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CDC Health Communications Specialist Fellowship

*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.

CDC Office and Location: There is a fellowship opportunity available with the Policy and Communications Unit (PCU) of the Division of State and Local Readiness (DSLR) within the Center for Preparedness and Response (CPR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the major operation components of the Department of Health and Human Services. CDC works to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.

DSLR supports state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments in preparing to respond to disasters. Policy Communications Unit manages and operates policy and communications functions for the division and works with all branches within the division to accomplish all components of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement, CDC's largest domestic grant program. The PHEP program, managed by DSLR, is a critical source of funding and guidance for state, local, and territorial public health departments. Since 2002, the PHEP cooperative agreement has provided assistance to public health departments across the nation. This helps health departments build and strengthen their abilities to effectively respond to a range of public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events.

Research Project: The Policy and Communications Unit (PCU) of the Division of State and Local Readiness (DSLR) in the Office of Readiness and Response (ORR), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, Georgia, seeks a fellow who is passionate about public health, interested in learning about emergency management practice, and curious about how the two are linked to protect the well-being of people and communities.

During this appointment, the ORISE fellow will have the opportunity to:

  • Review DSLR program data to gain a greater understanding of functional roles and goals of branches and main topic areas (e.g., Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, Cities Readiness Initiative) of DSLR.
  • Develop internal and external communication materials, including new or updated fact sheets and two pagers on program activities. Research information for Stories from the Field features for print and online.
  • Review and update jurisdictional distribution lists and research use of listservs and other options for automation; research & modify undeliverable contacts and liaise with program staff to assure alignment of distribution lists.
  • Provide quality assurance for division webpages to ensure all materials and publications are up-to-date and contain proper, active links.
  • Monitor and triage external inquiries to the preparedness mailbox triage submitted by PHEP recipients and other preparedness partners.

Learning Objectives: In addition, the fellow will have the opportunity to learn about public health preparedness and response operations through hands on engagement, shadowing, and mentorship by a cadre of highly experienced response professionals. Preparedness and response is a far-reaching discipline and the fellow will gain exposure to a variety of content areas such as CDC partner engagement, internal and external communications, and review of emergency response plans. DSLR is an exciting, fast-paced learning environment and the PCU team values and promotes cohesive teamwork, technical diversity, resourcefulness, proactive collaboration, and programmatic and professional excellence. This fellowship will offer an opportunity to further develop and apply technical skills, as well as learn about public health policy and communications through hands-on, practical experience.

Mentor(s)The mentor for this opportunity is Linda Tierney ( If you have questions about the nature of the research please contact the mentor(s).

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: January 1, 2024.  Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment LengthThe appointment will initially be for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of CDC and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of ParticipationThe appointment is full-time.

Participant StipendThe participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience.

Citizenship RequirementsThis opportunity is available to U.S. citizens only.

ORISE InformationThis program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and CDC. Participants do not become employees of CDC, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.

The successful applicant(s) will be required to comply with Environmental, Safety and Health (ES&H) requirements of the hosting facility, including but not limited to, COVID-19 requirements (e.g. facial covering, physical distancing, testing, vaccination).

Questions: Please visit our Program Website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process please email and include the reference code for this opportunity



The qualified candidate should have received a master's degree in one of the relevant fields, or be currently pursuing the degree with completion before December 31, 2023. Degree must have been received within five years of the appointment start date.

Per CDC Policy, Master's degree must be in an eligible STEM-related field to be considered eligible for this opportunity.

Preferred skills:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong working knowledge of the MS Office suite of programs, including SharePoint and Excel
  • Working knowledge of one or more virtual communications applications such as Zoom, MS Teams, Skype for Business
  • Interest and experience in public health communications
  • Experience in crafting effective messaging and communications products