As a child, New Jersey native Allison Gertel-Rosenberg, M.S., was empowered by her parents to “chase her dreams.” Allison ran with that and has been on a mission to not only chase her dreams, but to make an impact and leave things better than they were before.
As part of that mission, Allison has spent her career addressing some of the most important and challenging issues in public health. Widely recognized as an expert on public health and population health, she currently serves as Director of National Prevention and Practice for Nemours National Office of Policy and Prevention, leading efforts to spread and scale promising practices and strategic prevention initiatives designed to curb childhood obesity on a national scale.
“When I was young, I wanted to be a doctor,” Allison said. “I knew I wanted to help people, but it wasn’t until I took a public health class at Rutgers University that I knew I found my calling.”
Allison received her B.S. in Public Health from Rutgers and later went on to receive her M.S. in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard University School of Public Health.
Early in her career, she took on such topics as youth smoking prevention and drugs and alcohol abuse. “I was very fortunate,” Allison said. “My first job out of college was with the State of New Jersey where I worked on the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program. One of the most memorable moments was taking a group of teens to Seattle, Washington to launch the “truth” campaign, a nationwide youth-focused anti-tobacco education campaign. “To see these young people express their passion and commitment to a healthier lifestyle choice was incredibly motivating,” she said.
Later in her time working in the New Jersey Department of Human Services, she served as the Program Manager for the Office of Policy Development for the Division of Addiction Services, where she supervised a staff of researchers engaged in addiction-related research and overseeing treatment-related data collection and analysis.
At Nemours, Allison has been involved in many highly successful efforts including- Let’s Move! Child Care, Healthy Kids, Healthy Future and the National Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative initiative with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I am working to create environments that are healthy for kids. It’s important to focus on health — not to dwell on obesity and who is to blame, but to address each issue at hand in a positive, constructive way.”
Allison notes that at Nemours they realize that childhood obesity can’t be addressed by one sector alone, and that healthy eating and physical activity need to start before children enter kindergarten. “The programs I work on seek to reach groups that take care of children in the early years,” she said. “We want to foster healthy behaviors that span a lifetime, providing resources early on and a pathway to keep reaching them.”
Partnering with others, Allison has successfully leveraged $43 million in grants over the years. Allison credits Nemours for allowing her to develop lasting partnerships, and for the past 3 years has been an active member of the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK) advisory council, providing strategic thinking to support the organization’s work moving forward. On October 3rd, she was honored at the New Jersey YMCA Alliance dinner and received the Healthy Living Champion award for her leadership in improving children’s health. Allison chaired the NJPHK State Advisory Council and spearheaded the organization’s strategic planning efforts.
“When it comes to childhood obesity, it is not a single act that we are seeking to alter; combating obesity is multi-layered, including cultural preferences, food access and choices, lifestyle activity, and so much more,” Allison said . She notes that recent childhood obesity data shows changes have begun and are being sustained. “It’s a public health issue that is not going away in the short-term, but I am quite optimistic that the initiatives that are currently underway are having, and will continue to have, an impact, locally and nationally.”SHARE: