Michelle A. Larkin, JD, MS, RN, associate chief of staff, joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in 1999. With more than 27 years as a distinguished leader in health care policy and practice, and as an attorney committed to using law and policy to improve health, she directs the Foundation’s administrative activities and program strategies related to healthy children, healthy communities, and equity. In this role, she helps shape the Foundation’s vision to build a Culture of Health in America.
Larkin’s path to RWJF began with a career in nursing. Inspired by her maternal aunt, a nurse, she realized her dream when she earned a BSN from the University of Pennsylvania and an MS in nursing/health policy from the University of Maryland. As an oncology nurse at the University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore, M.D., she experienced firsthand the opportunities, challenges, and rewards of bedside nursing.
Her experiences in Baltimore led her from direct care nursing to a concentration in health policy. As a Presidential Management Fellow, she worked at the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and as a legislative fellow, for the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. She then served as a health policy analyst at the Office on Smoking and Health, CDC in Washington, D.C.
Larkin joined RWJF as a program associate, continuing her commitment to tackling some of the nation’s toughest health and health care problems, and fulfilling a promise she made to herself early in her career: “to create a positive impact on the lives of many and make it easier for people to live healthier lives.” Her earliest focus at the Foundation involved promoting increased tobacco excise taxes, state and local smoke-free air laws, and funding for tobacco prevention and treatment.
With a growing portfolio of responsibilities at RWJF, and her keen interest in exploring areas where the mission of public health intersects with the practice of the law, Larkin expanded her policy and program expertise by earning a JD from Seton Hall University School of Law. She is a member of the American Public Health Association, the American Bar Association, and the New Jersey Bar. She also serves on the National Board of Public Health Examiners and the Institute of Medicine Population Health Roundtable.
To date, she has served in many roles at RWJF. She has been director of the public health team, assistant vice president for program portfolios, assistant vice president, associate vice president–program, and associate chief of staff. In each of these roles, she has employed her nursing and legal expertise to help shape RWJF’s vison, strategies, policies, and programs to ensure that everyone in America can make healthy choices, no matter where they live or how much they earn.
Larkin and her spouse have one child and live in Bordentown City, N.J. Over the years, they have been fiercely devoted to the fortunes of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team.