There are few topics that all city officials and residents can agree on, but one is that Lauren Buck has done a truly outstanding job as the director of the Revere Public Health Department during the extraordinary times posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
No one in the city’s long history has had to “hit the ground running” – as that cliché goes – as quickly and decisively as Lauren Buck. Mayor Brian Arrigo appointed Buck to her position amidst an unprecedented international health crisis, one that was hitting Revere exceptionally hard.
And Buck, hailed as “brilliant” by her colleagues in city government, has excelled, working with Mayor Arrigo and members of the city’s emergency response team, as the leader of a superb, collaborative effort that has made Revere a statewide and national model for how communities should confront the coronavirus and execute the processes necessary to help their residents through these challenging times.
For her crucial leadership during the pandemic, her able administering of key components of the effort such as vaccine distribution and COVID-19 testing programs, her expertise in the nursing profession, for helping to build a substantial and effective public-awareness campaign, for going above and beyond the call of duty and being accessible at all hours of the day, and for helping residents physically and emotionally recover and be safe during stressful times, Lauren Buck is the Revere Journal’s Person of the Year for 2021.
A Nurse and Holder of a Master’s Degree in Public Health
Lauren Buck’s background is in the nursing profession. A native of Maryland and a graduate of the University of Miami with a degree in Nursing, Buck, 33, came to Boston six years ago to attend graduate school at Boston University where she earned a master’s degree in Public Health.
She was working at a community health center in Dorchester before taking the position as director of the Revere Public Health Department.
“I wanted to transition out of clinical nursing, and this was kind of the perfect fit for what I was looking for,” said Buck.
Buck began in Revere a few months into the pandemic. “I was doing a lot of work at my previous job with COVID issues, such as COVID testing and triaging on the clinical side,” said Buck. “I came here with a lot of knowledge about COVID from my previous job. Learning the way that the Public Health Department tackled COVID was basically hit the ground running, just getting thrown into it, but that was expected. You have to expect that going into a job like this, during a pandemic.”
Buck developed a plan to make more COVID-19 testing available, with the early emphasis on testing residents at the Revere senior center and municipal employee testing.
Thanks to President Donald Trump’s successful Operation Warp Speed initiative, “The first vaccines started rolling out in December, 2020, so then we really focused almost exclusively on getting our vaccine program up and running,” said Buck.
Buck was commended for overseeing a very successful regional vaccine distribution effort for first responders from Revere, Chelsea, and Winthrop. That well-attended clinic was held at the Rumney Marsh Academy.
Heading a Team Effort
Buck has also worked continuously with the city’s COVID-19 emergency response team that consists of municipal employees. “In our response to COVID, we’ve learned a lot in the last 20 months,” said Buck. “COVID changes so drastically from one week to the next, that it’s so good to meet with all the key players to make sure we’re all on the same page. It’s a good foundation to have that team together.”
Buck credited Dimple Rana as one of the valuable contributors to the response team’s effort.
“Dimple helped incredibly, so much, in huge amounts,” said Buck. “She really spearheaded the work that was done at the food distribution, which really ramped up during COVID. Dimple almost exclusively ran that, along with the help of First Church. She also implemented the COVID ambassador program. The ambassadors were invaluable in helping our vaccine program and our outreach effort. She was integral, a huge part of the work that I do and really wouldn’t be able to do without her.”
When Buck was notified of being selected the Journal’s Person of the Year, she humbly deflected the credit to others.
“It’s so nice that I’m getting this [award], but it’s a team of people that I work with that are deserving [of recognition] – everyone is essential,” said Buck. “[Chief of Staff to Mayor Arrigo’s Office] Kim Hanton is just like the best leader that we could have ever had. Dr. [Nathalee] Kong, chief of public health and human services, the people who work in my office – Administrative Assistant Paula Sepulveda has been there from the very beginning -[Chief Innovation Officer] Reuben Kantor – there are just so many have that helped out immensely.
“And Mayor Arrigo has been extremely supportive – I couldn’t have asked for a better leader, a better boss,” said Buck.
The diligent, daily effort in Revere continues under Lauren Buck’s direction, as COVID cases have increased in recent weeks. “I think we have done really well in certain areas and still have ways to go in other areas,” said Buck. “Our vaccine rates are pretty good. We’ve really tried to have a ton of access for people. I think we can do more. I think in the new year, we’re going to ramp up, making sure we have regular booster clinics, making sure we have more accessibility for kids ages 5-11 – we’re always trying to think of ways we can do more.”
Praise from Colleagues and Revere Officials
Chief of Staff Kim Hanton was given the key responsibility by Mayor Arrigo of helming the application and interview process for the large field of candidates who sought the position of Revere public health director.
Hanton said Lauren Buck emerged early on as a formidable and highly qualified candidate for the position.
“Lauren’s personality just shined – you could feel her empathy,” recalled Hanton. “You could really see her understanding of public health and the need for community collaboration.”
Hanton related that following the interview, “I immediately went to Mayor Arrigo and said, ‘you need to interview Lauren Buck – she’s a star’.’’
The very next day, Mayor Arrigo interviewed Buck and brought her on board, added Hanton.
Mayor Arrigo commended Buck’s work performance and offered his personal congratulations to Buck as the Journal’s Person of the Year. “Since coming on board during the peak of this global pandemic, Lauren has continuously gone above and beyond on behalf of every resident in our city,” said Mayor Arrigo. “We’ve been recognized both nationally and statewide for our vaccination efforts, testing efficiency, and our ability to ensure our kids’ safety in going back to school – none of that would have been possible without Lauren Buck leading the way for the Revere Department of Public Health. Our residents are incredibly lucky to have her, and to say this award is well-deserved is an understatement.”
Councillor-at-Large and State Rep. Jessica Giannino has conferred with Buck in her dual capacities in city and state government. Giannino lauded Buck for her knowledge and grace and as a trusted and dependable community resource.
“Lauren Buck is an asset to the city of Revere,” said Rep. Giannino. “At the start of her employment, she was thrusted into a pandemic that our community had not experienced before. Lauren has taken on each issue the city of Revere has faced with knowledge and grace. She’s been a resource when we have questions and has always offered to help the city in any way she can, from helping to organize vaccine clinics to making herself available for question-and- answer seminars. Lauren is not only a dedicated nurse and department head, but she’s also a great person. I am so grateful for her service, and I look forward to watching her continue to grow.”
Following the Path of Her Parents Into Public Service
Lauren Buck is the proud daughter of a retired schoolteacher and a scientist who worked for the government his whole life. “I don’t necessarily know if I was into science when I was growing up, but I knew that I wanted to do something – my mom’s a teacher, my dad’s a scientist – so I knew I wanted to go down that path,” said Buck. “I was a nurse for ten years before I took this job and learned so much from being a nurse – so the helping people part of the job is something I always knew that I wanted, but not necessarily science. I think that’s an acquired skill.” Buck said her sister is an assistant school principal in New York City. “So we’re all on the public service side of things,” said Lauren. And Revere is happy that she, like her parents, chose that path.