The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon

Search Results

Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Non-profit executive Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey was born on September 25, 1954 in Seattle, Washington to Dr. Blanche Sellers-Lavizzo and Dr. Philip Lavizzo. She attended the University of Washington before transferring to the State University of New York-Stony Brook for two years. Lavizzo-Mourey then continued her education at Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1979. In 1984, she was selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar, and earned her M.B.A. degree in health policy from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1986.

Lavizzo-Mourey joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania as an assistant professor. During her tenure, she served as the director of the Institute on Aging from 1984 to 1992. She took a leave of absence from the university to work as deputy administrator for the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research under President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Lavizzo-Mourey then served as quality of care chair for President Bill Clinton’s panels on health care until 1994, when she returned to the University of Pennsylvania as a professor. Lavizzo-Mourey served as the associate executive vice president for health policy for the health system from 1994 to 2001, and the Sylvan Eisman professor of medicine and health care systems at the university from 1997 to 2002. In 2001, Lavizzo-Mourey was hired as a senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and was appointed to serve as the president and CEO of the foundation in 2003. While at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Lavizzo-Mourey continued to see patients at a clinic in New Jersey, and launched an influential campaign against childhood obesity in 2007. The initiative decreased the obesity rate among children aged two to five years and halted its rise among those aged two to nineteen years.

Lavizzo-Mourey was the recipient of numerous awards, including twenty honorary doctorates from institutions like Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Tufts University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. She appeared on Forbes’ list of the most important women in the world eight times, and as one of Modern Healthcare’s one hundred most influential people in health care eleven times.

Lavizzo-Mourey and her husband, Robert Lavizzo-Mourey, have two adult children.

Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 14, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.038

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/14/2016

Last Name

Lavizzo-Mourey

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Juanita

Schools

Our Lady of Mount Virgin

John Muir Elementary School

Asa Mercer Middle School

The Bush School

University of Pennsylvania

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Harvard Medical School

Harvard

First Name

Risa

Birth City, State, Country

Nashville

HM ID

LAV03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/25/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Roasted chicken, fresh salad

Short Description

Non-profit executive Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey (1954 - ) advised on health policies for the Bush and Clinton administrations, and became president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2002.

Employment

Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Various

University of Pennsylvania

The Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:3040,92:11249,275:11744,281:15970,301:16730,310:17205,316:17585,321:18250,330:21520,341:22080,349:22560,356:23520,366:24160,375:24800,384:25360,392:26000,401:27200,418:27760,426:28080,431:28720,442:29200,450:30160,462:31040,475:31680,484:32800,499:39942,564:40302,569:42534,612:42894,618:43470,627:44478,645:44838,651:45630,669:46926,686:47286,692:47862,701:48150,706:48582,713:57770,823:58330,832:58970,841:60010,857:60730,869:62490,897:63770,917:69740,930:70580,945:73870,983:74698,998:75181,1006:75664,1020:76423,1033:76699,1038:77044,1044:79390,1085:79804,1092:81046,1117:81391,1123:83700,1129:84020,1134:91498,1202:91888,1208:92278,1214:93136,1228:93448,1233:93760,1238:94306,1247:94930,1258:95554,1266:95866,1271:96646,1284:98284,1313:99220,1328:99610,1337:100936,1370:101950,1393:106890,1421:107258,1426:107626,1431:108086,1437:108822,1446:109282,1452:109650,1457:110018,1462:111580,1468:112201,1479:113098,1497:113512,1504:114202,1519:114478,1528:114892,1544:115858,1561:116134,1566:117031,1582:117376,1588:118273,1605:118894,1617:119515,1627:119929,1636:120757,1653:121102,1659:121723,1671:129700,1744:130720,1750:132760,1788:133610,1801:134205,1810:145170,1921:146405,1949:147070,1957:148970,2030:150770,2038$70,0:500,6:1446,18:2134,27:6054,73:6642,81:7482,92:11682,192:12522,212:16302,384:16974,394:17394,400:21534,471:29380,527:36540,602:37254,610:37968,618:38580,625:41290,638:42870,645:43794,659:44795,673:45719,687:46489,726:50339,781:50878,790:54632,805:54976,810:55836,823:56438,831:59170,849:59510,854:61270,859:62614,891:65310,917:67340,933:68020,942:71916,974:73407,998:74472,1017:75466,1036:76176,1047:76460,1052:78420,1060:78732,1065:79044,1070:79434,1076:80292,1089:80682,1095:81462,1107:82242,1119:82710,1126:84582,1160:84894,1165:86844,1207:87234,1213:89574,1257:90510,1273:95875,1302:96785,1314:97240,1320:97968,1339:98423,1345:99606,1366:101670,1373:102854,1389:103520,1399:104704,1413:105444,1425:106184,1436:110060,1468:110395,1474:110931,1483:111735,1498:112338,1511:113410,1524:114080,1536:114348,1541:119555,1567:121935,1600:122700,1610:123380,1618:123975,1627:127375,1677:128055,1686:130730,1695:131146,1700:131562,1705:136806,1739:137985,1751:145486,1841:146948,1851:148840,1881:149872,1922:150216,1927:151420,1956:152280,1967:152710,1973:153054,1978:160550,2043:161138,2052:161642,2059:162062,2065:162818,2077:163742,2089:164330,2098:165338,2111:165674,2116:166766,2129:167522,2139:170210,2173:174434,2209:175042,2219:175990,2228
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls her mother's childhood in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about her mother's aspirations in the medical field

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls her father's childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her father's medical paper

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls her parents' careers after medical school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her parents' private practice in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey remembers the Mount Baker neighborhood in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey remembers Our Lady of Mount Virgin School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls discrimination in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey remembers her early aspirations to become a doctor

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her family's religious and civic involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls her high school education

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her early mentors

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls the economic climate of Seattle, Washington during the late 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about the recession in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls famous people from Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about the Black Panther Party in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her experience at The Bush School in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey remembers her father's death

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her college education

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her influences at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls her acceptance to Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about affirmative action

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her experiences at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her mentors at Harvard Medical School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls the controversy involving Dr. Bernard D. Davis

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey remembers her challenges in medical school

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls the racial climate of Boston, Massachusetts during the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about her former classmate, Jill Stein

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her former classmate, Dr. Augustus A. White, III

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls her residency at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about health care legislation

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about preventive medicine

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes the challenges of medical residency

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls completing her medical residency

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes the Lewis Katz School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls the history of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her decision to specialize in geriatric medicine

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her responsibilities at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey remembers her role as the W.E.B Du Bois College House faculty advisor

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about racial tensions in Philadelphia, Pennslvania during the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey remembers notable students and professors at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her work for the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls working with Hillary Rodham Clinton on The Health Security Act of 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about universal healthcare reform

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about her medical research

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about violence as a public health issue

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls her appointment as Sylvan Eisman Professor of Medicine and Health Care Systems

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes her program to reinstitute house calls

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about alternatives to home health care

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey recalls becoming president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about her campaign to combat childhood obesity

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes the factors of a healthy childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes the factors of a healthy childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about the endowment of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about the health crisis in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey reflects upon her family

Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

8$7

DATitle
Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey remembers her early aspirations to become a doctor
Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey talks about her campaign to combat childhood obesity
Transcript
I'm thinking you've got two parents [Blanche Sellers Lavizzo and Philip V. Lavizzo] who are physicians, did you spend or did your siblings spend a lot of time in the office?$$Um-hm.$$Or yeah, you know, downtown [Central District, Seattle, Washington]?$$I, that's a, that's a great question, we did, I probably spent more than the others, my fondest memory really is Saturday mornings because Saturday mornings was the special time that I had with my mother, she practiced on Saturday mornings, so a pediatrician, you--good time to be in the office if you're gonna take care of kids right? Saturday mornings, so every Saturday morning she and I would drive down to her office which was about three or four blocks from the YWCA [Young Women's Christian Association] and I would then walk to the Y, get a swimming lesson and after my swimming lesson I'd walk back to her office and hang out for the rest of the morning with her and thinking I was helping out in the lab and, you know, sitting in the waiting room with her patients and just being there and seeing her do her work and how people responded to her. And I think that, that really instilled in me the joy of being a doctor, yeah. There were other times that we spent time with them and those were usually when there was an emergency in the evening and they had to go into the hospital there was, there wasn't anybody who could take care of us, you know? The, they were three thousand miles away from their family and anybody who could really come and, come over and help out in the evening, so when that happened we all piled into the car and went to the emergency room, my parents would do their work and my brother [Philip Lavizzo] and I would hang out at the nurses station and, again that was, that was pure joy for me, I think it was just the opposite for my brother.$$Okay, okay. So, so you--you're learning, I guess directly and vicariously about the profession--$$Um-hm.$$--the medical profession by being around--$$Yeah (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) two doctors.$We've invested in ensuring that kids have a healthy weight, it really--a billion dollars in reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) You know that was a big initiative that was launched soon after you joined Robert Wood (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yes.$$The Johnson Foundation [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, New Jersey], and one in which the first lady participated in, you know, to a great extent, I mean she was, you know, she made commercials and, and appeared around the country, you know, on behalf of exercise and eating the right foods and--$$Shortly after I became president, I really initiated our commitment to reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity. At the time, there were a lot of debates about whether it was really a problem and we were largely as a country ignoring the, the fact that rates of childhood obesity were steadily going up and the consequences of children being obese at a young age were going to be devastating because all of the illnesses that are associated with obesity like high blood pressure and heart disease and asthma were things that they would start to get at a much younger age. So instead of getting them, these diseases in middle age, they would--we were starting to see diabetes in childhood and in children in their teens and in their early twenties and that of course could lead to a situation where we were producing a generation that was gonna die younger than their parents' generation, in fact, we are seeing now a decrease in life expectancy. So we at the foundation and, and really was a signature program under my administration to address childhood obesity and I remember going to meet with Michelle Obama before she was the first lady, when she was Senator Barack Obama's [HistoryMaker President Barack Obama] wife working in community programs at the University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois]. And it was very clear that then that she was passionate about this issue and so it was extremely gratifying to see her take that on when she became first lady and to essentially become a champion for good policies for educating parents and for changing the, the ways that communities addressed the health of children.