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Dr. Amy Acton out as head of non-profit tasked with connecting Franklin County waterways and trails

Amy Acton, former director of the Ohio Department of Health.
Amy Acton, former director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Acton was named president and CEO of RAPID 5 in May 2022. The organization announced Tuesday she would be leaving the role as it makes cuts and shifts its focus.

Dr. Amy Acton, the former director of the Ohio Department of Health during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, is out as the head of a central Ohio environmental tourism organization.

RAPID 5, a 501(c)3 non-profit Acton was named president and CEO of in 2022, announced Acton was no longer part of the organization. Acton was chosen as the president of CEO of RAPID 5 in May of last year and helped establish its nonprofit status, form a Board of Directors and raise $3 million.

RAPID 5, which stands for Rivers and Parks + Imagination + Design, works to improve links between the Big Darby Creek, Alum Creek, Big Walnut Creek and Scioto and Olentangy River corridors and work toward a unified trail system in Franklin County.

Board member Michael Bongiorno said the nonprofit is grateful for Acton's leadership, but they are shifting resources toward long-term planning and have cut an unknown number of people from its team. He says he thinks the organization is still poised to create this transformational vision with the remaining board.

"Dr. Acton remains committed to the vision of this board, but she just won't be doing so as the president and CEO," Bongiorno said.

He said the nonprofit's focus will now be strategic and operational planning with the board of directors and forming a new ad hoc board committee that he said will build and sustain the organization to realize the transformational vision of the project. He called it a "recalibrating" of what the non-profit is doing.

"Not only is RAPID 5 not going anywhere, but RAPID 5 is poised to really create this transformational vision, based on the incredible leadership of this board," he said. "We feel very excited about what the possibilities are moving forward."

Acton became the public face of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio, appearing alongside Gov. Mike DeWine at news briefings on the virus, similar to the role Dr. Anthony Fauci played to the entire country during federal coronavirus briefings.

Acton said in a statement it's been an honor to engage the community around the non-profit's vision, but did not say what she'll do next.

"Now RAPID 5 begins the exciting next phase of its journey, where an incredibly talented board will lead the way, ensuring the vitality of our greenways and blueways while putting nature outside everyone’s doorstep," Acton said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.