Wharton Health Care Management Alumni Association awards prestigious Alumni Achievement Award

Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, WG'86, 2014 recipient of the prestigious Wharton Health Care Management Alumni Achievement Award

853.jpgWharton as a school teaches its students to identify inefficiencies in the market – either for their own advantage or to work at fixing them for the good of society.  The WHCM program is a good mix of this (maybe erring more on the good of society than say a Wharton MBA) and; teaches its students how to work within a capitalist system but with a focus on societal well-being.  This makes the WHCM program unique in this regard and provides for a great learning experience.

How many believe that things happen for a reason – that there is an underlying order to life that determines how events turn out?  How many of you believe that life is a bunch of random events and that you need to make the best of what life has dealt you?    There was a very really good article in the NY Times Review section on Sunday, 10/19 which discussed this.   This article ultimately stated that whatever you believe, the purpose of society is to work hard to ensure that the events of human life unfold in a fair and just manner so that they become less random.

This is where the 2014 Wharton Health Care Management Alumni Achievement Award winner excels, ensuring that human events unfold in a more fair manner, most especially for those less fortunate.  This person, Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, WG’86 WHCM program, has worked hard ensuring society is good/fair to as many people as possible – that it fixes these inefficiencies.

Risa currently serves as the President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and has done so since 2003.  As many of you know, the RWJF is a philanthropic foundation with over $10 billion assets – focused on healthcare.   The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation seeks to improve the health and health care of all Americans. Its efforts focus on improving both the health of everyone in America and their health care—how it's delivered, how it's paid for, and how well it does for patients and their families.  It provides hundreds of millions of dollars per year to organizations and people with this goal of improving health care for all.

On Thursday evening, October 30, 2014 over 60 WHCM alumni and guests (including Risa’s husband, Robert) gathered in Philadelphia to honor Risa for her lifetime work in health care and at the RWJF. 

Risa has focused the work of RWJF on key public health issues such as:
  • Childhood Obesity
  • Achieving the triple aim of medicine – access, quality care at a reasonable cost
  • Expanding the role of caregivers to help make up for the anticipated shortage of them
  • Addressing social factors which impact health
Risa’s background includes:
  • Professorship at Penn Medical School
  • Federal Government work including:  AHRQ, White House Health Care Reform Task Force, Task Force on Aging Research, National Committee for Vital and Health Statistics, President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry
  • Graduate of Harvard Medical School; residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston
  • Robert Wood Johnson Scholar at PENN
  • Member of the Institute of Medicine
  • Serving on numerous board including the Smithsonian Board of Regents
  • Numerous honorary doctorates and other award for her work from UPENN, Harvard School of Public Health, Dept HHS, American College of Physicians, National Library of Medicine, National Medical Association, and the American Medical Women’s Association.
  • Married for close to 40 year to her husband, Robert, and has 2 children and one grandchild.
Risa is an outstanding example of the kinds of leadership health care needs to ensure it meets the triple aim of medicine not just for some but for all Americans.   We are very fortunate to have her as a WHCM alumni and as well; as an example for others to follow.   We congratulate Risa in receiving the WHCM alumni achievement award and are grateful for her leadership in health care.