Peter Orszag, Bill Frist Elected to Board of Trustees

The two new trustees draw praise for their 'extensive knowledge and experiences.'

    • July 25, 2012

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced that Peter R.Orszag, PhD, former director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has joined its board of trustees, and that William H. Frist, MD, noted heart-lung transplant surgeon and former majority leader of the U.S. Senate, will join the board in January 2013. The board leads the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans.

Orszag, an economist by training, currently serves as vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup, Inc. He is also a contributing columnist at Bloomberg View, and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Orszag served as the director of OMB under President Barack Obama, from January 2009 through July 2010. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, he spent two years serving as director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Under his leadership, the agency significantly expanded its focus on areas such as health care and climate change.

Frist, currently a partner in the private equity firm Cressey & Co., represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate for 12 years where he served on both the Health and Finance committees responsible for writing health legislation. A Republican, he was elected majority leader of the Senate in 2003, having served fewer total years in Congress than any person ever chosen to lead that body. His leadership was instrumental in passage of prescription drug legislation and revolutionary funding to fight HIV/AIDS at home and around the world. Frist writes for the online magazine, The Week.

“Peter Orszag and Bill Frist bring to RWJF accomplished careers as government officials, business leaders and board members for many well-respected organizations,” said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA. “Their vast array of public and private sector achievements will be very beneficial as we work to engage leaders from all sectors to solve the nation’s most pressing health and health care problems. We are delighted to have their extensive knowledge and experiences guide our efforts.”

Earlier in his career, Orszag was the Joseph A. Pechman Senior Fellow and deputy director of economic studies at the Brookings Institution. While at Brookings, he also served as director of The Hamilton Project, director of the Retirement Security Project, and co-director of the Tax Policy Center. During the Clinton Administration, he was a special assistant to the president for economic policy and before that a staff economist and then senior adviser and senior economist at the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Orszag has also founded and subsequently sold an economics consulting firm, and served as a distinguished visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing columnist at the New York Times.

Orszag graduated summa cum laude in economics from Princeton University and obtained a PhD in economics from the London School of Economics, which he attended as a Marshall Scholar. He has coauthored or coedited a number of books, including Protecting the Homeland (2006), Aging Gracefully: Ideas to Improve Retirement Security in America (2006), Saving Social Security: A Balanced Approach (2004), and American Economic Policy in the 1990s (2002).

Orszag serves on the board of directors of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, ideas42, and the Partnership for Public Service. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences, the Trilateral Commission, the Hamilton Project Advisory Council, and the Marshall Scholarship Alumni Advisory Board.

Frist was the son of a family physician, and quickly followed in his father’s and older brother’s footsteps. He majored in health policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs before graduating with honors from Harvard Medical School. Frist completed surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford under transplant pioneer Norm Shumway, MD. As the founder and director of the first of its kind Vanderbilt Multi-Organ Transplant Center, he has performed over 150 heart and lung transplants and authored over 100 peer-reviewed medical articles and chapters, over 400 newspaper articles, and seven books on topics such as bioterrorism, transplantation, service and leadership. He is board certified in both general and heart surgery.

Frist annually leads medical mission trips to Africa and quick response teams to disasters around the globe, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Sudan, New Orleans, Haiti, and the Horn of Africa. He is chair of Save the Children’s “Newborn and Child Survival” campaign, the Nashville-based Hope Through Healing Hands, and the collaborative education reform organization Tennessee SCORE. His current board service includes the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Partnership for a Healthier America” campaign to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows, and the Advisory Committees for Global Health at Duke and Harvard. He is also on the advisory board for technologically innovative healthcare companies ZocDoc and aTherapy.

Currently Frist serves as an adjunct professor of Cardiac Surgery at Vanderbilt University and clinical professor of Surgery at Meharry Medical College. In addition, he writes for the online magazine The Week. As a leading authority on health care, Frist also speaks nationally on health reform, government policy and politics, and volunteerism.

"I am pleased to welcome both Peter Orszag and Bill Frist to the Foundation’s board,” said Foundation Board Chair Thomas H. Kean. “I believe their expertise in health and health care, in public policy, and in the private sector will help us continue to guide the Foundation on a trajectory of success that builds on its 40-year history of helping all Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter (www.rwjf.org/twitter) or Facebook (www.rwjf.org/facebook).