HL20: Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD—Leading the Dialogue on Cultural Change and Collaboration

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , December 13, 2012

In her 10 years as president and CEO of RWJF, Lavizzo-Mourey has deftly guided the multibillion-dollar philanthropic organization to take on and speak out about what she terms "the important cultural changes that are necessary for us as a nation if we are going to become healthier."

She says the foundation is increasingly focused on supporting projects targeted in areas that represent big health concerns for the country. RWJF is also becoming more intentional in its efforts to that achieve large goals and specific outcomes within set timeframes.

One example: a goal to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity by 2015. Lavizzo-Mourey cautions that while obesity rates probably will not return to the low rates of the 1970s, it is still important to demonstrate that a reversal is under way.

In 2011 the RWJF, which is funded through an endowment, awarded 739 grants worth $397.4 million but Lavizzo-Mourey says the foundation is increasing its use of tools other than grant making, such as strategic communications and collaborations, to try to achieve its goals. She explains that the move is grounded in the realization that RWJF "needs to deliver a very consistent message and develop strong relationship with other foundations, nonprofits, and business leaders to raise awareness and produce the social change necessary to achieve its goals."

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