Julie Morita, MD, is executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), where she oversees all programming, policy, research and communications activities.
As the nation’s largest private philanthropy dedicated solely to improving the nation’s health, RWJF is focused on building a comprehensive Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. Knowing many factors, such as clean air and water, access to healthy food, safe housing, secure employment, education, and quality healthcare, contribute to the well-being of our nation, the Foundation concentrates on advancing health equity by eliminating barriers to health, including discrimination.
Before joining RWJF, Julie helped lead the Chicago Department of Public Health for nearly two decades, first as a medical director, then as chief medical officer. In 2015, she was appointed to the department’s top position, commissioner. In that role, she oversaw the public health needs of 2.7 million residents in the nation’s third largest city.
As commissioner, Julie led the development and implementation of Healthy Chicago 2.0, a four-year health improvement plan focused on achieving health equity by addressing the conditions in which people live, learn, work and play. The plan was based on RWJF’s Culture of Health framework. As medical director, Julie’s top priority was reducing disparities in immunization coverage levels among children and adults in Chicago. She implemented systems to identify communities with the lowest rates of immunization and to provide families in those areas with information about, and access to, critical vaccines. Additionally, Julie led several policy initiatives to reduce tobacco usage among teens, including raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.
She has been called to serve as an advisor to the White House, U.S. Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Academy of Medicine, and numerous state and local public health agencies. She is currently a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Board of Directors, and a member of a the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Julie began her medical career as a pediatrician in Tucson, Ariz., before moving into public health as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC).
Influenced deeply by her own family history, Julie has been a lifelong advocate of equity issues. As children, both of her parents, Mototsugu and Betty Morita, were detained in Japanese internment camps during World War II. They and their extended families were uprooted from their homes, communities, and jobs in the states of Washington and Oregon and transferred to a detention camp in Idaho. Having grown up hearing stories about the harsh and unjust treatment her grandparents, parents, and thousands of others endured, Julie has used that knowledge to pursue health equity in every aspect of her work.
Born and raised in Chicago, Julie earned her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Illinois, and her medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School. She completed her residency at the University of Minnesota.
Julie is married to William Trick, MD, an internist who is director of the Collaborative Research Unit at Cook County Health. They have two young adult children, Megan and Jake.