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November 10, 2021

Ex-Philly health commissioner Tom Farley lands new role in D.C. leading community wellness initiatives

The 63-year-old will be tasked in his new role with promoting healthy behaviors and increasing access to care across the District of Columbia

Government Appointments
Tom Farley D.C. health department Governor Tom Wolf/Flickr

Former Philadelphia health commissioner Dr. Tom Farley has been hired to serve as Washington, D.C.'s senior deputy director of the community health administration.

Dr. Tom Farley, the former Philadelphia health commissioner who resigned in May over his handling of the victims' remains from the 1985 MOVE bombing, has landed himself a new job.

The city's former top public health official has been hired to serve as Washington, D.C.'s senior deputy director of the community health administration, the Washington Post reported. 

Farley's role is an executive position within the District of Columbia's health department. His hiring took effect Monday.

The community health administration is responsible for encouraging healthy behaviors to improve outcomes and reduce disparities in leading causes of disease and death in Washington, D.C., according to the health department's website

The office focuses on promoting nutrition and physical fitness, preventing cancer and chronic disease, increasing access to quality health care services and improving family health.

Black Lives Matter D.C. tweeted on Tuesday a screenshot of a memo sent to members of the district's health department announcing Farley's hire. The note touts Farley's qualifications and accomplishments, including his "demonstrated track record of implementing population health strategies focused on policy, systems and environmental change."

But the local activist group criticized Mayor Muriel Bowser for hiring Farley, tweeting that it was unacceptable for the former health commissioner to hold any position in Washington, D.C. The organization also called Farley a "monster" and urged Bowser to reconsider her decision.

[Warning: The following tweets contain explicit language]

The D.C. Department of Health had yet to respond for comment on Farley's hiring.

Farley stepped down as Philadelphia's health commissioner this past spring after it was discovered that he opted in 2017 to cremate human remains from the MOVE bombing instead of returning them to the Africa family.

It was later discovered by the city that Farley's orders were not followed and that the victims' remains had been kept in boxes at the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office rather than destroyed. The office had held onto the remains in the decades since the bombing, and brought them to the attention of the health department.

During the siege of the Black liberation group's compound in West Philly, police dropped C4 explosives onto the property from a helicopter, destroying dozens of row homes and ravaging the communal family of the group's founder, John Africa. There were 11 people killed, including five children. 

An ongoing investigation by the city is still examining the handling of the MOVE victims' remains, which were returned to the Africa family and buried by a tree in Bartram's Garden this summer.

Farley, 63, took over as Philly's health commissioner in 2016. He was the public face of the city's COVID-19 response for over the first year of the pandemic. However, he came under fire for the health department's failed vaccine partnership with Philly Fighting COVID earlier this year.

Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, who was appointed acting health commissioner in the wake of Farley's resignation, was named the city's newest top public health official last week.

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