A Prestigious Gathering, an Honor, and an Impressive Showing for RWJF

Oct 30, 2011, 6:00 PM

By Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Every year, the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting features some of the best and brightest minds in health and health care. Taking place in Washington, D.C. from October 29 to November 2, it is a cutting edge event that advances critical research, helps shape policy and practice, and stimulates thinking on some of the most pressing health issues of our time. APHA notes that it is the oldest and largest gathering of public health professionals and, in my experience it is easily one of the most influential. I am very proud that, this year, it will feature dozens of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars, fellows, alumni, grantees, staff and others who have been touched by Foundation programs.

Perhaps most exciting is that Melvin D. Shipp, OD, MPH, DrPH, a former RWJF Health Policy Fellow (1989-1990), is beginning his term as president of this prestigious organization. Shipp is dean of The Ohio State University College of Optometry and past president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry. He will hold the APHA leadership position for two years, and I know he will do great things during that time. At the meeting, Shipp will lead a session on the Health Policy Fellows program, explaining the experience and its impact on participants.

Among the many others from the RWJF “family” who will be featured at the annual meeting are:

  • Arthur Kellermann, MD, MPH, FACEP, an alumnus of the RWJF Health Policy Fellows and Clinical Scholars programs, recently named head of the health research division at the RAND Corporation, who will provide an inside view of federal health policy-making;
  • Dawn Alley, PhD, an alumna of the RWJF Health & Society Scholar program (2006 – 2008), discussing her powerful new studies that look at the ways foreclosure harms health;
  • Peter Arno, PhD, recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research (1997), presenting on a regional health planning initiative;
  • Dominick Frosch, PhD, also an Investigator Award recipient (2006) and an RWJF Health & Society Scholar alumnus, sharing research on managing diabetes and food insecurity in times of extreme economic hardship; and
  • Jose Pagan, PhD, an alumnus (2003 – 2005) and National Advisory Committee member of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program and an Investigator Award recipient (2006), discussing how changes in diet and physical activity affect weight loss and glycemic control.
  • Dann Howard, PhD, director of the RWJF Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, on a panel examining trends in treatment for crack abuse, revisiting the National Drug Abuse Treatment System Survey Study (NDATSS)

This list is merely a sampling of the RWJF presence at this event – more than 50 in all.

It is on behalf of all the Foundation’s scholars and fellows—those who are featured at APHA annual meetings past, present and future—and RWJF’s remarkable staff and leadership, that I had the honor of accepting the APHA President’s Citation award today. I accept it with humility and enormous gratitude to all my colleagues who make the Foundation’s work possible.

The theme of the APHA annual meeting this year is “Healthy Communities Promote Healthy Minds & Bodies”—a theme that resonates deeply at RWJF and drives much of our work. The common agenda for RWJF and APHA is to help society transform itself for the better. I know this meeting will help do just that. Both of these organizations have significant impact, and it is multiplied when we come together to improve health and health care in the United States.

I am proud to receive this honor and even prouder that so many RWJF grantees are being featured over these four days.

Read the text of Lavizzo-Mourey's speech to the APHA, "America’s New Public Health in the Age of Austerity, Uncertainty and Contagion."

Follow news of the American Public Health Association annual meeting at http://www.rwjf.org/goto/apha2011.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.