Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Honorary Degree Citation

Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. Physician, researcher and analyst, White House consultant, national leader in health care policy and reform. You are the first woman and the first African-American to serve as president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest health philanthropy. A native of Seattle, you began your undergraduate education at the University of Washington, moving to the State University of New York at Stony Brook, from which you were admitted to Harvard Medical School after your junior year. After completing your medical degree, you did your internship and residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognized your remarkable ability in 1984 when you became a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, where you received training in geriatric medicine and also earned your M.B.A. from the Wharton School. In 1986 you were appointed assistant professor in the Section of General Internal Medicine at Penn, and in 1992 you were promoted to associate professor. In 1997 you were named the Sylvan Eisman Professor of Medicine and Health Care Systems, and you also have been director of the Penn’s Institute on Aging. You have served on numerous federal advisory committees, including the Task Force on Aging Research, the Institute of Medicine’s Panel on Disease and Disability Prevention Among Older Adults, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, the President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, and the White House Task Force on Health Care Reform. You have served as co-chair of an Institute of Medicine study on racial disparities in health care and are a passionate and articulate advocate of health care equality. As head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, you oversee the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars annually in grants and contracts focused on improving public health and health care for all Americans.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.

Conferred May 22, 2005


Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey is the president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Previously she was the Sylvan Eisman Professor of Medicine and Systems at the University of Pennsylvania as well as the director of the Institute on Aging. She also served as deputy administrator of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research of the Department of Health and Human Services and worked on the White House Health Care Policy team, including service on the White House Task Force on Health Care Reform. She has been a member of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, the President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, and the boards of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the Regents of the American College of Medicine.She is the recipient of many awards in her field and of two honorary doctorates. She earned her medical degree at Harvard Medical School and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

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