Introduction

A Message From the Chairman of the Board

Headshot of Dr. James R. Gavin III, MD, PhD I count it one of my life’s blessings to have been asked by the then-president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, more than 10 years ago to lead a new organization with the hope of supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s exciting new program to get kids moving and eating better. We started with a blueprint to guide the organization and the mantra of reducing and preventing childhood obesity in a decade. The challenge was enormous, the landscape more complex than suspected, and pockets of resistance robust for a non-partisan issue like improving children’s health.

We made good progress towards enlisting meaningful commitments from private sector entities. We leveraged the magnetism of Mrs. Obama and the enthusiastic support of public figures like U.S. Senators Bill Frist and Cory Booker. We coordinated our activities with the First Lady and her staff, who created opportunities for us to gain visibility and credibility far beyond our size and resources. We organized a national, one-of-a-kind Summit, bringing together sponsors, partners, advocates, and thought leaders to develop new strategies to promote more physical activity and better nutrition driven by changes in the private sector.

We have accomplished significant and meaningful goals: improving the food landscape; encouraging physical activity; improving nutrition standards for early childhood education; increasing healthier options in the convenience food sector; making water the drink of choice; and stimulating the appeal and consumption of fruits and vegetables. PHA has evolved and increased its intensity of focus, while preserving its linkages with the private sector. The emerging vigor in addressing health inequities and disparities takes us back to some of our earlier goals and priorities.

Dr. James R. Gavin III, MD, PhD speaking at PHA Summit Our long-term goals have not eroded: Obesity reduction in children remains our north star. We could not have imagined that such transformational change would occur to alter the environment in which we would pursue our work, but we continue to move forward with new energy, new strategies, and new insights.

I leave you with the strong assurance that PHA will continue to make important contributions as it works on issues that will remain urgent in our post-COVID-19 world. This pandemic will cast a long shadow, and we cannot begin to know how extensively our way of living may be affected by its impact. It’s far from over, but our important work must continue, so be safe and stay healthy. I look forward to continuing this work with you, in whatever ways I can help.

James R. Gavin III, MD, PhD
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Partnership for a Healthier America

Related Reading