Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Names Susan Dentzer as Senior Health Policy Adviser

Renowned journalist and commentator will assist senior leadership on health policy and communications strategies.

Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced that Susan Dentzer, a renowned health policy expert, health policy analyst for the PBS NewsHour and former editor of the influential journal Health Affairs, will serve as a senior health policy adviser. Dentzer will provide policy and communications strategy assistance to David Colby, head of RWJF’s Washington office, and other senior leaders of RWJF, the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans.

Colby, who is also incoming RWJF vice president for public policy and former vice president of Research and Evaluation, noted Dentzer’s deep knowledge of health policy and her long experience as a journalist and communicator. “Susan has studied and written about many facets of health and health policy, and is well-recognized for her thoughtful commentary on these issues,” said Colby. “She will be a tremendous asset as we continue to develop and promote our important programs, among them public health, health care quality and coverage, and combatting childhood obesity.” 

In her role as adviser, Dentzer will provide consultation to RWJF to develop public outreach initiatives for key Foundation audiences, publicize the Foundation’s activities through blogs, social media, webcasts and other formats, and consult with senior management on policy and communications activities. Her first post is focused on the cost of health care.

“Having worked closely with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, its leaders and senior program officers for more than two decades, I’m honored and delighted to assume this new role,” Dentzer said. “I’ve covered the Foundation’s work as a journalist on everything from expanding coverage to improving health care quality and care at the end-of-life. I’m humbled now to be working with the Foundation to raise its visibility and extend its reach in the public policy and communications realms.”

Dentzer just completed five years as editor-in-chief of Health Affairs, the nation’s leading journal of health policy, which she transformed from a bimonthly academic publication to a topical monthly journal. She served as on-air health correspondent for the PBS NewsHour from 1998 to 2008, and remains an on-air analyst on health policy for the show. She is also a frequent guest on a number of National Public Radio programs, including This American Life and The Diane Rehm Show.

Dentzer is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the Council on Foreign Relations, and a public member of the board of directors of the American Board of Medical Specialties, a non-profit organization overseeing 24 approved medical specialty boards that set standards for board certification for the nation’s physicians. She is also a member of the Board of Overseers of the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organization providing relief to refugees and displaced persons around the world. She chairs the IRC board’s Program Committee, which oversees the organization’s activities in resettling refugees in the United States and dealing with refugees and displaced persons in roughly 25 countries.

A Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1986-87, Dentzer is a graduate of Dartmouth and holder of an honorary master of arts from the institution. She is also a Dartmouth trustee emerita, and was the only woman to date to chair the Dartmouth Board of Trustees, from 2001 to 2004. She has served on the Board of Overseers of Dartmouth Medical School since 1993.

Media Contact:

Christine Clayton | Robert Wood Johnson Foundation | | 609-627-5937



The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and healthcare 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 more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and healthcare 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. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or Facebook at

Culture of Health

Let’s Reform Health Payments!

Four RWJF-supported analyses on health care costs outline strategies for achieving a sustainable rate of spending, while also bolstering the quality of care. In her first post for the Foundation's Culture of Health blog, RWJF Senior Health Policy Adviser Susan Dentzer says the reports provide an important starting point for the next round of serious health care reforms.

Read the blog post