Public Health Director named Citizen of the Year 1

Grayson County Public Health Director Josh Embry poses for a photo by his 2020 Grayson County Citizen of the Year award, which he displays in his office as a reminder that he shares it with his staff at the Grayson County Health Department.

In recognition of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, Grayson County Public Health Director Josh Embry was recently named the 2020 Grayson County Citizen of the Year, as well as a Kentucky Colonel.

Embry was named the 2020 Grayson County Citizen of the Year by Grayson County Judge Executive Kevin Henderson and the Grayson County Fiscal Court.

In a statement, Henderson praised Embry and the Grayson County Health Department’s efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“Josh and his staff have done an outstanding job through this entire pandemic,” said Henderson. “I have personally received messages from some of the staff from the Grayson County Health Department stating how they appreciate his leadership through these trying times. It’s easy to lead during the good times. What defines a leader is how they lead during the bad times. Josh and his staff are definitely an asset to Grayson County. On behalf of myself and the Grayson County Fiscal Court, we want to let them know that they are appreciated, and we thank them for their service to our community.”

District 18 state Rep. Samara Heavrin nominated Embry to be named a Kentucky Colonel, the commission of which is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Governor of Kentucky. It is recognition of an individual’s noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to their community, state, and nation.

“I was proud that my first nomination for a Kentucky Colonel was for Joshua Embry,” said Heavrin. “In his first year as the Grayson County Health Department Public Health Director, Joshua has done a phenomenal job in working with our community during a global pandemic. I believe that Joshua’s attitude and work ethic is the epitome of what a Kentucky Colonel is and should be.”

Embry, in an interview, said he is humbled by these recognitions, but is quick to point out that he would not have them without the support and efforts of his staff at the Grayson County Health Department. For that reason, he has chosen to display them in his office at the health department so his staff members can know he shares the awards with them.

“I couldn’t have achieved near what I have achieved without them,” Embry said.

While he found himself thrust into the public eye not long into his tenure as Grayson County Public Health Director due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Embry said he has not had the time to think about the pressure that accompanies that notoriety.

“I’ve always been kind of blessed, because I have the mentality of ‘sink or swim,’ ” Embry said. “This has definitely been a sink or swim moment for me.”

Though the challenges of the past year have been immense, Embry said he has learned to take each day one at a time, adding that he was also lucky enough to have been surrounded by people with a wealth of experience to share.

While the health department has been bombarded with the coronavirus pandemic over the past year, under Embry’s leadership, its other programs have continued to grow.

According to Embry, the Grayson County Health Department’s HANDS program now has more families than ever, for which he credits his staff’s efforts to explore creative ways to continue those programs.

“I encouraged my staff to think outside the box,” he said.

Embry wished to recognize all of the Grayson County Health Department staff who have helped make the department’s success possible, and, in particular, he wished to recognize Nursing Supervisor Angee McCreery for her efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, testing and vaccinating countless Grayson County residents in the process.

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