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After leading the Anoka County Community Health Department for 20 years, Marina McManus has been tapped to lead the St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health Department, an agency with a "stellar" national reputation, she said.

McManus, who goes by the nickname "Rina," said she is leaving Anoka County for the opportunity to lead one of the state's largest health agencies, which also enjoys support from policymakers.

She's been in public service for more than 40 years, including time as deputy public safety commissioner under Gov. Rudy Perpich and as nursing director in the St. Louis County Public Health Department.

Because of her background, McManus said, she has a strong sense of the connection between public safety and public health.

The health department's mission is to prevent the spread of disease, protect against environmental hazards, prevent injuries, promote healthy behavior, respond to health emergencies and assure quality, accessible health care services.

McManus described it as "everywhere, every day and everybody," including clean water and air. When things go well, the work can pass by quietly.

Although she declined to lay out goals until she's in the new job, McManus said accreditation is an issue everywhere, meaning an agency must evaluate the quality of services it provides.

Because of the investigative and educational aspects of the agency, McManus said, "it is very important to be connected to the community."

McManus grew up on a small farm 30 miles south of Hibbing. She lives in Mendota Heights, has a grown daughter and travels often to Duluth. She has a nursing degree from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.

"Marina brings a breadth and depth of public service ... I am confident that she will be able to make a high-performing department even better," said Julie Kleinschmidt, Ramsey County manager.

McManus, who starts her new job in July, will be paid $128,426 annually. She succeeds Rob Fulton, who retired last year.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747