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PHI CEO Transition News

For over fifteen years, Mary has led PHI from strength to strength. Under her leadership PHI has become one of the largest and most comprehensive public health organizations in the world, impacting the lives of hundreds of millions. In the spirit of transparency, we wanted to share with you that the Public Health Institute (PHI) Board, in partnership with our President and CEO Mary Pittman, has begun working on our CEO succession plan. Mary will continue to lead as our President and CEO until December 31, 2023 when her successor is appointed.

Dara Treseder
Chair, PHI Board of Directors


Dear Colleagues,

After fifteen incredible years leading the Public Health Institute and working closely with its dedicated staff and partners, I am preparing to ready the organization over the next year for my successor. I am as passionate about PHI as I was on Day One and will be working closely with our Board Chair, Dara Treseder, toward a successful transition process. I will continue to lead and serve as your President and CEO until my successor is appointed.

My dream when I came to PHI in 2008 was to build on the history of PHI to be even more impactful and effective in building strong public health systems. I came into PHI and immediately realized that the knowledge I had from my prior experience as a PHI board member was only a glimpse of the rich potential in PHI staff, knowledge, and partners. That moment began the journey of a lifetime and one that many of you know you were influential in shaping.

PHI was already a dependable and successful organization, with talented staff and effective programs. I knew that together we could do even more. My vision is to make PHI a more interconnected, collaborative, and impactful public health organization that will continue to improve the lives of people across the globe. Our website www.phi.org contains some of the powerful impact statements on how PHI has improved lives such as the number of people reached with education and outreach during COVID, the number of youth engaged in advocacy for their own health needs, policies to support clear labeling of marijuana and other substances that can be harmful, data support for research on cancer epidemiology and pediatric clinical trials, and monitoring water and air quality after wildfires, to name a few of the public health contributions.

Not every executive gets to choose to go out on such a high note: PHI has never been stronger; its impacts have never been greater; its focus on those most systematically excluded has never been as deep or sustainable. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to strengthen our capabilities to achieve our shared vision for the future.

PHI has grown—steadily and securely—to an organization with an annual revenue of over $225M and 900 plus employees. We have built a financial base that gives our programs and funders the ability to take calculated risks. We have an operational infrastructure that moves resources to our partners quickly, safely, and compliantly, in a matter of weeks instead of months. We hire diverse and expert talent and place them in meaningful positions around the globe. This strong foundation means that PHI programs and PHI staff can focus on what they do best: building healthier, more equitable communities around the world.

I am extremely proud of our collective efforts to focus on health equity in our programs and to bolster racial equity and inclusion in our operations. PHI has courageously addressed tough issues that touch all parts of society that are often interconnected, including violence and behavioral health; COVID and health equity; opioid overdoses and treatment; cannabis policies to protect youth; and mental health and alcohol related health problems. Early on in my tenure at PHI we sought to find the synergy in the organization, we invested in climate and health as a priority initiative to provide leadership and build greater awareness – an agenda that continues to grow in importance. Our recent Together Toward Health (TTH) program brought multiple philanthropies together to address structural racism and COVID impacts in under-reached populations and communities. TTH set a new standard for collaboration across philanthropy and community-based organizations.

Over time PHI has worked deliberately to increase the diversity of our employee workforce, leadership, and our board of directors. This has made PHI a more effective partner, listener and implementer across our portfolio of work. Our 2021 annual report highlights PHI’s powerful and transformative impacts.

As Dara mentioned, I am still leading the charge to build our capabilities as PHI’s President and CEO. We have a lot to accomplish together before my successor is appointed. PHI will continue to invest in key priorities outlined in our strategic framework. This includes implementing the next phase of our Racial Equity Diversity and Inclusion work, including our gender equity work. We will continue to build strong partnerships with community-based organizations who stepped forward during COVID and continue to address community needs. We will launch a new Equity Fellowship and will establish a new mentorship program for PHI staff. We will be launching several programs that expand our relationship with academic programs and public health departments and we will be deepening our climate and environment programs and partnerships. We will continue to strengthen best practices for our operations, including for our cancer research and global work. And finally, I will be working on preparing and fundraising for the celebration of PHI’s 60th anniversary in 2024!

In preparation for PHI’s transition to its next President and CEO, our board has selected a search committee and will engage a search firm to identify strong candidates. I know there are many highly respected leaders from across sectors who are eager to lead PHI. The board is looking forward to a successful national search process.

I am proud to be entrusted by the board and our funders to serve as a steward of the resources PHI has received to advance our mission and vision. Thank you to all our partners–each of you are instrumental in our success. I am confident you are ready to support the future leadership and work of PHI. Thank you to all the staff, partners, funders, and board members for your unwavering support of our work and our vision that just societies ensure equitable health outcomes for everyone.

In partnership,

Mary A. Pittman, DrPH
President & CEO


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