Chicago, IL – Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) staff Megan Cunningham, Managing Deputy Commissioner, and Jesse Lava, Director of Policy, were recognized today by the de Beaumont Foundation as two of the inaugural honorees of the 40 Under 40 in Public Health list. The 40 rising stars of public health were chosen by a panel of judges for their fresh perspectives, creative problem-solving and innovative health solutions in communities across the country.
“We launched 40 Under 40 to humanize the public health field and show the diversity of the individuals who commit to strengthening the health of our nation’s communities,” said Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation. “Public health is different from healthcare, and by elevating the work and voices of these inspiring leaders, we hope to attract and motivate other professionals to bring creativity and innovation to the future of public health."
The nomination pool in 2019 included job titles ranging from health commissioner to director of health equity to doula to epidemiologist. Each honoree has made significant contributions to their community and the practice of public health.
“In a field of 40 rising stars in public health from across the country, we are proud to have two of our own recognized for their work to promote a healthier Chicago,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. “With their contributions, our department is changing policies and building partnerships to close gaps in health outcomes.”
As CDPH Managing Deputy Commissioner, Megan Cunningham brings partners together to drive policy change, access data and resources, and improve environments to help all Chicagoans lead healthy lives. Through her leadership of Healthy Chicago 2.0, the citywide plan to promote health equity, Megan has worked to integrate health data into planning processes, strengthen environmental protections, facilitate walkability assessments, and expand access to housing for vulnerable populations.
CDPH Director of Policy Jesse Lava creates new ordinances, rules, and other initiatives to improve health on a range of issues. He played a critical role in raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21, enhancing environmental and food safety enforcement, increasing investments to fight the opioid epidemic and creating the first big city vaping tax, among other initiatives. These efforts build on his previous work addressing root causes such as criminal justice.
The distinguished panel of judges came from the nonprofit, business and higher education sectors. Nominees were evaluated on their demonstrated leadership, contributions to their community’s health and collaboration with other organizations in public health and other sectors.
For more information about 40 Under 40 in Public Health, including detailed eligibility and selection criteria, visit debeaumont.org/40Under40. The de Beaumont Foundation, which developed the list, creates and invests in bold solutions to build healthier communities. It advances policy, builds partnerships, and strengthens public health to create communities where people can achieve their best possible health.