Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Vice President for Research-Evaluation-Learning and Chief Science Officer Alonzo L. Plough, PhD, MPH. Photo by RWJF

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Vice President for Research-Evaluation-Learning and Chief Science Officer Alonzo L. Plough, PhD, MPH. Photo by RWJF

Alonzo Plough, PhD, MPH, was appointed vice president for research and evaluation and chief science officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in January, 2014. With a career touching many layers of public health — most recently as director of emergency preparedness and response at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health — he is uniquely positioned to discuss APHA’s 2015 Annual Meeting theme, “Health in All Policies.”

He will also bring to Chicago RWJF’s vision for the future of public health. In a guest commentary with Public Health Newswire, Plough shared the “Culture of Health” initiative that brings people together from all sectors to transform how our nation views and values health “now and for generations to come.”

From vision to action: How to build a ‘Culture of Health’

We’ve all heard the statistics: America invests more money in health care than any other nation and yet our health outcomes are mediocre at best. Economists will say it’s expensive and untenable to continue this way. As population health scientists, we know that for the sake of our very well-being, we must change the trajectory. We need to help others envision and build a “Culture of Health,” one in which everyone in our diverse society can lead healthier lives now and for generations to come.

At the APHA Annual Meeting in Chicago, RWJF will share a framework that shows what drives better population health and well-being, and what the measurable outcomes look like. Titled From Vision to Action, Measures to Mobilize a Culture of Health, the framework is meant for different systems to come together to translate and adapt a broad base of research into real-life gains.

We’re starting to see initial traction. More sectors are beginning to see health as their business. For example city planners are creating walkable urban areas to prevent chronic diseases and improve air quality. And education systems are adopting healthy meals for stronger academic performance. Both examples demonstrate how communities are harnessing collective power across society to benefit everyone.

I invite you to connect with me this at this year’s meeting to learn more about the Culture of Health Action Framework. Through sessions I can introduce you to people and their communities throughout the United States who are applying the research and seeing early results.

Here are ways to find my Robert Wood Johnson Foundation colleagues and me at this year’s meeting:

Monday, Nov. 2, 2015
Cross-sector Collaboration to Build a Culture of Health (12:30–2 p.m.)
APHA History Project: Reflections on Fourteen Decades of Public Health Then, Now, and the Future (2:50–3:10 p.m.)
Funding APHA: Achieving Financial Sustainability, Maintaining Organizational Integrity (3:10–3:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015
RWJF’s New Framework and Measures to Build a Culture of Health (12:30– 2 p.m.)
Boundary Spanning Leadership and Multi-sector Partnerships: The Path to Healthy Communities (2:30–4 p.m.)
Building a Culture of Health: The Role of Foundations in Community Development and Health (2:45–3 p.m.)

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015
Applying a Disparities Lens to Community Health Data and Improvement Strategies (8:50–9:10 a.m.)
RWJF 2015 TED Equity Film Series (1:25–1:30 p.m.)

Visit the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Booth in the Exhibition Hall
Stop by booth #821 to be the first to see our new website,, which will debut at the start of the conference. On Monday, Nov. 2 and Tuesday, Nov. 3, stop by our open office hours from 3-4 p.m. each day. Learn more about our signature programs, partners and funding opportunities.

For those who are not traveling to Chicago for APHA this year, you can get a glimpse at our “Action Framework for building a Culture of Health” and the four action areas during RWJF’s next First Friday Hangout on Friday, Nov. 6.

Amidst considerable amounts of research, one thing is clear: To build a culture of health, we need to collaborate across sectors to turn the research into action. I hope you’ll join us.

Alonzo L. Plough, PhD, MPH, is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation vice president for Research-Evaluation-Learning and chief science officer. You can follow him on Twitter @alonzoplough.