Governor assigns Dr. Danny Avula a new challenge -- the Department of Social Services

Posted at 3:24 PM, Feb 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-05 15:24:02-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Dr. Danny Avula, who became one of the earliest and most familiar faces in the fight against COVID-19 in Central Virginia, has been tapped to lead the Virginia Department of Social Services. Governor Glenn Youngkin announced Friday that he has appointed Avula as commissioner.

Avula previously served as Director of Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) and as Governor Ralph Northam's COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinator for Virginia.

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Dr. Danny Avula

“I’m incredibly excited to serve Virginia in this new capacity with the Department of Social Services; so much of the support that ultimately impacts families’ health and resilience lies within DSS,” Dr. Avula said. “That said, it’s bittersweet to close out my time with Richmond and Henrico Health Districts. It’s been life-giving to see the dedication of my team and all they’ve been able to accomplish; I’m in awe of them and am proud to have worked alongside them. Richmond and Henrico communities are left in capable and caring hands.”

Avula held regular press conferences during the early days of the pandemic and used those opportunities to explain to the public the ways in which the pandemic was changing over the weeks, months, and eventually years.

"Dr. Danny Avula has cared for Virginians like his own family," Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said in a statement. "Dr. Avula has been a leader in addressing health disparities in our communities, and I know he will bring the same compassion, expertise and conscience to meeting the challenges of running the Department of Social Services and advancing the well-being of ALL Virginians.”

Deputy RHHD Director Dr. Melissa Viray has been named Acting RHHD Director

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Dr. Melissa Viray

“I know that all of RHHD staff join me in congratulating Dr. Danny Avula and in expressing gratitude for his leadership. His leadership has been transformative in RHHD becoming the agencies they are today,” Dr. Viray said. “I am honored and humbled to serve our communities as Acting Director. I’m also incredibly grateful for the incredible group of leaders I get to work with everyday; this is truly a team effort and a collaborative leadership model.”