Photo courtesy of Dr. Ariba Khan
Ozaukee county supervisor candidate Ariba Khan, M.D.,M.P.H. visits the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum. On April 2, 2024 she will run for the elected position, representing District 20.
The duty of a good physician is to care for her patients and the responsibility of a good elected official is to care for the community she represents. Ariba Khan, M.D.,M.P.H. might be given the opportunity to serve in both capacities if elected in April as a county supervisor for Ozaukee County, representing District 20 within the City of Mequon.
The decision to run for office might seem unexpected from Khan, who practices geriatric medicine at Aurora Sinai Medical Center and Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center. However, she grew up with an awareness of how political decisions in a contentious time had impacted her family.
When the British partitioned the Indian subcontinent in 1947, the Khans were forced like many Muslims to flee from Jullundhar in the Punjab, where they had lived for centuries, and migrate to Lahore in the newly established nation of Pakistan.
“We know a lot about roots as our family is very interested in ancestry and history, and our grandparents loved to tell stories,” she said.
Khan’s father was a physician, “which greatly directed my career choice,” she continued. “I was influenced by his leadership qualities, adventurous spirit, humility and kindness. My mother has volunteered her time in building a successful nonprofit to develop career skills and provide healthcare for women in Pakistan.”
After graduating from medical school in Lahore, she moved to the U.S. in 1996 with her husband for residency training in St. Louis. The couple moved to Milwaukee in 2002 where they established medical practices.
Photo by Mouna Rashid
Ariba Khan, M.D., M.P.H.
“It has been a wonderful 21 years to both raise a family and our professional growth in Milwaukee,” she said.
Khan’s concern to provide “compassionate care to the most vulnerable older adults” has earned her many professional accolades.
She chairs the American Geriatric Society’s Health System Innovations and Technology Committee and co-chairs the Society’s International Special Interest Group. She has given back to her homeland by mentoring medical students and young physicians in Pakistan.
“As a family we have volunteered in polio eradication efforts in Pakistan through Rotary International,” she said. “This has involved house calls with the polio eradication teams on the ground and giving oral polio vaccine to kids. We have been impressed by grass root level efforts by Rotary International to eradicate polio. My international collaborations have made me realize there are several, acceptable ways to approach the same problem and no one approach is incorrect.”
In the midst of patient care in the Milwaukee area and her work overseas, Khan finds time for her family and sports. The Khans attend Bucks games and watch the Packers every week, she insisted.
“My daughter loves tennis, my son practices golf regularly, and one of the best moments in my life was hiking to the K2 base camp,” she continued. “I was lucky to be able to win the lottery to run the Chicago marathon 2024 as well.
“Training for marathons has taught me the importance of uplifting one another and working together, even when we each are on our own journey. My grandfather always asked about my sports activities during my toughest exams, instilling a sense of work-life balance.”
Her work in medicine has its basis in her faith tradition. “Islam teaches us moderation and discipline in our life,” she said. “Growing up, there was an emphasis on education—we were told that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has been related to say, ‘go as far as China to gain knowledge,’ which in those days was a far distance. This applied to both women and men.” Khan added, “My religion allows me to listen to what matters most to my patients and provide care according to their values. I respect the melting pot of America where I enjoy the diversity of cultures, religions and ethnicities to form one fabric. I have a keen interest in learning about people’s values, culture and family preferences.”
Dr. Kahn’s children, Anaya and Wali Khan
Completing the Milwaukee Marathon in 2023
Khan said that her family has been “blessed to call Mequon our home for over 15 years. Mequon is safe, healthy, beautiful, and also has one of the lowest taxes in our area.”
She points out the area’s Indigenous past as well as its “rich future.” According to Khan, the projected population of Ozaukee County will increase slightly from 2010 to 2040 (from 86,000 to 94,000), “however there will be a significant increase in the aging population (age 65 years and older 15% to 26% in Ozaukee while 12 to 17% in Milwaukee County from 2010 to 2040).
“There is also a projected increase in age 85 years and older from 2 to 6% in Ozaukee while Milwaukee County will increase from 2 to 3%. In Ozaukee County those 65 years and older living with dementia will double from 1,588 to 3,715.”
Some of those statistics may have been on her mind when she decided to run for county supervisor, but there were other considerations as well.
“The COVID-19 pandemic raised my interest in seeking an elected office,” she explained. “I have no words to describe the chaos, devastation and helplessness that I felt during the pandemic. I am aware about the importance of social determinants of health from my master’s in public health. During the pandemic I became aware of an urgent need to use my skills in my community to curtail future disasters. In my clinical work I was saddened to experience that underprivileged communities were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.”
Her goals if elected include improving public health and senior housing as well as listening to her neighbors’ concerns “so that they have a voice in the decision making. I stand for justice and equal opportunities for everyone.”
Khan brings a unique set of skills and vision to public service, including leadership and communication skills and a passion for quality.
“I will bring a diverse perspective and I am able to work in difficult, challenging situations,” she said. “I am willing to learn and work hard. My vision is to preserve our beautiful city for future generations by thoughtfully maintaining the environment while financing long term projects.
“I would love to see our city to be a model American community where people are happy to live with modern amenities, adequate transportation, safe housing, health, excellent education and promote aging in place. I would love to see Mequon further progress as an age-friendly community as defined by the World Health Organization.”
“I am running as county supervisor for Ozaukee county district 20. This is a non-partisan position. I would like to represent all my neighbors regardless of party line. The election for the Ozaukee County Board of Supervisors will be held on April 2.
“If I am elected I would use my skills to improve the public health in my community, improve senior housing, represent my neighbors and listen to their challenges.
“A poem by Robert Frost describes how I would like to preserve the nature in my beautiful city to enjoy for generations.”
Dust of Snow
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.