Shirley Orr


Shirley Orr headshotOver her public health career spanning more than three decades, Shirley Orr’s passion has been building relationships across boundaries to improve and advance public health practice, empowering communities to reach their full potential for health and well-being.

Shirley became involved in her state affiliate, the Kansas Public Health Association, early in her public health career and served in multiple roles, including board member, section chair, president, and affiliate representative to governing council. She later served as Region VII representative to the Council on Affiliates, and subsequently represented the CoA on the Action Board, which she currently chairs. Through her Action Board role, Shirley also currently co-chairs the APHA Joint Policy Committee.

Shirley’s current professional role is Public Health Consultant and President of SOCO Consulting. Shirley’s public health experience spans over 25 years in leadership roles for local and state health departments in Kansas, along with 12 years of national consulting experience, focused on public health systems improvement, public health workforce and leadership development, and organizational leadership and management.

Through her consulting practice, Shirley has provided assistance to support national public health standards and accreditation in approximately 40 states and the US Associated Pacific Islands. Her consulting clients have included the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Association of Public Health Nurses (APHN), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), state and local health departments, public health institutes, academic institutions, foundations, and other health-related organizations.

Shirley currently consults for the Association of Public Health Nurses (APHN) in the Executive Director role. Previously, she provided support to the RWJF Future of Public Health Nursing initiative, which included convening of the Forum on the Future of Public Health Nursing and completion of a national public health nursing enumeration.

Shirley is an adjunct faculty member for the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita and a lecturer for the Wichita State University School of Nursing. She is currently a student in the PhD in Leadership and Change Program through Antioch University. Her research interests include public health workforce and leadership, cross-sector collaboration, and political
influences on public health.

Candidate Statement

With a membership of over 25,000 from a wide range of disciplines within public health, APHA has unlimited future potential to make even greater strides in achieving its mission of improving the health of the public and achieving health equity. I’m committed to working together through APHA to help make that mission a reality because I believe that together, we can do better. We can do better by assuring that every community across the nation offers its residents fair and equitable opportunities for health through sound policy.

Through APHA, each member has the potential to be empowered with the knowledge and skills to facilitate and lead change for the better in every community. Through APHA, each organizational unit — Sections, State Affiliates, Special Primary Interest Groups, Forums, Caucuses, and the Student Assembly — has the potential to build strong networks for action in every state and region across the nation. We can achieve this potential through effective internal and external communication, clear short and long-term strategies, and consistent effort across boundaries within APHA on common goals. APHA’s leaders have essential roles in bringing together a complex organization as a unified, cohesive force for change. I’m prepared to provide and support leadership to assure that a strengthened APHA maintains and increases its capacity to advance policy to improve our public health system, with the ability to improve health for all.

Through my series of progressive APHA leadership roles over recent years, I’ve gained critical knowledge and insights about the strengths and challenges that we as APHA must address in the coming years. My key priority for service to APHA as a member of the Executive Board will be to assure that APHA moves forward as a solid and consistent force advocating for a strengthened public health system focused on protecting and improving health for all.

View Shirley Orr's CV (PDF)

Response to Written Questions for Candidates (PDF)