Thursday, July 31, 2008

Philanthropy Profile: Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Meet Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the first African American and first woman, to head the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is the largest philanthropic foundation dedicated to healthcare in the U.S.

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Dr. Mourey received a M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.

In addition to serving as President and CEO at the foundation, she also makes time to practice medicine at a community health clinic in New Jersey.

Dennis Nishi of the Wall Street Journal.com recently met with Dr. Mourey to talk about her career path, what skills you need to work in philanthropy and why its important for the medical profession to bring back house calls. Snippets from the article:

"Skills you need: Foundations need collaborators, strategic thinkers, problem solvers and innovative leaders, she says. "Collaboration is essential for a leader in philanthropy. Our role is often to serve as a convener working with both businesses and the government to affect change," says Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey. A leader in philanthropy also needs to be strategic, she adds.

Where you should start: Most executives in philanthropy start and develop expertise in another field and then bring that expertise to philanthropy. "I encourage people to follow their passion and along the way become a student of social change," she says."

During medical school, Dr. Mourey's specialty area was geriatrics. She shared a story about an older patient and why doctors need to bring back house calls:

"One situation that gave me real insight into how the environment we live in affects our health in profound ways was a house call to an older patient. It was around holiday time and I was making frequent visits to make sure she was doing well. Older patients who live alone can become depressed. I noticed she was losing weight and there wasn't a good reason. She was getting Meals on Wheels but they only come once a day and don't provide any extras that you may need to keep your weight up. When I asked her about it, she didn't have a good reason why she was losing weight. So I asked to look in her refrigerator and saw it was empty. This woman had to rely on the system, she had no family to help her do things like go shopping. These are things we take for granted."

Read article here.

Photo: Wsj.com

1 comment:

dr.natura said...

Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey joined the Foundation in April 2001 as a senior vice president and director of its Health Care Group, overseeing all grantmaking and programs related to the Foundation's efforts in the areas of access and chronic illness care. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served in a variety of roles at the University of Pennsylvania. She was director of the Institute on Aging, University of Pennsylvania; chief of the division of geriatric medicine; Sylvan Eisman Professor of Medicine and Health Care Systems; and associate chief of staff for geriatrics and extended care for the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center. She also served in the United States Department of Health and Human Services as deputy administrator of the Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research (now known as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality). Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey was a member of the White House Task Force on Health Care Reform and served as a consultant to the White House on issues of health policy.

Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey has served on several federal advisory committees, including the Task Force on Aging Research, the Office of Technology Assessment Panel on Preventive Services for Medicare Beneficiaries, the Institute of Medicine's Panel on Disease and Disability Prevention Among Older Adults, and the National Committee for Vital and Health Statistics (where she chaired the Subcommittee on Minority Populations).

She also served on the President's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry. She recently completed service as co-vice chair of a congressionally requested Institute of Medicine study on racial disparities in health care.

She is married to Dr. Robert Lavizzo-Mourey and has two adult kids. She currently resides in Princeton, New Jersey.