Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a national leader in transforming America’s health systems so people live healthier lives and receive the health care they need. A practicing physician with business credentials and hands-on experience developing national health policy, she was drawn to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation by the opportunity, as she puts it, to “alter the trajectory and to push society to change for the better.”
Driven by the belief that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a steward of private resources that must be used in the public’s interest, particularly to help the most vulnerable, Lavizzo-Mourey combines the values she learned as a doctor—commitment to others, a sense of altruism—with the skills and knowledge from her business training—the importance of measuring results and outcomes, of clear accountability, of taking a disciplined approach to managing resources and motivating people. Through it all, she is guided by the conviction that philanthropy is about simultaneously improving individual lives, transforming systems and in turn, achieving lasting social change.
Under Lavizzo-Mourey’s leadership, the Foundation has restructured its strategic investments to target a set of high-impact priorities, among them:
• Designing a more effective, performance-driven, patient-centered health system.
• Improving the quality and safety of patient care.
• Strengthening state and local public health systems.
• Reversing the childhood obesity by 2015.
• Easing the crisis in the nursing profession.
• Covering the uninsured.
• Developing the next generation of health leaders and policy-makers.
Lavizzo-Mourey was a leader in academic medicine, government service and her medical specialty of geriatrics before joining RWJF in 2001 as senior vice president and director of the health care group. Previously, at the University of Pennsylvania, she was the Sylvan Eisman Professor of medicine and health care systems and director of Penn’s Institute on Aging. In Washington, D.C., she was deputy administrator of what is now the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies.
Raised in Seattle by physician parents, Lavizzo-Mourey earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. She completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston; was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania; and trained in Geriatrics at Penn. Always a physician as well as an agent for wide-scale social change, she still treats patients at a community health clinic in New Brunswick, N.J. She and her husband of more than 30 years have two adult children.