Bureau of Environmental Services Director Retires

A celebratory roast and luncheon at the RSA Activity Center on February 22 honored Sherry Bradley upon her retirement after more than 45 years of service to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

A Sanitary Science degree graduate of Troy State University, she holds an M.P.A. degree from Auburn University at Montgomery. First employed as an entry-level Public Health Sanitarian in September 1977, she was assigned to work Bullock County. She went on to employment with the Autauga, Lowndes and Elmore county health departments before promotions to the Central Office and advancements to assistant bureau director and bureau director.

In the past few years, Ms. Bradley expanded her focus to make effective and reliable wastewater disposal available to Alabama residents, especially people living in homes in the Black Belt, which have straight-piped, failing or nonexistent sewage disposal systems. The clay-like Black Belt soil makes it hard for filtration of water in these soils. Another significant obstacle is that many sewage disposal systems cost more than the value of the homes.

Addressing these needs is a challenge, especially with gaining the trust of skeptical residents. Local community leader Perman Hardy has assisted Ms. Bradley in the effort that created the nonprofit Black Belt Unincorporated Wastewater Program (BBUWP) in 2018. BBUWP’s mission is building a sanitation infrastructure for low-income residents. In addition to knocking on doors and speaking at community meetings, she held many meetings with industry partners and applied for grants. Progress has been made, and her activities have resulted in international attention and acclaim, including an appearance on the CBS News program 60 Minutes.

Among supporters wishing her well in retirement from ADPH was Ms. Hardy who said, “Sherry is a godsend for Lowndes County, and without her none of the progress that’s been made would have been possible.”

At the retirement celebration, hundreds of colleagues past and present, friends, and family members joined as speakers expressed their admiration for “The Woman, The Myth, The Legend.” Entertainment included a song-and-dance presentation by James Congleton and The Star Lights and a fun “Get to Know Sherry Bradley” game.

Among Ms. Bradley’s recent recognitions are the 2022 IWSH Award and selection as the Alabama Executive Branch Employee of the Year. IWSH is the International Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Foundation which honored her for her exceptional contributions to IWSH programs seeking to bring clean water and safe, reliable sanitation to those most in need. The State Personnel Department designated her as the Alabama Executive Branch Employee of the Year.

This month Ms. Bradley was inducted into the 2023 Class of Alabama Women Who Shape the State. To qualify for induction, the recognition most appropriately states, “Honorees may come from different professional fields, but they all have one similar goal: Making their communities better places to live.”

Ron Dawsey, M.P.H., the bureau’s former deputy director, was promoted to replace Ms. Bradley effective March 1. A 35-year veteran of the Bureau of Environmental Services in the Central Office, he previously served as an environmentalist at the Henry County Health Department for 10 years. In announcing his appointment, Chief of Staff Michele Jones e-mailed, “Ron has many years of experience in the environmental field and a wealth of institutional knowledge.”

 Sherry Bradley Retirement

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris presents a retirement certificate to Sherry Bradley. Ms. Bradley was also inducted into the 2023 Class of Alabama Women Who Shape the State.