Culture of Health Leaders is a leadership development opportunity for people working in every field and profession who want to use their influence to advance health and equity. Our leaders’ innovation helps build a Culture of Health, one that enables everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. Through this program, our leaders will be prepared to collaborate and provide transformative leadership to address health equity in their communities.

The Culture of Health Leaders program includes representation from fields as diverse as business, technology, architecture, education, urban farming, the arts and many others. Every year, we look to add even broader representation from fields and professions across the private, public, nonprofit and social sectors to build a truly diverse group of leaders.

JEANNE HERB, Associate Director; Environmental Analysis and Communications Group, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy


Over the course of the three-year program, leaders will:

  • Receive an annual stipend of $20,000 for three consecutive years, which can be used to cover salary, living expenses, and more.
  • Hone high-level leadership skills through professional coaching, networking, and an advanced leadership curriculum, including up to four in-person sessions reinforced by distance-based learning using interactive technology. (Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all trainings and events will be virtual until it is safe to conduct them in person.)
  • Create an individual leadership plan that includes self-assessment, leadership development goals, and plans for continued growth and impact after the program is completed.
  • Continue working in their home communities and applying new knowledge and skills in real time.
  • Become part of a national group of leaders spanning sectors and disciplines.
  • Receive top-tier professional coaching from national leaders in change management, health equity, and social innovation.
  • Implement a strategic Culture of Health initiative in the third year of the program.


Upon completion, participants will have the tools to:

  • Apply equitable leadership and collaborate across sectors, professions, and disciplines.
  • Transform systems, policies, and institutions to be more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.
  • Authentically engage community partners and members in building a Culture of Health.
  • Frame issues and build public support to address them.
  • Advocate for systemic and sustainable change.

Culture of Health Leaders is a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, co-led by the National Collaborative for Health Equity and CommonHealth ACTION.

The Robert Wood Johnson foundation

These programs continue the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s legacy of supporting the development and diversity of leaders. Initially focused on health and healthcare, the programs have been expanded, because we know that building a Culture of Health requires all of us in every sector, profession and discipline working together.

For more than 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and healthcare. It is working with others to build a national Culture of Health, enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives.


Natalie S. Burke
Natalie S. Burke Co-Director,
Culture of Health Leaders;
President & CEO, CommonHealth ACTION

A relationship specialist, Natalie builds and sustains successful, long-term interactions with leaders from all sectors. For more than 20 years, she has provided technical assistance and coaching to organizations across the country as they create community-generated solutions to policy challenges. A master trainer and facilitator, Natalie’s expertise includes organizational development, curriculum development, executive coaching, and training for institutions, including: government; Fortune 150 corporations; public health and healthcare organizations; and community collaboratives.

“Regardless of their sector, stage in life or careers, Culture of Health Leaders will engage in creating an alternative future, one in which all people have equitable opportunities for their best possible health and well-being.”

— NATALIE S. BURKE, Co-Director, Culture of Health Leaders Program, President and CEO, CommonHealth ACTION


Dr. Gail C. Christopher, D.N.
Dr. Gail C. Christopher, D.N. Co-Director,
Culture of Health Leaders;
Executive Director, National Collaborative for Health Equity

Dr. Gail Christopher is an award-winning social change agent with expertise in the social determinants of health and well-being, and in related public policies. She is known for her pioneering work to infuse holistic health and diversity concepts into public-sector programs and policy discourse. Dr. Christopher recently retired from her role as senior adviser and vice president at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she was the driving force behind the America Healing initiative and the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation effort. Dr. Christopher also served as Kellogg’s vice president for program strategy and worked on place-based programming in New Orleans and New Mexico. In 2015, she received the Terrance Keenan Leadership Award in Health Philanthropy from Grantmakers in Health. She chairs the Board of the Trust for America’s Health. In 2019, Dr. Christopher became the executive director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity.

Nehanda A.M Lindsey
Nehanda A.M Lindsey Curriculum, Learning, & Technology Director, Culture of Health Leaders;
Vice President, CommonHealth ACTION

Nehanda Lindsey serves as the Director of Curriculum and Technology for the Culture of Health Leaders program, where she provides direction for the development, implementation, and delivery of the curriculum and program model. She also developed and manages the technology infrastructure for the program, including the learning systems, devices, and platform that supports the program delivery.

In her role of Vice President of Operations and Organizational Strategy for CommonHealth ACTION, she provides direction and oversight for the organization’s programs and operational activities. With an extensive background in program development and project management, she supports programmatic activities through the effective use of interactive video, web-based tools, educational webinars, social media, training development and implementation. She is a trained writer/editor with strong skills in instructional and information design, communications, as well as comprehensive meeting management.

In addition, she designs and manages the organization’s operations, processes, and systems. A certified meeting professional with over 22 years’ experience in the conference and events industry, Ms. Lindsey manages CommonHealth ACTION’s major events, as well as the associated continuing education processes.

Tara Hacker
Tara Hacker Director,
Program Experience & Teams,
Culture of Health Leaders;
Director, CommonHealth ACTION

Tara Hacker oversees the day-to-day management and development of Culture of Health Leaders and provides technical assistance to community-based leaders and organizations in her role at CommonHealth ACTION. Tara is a solutions-oriented thinker who connects people and resources to address challenges and identify opportunities in individuals, organizations, and communities.  She has over a decade of public health and health care experience. Prior to this, Tara worked at the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative where she worked with stakeholders across the country to advance primary care and the patient-centered medical home. In addition, she worked for the National Council of La Raza (UnidosUS), the Kansas Medicaid program, and she served two years as a Health Educator in Peace Corps Honduras.

Jalisa Whitley
Jalisa Whitley Director of Administration,
Culture of Health Leaders

Jalisa Whitley is the director of administration for the Culture of Health Leaders program where she provides administrative and budgetary support to the program. She assists leaders with hardship-fund requests and budgetary guidance on strategic initiatives. As director of leadership programs at the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE), Jalisa develops leaders and catalyzes cross-sector partnerships to create a more equitable and just society. Recognizing that action, leadership, connection, and collaboration are the basis for driving policy decisions, Jalisa strives to connect people most impacted by social and racial injustices to transform systems and institutions built on the enduring legacy of racism.

Ms. Whitley has been active for over 10 years in the nonprofit community as a professional, volunteer, and board member.. Jalisa is passionate about connecting communities to opportunities to elevate their impact, cocreate solutions, and implement sustainable change. The common thread throughout her work is a commitment to uplifting the imagination, possibilities, and solutions that already exist in communities made vulnerable by divestment and systemic harm. Jalisa is committed to using her platform to resource, connect, and be in service of change agents working toward our collective liberation.

A native of Geneva, New York, Jalisa received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Public Policy from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and a Master of Public Policy in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, travel (when we’re not in a pandemic), and engaging with music, theater, and the arts.

Our partners are instrumental in developing and delivering curriculum, providing coaching, and extending the network of leaders.

National advisory committee

Terry Allan, MPH
Terry Allan, MPH National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner, Cuyahoga County Board of Health (Greater Cleveland)

Terry Allan is the Health Commissioner for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and past president of the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine. Terry has served on advisory panels for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is a Year 13 Scholar of CDC’s National Public Health Leadership Institute. Terry is a Past- President of the Board of Directors for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Marcia Conner
Marcia Conner
National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Blank-page Systems Architect, Business sector consultant & adult learning expert

Marcia Conner is a former corporate executive now dedicating her time to reinventing a vibrant healthy world. Described as a “blank page systems architect,” she works with big-vision leaders, impact entrepreneurs and unreasonable thinkers. She is a SupporTED Mentor, contributor to Fast Company, fellow at the Darden School of Business, and an activist with Change Agents Worldwide. Marcia is author of Learn More Now; The New Social Learning: Connect, Collaborate, Work; Creating a Learning Culture; and contributor to Changing the World of Work: One Human at a Time. She speaks globally on outcompeting current structures through system innovation and ingenuity.

David Harrington
David Harrington National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Executive Director, Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce

David Harrington is President and CEO of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce. During his tenure, the Chamber’s revenue, membership and influence on state and local policy has increased significantly. Previously, David completed 15 years of public life commencing as a mayor, a county council member and Maryland State Senator. He was also President of the Maryland Municipal League, National Chair of Economic Development with the National Association of Counties, and Chaired the Maryland State Task Force on Physical Education. He has been awarded numerous awards, including the Phyllis Newman Award for nonprofit advocacy, the Human Services Coalition Legislative Award, and Legislator of the Year from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

Luella Toni Lewis, MD
Luella Toni Lewis, MD National Advisory Committee Chair, Culture of Health Leaders;
President and Founder, Liberation Health Strategies Co-Founder, Health Equity Cypher
Immediate Past Chair of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Health

Dr. Luella Toni Lewis is the president of Liberation Health Strategies which focus on community, national, and global holistic strategies for health justice. Dr. Lewis is the immediate Past Chair of SEIU Healthcare, the arm of SEIU representing one million nurses, doctors and health care workers throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. She joined SEIU in 2004 as a member of the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) of SEIU Healthcare. She was elected as the national president of CIR from 2007-2010. Dr. Lewis trained at St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center when it experienced service cuts and imminent closure. She emerged from this crisis as an experienced and tested public health advocate devoted to health justice and the highest quality of care for all communities.

Kyu Rhee
Kyu Rhee National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Senior Vice President, CVS Health and Chief Medical Officer, Aetna

Dr. Kyu (“Q”) Rhee serves as Senior Vice President of CVS Health and Chief Medical Officer of Aetna. He and his team lead the integration and delivery of clinical and population health solutions. Dr. Rhee was formerly the Chief Health Officer of IBM, where he had global responsibilities for Watson Health and assuring a Culture of Health at IBM. Prior to joining IBM, Dr. Rhee was Chief Public Health Officer at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for the uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. Dr. Rhee also served as Director of the Office of Innovation and Program Coordination at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he led numerous initiatives related to eliminating health disparities and promoting health equity.

Dani Ledezma
Dani Ledezma National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Racial Equity & Social Justice Senior Advisor, Portland Public Schools

Dani Ledezma is the Racial Equity & Social Justice Senior Advisor for Portland Public Schools where she helps guide the process of building a clear strategic direction to integrate racial justice throughout the district to meet the needs of students of color so they reach their full potential. She was formerly the interim Executive director of the Coalition of Communities of Color. Prior to that Dani spent fifteen years in the public sector working towards equity for underserved communities through promotion of an equitable work environment and equitable public investments focused on inclusion and collaboration. She served as Housing and Human Services Policy Advisor to Governor Kate Brown, and Education Policy Advisor to Governor John Kitzhaber.

Emily Haozous, PhD, RN, FAAN 
Emily Haozous, PhD, RN, FAAN  National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders Research Scientist;
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE)
Chiricahua Fort Sill Apache

Emily is a Research Scientist at PIRE’s Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest (BHRCS), in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Haozous’ research is guided by the health and wellness priorities of the Native American partners with whom she collaborates. She has published in peer reviewed journals on cancer pain management, telehealth and video conferencing, complementary and alternative therapies for pain management, issues in racial misclassification, national trends in premature mortality, and cancer decision-making; always focusing her research efforts on the interests of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. She has a background in hospice and palliative care nursing and is passionate about policy change that brings equitable healthcare delivery to all corners of Indian Country.

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