Metro Health Director wants person of color to replace her, per resignation letter

'It's time to place a leader of color at the top of this department,' Dawn Emerick writes

Dawn Emerick has resigned at Metro Health. (City of San Antonio, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – The outgoing Metropolitan Health Director in San Antonio wants a person of color to replace her, she wrote in her resignation letter.

Dr. Dawn Emerick surprised local officials when she tended her resignation on Thursday.

“These are very extraordinary and unpredictable times and for many families, it’s even been a bit traumatizing,” Emerick wrote. “There is nothing more important than our physical and mental safety, security and well-being.”

Metro Health director resigns as COVID-19 cases surge in San Antonio

San Antonio Metro Health director resigns

Emerick also cited the Black Lives Matter movement, saying the cause led her to reflect on equity. She said during her job interview she had asked if replacing a white female executive with another white female executive in a majority Latino community would lead to success and public confidence.

Emerick was preceded by Dr. Colleen Bridger, who is now an assistant city manager in San Antonio, though Bridger also has plans to resign in July.

“While staff, community members and residents, have warmly embraced me, it’s time for the City of San Antonio to appoint a person of color to lead one of the largest public health departments in the country,” Emerick wrote. “The residents of this community and the Metro Health workforce deserve a leader who can effectively relate to their personal experiences and who can be trusted to deconstruct systemic racism experienced by so many people of color every day.”

In recent days, Emerick appeared to be struggling with the complexities of the pandemic, appearing frustrated during a question on backlogs during the city’s COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday night.

“It shouldn’t be this way. I’m angry, I’m tired and it shouldn’t be this way,” she said.

City Manager Erik Walsh said Friday he and Bridger are working on a transition plan.

Emerick wrote that her last day on the job will be July 3.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.