Voices of AMCHP: Tobi Adeyeye Amosun, MD, FAAP
August 03, 2023

Director-At-Large (2022-2025)

Dr. Tobi Adeyeye Amosun is the Deputy Commissioner for Population Health at the Tennessee Department of Health. In this position, she oversees the divisions and offices of Family Health and Wellness, Health and Disparities Elimination, Vital Records and Statistics, Population Health Assessment, Primary Prevention, and the State Chief Medical Examiner. Prior to this role, Dr. Amosun served as Assistant Commissioner and the Director of the Division of Family Health and Wellness.

Dr. Amosun graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University, completed her medical school training at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and residency at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She is a board member of numerous professional organizations, including the Cumberland Pediatric Foundation, and currently serves as the Director-at-Large on AMCHP’s Board of Directors. Dr. Amosun is an effective and respected leader with experience managing a $1.4 billion budget, fostering positive workforce culture for 2600 employees, and implementing state health policy to protect, promote and improve the health of 7 million Tennessee residents. [learn more]


As part of our Voices of AMCHP series, designed to highlight our dedicated Board members and their work, we invited Dr. Amosun to share some insights on her background, experience serving on AMCHP’s Board of Directors, and her advice to established maternal and child health (MCH) professionals to empower young leaders.


What motivated you to join AMCHP’s Board of Directors?

I was motivated to join AMCHP because as a relatively new leader in MCH policy, I needed to deepen my knowledge of MCH and the regional and national landscape. I have enjoyed the networking opportunities and being able to work very far upstream when it comes to policies. I have a very deep fund of knowledge in clinical health; my public health background was not quite as robust. I knew that being involved at this level would be a crash course in MCH policy.

How has your time been settling in your first year on AMCHP’s Board of Directors?

I have enjoyed getting involved with the Board of Directors. They have been lovely and welcoming, and the in-person meetings have been quite fulfilling. It can be tricky to fit in all of the activities, there are many opportunities to connect on state, regional, and national levels.

How do your background and experience contribute to your role as Director-At-Large of AMCHP’s Board of Directors?

I am a pediatrician by training with significant administrative experience prior to joining the Tennessee Department of Health. I am also the mother of a child with special health care needs. Working in the field of pediatrics provides first-hand knowledge of health’s social drivers and the impact policy has on the most vulnerable. Even before I ventured into public health, I was looking to see what we could do at the community practice level to improve health outcomes. Now that I’m on the Board of Directors, I have the opportunity to see policies that I have worked on come to fruition in real life when I  see patients in the clinic (I still keep a small panel of patients). I feel like my years in pediatrics have prepared me to have difficult conversations, be patient, deal with challenging constituents, and keep a sense of humor at all times.

May you please share with us your ‘why’ for working in the MCH field?

My ‘why’ will always be “because I can”. Over my career, I found myself at meetings and in conversations where preparation met opportunity. If I can be the voice for the unheard, I will do it. If I had to dig a little deeper, my ‘why’ is to leave any space better than I found it. I expect excellence and have exacting opinions, but I balance that with humor, candor, and giving people agency to use their strengths to make the “we” better than the “me”.

Who or what activities cultivated and supported you as you pursued your “why”?

Maybe it’s because I moved around a lot as a kid, maybe it’s because I’m a pediatrician, but my favorite thing has always been building community and eventually growing people to move up and on. I love the saying, “You give people roots so that they can grow wings”. In the revolving door of life, you cannot hold onto things, or people, too tightly, and there is often little freedom in hoarding knowledge. I develop folks to go and do even better away from me. There is no better compliment as a leader than to watch former teammates soar. A leader is only as good as the people who surround you. If I am considered a good leader, it is because of my team.

How do your roles on the AMCHP Board, Deputy Commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Health, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital faculty position, and involvement in other nonprofit organizations contribute to your personal mission?

The common thread through those activities is leading through service. Whether you are working in an academic setting, private practice, public health, nonprofit work, or even just in your family, my goal is to lead through service. While you can build a name for yourself through this work, the best-case scenario is that I will be just a footnote in the behemoth cathedral-building activity that is improving public health.

Seeing AMCHP’s strategic direction reflected in our strategic map, what are you most excited for our organization to potentially accomplish by 2027?

I am most excited about hearing from those with lived experience. Storytelling is a uniquely human experience and is a powerful tool to inform decision-makers, validate the experience of key populations, and change policy.

What can other established MCH professionals like yourself do to empower young leaders?

I have a few mantras I live by:

  • Take your time picking a candidate. Think through how they will work in the position, how they will manage their direct reports, how they will work laterally, and how they will work with leaders. Alternatively, don’t waste time letting go of those who aren’t the right fit. Nothing drags down the energy of a team faster than someone who does not pull their weight or leaves chaos in their wake.
  • Be okay with being the bad guy sometimes.
  • Think about succession planning from the moment you hire someone. You never know when somebody’s path may take them away from your agency. I am always thinking of future rising stars who I can pull alongside me to the table.
  • Don’t be afraid of naysayers. They’re often my favorite people to have on a team because they keep the “big-idea people” and dreamers like me in check. They also help you look at challenges from different sides.
  • Create your own work community if you need. I did in the first few months at TDH, and it was a lifesaver to have a safe space with colleagues.
  • Things that are free that I use liberally: “please”, “thank you”, silence, and honesty. Manners matter and people remember. It takes years of experience to realize you don’t have to participate in every fight to which you are invited. I always sleep better at night when I know I have done things in good faith.
  • Chase the things that make your heart beat faster. The physiologic changes that happen when you are excited are identical to those when you are experiencing fear. This shift in perception helped me to reframe seeing challenges as opportunities.