Kathryn “Katie” Wehr, program officer, joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2010. As a member of the Foundation’s Public Health team, she focuses on discovering what works to promote and protect the public’s health; advancing smarter laws and policies; and strengthening health departments. She enjoys seeing how strategies fit together to create change and praises the Foundation for enabling her to blend her interest in public health research, practice and policy and to put evidence into action to create policy and system changes and to help Americans lead healthy, productive lives.
Since joining RWJF, Wehr has worked to increase the visibility and impact of public health. As she puts it: “Public health has a role to play in transforming the nation’s health system as public health contributes to all of us being healthy and safe. It also takes all of us—not just governmental public health agencies—to improve the quality of people’s lives and prevent illness.” To that end, Wehr’s interests range from fostering learning about innovations in public health approaches to developing new collaborations and solutions to improve the public’s health and the nation’s public health infrastructure. Wehr’s parents shaped her interest in public health. As she notes, “My mom, who is a pastor and former nurse practitioner, and my dad, who is a family physician, showed me what it means to be of service to the emotionally, spiritually, or physically sick and what it means to create a holistic sense of well-being.” Wehr also credits her parents with instilling in her an appreciation for working closely with others toward a common purpose.
Previously, Wehr was a graduate research assistant at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill Sheps Center for Health Services Research. Her work involved analyzing and evaluating data from perinatal residential substance abuse treatment centers in the state. She has also served as Community Projects Coordinator for the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition and as an AmeriCorps Member of the North Florida Health Corps.
Raised in Iowa, Wehr received an MPH, Maternal & Child Health, from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate in Sociology from Illinois Wesleyan University. If she is not running or swimming, you can find her cooking with friends or exploring New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia, especially art, theatre, and music events.