Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, is president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a position she has held since 2003. With more than 30 years of personal experience as a medical practitioner, policy-maker, professor and nonprofit executive, Lavizzo-Mourey combines the scientific and ethical values she learned as a doctor with an enduring conviction that meaningful philanthropy must achieve lasting social change.
Under her leadership, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has researched, evaluated, and implemented transformative programs tackling the nation’s most pressing health issues, with the goal of creating a national culture of health. Risa is the first woman and the first African-American to head the Foundation, which has an endowment of about $9 billion (it is the nation’s fourth largest).
Convinced that in America good health should be a fundamental expectation enjoyed by all and not an accident of geography or socioeconomic status, Lavizzo-Mourey has built on the Foundation’s 40-year history of addressing key public health issues,by adopting bold, forward-looking priorities that include: Reversing the childhood obesity epidemic; creating a health care system that provides the best possible care at a reasonable cost; expanding the role of highly-trained nurses; and, addressing the social factors that impact health, especially among the most vulnerable.
A specialist in geriatrics, Lavizzo-Mourey came to the Foundation from the University of Pennsylvania, where she served as the Sylvan Eisman Professor of Medicine and Health Care Systems. She also directed Penn’s Institute on Aging and was chief of geriatric medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine.
At the federal level, Lavizzo-Mourey served as deputy administrator of the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality and worked on the White House Health Care Reform Task Force, co-chairing the working group on Quality of Care. She also has served on numerous federal advisory committees, including the Task Force on Aging Research, the National Committee for Vital and Health Statistics and the President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.
Additionally, she co-chaired a congressionally requested Institute of Medicine study on racial and ethnic disparities in health care (Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care (2002)).
She did her undergraduate work at the University of Washington and the State University of New York at Stony Brook and earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She trained in geriatrics at Penn, then earned an MBA from the Wharton School.
Lavizzo-Mourey is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences; the President’s Council for Fitness, Sports and Nutrition; the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and several boards of directors. She is also a frequent blogger at Whitehouse.gov.
She is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and other awards, including commendations for her work from the Harvard School of Public Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American College of Physicians, the National Library of Medicine, the American Medical Women’s Association, the National Medical Association and the University of Pennsylvania.
She and her husband of nearly 40 years have two adult children and one grandchild.