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June 29, 2016

Launch of Vital Strategies

Thank you to the entire team at Bloomberg Philanthropies for your extraordinary partnership and for hosting this launch of Vital Strategies – our new identity and our new adventure.

It is great to see so many partners, health leaders, Board members, members of our senior management and staff and old and new friends.

Some of you may remember us as World Lung Foundation or the Union North America.

It’s true that organizations are formed on the proverbial cocktail napkin – here’s the one on which World Lung Foundation was conceived more than 10 years ago.

A global epidemic of lung disease was killing 10 million people every year, and we were inspired to help change this grim reality.

Building on this beginning, and the success of our legacy organizations, we joined together under our Vital Strategies brand earlier this year to better articulate our expanding ability and intention to tackle the most pressing health issues of our time.

We are so thrilled that Bloomberg Philanthropies has been a steadfast partner, sharing in our vision of a world with strong public health systems and one where countries are committed to helping people—– often the poorest and most vulnerable—live longer and healthier lives.

With a proven framework for action, we focus on working with governments to create effective solutions to complex problems.

We know how critical government and action are to sustainable and lasting change.

In fact, several of us had the good fortune to work in the Bloomberg administration so we know how strong vision and leadership can impact a large city like NY and influence the course of public health globally.

Our team at Vital Strategies is skilled in several areas —including communications, research, epidemiology and advocacy. Our portfolio includes work in tobacco control —the world’s gravest epidemic of our time; road safety—because crashes are the leading cause of death for 18 to 24 year-olds; tuberculosis treatment research to reduce the course of treatment from 24 months to 6 so that patients don’t have to take 14,000 pills; maternal health—because too many women needlessly die in childbirth in Sub-Saharan Africa; and obesity prevention—because we know which policies can work to reverse this epidemic.

We are also working in nearly 20 countries in the Bloomberg Data For Health Initiative to help them better use data to determine health priorities for the benefit of their citizens. Most recently, we have also begun work in the area of environmental health because none of us are immune from the issues associated with climate change and air pollution.  We in public health ignore this issue at our peril.

Like our intrepid partners at Bloomberg Philanthropies, we thrive on complexity and enjoy the challenge of working on tough issues and in places where change seems impossible.

To give you an example — if 5 years ago we told you we were going to work toward a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants and other public places in China, you would have questioned our sanity. Well, ladies and gentlemen, because of the work led by Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partners, Beijing is now 100% smokefree.

We’ve grown from that spark of seeing one thing that we can do something about to an organization that can make a difference that is greater than the sum of all of its parts.

It was Mark Twain who exhorted us all to be more and do more —”Twenty years from now,” he said,  “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore…. Dream….Discover.”

As Vital Strategies sets sail, we are thrilled to work alongside all of you who are current partners and enthusiastically welcome new collaborators as we strive to be more and to do more to achieve greater benefits to global health.

I would like to take one more moment to present Kelly with a token of our appreciation, a photograph to remind her of the work that she and her team have led to achieve the great success in Beijing I mentioned a moment ago.

Thank you all very much for coming….and thank you for your support.”

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