Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced that Donald F. Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA has been named vice president, Program. In this role, Schwarz will help guide the Foundation’s strategies and work closely with colleagues, external partners and community leaders to build a Culture of Health in America, enabling everyone to live the healthiest life possible.
Schwarz, a nationally-recognized leader in public health and children’s health care, is formerly deputy mayor for Health and Opportunity and health commissioner for the City of Philadelphia where he oversaw the Departments of Human Services, Behavioral Health, and Intellectual Disability Services, and the Office of Supportive Housing. Most recently, he was a Foundation director, leading efforts to catalyze public demand for healthier people and the places in which they live, work, learn, and play.
“In 2014 I was privileged to join this Foundation, led by a team of dedicated individuals who are experts in the fields of health care and public health,” said Schwarz. “I feel equally honored today as I’m given this new opportunity, a chance to address the root causes of America’s greatest health challenges and share the journey with dedicated researchers, Foundation partners and like-minded organizations nationwide.”
Schwarz will now lead the Foundation’s efforts to promote healthier, more equitable communities, healthy children and healthy weight.
“Changing the way our nation values and views health takes great leadership and a deep understanding of the multiple contributors to a healthy society,” said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA. “It is a great source of pride that the Foundation can count on the experience and lifelong commitment of Dr. Schwarz to help craft our efforts.”
During his tenure as deputy mayor in Philadelphia, the city experienced a 5 percent reduction in childhood obesity, and a decline in adult obesity rates. The city also had more than a 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. Under his leadership, access to the behavioral health system (including the County of Philadelphia’s Medicaid program) increased, and the number of those with serious mental illness who moved to independent, community-based living increased substantially.
As health commissioner, Schwarz worked to initiate successful anti-obesity and smoking cessation programs, introduced electronic health records to the city’s eight federally-qualified health centers, and established a unique public-private partnership 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 also declined in Philadelphia, the city has reached its lowest rates of infant mortality, and Philadelphia had the highest rates of childhood immunization of America’s large cities.
Before entering government service, Schwarz was vice chairman of the Department of Pediatrics of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and deputy physician-in-chief and Craig-Dalsimer Division chief of 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.
An active researcher in the area of adolescent risk behaviors, Schwarz 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.
Schwarz, a board-certified pediatrician, holds a Master of Business Administration in health care administration from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He received his MD and MPH from Johns Hopkins University, and earned his BA in biology from Brown University.