Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Hires Donald Schwarz to Help Make Health Contagious

    • June 27, 2014

Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced today the appointment of Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, as Director of its portfolio dedicated to Catalyzing Demand for Healthy Places and Practices. The appointment will begin July 28, 2014.

RWJF is the largest private foundation focused solely on the health of all Americans. RWJF envisions a future in which we, as a nation, will strive together to build a Culture of Health, enabling all in our diverse society to lead healthy lives, now and for generations to come.

Schwarz currently serves as Health Commissioner and Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity for the city of Philadelphia. In his role as Deputy Mayor, he has overseen the Departments of Human Services and Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, as well as the Office of Supportive Housing. During his tenure, Philadelphia has seen a 5 percent reduction in childhood obesity, and a decline in adult obesity rates as well. The city has also seen a more than 50 percent increase in permanent housing for homeless individuals and families, and a 24 percent reduction in the rate of dependent children being removed from their families. Access to the behavioral health system (including the County of Philadelphia’s Medicaid program) has increased, and the number of those with serious mental illness who have moved to independent, community-based living has increased substantially.

As Health Commissioner, Schwarz worked to initiate successful anti-obesity and smoking cessation programs, and adult smoking rates have declined by more than 15 percent. Electronic health records have been brought to the city’s eight federally-qualified health centers. A unique public-private partnership was established to construct a new health center, recreation center, and library complex to serve the needs of the highly diverse South Philadelphia community. Rates of HIV continue to decline in Philadelphia, and the city has reached its lowest rates of infant mortality (and smallest disparities in infant deaths). And Philadelphia has some of the highest rates of childhood immunization (with the highest rates of HPV immunization) of America’s large cities.

“Creating demand for healthier communities is an important step in making it easier for all of us to be healthier,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of RWJF. “We are thrilled that Dr. Schwarz, a leader in public health and a champion of the kind of comprehensive change it takes to make communities healthier for all members, will be joining our team. His background, vision, and leadership make him an obvious choice to help us build a Culture of Health in America.”

Before entering government service, Schwarz was Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Deputy Physician-in-Chief and Craig-Dalsimer Division Chief for Adolescent Medicine at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He was Professor of Pediatrics in the University of Pennsylvania Schools of Medicine and Nursing, and a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics at Penn. Earlier in his career Schwarz was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation General Pediatric Academic Development Fellow at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Schwarz was an active researcher in the area of adolescent risk behaviors for over 22 years. He received both public and private funding for work that examined the issues of injury and its prevention in urban, minority communities, public policy approaches to adolescent violence, and physician- and nurse-practice-based interventions to improve outcomes for high-risk infants.

“I have been fortunate to have been part of an extraordinary team that has been able to promote health throughout the city of Philadelphia and throughout its government,” explained Schwarz.  “I am very honored to be able to take my experience and learning and apply it to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s exciting vision of building a Culture of Health in this nation.”

Schwarz holds a Master of Business Administration in health care administration from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, received his MD and a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, and earned his Bachelor of Arts in biology from Brown University.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national culture of health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937