RWJF Announces National Program Centers for Major New Leadership Initiatives

    • November 2, 2015

Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced today that it selected four institutions that it anticipates will serve as National Leadership Program Centers for RWJF’s new leadership initiatives. Each institution will co-design and launch a program to train and network groups of leaders in communities across the country who will contribute to building a national Culture of Health.

Each institution is expected to receive an initial three-month planning grant of up to $750,000 to establish one of the four change leadership programs. RWJF anticipates that these institutions also will be its leading grantee partners in administering the programs over the longer term. The four programs will launch in September 2016 and enable the Foundation to support more leaders than ever before.  

“We are thrilled to join forces with these four outstanding institutions to launch our new signature leadership programs,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, RWJF president and CEO. “To build a Culture of Health in America—one where all in our society can attain the best health possible—we need leaders who can work together across disciplines, professions, and sectors. This is more important than ever, as evidence shows that many factors beyond health care—such as education, early childhood experiences, employment, housing, and neighborhood conditions—influence health. I look forward to these program centers equipping leaders with the skills and capacity to create healthier, more equitable communities across the nation.”

The leadership programs, and the institutions expected to serve as their respective national program centers, are:

  • Diversity in Health Policy Research (DHPR): Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. The DHPR program will support doctoral students from underrepresented and/or disadvantaged populations by providing training in health policy, health equity, and population health. They will gain the needed skills and supports to lead change in communities across the nation to build a Culture of Health. The program will be co-led by Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD, director, Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions and William C. and Nancy F. Richardson professor in Health Policy, and Harolyn M.E. Belcher, MD, MHS, director, Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training, Kennedy Krieger Institute, and associate professor of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
  • Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL): University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn. The IRL program will develop groups of networked researchers and community members who apply as a team, and who are dedicated to producing evidence needed to move the U.S. towards a Culture of Health. The program co-directors will be J. Michael Oakes, PhD, associate professor, Epidemiology & Community Health, and Jan K. Malcolm, vice president of public affairs, Allina Health.
  • Multisector Leaders for Health (MLH): National Collaborative for Health Equity, a project of New Venture Fund, Washington, D.C. The MLH program will develop a diverse group of leaders representing key sectors influencing health (e.g., education, transportation, public health and public policy, business, health care, community development, and urban planning) and help them grow their influence to the next level to build a Culture of Health. The program will be co-led by Brian D. Smedley, PhD, executive director, National Collaborative for Health Equity and Natalie S. Burke, president and CEO, CommonHealth ACTION.
  • New Clinical Scholars (NCS): University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. The NCS program will develop cohorts of networked clinicians who have attained a terminal clinical degree and who have the competencies to lead transformative change in communities to build a Culture of Health. The program will be co-directed by Giselle Corbie-Smith, MD, MSc, professor of Social Medicine and Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Claudia S.P. Fernandez, DrPH, clinical assistant professor, Maternal and Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Leaders of the four initiatives will convene at RWJF later this month to determine the programs’ final designs. RWJF expects to issue calls for applications to recruit and select program participants in early 2016, and launch all four prototype programs in September 2016. Additional program partners may be announced as program designs evolve.

“These new initiatives build on the exceptional, decades-long work of our leadership and scholarship programs to strengthen the nation’s health and health care workforce. They will extend the gains of those past and present efforts, and bring the best of leadership development to larger cohorts of grantees who will forge the complex, cross-disciplinary solutions needed to build healthier communities,” said John Lumpkin, MD, MPH, RWJF senior vice president. “Under the expert guidance of these national program centers, these programs will cultivate diverse leaders who have the talent and passion to work together to give everyone in America their greatest opportunity to live a healthy life.”


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all 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

Three Traits of Visionary Change Leaders

RWJF's Kay Felix blogs about the traits that change leaders embody and RWJF's search for new leaders to help build a healthier nation.

Read the blog post