City Manager Nick Edwards is pleased to announce that Ryan Talken has accepted the position of Joplin Health Director. Talken has served as the Assistant Health Director since January 2007 and has worked at the City for a total of 18 years. He worked for the department as an Epidemiology Specialist and head of the Environmental Health and Epidemiology Division before he was promoted to the Assistant Director. Additionally, Talken has three years of experience in the private sector and with the State of Missouri Department of Agriculture, both of which had an environmental and health component.
In naming Talken to this position, Edwards said, “There is no better way to evaluate a person’s character, skills, and knowledge than to see them facing challenges. During this pandemic, Ryan has provided leadership and demonstrated an unwavering drive to serve the citizens of Joplin. His service sets a high standard for the organization which will positively impact the Health Department and the community.”
Talken has a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Northwest Missouri State University. He is currently completing his Master’s degree in public health from Missouri State University.
The director position became open when previous Health Director Dan Pekarek was promoted to Assistant City Manager in June of this year. Talken has served under Pekarek’s leadership since joining the Health Department and spoke of the valuable experience and education during this time.
“I am grateful for this opportunity and know that I have big shoes to fill. Dan has been an outstanding role model and teacher,” said Talken. “He is a wealth of knowledge and has great experience. He’s managed and directed the staff through several communitywide situations, including the tornado in 2011 and the recovery efforts, disease management and ongoing animal control issues. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to teach us about public health management.”
During the search process, Edwards learned that other department heads had overwhelming support for Talken. “He is seen as someone who can be relied on to make sound decisions when faced with difficult issues, professional, knowledgeable in his field, cheerful, and willing to help others whenever and however he can. Aside from Ryan’s individual strengths, his leadership will have a positive impact on the overall culture of the city organization.
“I would also like to thank Dan for his leadership of the Health Department and the organization. Dan created the foundation for a strong department, and I am confident that Ryan can continue a legacy of a high performing Health Department that Dan made possible.”
During a press briefing today, Pekarek stated that he was pleased with this promotion and was confident that the Health Department is in good hands. “Ryan has the skills and the demeanor to lead this department into the future, and I’m pleased that he has been selected to do so.”
Talken’s promotion was effective starting today, Monday, September 28, 2020.