David C. Colby, PhD, a distinguished health care expert who joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in 1998, is its first-ever vice president of Policy. Working between Washington, D.C., and RWJF’s headquarters in Princeton, N.J., Colby oversees what he describes as a “two-way street” sharing of information and expertise between the Foundation and Washington policy-makers, interest group leaders, and others active in developing national health care policy. “The Foundation’s health and health care expertise, gained through $9 billion in grantmaking over four decades, is essential to providing evidence to inform policy. Bringing the Washington perspective—and the need for future research and demonstrations—back to the Foundation will enhance the policy relevancy of our work.”
Colby’s tenure with RWJF has included a number of leadership positions, including vice president of Research and Evaluation, deputy director of Research and Evaluation, deputy director of the Health Care Group, interim team leader for the Quality team, and team leader for the Coverage team. Always ready to take on new challenges, he views the Foundation as uniquely positioned to adopt new strategies to shape health and health care policies and programs nationwide.
Colby came to the Foundation after nine years of service with the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Physician Payment Review Commission, where he was deputy director. While working in government, he developed policy research contributing to landmark legislation that changed the formula for Medicare reimbursement. He has also worked on physician payment issues as a Robert Wood Johnson Faculty Fellow in Health Care Finance, serving in the Congressional Budget Office. Prior to his policy work, he was associate professor in the Policy Sciences Graduate Program and coordinator of the Masters of Policy Sciences Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He was also dean of freshmen and assistant dean at Williams College and held faculty positions at Williams College and State University College at Buffalo.
Colby’s published research has focused on Medicaid and Medicare, media coverage of AIDS, and, in political science, civil rights. He was an associate editor of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law from 1995 to 2002. In 2000, he was elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance for his contributions to the nation’s understanding of social insurance programs.
Born in California, he received a PhD in political science from the University of Illinois, an MA from Ohio University, and a BA from Ohio Wesleyan University.
He and his wife, Susan, a retired school psychologist, live in Princeton, N.J. They have three adult children and five grandchildren. They enjoy minor league baseball on sunny days and exploring the culture and cuisine of Italy.