". It was this type of applied experience that brought Craig to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "I started working at the agency in the area of HIV prevention and was exposed to the planning, implementation, management, and evaluation of programs at a national level."
Building on his program and evaluation experience, Dr. Thomas moved to a different part of the CDC to focus on public health emergency preparedness. Craig describes his work as building the capacity of public health systems to better respond to a wide range of public health hazards including immerging infectious diseases, bioterrorism events, and natural disasters like hurricane Katrina. "CDC is the premier public health agency and in close coordination with other federal agencies, states, and local organizations, we serve as a first responder to situations that directly impact the public’s health such as preparing the country for pandemic flu strains."
His duties include identifying and translating the available evidence of what works into grant guidance, training, and technical assistance to support state and local public health agencies plan, implement, and evaluate their preparedness programs. "This work represents a fundamental example of using science to serve society. You have to understand the body of evidence for what works and identify approaches to apply the evidence in a meaningful and systematic way. It can be a very political process; but ultimately we contribute to constructive social change. We’re here to provide a service to protect the public’s health."