Newswise — Shelley Hearne, DrPH, MPH, has joined the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as the new director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Advocacy and the inaugural Alfred Sommer and Michael Klag Decanal Professor of the Practice for Public Health Advocacy.

Hearne is a longtime advocate for the power of preventive public health measures and brings a wealth of experience and expertise working with partners in both the public and private sectors.

Previously, Hearne served as the president of CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente that works to catalyze health equity policy improvements in the nation’s largest cities. At the Bloomberg School of Public Health, her work will continue to foster the connection between a community’s health and its members.

Founded in 2016, the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Advocacy has a dual mission to develop and disseminate programs that encourage healthy behavioral change, and also to train faculty and students in health promotion and advocacy. The Center is part the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management. In her new role, Hearne will design a public health curriculum that integrates practical community-based practice with exceptional scholarship to teach students how best to advocate for public health measures.

“Shelley brings an extensive track record of leadership, policy impact, institution building, and teaching in health advocacy,” says Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD, ScM. “With over three decades of experience in promoting the health, safety, and sustainability of our planet and the people on it, she’s a real changemaker. I’m thrilled to welcome her to the Bloomberg School at this critical moment in public health’s history.”

“Shelley is eager to train our students to use communication and advocacy tools to tackle the most pressing issues we are facing today—from helping to mobilize an evidence-based public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthening the health care safety net in the U.S. and around the globe,” says Colleen Barry, PhD, MPP, the Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management. “Shelley understands the urgency of advancing health equity and we are fortunate to have her at the Bloomberg School leading this work.” 

The Alfred Sommer and Michael Klag Decanal Professor of the Practice for Public Health Advocacy was endowed by Sid and Helaine Lerner to honor two of the Bloomberg School’s greatest advocates for health. Dean Emeritus Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS, who led the School from 1990 to 2005, is a world-renowned expert in public health and ophthalmology. Dean Emeritus Michael Klag, MD, MPH, and Second Century Distinguished Professor who served as dean from 2005 to 2017, is an internationally known expert on the epidemiology of heart and kidney disease prevention. The professorship provides a permanent, full-time focus on health advocacy, allowing for the development of new courses, student mentoring and faculty collaborations.

“As we face the greatest public health challenge in our lifetime I am honored to join the Bloomberg School of Public Health to boost our role in evidence-based problem solving and policy solutions,” says Hearne. “The Center for Public Health Advocacy will work collaboratively with faculty, students, and staff to enhance our effectiveness in translating our science into action. The Center aims to launch a campaign to revitalize our woefully neglected, under-supported disease prevention system so that we can be a healthier, more resilient nation after the pandemic.”

Hearne was the founder of the Trust for America’s Health, a national advocacy organization dedicated to preventing epidemics and protecting people; the managing director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Health group, which included its biomedical research, food, pharmaceutical, and financial security programs; the acting director of New Jersey’s pollution prevention program; and the executive director of the Pew Environmental Health Commission.

She has served in numerous national leadership positions, including chair of the American Public Health Association’s executive board and vice president of the Council on Education for Public Health. She has led accreditation site visits for public health schools and programs, including for Harvard and Yale. She has been widely covered in the press and has substantial experience testifying before and engaging with policymakers. In addition, she runs the Forsythia Foundation, an environmental health philanthropy, as a consultant. 

She has authored many national health reports and has testified regularly before the U.S. Congress on bioterrorism, pandemic preparedness, health tracking and public health funding.

Hearne has received numerous awards for her advocacy efforts, including the Senator Lautenberg Award for lifetime achievement in public health, the APHA’s Executive Director Citation, and Bowdoin College’s Common Good award. Hearne received degrees in chemistry and environmental studies with honors from Bowdoin College and a Master of Public Health degree and Doctor of Public Health in environmental health science from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

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