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R. Chris Rustin; B.S., M.T., REHS

Deputy Director; Environmental Health Branch

Georgia Department of Community Health
Division of Public Health

Atlanta, GA 30303


Chris Rustin is Deputy Director of the Environmental Health Services Branch for the Georgia Department of Community Health, Division of Public Health. Mr. Rustin is responsible for assisting with the supervision and direction of the state programs including the food service, public pool, tourist accommodations, chemical hazards, land use, and lead poisoning prevention programs. In addition to these duties, Mr. Rustin serves as a lead for emergency preparedness and the liaison to the State’s eighteen District Environmental Health Directors. Prior to becoming the State Deputy Director, Mr. Rustin was the Environmental Health Director for the Chatham County Health Department, a large urban health department in Savannah Georgia. Mr. Rustin began his career as an Environmental Health Specialist with the Evans County Health Department. From there he transferred to the Effingham County Health Department and was promoted to the Environmental Health County Manager. Mr. Rustin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Armstrong Atlantic State University and a Masters of Technology degree in Industrial Safety and Environmental Compliance from Georgia Southern University. In addition, he is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist with the Georgia Board of Registered Environmental Health Professionals and is pursuing his Doctorate in Public Health from Georgia Southern University. His professional affiliations include membership in the Georgia Environmental Health Association and the Georgia Public Health Association.



I applied for the Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute (EPHLI) at the recommendation of my supervisor and because I wanted to learn new skills at becoming a stronger leader. At the very beginning, I knew this would be an experience like no other. The professionalism exhibited by the CDC staff, instructors and the St. Louis University crew was outstanding while the food and accommodations were exceptional. While I learned many things over the past year, learning how to analyze and solve problems utilizing a "Systems Thinking" approach was most important. My old mindset to problem solving was to determine the issue at hand and resolve that issue so we could get back to status quo. However, I have learned that if you view problems as part of a system and how the different parts of the system influence one another, you can get to the root of the problem and find a long term solution versus a quick fix. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator allowed me to learn my own personality type and how that can influence people around me, positively and negatively. The skill scope was a humbling experience for me because your peers, boss and direct reports rate your leadership abilities. I designed my individual development plan to improve weaknesses outlined in my skill scope and have made improvements throughout the year that have benefited me tremendously. The structure of this program allowed me to take a huge project I was interested in and break it down to smaller more manageable parts. I was then able to work on the small parts of the project throughout the year and at the end put it all together to form my leadership project. I am appreciative of the assistance from my team and the instructors as I feel my project will improve EH in Georgia.

The relationships and networking opportunities I have gained from this program have been invaluable. Learning and sharing experiences on accomplishment and issues was beneficial. I look forward to staying in contact with my team and the rest of the 2009-2010 cohorts as we move forward in our career