YSU Alumna Acton Is Ohio’s Top Doc in Virus Fight

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine is getting national and international attention for taking proactive measures to combat the coronavirus in Ohio.

So just how did he see it coming?

DeWine himself praises the crucial role of Ohio Director of Health and YSU alumna Dr. Amy Acton.

Acton has been a part of Ohio’s daily 2 p.m. televised news briefings since mid-March, when the health crisis began. She has become known for her calm demeanor and no-nonsense approach: telling it like it is but with kindness and compassion.

It’s resulted in quite a fan base – more than 49,000 followers on Twitter and more than 130,000 members in just one of the Amy Acton fan clubs on Facebook, lauding her approach to the pandemic. Supportive posts include memes such as “Act On Her Advice” and other reminders to follow Acton’s guidance such as “Stay Home, Stay Safe” and “Don the mask, don your cape.” The New York Times even featured her style of delivering information in a video-story titled, “The Leader We Wish We All Had.”

And it all started in Youngstown. The Vindicator interviewed Acton last year about some of the challenges she faced during childhood, including her parents’ divorce when she was three, subsequent custody battles, multiple moves – 18 places, among them a tent, in her first 12 years of life – and physical abuse. Her roots tell a story of resilience, of perseverance through adversity – a fitting Youngstown story.

A 1984 Liberty High School graduate, Acton spent two years doing undergraduate course work at YSU before heading off to Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine – today Northeast Ohio Medical University – graduating in 1990. She later  received a master’s degree in public health from Ohio State University. She has served as assistant professor-practice at OSU College of Public Health, visiting faculty professor at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, and community research and grants management officer for The Columbus Foundation. She was named director of health for the Ohio Department of Health in February 2019.

Just last year, she was inducted into the Liberty High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame. Acton’s classmate and YSU associate athletic director Elaine Jacobs helped coordinate that honor and shared a copy of the event program with Y magazine, adding “What it doesn’t say is how compassionate and sincere Amy is.”

Acton is gaining national notice with recent coverage ranging from Time Magazine to CNN, and creative outlets. And an Ohio animator even developed a Lavern and Shirley-style theme song and cartoon for Acton and DeWine’s daily briefings. As if all of that isn’t enough, fans has also created a T-shirt bearing the phrase “Not all heroes wear capes” to honor Acton and raise money for charity. You can even download and print an Amy Acton “Flatten the curve” coloring page.

Acton is being credited as serving as a role model for young girls, as shown in this video tribute to Acton created by the governor’s office and released in celebration of National Doctor Day.

Source: Youngstown State University/ Y Magazine

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.