Wayne Gretzky and the Future of Public Health Leadership

Jim Marks, senior vice president and director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Health Group, delivered a speech at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina in April 2010. His remarks outlined the direction he sees the field of public health moving toward and challenges in the years ahead.

During his speech, Marks outlined four areas public health can focus on to "become a stronger force for societal change:"

  • the adoption of a different style of leadership;
  • the ability to harnesses policy change and advocacy;
  • the ability to embrace law as action; and
  • transparent accountability and efforts to measure the field's impact on health.

Marks commented, "the improvement in health of the public, and hence the success of public health in the future, will depend more on what it can cause others to choose to do than what it does itself. It must help lead the leaders in education, in transportation, in housing and the private sector to incorporate health into their decisions—where they have authority in policy and in implementation—even if at first glance those leaders did not see their role as having all that much to do with health."