I’ve never met Will Humble. I never passed him in the hall of ADHS and stopped to chat about a strategic goal for public health. I never had the opportunity to directly collaborate with him on a grant, public health campaign or new CDC guidance. I never exchanged emails about the difference between rural and urban public health challenges. I never joked with him about the latest public health meme @jgarrow posted. I never knocked on his office door to ask his opinion about the latest statistics from some public health journal. But I feel like I have.

I suppose after hearing someone’s name for 8 years and collaborating on the same projects while on different dimensions, you get to know a person without actually knowing them. Or maybe it’s knowing that Will Humble rose through the ranks of a state agency, all the way to the top, that builds a sense of camaraderie, even when you weren’t comrades. Maybe it’s just the plain fact that his last name is Humble and that leaves you with a sense of understanding. Whatever it is, I feel a kinship to this public health leader and I am a little sad that he is leaving the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Will Humble recently announced that he was stepping down as the director for ADHS. Granted, there was speculation amongst my friends and co-workers as I’m sure there was in the media. Was it because we have a new governor? Is there a sick family member? Is he sick? Is there some turmoil in the agency?

Turns out, the reason was much simpler. Will was quoted in the Arizona Republic, “There’s not an individual or particular reason that I’m leaving,” he said. “The honest truth is I was at the gym last night. I walk out to the parking lot, the breeze is blowing and something came over me and said ‘it’s time’.” The funny thing is, I felt that same breeze and it struck me as a very refreshing breeze. A lively breeze. The kind of breeze that comes with a sunset on a warm May evening in Arizona: cool and warm at the same time. February is not the month for a cool/warm breeze so it stuck with me.

The winds of change. Inspiration came on those winds for Will Humble and I wish him the best, wherever those winds blow him. Maybe, just maybe, those winds will linger in public health a little while longer and we can one day pass each other in the hall, offering nods of concordance, and continue on in our public health ways. Good luck, Will Humble.

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