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The Recorder – Ryan Paxton named new Montague Health Director

Published: 4/27/2023 4:26:11 PM

Modified: 4/27/2023 4:24:47 PM

MONTAGUE — A six-month vacancy in town government has come to an end with the Selectboard’s appointment of Ryan Paxton as Montague’s director of public health on Monday.

Paxton, a Northampton resident and Massachusetts Department of Public Health employee, was hired after receiving unanimous approval from the hiring committee and Board of Health. He fills a seat left vacant by Daniel Wasiuk, who resigned in October, and is expected to begin work on May 8.

Board of Health member Mike Nelson explained at the April 12 meeting that Paxton had been a top candidate early in the search before withdrawing his interest. In the time that followed, the town focused on hiring Candaicy David, a resident of the Turks and Caicos Islands who town officials considered to be an outstanding candidate for the position. Upon not being chosen in the H-1B visa lottery that would have enabled her employment, however, the town was forced to retract its offer and restart the search. It was at this time that Paxton renewed his candidacy.

“We have, of course, had quite the unusual search process over the past five or six months, but ultimately, we are absolutely thrilled with how it landed,” Nelson summarized. “Good things came to those who waited and Ryan is definitely the person we were looking for for this role.”

In addition to working for the Department of Public Health, Paxton is a sanitarian for the Holyoke Board of Health and food inspector for Western Mass Food Safety. He holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a bachelor’s degree in health science from Boston University.

“He has an incredible background with a lot of experience, training and education and we’re just really pleased to be able to welcome him aboard,” Nelson said.

Paxton expressed that he has high interest in “population-level health” as he furthers his career in Montague. In particular, he cited interest in data-driven approaches and health equity.

“Generally, I’m looking to work in a community where I can enact a lot of positive change on community-level health,” he told the Board of Health. “I really miss the intersectional nature of local public health as compared to the lead inspection work that I’m doing now. That’s also enjoyable in a different way, but I really do just kind of crave that local department environment … in a more intimate way.”

As Paxton gets settled into his new role, Nelson said he expects current acting Health Director Gina McNeely to serve in a “part-time per diem role helping him get acquainted with the community and kind of get the lay of the land.”

Paxton will work 35 hours per week and be paid $68,957 annually.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or

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