For several years, I’ve been captivated by research investigating this notion of a “culture of health”—how we get there and what it will mean for the health and well-being of our country if we do. Considering that just 20 percent of our health outcomes are directly tied to access to health care services, there exists a tremendous opportunity to use social and economic levers to improve health no matter who we are or where we live. As a strategic communicator, I can’t think of a more urgent story to tell.
Jillian West is the senior communications manager for the Urban Institute’s cross-center initiative on the social determinants of health. Working with experts across research centers, she uses digital and traditional media tools to disseminate research findings and educate policymakers and the public about how social factors like assistance programs, education policy, and urban planning affect population health. Additionally, West manages communications for Policies for Action, a pillar program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that supports innovative research on how public- and private-sector laws and policies can help build a culture of health.
Before coming to Urban, West worked at The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit watchdog group using transparent public reporting to improve safety and quality in the US hospital system. She also spent three years with the Board on Health Care Services at the National Academy of Medicine. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Macalester College and a master’s degree in strategic communication from American University.