Gail Christopher, D.N., Chair, TFAH Board of Directors
Welcome to the 2020 Trust for America’s Health Annual Report. The past year has been one of unprecedented challenges for our nation’s health and pursuit of equity for all. But within these challenges lay the seeds of momentous change.
The events of the year including the disproportionate harm of the COVID-19 pandemic within communities of color and the brutal and senseless killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd among others, have driven home the impact of historical and current day prejudice and structural racism.
The past year illuminated the ways in which the social determinants of health drive individuals’ health status. Serious shortcomings in the nation’s health safety net were revealed including inadequate investment in public health and emergency preparedness, poverty, food insecurity, a fragile child care system, an affordable housing crisis and inadequate mental health and substance use disorder services. These social factors are intersecting with an overburdened healthcare system that is facing unimaginable workforce demands and challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic was felt in all communities but it had the most tragic consequences in communities of color. The ways in which we build back from the pandemic will be an opportunity to create transformational change. Public health is now center stage to our nation’s health. TFAH’s work has never been more urgent. I am proud to be part of an organization that responded to the events of the year with a renewed commitment to sustained investment in the public health system, advancing the social determinants of health and racial and economic justice, and addressing the health effects of climate change. You can read more about TFAH’s work in pursuit of these goals in this report.
In closing, I would like to express my deep appreciation for my colleagues on TFAH’s Board of Directors. I also want to recognize and thank the entire TFAH staff, particularly John Auerbach for his skillful leadership of the organization as TFAH’s President and CEO from 2017 to mid-2021 when he returned to public service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. TFAH had the good fortune of having Dr. J. Nadine Gracia as our Executive Vice President and COO since 2018, working in partnership with John. The TFAH Board of Directors unanimously and enthusiastically selected Dr. Gracia to be our new President and CEO and she has seamlessly stepped into that role. We greatly benefit from her wisdom and leadership. I also want to thank our generous funders; due to their support TFAH continues to be well-positioned to create positive change in our country.