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Thomas E. West

Environmental Health Services Manager

Los Angeles County

Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Division

Baldwin Park, CA 91706

Biography

Thomas West currently serves as the Environmental Health Services Manager for the County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Division in Baldwin Park, California.  He started with the County in June 1979 as an Assistant Sanitarian after graduating from Cal State University Northridge with a B.S. degree in Environmental Health and Occupational Safety.  His first assignment after a two-week training period was spent hiking in hills above new housing developments, on golf courses, and along the beaches looking for evidence of any ground squirrel activity, then dusting the holes found in these areas with DDT to control an epidemic of plague. 

 

He has worked in most parts of Los Angeles, including the San Fernando Valley, South Central Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Hollywood, as a district inspector handling food and housing inventories, and general sanitation complaints.  He has also investigated suspected food borne illness cases, trained new-hires, served as a lead supervisor for district offices before being selected for a staff position at Environmental Health Headquarters.  In this capacity, he was instrumental in response planning for numerous wild fires, floods, the 1993 Civil Unrest, and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.  He has become an expert working on developing budgets and mastering financial issues for Environmental Health.

 

In his current assignment in the Bureau of Special Operations and Administrative Support, he is responsible for information technology, geographic information systems, revenue collection and fee development, the financial budget, space acquisition, and policy development.  He is currently spending most of his time on replacing the Environmental Health Management Information System with a web-based system to automate the inspection process and take the advantages in electronic technology.

Leadership Development Opportunities

Positively the number one experience from the Leadership Institute is learning from my fellow colleagues that we all have some of the same problems.  It does not matter if you are on the eastern seaboard, inland bread basket, or in sunny California you’re not the only jurisdiction facing these issues.  This has expanded my network of friends and colleagues across the nation and issues facing environmental health.

 

This project forced me to examine many of the behaviors I possess in managing my projects and handling staff.  The lessons learned has advanced my ability to collaborate with other managers whose style does not match my own.  I no longer push an assignment/task like a steamroller, instead collaboration yields better results.  I really appreciate Lou Rowitz’ guidance in expanding my thinking and reading material.

 

The system-thinking approaches introduced in EPHLI has provided me with a better understanding of why some projects do better than others.  The final class project in system-thinking made me realize there are many factors that need to be considered. Moreover, different approaches to a problem have both negative and positive outcomes.