CDR Leo Gumapas
April 2023 Officer Spotlight
“The USPHS Commissioned Corps allows me to be part of a multi-disciplinary team advancing the public health of our nation.”
CDR Leo Gumapas serves as the Environmental Engineering Program Chief at the Program Support Center in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He is responsible for developing policies and guidance directing and managing HHS facility activities and environmental compliance in 4,000 HHS facilities nationwide. He works with diverse stakeholders across HHS operating divisions and interagency workgroups to advance HHS sustainability and climate adaption change goals.
CDR Gumapas has been in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps for 11 years. Prior to joining the USPHS Commissioned Corps as an engineer officer in 2012, he was a program manager at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), responsible for inventorying NIH’s carbon footprint. Before NIH, he worked for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control as an environmental engineer enforcing the Clean Air Act. Before those positions, CDR Gumapas worked as a consultant in Kennesaw, Georgia, preparing air permit applications for industrial manufacturing facilities, most notably a $3.7 billion steel and stainless steel manufacturing and processing facility in Mount Vernon, Alabama.
Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, CDR Gumapas joined the USPHS Commissioned Corps through converting his civilian position at the NIH to a USPHS Commissioned Corps billet. He joined the USPHS Commissioned Corps for two reasons: His father, who was enlisted in the U.S. Navy, taught him the importance of service to country and community, and he was attracted to the sense of adventure and response to public health emergencies.
At the NIH, CDR Gumapas successfully led the implementation of an industrial water treatment program at the NIH Bethesda Campus Central Utility Plant (CUP), which was recognized with the 2016 U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program Award. The CUP treats 400 million gallons of water annually to meet 76 different operating indices and guarantees $362.7 million worth of heat transfer equipment is clean and protected from corrosion to support a research campus of over 20,000 employees.
In 2013, CDR Gumapas provided the framework for tracking public health education events, leading to the establishment of the Prevention through Active Community Engagement (PACE) chartered advisory group providing community outreach on Surgeon General priorities. Over the span of a decade, PACE has grown to 980 Public Health Service officers in 35 states reaching over 80,000 individuals nationwide.
In February 2020, CDR Gumapas was recognized as National Society of Professional Engineer 2020 NIH Engineer of the Year for implementing solutions addressing 16 environmental compliance issues. Most notably, he responded to a 4,000-gallon oil spill from a ruptured fuel transfer line, preventing the oil spill from contaminating the environment while meeting all federal and state reporting requirements.
CDR Gumapas states, “The USPHS Commissioned Corps allows me to be part of a multi-disciplinary team advancing the public health of our nation.” In July 2020, CDR Gumapas supported the Commissioned Corps Headquarters Readiness Deployment Branch (RDB) by building an on-demand system to roster Public Health Service officers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The on-demand system loads the entire array automatically and updates lists through workflow automation based on Public Health Service officers’ deployments, availability, and skills. In addition, he drafted a comprehensive manual on the on-demand system for continuity of operations. The on-demand system has facilitated more than 17,500 USPHS Commissioned Corps deployments since inception and has reduced weekly deployment roster request processing time by 98%.
In October 2017, CDR Gumapas deployed to Puerto Rico in response to Hurricanes Maria and Irma. He served as a logistics officer and delivered supplies to nine federal medical stations. Furthermore, he identified the root cause of large quantities of water loss, 90,000 gallons of water per day, at Bayamon Hospital. CDR Andrew Yang and CDR Leo Gumapas provided a plan for Bayamon Hospital to minimize water loss from the cooling tower overflow, and the hospital was able to resume operations.
CDR Gumapas remarks, “I am grateful for the experience to create holistic solutions and build capacity within the community and federal government to advance public health.” Public health problems are complex, requiring a multitude of skills and strategies to address. CDR Gumapas offers advice for anybody wanting to live a life of public service. He says, “Take risks and combine novel ideas to create innovative solutions to address our nation’s most pressing public health problems.”