New President And CEO Of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Named

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Richard Besser, a physician, has been named the new leader of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the “largest charitable foundation devoted exclusively to health and health care” in the United States, according to a February 13 press release.

Besser, who is currently the chief health and medical editor at ABC News, is a former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He also served as director of the CDC’s Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response.

Besser is now a professor of pediatrics at Columbia University, as well as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Besser holds a BA degree in economics from Williams College and a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, the release said. He completed a residency and chief residency in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

Besser succeeds Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, who has been the RWJF’s president and CEO for the past fourteen years. During her tenure, the foundation has focused its programming “on broad and important topics such as reducing childhood obesity, promoting health equity, expanding health coverage, and building a Culture of Health in America,” according to the release.

Lavizzo-Mourey will stay on as president and CEO of the RWJF during a transitional period. She is expected to turn over leadership of the foundation to Besser in April.

For more details and some comments about Richard Besser, please see the official press release.

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