Vanessa I. Farrell, MPH, a program associate working on the childhood obesity team, helps to develop program strategies for national programs, reviews proposals, handles grants management and oversight, conducts content specific research to inform program development, and responds to inquiries from the public and potential grantees. She sees her efforts as one part of the process of reversing the trend of childhood obesity, and believes that RWJF’s successes in this area will create a ripple effect in other countries as they model successful interventions in the United States.
Farrell praises the Foundation’s approach to addressing the childhood obesity epidemic. “You need to have a long-term vision of public health to do this type of work because the results are not immediate. The Foundation has set a goal to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. We’ll achieve this goal by creating access to healthy and affordable food options and by creating environments that are conducive to physical activity and play in communities and schools across the nation. This goal will take time, but I know it’s attainable; the Foundation’s vision will help us reach and sustain these changes for this and future generations.”
Prior to joining the Foundation in December 2005, Farrell worked as the health promotion coordinator with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, overseeing the implementation of a social marketing campaign that promoted physical activity and nutrition for a Centers for Disease Control-funded (CDC) national initiative: STEPS to a Healthier Philadelphia.
She is a graduate of the CDC’s Public Health Prevention Service Program (PHPS), a three-year training and service fellowship for master’s level public health professionals. The fellowship focuses on public health program management and provides experience in program planning, implementation and evaluation through specialized hands-on training and mentorship at CDC, and in state and local health agencies. Her training at CDC included two six-month rotations, one with the National Immunization Program where she collected and analyzed data on childhood immunization rates for participants enrolled in the Women’s Infants and Children Program; and the other with the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Public Health Promotion where she worked with the Safe Motherhood Program on maternal and child health issues. Her two-year local health agency placement was with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health in the office of the health commissioner where she planned and implemented several public health initiatives.
Prior to joining the PHPS program, Farrell worked for seven years in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the area of HIV education, counseling and training with the Caribbean Women’s Health Association, Inc. and the State University of New York–Downstate Medical Center. She received an MPH in community health and a BA in health and nutrition sciences from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.
Born in Montserrat, West Indies, Farrell now lives Northeast Philadelphia.