Donald Schwarz is a director leading the Foundation’s efforts to catalyze public demand for healthier people and the places in which they live, learn, work, and play. He oversees the RWJF effort to identify, support, and spread the word about individual and community actions that promote lifelong health for all Americans. A distinguished leader in public health, he joined the Foundation in July 2014 after a long career of health care service in Philadelphia, Pa.
“I am excited to be a part of the Foundation’s efforts to build an inclusive Culture of Health in this nation. We all need to be a part of assuring that each American has the opportunity to live a long and healthy life.”
Previously, Schwarz served as Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity and Health Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia. As Deputy Mayor, he oversaw the Departments of Human Services, Behavioral Health, and Intellectual Disability Services, and the Office of Supportive Housing. During his tenure, Philadelphia saw a 5 percent reduction in childhood obesity, and a decline in adult obesity rates. The city also had more than a 50 percent increase in permanent housing for homeless individuals and families, and a 24 percent reduction in the rate of dependent children being removed from their families. Under his leadership, access to the behavioral health system (including the County of Philadelphia’s Medicaid program) increased, and the number of those with serious mental illness who moved to independent, community-based living increased substantially.
As Health Commissioner, Schwarz worked to initiate successful anti-obesity and smoking cessation programs, introduced electronic health records to the city’s eight federally-qualified health centers, and established a unique public-private partnership to construct a new health center, recreation center, and library complex to serve the needs of the highly diverse South Philadelphia community. Rates of HIV also declined in Philadelphia, the city has reached its lowest rates of infant mortality, and Philadelphia had the highest rates of childhood immunization of America’s large cities.
Before entering government service, Schwarz was Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Deputy Physician-in-Chief and Craig-Dalsimer Division Chief for Adolescent Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He was Professor of Pediatrics in the University of Pennsylvania Schools of Medicine and Nursing and a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics at Penn. Earlier in his career Schwarz was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation General Pediatric Academic Development Fellow at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
An active researcher in the area of adolescent risk behaviors for over 22 years, Schwarz received both public and private funding for work that examined the issues of injury and its prevention in urban, minority communities, public policy approaches to adolescent violence, and physician- and nurse-practice-based interventions to improve outcomes for high-risk infants.
Schwarz holds a Master of Business Administration in health care administration from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He received his MD and MPH from Johns Hopkins University, and earned his BA in biology from Brown University.