Advisory Groups

An Advisory Group, composed of key stakeholders with experience in designing, implementing, and evaluating policy and public health approaches to improve dietary behaviors and reduce chronic disease, provide crucial input on this research. Specifically, Advisory Group members provide guidance on the feasibility of the various policy actions, inform sensitivity analyses and alternative policy options for evaluation, and assist in disseminating research findings.

Policy Advisory Group

Sonia Angell, MD, MPH

Deputy Commissioner, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Dr. Sonia Angell is deputy commissioner at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), overseeing the Division of Prevention and Primary Care. This Division works to advance population health by improving access to high-quality health care and introducing innovative community and systems changes, with a focus on disease prevention and control, and the elimination of related health disparities. Prior to this, Sonia was a Senior Advisor for Global Noncommunicable Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), establishing and leading the CDC’s Global Noncommunicable Disease Unit. In this capacity, she worked with key stakeholders like the World Health Organization and Ministries of Health in low and middle income countries to support the creation of global metrics and related strategic activities. One of these activities was the launch of the Global Standardized Hypertension Treatment Project. From 2004-2011, she directed the NYC DOHMH Cardiovascular Disease Program. Some of her program’s key accomplishments included regulating the use of trans fat in NYC restaurants, launching and leading the National Salt Reduction Initiative, establishing nutrition standards for food procured by NYC government agencies, and clinical quality improvement initiatives to improve blood pressure and cholesterol control.


Dr. Angell was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on “Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States.” She is a co-chair of the American Heart Association 2030 Goal Setting Task Force. Sonia is board certified in internal medicine. She is on faculty at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, and is an Assistant Attending Physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She received her medical degree from the University of California San Francisco and completed Internal Medicine residency at Brigham Women's Hospital. She has a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan. She is a former Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar. Sonia is a Fellow of the second class of the Aspen Institute Health Innovators Program.

Richard Black, PhD

Principal, Quadrant D Consulting

Richard is a Principal at Quadrant D Consulting, working with not-for-profit organizations and for-profit Food & Beverage companies and retailers, helping clients to take leading positions in the Health & Wellness space. Richard is also CSO of Care4ward, a startup focused on nutrition for people undergoing chemo-therapy, and Chief Nutrition Officer of Thrive 365, a startup focused on helping people with type II diabetes manage their diet and regain their love of food.

With over 30 years in academics, non-profits and the food industry, he has worked for The Kellogg Company, Nestlé, Novartis and ILSI North America. At Kraft/Mondelēz and PepsiCo he was VP of Global Nutrition Sciences (Chief Nutrition Officer). Richard is an Adjunct Professor at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, and has authored or co-authored over 60 scientific articles, book chapters and abstracts. In 2014 the United States Department of Agriculture awarded Richard the John A Milner Lectureship, “In recognition of outstanding contributions to nutrition science,” and in 2012 the Institute of Food Technologists awarded him the Babcock-Hart Award, “To honor an IFT member who has attained distinction by contributions to food technology which result in improved public health through nutrition or more nutritious food.”

Heidi Blanck, PhD

Chief, Obesity Prevention and Control Branch, Division of Nutrition, CDC

Dr. Blanck has over 18 years of CDC experience as a United States Public Health Service Officer and has authored over 100 papers and reports in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, obesity and environmental exposures. Dr. Blanck oversees CDC’s monitoring of state/territory obesity prevalence and key nutrition & obesity policies, environments, and behaviors as Chief of the Obesity Branch. Staff in the branch conduct surveillance, applied research, guidelines development and technical assistance for implementation of standards for early care and education (ECE), food service, and pediatric quality care including use of electronic health records for healthy weight and structured weight management lifestyle programs for children with obesity.

Dr. Blanck helped steer the creation of Healthy People 2020 objectives for healthier nutrition options in child care, schools, and communities and led the development of CDC’s Childhood Obesity Research Demonstrations for low-income families (CORD 1.0 & 2.0). She is the Senior Advisor to the agency’s Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network of researchers and practitioners (NOPREN;, and a member of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), National Academy of Medicine’s Roundtable on Obesity Solutions and has served as an advisor to the Harvard CHOICES project on cost-effective childhood obesity interventions.

Secretary Dan Glickman

Vice President, Aspen Institute

Dan Glickman is Vice President of the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of The Aspen Institute Congressional Program. He also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center where he is co-chair of its Democracy Project. Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, he served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton Administration. He was appointed by former Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack as the Chair of the newly created Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. He also represented the 4th Congressional district of Kansas for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives where he was very involved in federal farm policy on the House Agriculture Committee. He also served on the House Judiciary Committee and as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In addition, he is the former chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. and former director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has served as president of the Wichita, Kansas, School Board, was a partner in the law firm of Sargent, Klenda and Glickman, and worked as a trial attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Michigan and his juris doctorate from George Washington University. He is a member of the Kansas and District of Columbia bars.

Michael Jacobson, PhD

Co-founder and immediate past Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., is the co-founder of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nonprofit health-advocacy organization. He was the long-time executive director and is now a senior scientist at CSPI. CSPI is a key player in battles against obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems, using education, legislation, litigation, and other tactics. Jacobson has led CSPI’s campaigns on sugar drinks, salt, trans fat, and several food additives. He has written numerous books, reports, and scientific papers, including Six Arguments for a Greener Diet, “Salt: the Forgotten Killer,” and “Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks are Harming Americans’ Health.” His book Salt Wars: The Battle Over the Biggest Killer in the American Diet, will be published in October 2020. Jacobson has received such awards as the 2010 Hero Award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation and the American Public Health Association’s 2011 David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health.

David Kessler, JD, MD

Co-chair, National Covid-19 Task Force; Former Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

David A. Kessler is Director and Board Chair at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He is also a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He has served as the dean of the medical schools at Yale and UCSF. Dr. Kessler was the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 1990 to 1997, under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. As Commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Kessler acted to speed approval of new drugs and placed high priority on getting promising therapies for serious and life-threatening diseases to patients as quickly as possible. He introduced changes in the device approval process to make it more efficient and ensure that it meets high standards. Under his direction, the FDA announced a number of new programs, including: the regulation of the marketing and sale of tobacco products to children; nutrition labeling for food; user fees for drugs and biologics; preventive controls to improve food safety; measures to strengthen the nation’s blood supply; and the MEDWatch program for reporting adverse events and product problems. He emphasized strong law enforcement and created an Office of Criminal Investigation within the agency. Dr. Kessler is a graduate of Amherst College, the University of Chicago Law School, and Harvard Medical School. He was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 2001. Dr. Kessler, a member of the National Academy of Medicine, is the author of the bestsellers A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle with a Deadly Industry, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, and Capture: Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering, among other works. His latest book, Fast Carbs, Slow Carbs: The Simple Truth About Food, Weight, and Disease will be published by HarperCollins in March.

Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH

Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School

Dr. Howard K. Koh is the Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School as well as Faculty Co-Chair of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative. In these roles since 2014, he advances leadership education and training at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as well as across Harvard University. Previously at Harvard School of Public Health (2003-2009), he was also Associate Dean for Public Health Practice.

From 2009-2014, Dr. Koh was the 14th Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), after being nominated by President Barack Obama and being confirmed by the U.S. Senate. During that time, he oversaw 12 core public health offices, including the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, 10 Regional Health Offices across the nation, and 10 Presidential and Secretarial advisory committees. From 1997-2003, Dr. Koh was Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts after being appointed by Governor William Weld, where he led the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which included a wide range of health services, four hospitals, and more than 3,000 health professionals. 

Dr. Koh graduated from Yale College, where he was President of the Yale Glee Club, and the Yale University School of Medicine. He completed postgraduate training at Boston City Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, serving as chief resident in both hospitals. He has earned board certification in four medical fields: internal medicine, hematology, medical oncology, and dermatology, as well as a Master of Public Health degree from Boston University. At Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, he was Professor of Dermatology, Medicine and Public Health as well as Director of Cancer Prevention and Control. He is on the Board of Directors of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Network for Public Health Law, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and New England Donor Services. Dr. Koh and his wife Dr. Claudia Arrigg have three adult children and one granddaughter.

Jim Krieger, MD, MPH

Executive Director, Healthy Food America

Jim Krieger, MD, MPH is founding Executive Director of Healthy Food America (HFA) and Clinical Professor at University of Washington Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and was chief of the Chronic Disease Prevention at Public Health-Seattle & King County. He is a nationally recognized expert in obesity and chronic disease prevention using scientific evidence and advocacy to change food policy and industry practices and promote health equity. His work has led to adoption of sugary drink taxes, improvements in school nutrition and physical activity, implementation of the nation’s second menu labeling regulation, reduction in exposure to sugary drinks, and increased access to healthy foods for low income people. His current work is focused on promoting healthy food consumption by using policy to reduce added sugars in the American diet. He has provided support to cities, states and tribes across the US that are considering and working on sugar reduction policies, with an emphasis on adoption of sugary drink taxes.

He has led numerous healthy community initiatives, including Steps to Health, Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), Transforming the Health of South King County (CTG), and King County Partnerships in Community Health (PICH).

His work has been funded by NIH, CDC, and many private foundations. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Local Government Action to Prevent Childhood Obesity and its Committee on Evaluating Progress in Obesity Prevention. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the US Secretary of Health and Human Services Innovation in Prevention Award. He has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications. He received his undergraduate degree at Harvard, MD at the University of California, San Francisco and MPH at University of Washington.

Jerold R Mande, MPH

Senior Advisor to the President at the Center for Science in the Public Interest

Jerold Mande is Senior Advisor to the President at the Center for Science in the Public Interest; Adjunct Professor of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and a Visiting Fellow, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University.

Professor Mande has a wealth of expertise and experience in national public health and food policy. He served in senior policymaking positions for three presidents at USDA, FDA, and OSHA helping lead landmark public health initiatives. In 2009, he was appointed by President Obama as USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. In 2011, he moved to USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, where he spent six years working to improve the health outcomes of the nation’s $100 billion investment in 15 nutrition programs. During President Clinton’s administration, Mr. Mande was Senior Advisor to the FDA commissioner where he helped shape national policy on nutrition, food safety, and tobacco. He also served on the White House staff as a health policy advisor and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Health at the Department of Labor. During the George H.W. Bush administration he led the design of the iconic Nutrition Facts label at FDA, for which he received the Presidential Design Award.

Mr. Mande began his career as a legislative assistant for Al Gore in the U.S. House and Senate, managing Gore's health and environment agenda, and helping Gore write the nation's organ donation and transplantation laws.

Mr. Mande earned a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science in nutritional sciences from the University of Connecticut. Prior to his current academic appointments, he served on the faculty at the Tufts, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and Yale School of Medicine.

Sharon Natanblut

Principal, Natanblut Strategies

Sharon Natanblut is a public policy and strategic communications consultant, specializing in nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. In her tenure at the Food and Drug Administration, she served as Associate Commissioner for Strategic Initiatives, Deputy Director of the Tobacco Office, and Director of Strategic Communications and Stakeholder Engagement for the Foods Program. She was instrumental in the design of the iconic Nutrition Facts food label in the 1990s and its redesign in 2017. She co-led the development of the 2018 FDA-EPA seafood advice for pregnant women. She played a lead role in the investigation and regulation of the tobacco industry. She built and directed an extensive stakeholder engagement program that played a major role in the development, implementation, and public support of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act rules. Sharon also has experience outside of government, as Vice President for Communications and Marketing for the American Legacy Foundation and at Burson-Marsteller, a worldwide public affairs/public relations firm.

Pamela Schwartz, MPH

Pamela Schwartz joined Kaiser Permanente in 2001 and serves as the Executive Director for Community Health.  In this position, Pam leads Food for Life, Kaiser Permanente’s comprehensive approach for transforming the economic, social and policy environments so that people across the nation have access affordable healthy food. She also leads Kaiser Permanente’s national strategy to address crucial social factors that affect people’s health, including housing, social isolation, digital divide and financial security. Previously, Pam led the execution of Kaiser Permanente’s Community Health measurement, evaluation and learning and Community Health Needs Assessment strategies, ensuring that Kaiser Permanente responds in the most impactful way to the needs of communities, deploying organizational assets in partnership with community. Pam has advanced the community and social health strategy to focus on identifying and responding to the social determinants of health, working cross-functionally, and system-wide on a variety of content areas.

Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, FAAP

Senior Advisor, Public Health Institute, and Clinical Professor at the University of California San Francisco

Dr. Lynn Silver, a pediatrician and public health advocate, is Senior Advisor at the Public Health Institute and Clinical Professor at University of California San Francisco. She focuses on policies to prevent chronic disease, its risk factors and inequitable impact, including unhealthy diet, at home and globally.

Silver was Assistant Health Commissioner of New York City under Mayor Bloomberg, leading groundbreaking work such as the nation’s first trans-fat ban, calorie labeling law, public food procurement standards and the National Salt Reduction Initiative. In California she worked on the Berkeley coalition that lead the nation’s first significant soda tax, Oakland’s successful campaign, and collaborated on soda tax in other cities, states and countries. She has published an evaluation of the Berkeley tax and is evaluating San Francisco’s SSB tax, as well as researching food regulatory policy issues in Latin America. She also co-chairs the California Alliance for Funding Prevention. Lynn was previously Visiting Scholar of International Health at the Karolinska Institute, Associate Professor at University of Brasilia, and Visiting Professor Brazil’s National School of Public Health. She has worked widely on health policy as a researcher, educator, government official, consultant and advocate. She has served as consultant to PAHO, WHO, the World Bank, and to the Low-Income Investment Fund, and on numerous boards including CSPI. She received her MD and MPH degrees and pediatric training from the Johns Hopkins University. Lynn has published widely and was honored to be the recipient of several public health awards. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and has two daughters and three stepsons .

Laurie Whitsel, PhD

Vice President of Policy Research and Translation, American Heart Association

Laurie Whitsel, Ph.D. is currently the Vice President of Policy Research and Translation for the American Heart Association (AHA), helping to translate science into policy at a national level in the areas of cardiovascular disease and stroke prevention and health promotion. The association’s policy research department provides policy development and the foundation for the American Heart Association’s advocacy work at the global, national, state, and local levels. She is also serving as senior advisor to the Physical Activity Alliance. The mission of the Physical Activity Alliance is to lead efforts to create, support, and advocate policy and system changes that enable all Americans to enjoy physically active lives. Whitsel presents at national conferences on prevention issues and evidence-based policy making. She has served on expert advisory groups with RAND, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tufts University, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She has been a sector co-leader for the National Physical Activity Plan and leads the AHA’s internal strategic plan around physical activity. She serves as an expert peer reviewer for several scientific journals and is a consultant on research grant teams. She gives regular guest lectures at Columbia University. Her Ph.D. is from Syracuse University and she is a Fellow and member of the AHA’s National Scientific Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health.

Whitsel lives in Ligonier, PA with her husband Brad, and they have two children, Christian, who attends Gettysburg College, and Amy, who is in law school at Catholic University. In her spare time, Whitsel coaches an AHA jump rope demonstration and competition team which promotes lifetime physical activity for kids and competes nationally and internationally.

Former Members

Jill Birnbaum

Vice President, Global Advocacy & Strategic Opportunities American Heart Association

Jill Birnbaum is the Vice President of Global Advocacy & Strategic Opportunities for the National Center of the American Heart Association, a national nonprofit organization with a mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. In this role, she is responsible and accountable for supporting the CEO and other executive leadership in key policy-oriented international assignments and collaboration opportunities, and advances priority public policy objectives in target counties consistent with the Association’s policy agenda and international plan. In addition to the global duties, Ms. Birnbaum serves as the Executive Director of Voices for Healthy Kids, which is the Association’s collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to reverse the nation’s childhood obesity that builds upon the American Heart Association’s extensive advocacy capacity and experience. The initiative is focused on changing public policies to help children and adolescents eat healthier foods and become more active.

Francesco Branca

Director, Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD), World Health Organization

Francesco Branca is the Director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development in the World Health Organization, Geneva. During his tenure, WHO has established a new nutrition guideline development process and has developed a Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition with six global targets. He has been leading the preparation of the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition. He has been a Senior Scientist at the Italian Food and Nutrition research Institute where he was leading studies on the effects of food and nutrients on human health at the different stages of the life cycle and on the impact of public health nutrition programmes. He has been President of the Federation of the European Nutrition Societies in 2003-2007. Dr. Branca graduated in Medicine and Surgery and specialized in Diabetology and Metabolic Diseases at the Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Roma and obtained a PhD in Nutrition at Aberdeen University.

Harold Goldstein

Executive Director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy

Harold Goldstein, DrPH, is the founder and executive director of Public Health Advocates.  For almost 20 years, Public Health Advocates has been promoting health equity by helping cities, counties, and schools become places that nurture health and wellbeing for everyone. Dr. Goldstein has been at the forefront of solving the obesity and diabetes epidemics through state and local policy change, working closely with a wide array of partners to establish groundbreaking programs and policies to build healthier communities and eliminate health disparities.

Robert Greenwald

Clinical Professor of Law, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Harvard Law School

Robert Greenwald is a Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the faculty director of the Law School's Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI). In addition to teaching seminars in health and public health law and policy, for over 25 years Robert has been engaged in state and national research, policy development, and advocacy to expand access to high-quality health care, reduce health disparities, and promote more equitable and effective health care systems. Robert is currently serving as a co-chair of the Federal Chronic Illness & Disability Partnership and the HIV Health Care Access Working Group. From 2000-2006, Robert served as member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and as the co-chair of its Access to Care sub-committee. Robert has served as a consultant to the federal government’s Health Resources Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Community Advisory Board as well as numerous state governments and community-based organizations. Robert received his B.A. from Vassar College in 1980 and his J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law in 1986.

Neena Prasad

Director of Global Obesity Prevention and Maternal and Reproductive Health Programs, Bloomberg Philanthropies

Neena Prasad joined the Public Health team of Bloomberg Philanthropies (BP) in 2008. She directs BP’s Global Obesity Prevention and Maternal & Reproductive Health Programs.  Neena is also a key member of the tobacco control team, overseeing activities in India. Previously, Neena worked as a Primary Care Physician serving inner-city populations at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and concurrently held the rank of Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto. She holds an MSc in Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences from McMaster University, an MD also from McMaster and an MPH concentrating in International Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.