Skip to content ↓

Executive Messages – 2023 Annual Report

Vital Strategies

From the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees

Since I joined the Vital Strategies Board of Trustees in 2008, it has been a privilege to watch this organization grow in size, expertise and impact, partnering with governments around the world to tackle the world’s leading causes of illness, disability and death.

When I began chairing the Board in January 2023, I dedicated myself to fortifying Vital’s operations and governance, and strengthening the board to better reflect the communities we serve.

The board’s job is to make sure that the foundation is in place to allow Vital Strategies to do what it does best—reimagine public health, placing it at the center of political, social and economic systems. Through research, partnerships based on trust, and advocacy and communication that builds consensus for sustainable solutions, Vital moves us closer to a world in which everyone is protected by robust public health systems. And we know the public health system is intertwined with daily life, providing a web of protections to give people clean air to breathe, safe roads to travel, data systems that count everyone, and protection from harmful substances that are relentlessly marketed by tobacco, food and alcohol industries.

I’m so proud of this organization and all it has accomplished, and know these successes will continue to expand in the future. None of it would have been possible without the stewardship of our outgoing CEO, José Luis Castro. As a founding leader of Vital Strategies, he has guided this organization from an idea to a vibrant organization that has touched the lives of nearly 6 billion people around the world. As he moves on to new opportunities, he leaves Vital Strategies poised to thrive for decades to come.

Bruce Mandell

From the President and CEO

Wherever Vital Strategies works, from Argentina to Zambia, from Kiev to Beijing, we couldn’t do any of it without our partners. Whether from government, civil society or academia, our partners are the essential link between our teams and the people we serve. In 2023, national, regional and city governments were more important than ever to our mission to work in partnership to reimagine evidence-based, locally driven policies and practices to advance public health.

In the past year, we celebrated achievements across our programs. Three major ones were:

  • The Overdose Prevention Program supported states and counties across the United States to plan evidence-based and community-informed interventions using the millions of dollars in new funding that is being disbursed as a result of opioid litigation settlements with pharmaceutical companies.
  • Our Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) work gained national recognition with a cover story in the New York Times Magazine.
  • Our tobacco control work expanded with the addition of 80 staff working on programs that transition to Vital Strategies from The Union, bringing our staff to nearly 400 as 2024 began.

And much more: Our expert teams continued to partner with governments to strengthen data systems, support policies to protect people from unhealthy products and unsafe roads, and work with governments to monitor and improve air quality, reaping benefits for the climate and for health. Our finance, human resources, information technology and operations teams continued to improve our systems to build an ever-stronger infrastructure for the future.

This report documents accomplishments of the organization in 2023. Behind every activity, every milestone reached, every success, there are the efforts of dedicated Vital teams that made it possible. It could not have happened without the substantial contributions of our talented staff.

As I prepare to complete my tenure with Vital Strategies in June 2024—two decades after it began as a tiny nonprofit, World Lung Foundation, with two staff members working on borrowed desks—I feel so grateful to have worked with this fine team. It’s thanks to our people that our partners and donors trust us and enable us to work together to reimagine public health.

José Luis Castro
President and CEO