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“This was never a job for me; it's always been a mission.”
- Dr. Jonathan Fielding
DR. JONATHAN FIELDING KEPT A HIGH NATIONAL PROFILE during his 16 years as director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. He served as chair of the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020, also known as Healthy People 2020. Fielding was also appointed in 2010 by President Obama to the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health.
But since stepping down from the county position, where he oversaw public health activities for more than 10 million residents, the FSPH professor-in-residence has become even more visible on the national stage through a variety of activities aimed at improving the health of the U.S. population.
Since August 2016, Fielding has written a monthly column for U.S. News & World Report on a wide range of topical public health issues, from childhood obesity, gun violence, and the opioid crisis to dietary supplements, distracted driving and strategies to reduce dementia risk (see ph.ucla.edu/JF). “I’m trying to bring public health issues to the fore — including some that aren’t fully appreciated by the public — and to point to opportunities for great health returns on small investments, as well as the need for policy change grounded in research and practice,” he says.
Among his many other activities, Fielding is chair emeritus for Healthy People 2030, which will set the nation’s health objectives for the next decade; is on the advisory committee to the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and continues to serve as editor of the Annual Review of Public Health. He is a founding board member of Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending addiction. Fielding also helped develop a nationwide alumni group for former directors of big-city and county health departments that can advocate for effective policies and programs to improve health locally and nationally. At the school, he serves as founding director of the FSPH-based UCLA Center for Health Advancement, where he is part of a team headed by Dr. Frederick Zimmerman, FSPH professor of health policy and management, that is using health impact assessments and modeling to promote social investments that yield great health returns for large segments of the population. Fielding also continues to teach and mentor students at the school.
“If you’re in public health, what’s important is impact,” Fielding says of his decision to remain so active. “This was never a job for me; it’s always been a mission, and that hasn’t changed. The needs are great, and it’s critical to have people with experience training and assisting the next generation of public health leaders in making a difference.”