Julie Morita

Executive Vice President

Julie Morita, MD, is executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), where she oversees all programming, policy, research and communications activities.

As the nation’s largest private philanthropy dedicated solely to improving the nation’s health, RWJF is focused on building a comprehensive Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. Knowing many factors, such as clean air and water, access to healthy food, safe housing, secure employment, education, and quality healthcare, contribute to the well-being of our nation, the Foundation concentrates on advancing health equity by eliminating barriers to health, including discrimination.

Before joining RWJF, Julie helped lead the Chicago Department of Public Health for nearly two decades, first as a medical director, then as chief medical officer. In 2015, she was appointed to the department’s top position, commissioner. In that role, she oversaw the public health needs of 2.7 million residents in the nation’s third largest city.

As commissioner, Julie led the development and implementation of Healthy Chicago 2.0, a four-year health improvement plan focused on achieving health equity by addressing the conditions in which people live, learn, work and play. The plan was based on RWJF’s Culture of Health framework. As medical director, Julie’s top priority was reducing disparities in immunization coverage levels among children and adults in Chicago. She implemented systems to identify communities with the lowest rates of immunization and to provide families in those areas with information about, and access to, critical vaccines. Additionally, Julie led several policy initiatives to reduce tobacco usage among teens, including raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

She has served on many state, local, and national health committees, including the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Community Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Board of Directors, and a member of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Julie began her medical career as a pediatrician in Tucson, Ariz., before moving into public health as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC).

Influenced deeply by her own family history, Julie has been a lifelong advocate of equity issues. As children, both of her parents, Mototsugu and Betty Morita, were detained in Japanese internment camps during World War II. They and their extended families were uprooted from their homes, communities, and jobs in the states of Washington and Oregon and transferred to a detention camp in Idaho. Having grown up hearing stories about the harsh and unjust treatment her grandparents, parents, and thousands of others endured, Julie has used that knowledge to pursue health equity in every aspect of her work.

Born and raised in Chicago, Julie earned her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Illinois, and her medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School. She completed her residency at the University of Minnesota.

Julie is married to William Trick, MD, an internist who is director of the Collaborative Research Unit at Cook County Health. They have two young adult children, Megan and Jake.

Julie Morita
Connect with Julie

Latest Commentary by Julie

America must lead the world to defeat COVID. Here are five ways to win

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 800,000 people in the United States, and although we’ve come far in our fight, the toll each day—more than 100,000 new cases, and over 1,000 deaths—is still sobering. RWJF President and CEO Richard Besser and Executive Vice President Julie Morita argue that the United States must summon the full weight of its scientific prowess and economic power to ensure that everyone has what they need to stay safe and healthy—no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they make. Their five strategic priorities to defeat COVID-19 once and for all begins, but does not end, with vaccination—and the nation’s role in helping to end the pandemic does not cease at our borders.

Congressional Testimony

Health Equity and the U.S. Vaccine Rollout

Julie Morita delivered testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health “Road to Recovery: Ramping Up Covid-19 Vaccines, Testing, and Medical Supply Chain.”