Category Archives: Rippel News

Stewards Rising

As our country experiences the pain—and possibilities—now roiling America, we at The Rippel Foundation hear the call for swift, structural change across the entire system that shapes health and well-being. Clearly, any meaningful change must begin by listening, really listening, to those who rightly assert that Black lives matter. Our work with stewards to transform America’s system for health and well-being holds justice as an essential element in any successful system change.

We condemn racism in all forms. The brutality that suffocated George Floyd is also apparent in the suffocating health effects of residential segregation, wealth inequality, food insecurity, underfunded schools, inadequate health care, and a long list of everyday injustices that together compromise Black lives and eclipse our country’s full potential to survive and thrive together.

Otto Scharmer famously observed that, “as systems collapse, people rise.” This single dynamic explains how people with a just cause can transform failing systems for the better. Everything we do at Rippel centers on working with system stewards as they expand the conditions that everyone needs to survive and thrive. Racism does the opposite. It is a toxic force that destroys Black lives and dehumanizes us all.

While some dismiss individual acts of violence as isolated incidents, an ABC News poll conducted last week found that 74% of Americans see the killing of George Floyd as a sign of a broader problem. This broadened awareness is up more than 30 points since 2014: a hopeful shift suggesting that the vast majority of Americans are thinking like system stewards and may be willing to act for lasting system change.

At Rippel, we will do our part by:

  • Relentlessly continuing our efforts to create an equitable system for health and well-being now: not waiting to convince skeptics about the need for swift change.
  • Understanding the destructive legacies of racism and working together with system stewards to create new legacies where everyone in America can reach their full potential for health and well-being.
  • Rejecting false narratives that portray Black people as somehow different and their lives as less worthy. Instead, we join with casemaking expert Tiffany Manuel and others to plant a new narrative that, “our fates are intertwined; our health and wellbeing depend on the health and wellbeing of many who may not even look like us; and the diversity of our cultures and skin tones is a cause for celebration, not a reason to destroy each other!”
  • Standing in solidarity with those who experience racism and those who work to end it. Together, we will create a new reality rooted in shared humanity and shared system stewardship.


Local Foundation Gives $50,000 to Help Hospital Confront COVID-19

As New Jersey unites to confront the COVID-19 outbreak, The Rippel Foundation announced Monday its commitment of $50,000 to Morristown Medical Center, part of the Atlantic Health System, to help the nonprofit hospital maintain its efforts to help prevent the spread of the virus and avoid disruptions in critical services. Trish O’Keefe, president of Morristown Medical Center and vice president of Atlantic Health System, said, “We are very grateful to The Rippel Foundation for their continued support. We are humbled by this unsolicited donation while we continue to provide a comprehensive response to COVID-19.” The Rippel Foundation was established upon the death of long-time Newark resident Julius S. Rippel in 1953, in honor of his wife Fannie. It is headquartered in Morristown, and exists to address cancer, heart disease, the health of women and the elderly, and the maintenance of our nation’s hospitals. This gift to Morristown Medical Center honors Rippel’s legacy, as the hospital shares all of these goals.

“With disease prevention being so critical to controlling the spread of coronavirus, we are very pleased to provide this grant to enhance our local Morristown Medical Center’s preparedness for the benefit of our greater Morris County community,” said Ed Ahart, chair of Rippel’s Board of Directors and partner at Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP.

To learn more about The Rippel Foundation, visit or @RippelHealth on Twitter or LinkedIn. More information about Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center:

New Podcast About Health Ecosystems

Rippel President and CEO Laura Landy was recently interviewed by the The Leadership Development Group, Inc.‘s Health Ecosystem Leadership Podcast Series to describe how health ecosystem leadership must reflect the communities they serve as well as how stewards engaging with the ecosystem must be committed to continued learning, comfort with change, and thinking about what’s possible.

Click the ‘play’ button below to stream.

Topics covered:

  • Collaboration among disconnected healthcare entities can be achieved by determining the unique interests of all stakeholders involved and leveraging common co-dependencies among them.
  • To support collaborative solutions, four key areas require focused attention: (1) creating a sound strategy, (2) clarifying values among stakeholders, (3) broadening stewardship across silos, and (4) creating sources of sustainable financing.
  • Collaboration is an indispensable technique to solve the tough problems facing population health today such as the mental health national crisis, affordability, and availability of pharmacy and specialty drugs.
  • Embodying mission, vision, and values based on a global concept of health and a better world is about actively living those values when approaching daily work.
  • Health ecosystem leadership must reflect the communities we serve and be centered around the individual with a focus on team-based, whole-person centered care.

Jim Sonneborn Joins The Rippel Foundation Board of Trustees

The Fannie E. Rippel Foundation is pleased to announce the election of James R. Sonneborn to its board of trustees. Mr. Sonneborn is a Partner and Wealth Advisor at RegentAtlantic, a financial and wealth management company based in Morristown, New Jersey. Over three decades, he has built a reputation for expertly managing investment portfolios and providing financial advice to both individuals and charitable organizations.

Mr. Sonneborn has a long history of community leadership. He has served on several organizations’ boards, including the Jersey Battered Women’s Service, the New Jersey Collaborative Law Group, The Red Oaks School, and Preschool Advantage. He has contributed not only his time but also his invaluable skillset, providing pro bono financial counseling to area women’s agencies. He is also a past President for the Estate Planning Council of Northern New Jersey.

“We are thrilled that Jim will be joining the board,” said Laura K. Landy, President & CEO of The Rippel Foundation. “The foundation will benefit from his financial savvy and the extensive understanding and experience gleaned from working with so many different types of nonprofit organizations.”

“I am really looking forward to Jim’s contributions,” said Edward W. Ahart, Chair of The Rippel Foundation Board of Trustees. “He has a deep understanding of the nuances and financial implications of the decisions that foundations and charitable organizations make as they pursue their missions, and we will reap the benefits of his experience.”

Mr. Sonneborn will be an asset to the foundation’s esteemed board, which is responsible for guiding the efforts of the foundation, including its initiatives ReThink Health and Foresight: Designing the Future for Health.

The Rippel Foundation Welcomes Michael Harris to its Board of Trustees

In April 2017, The Fannie E. Rippel Foundation welcomed Michael Harris to its board of trustees. Mr. Harris is the Managing Director of PFM Asset Management, a financial services firm founded exclusively for the benefit of governments and charitable institutions, where he oversees the firm’s strategic market development efforts. He is a nationally recognized expert in the structuring and procurement of financial products and brings expertise in developing investment management strategies that will benefit the foundation in numerous ways. In addition, as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Hamilton Health Center—a federally qualified health center (FQHC) serving Central Pennsylvania—Mr. Harris is deeply familiar with the challenges facing our nation’s health system.

“Michael’s experience will be an enormous asset to the Foundation,” said Laura K. Landy, President & CEO of The Rippel Foundation. “His deep understanding of government and organizational financing and investments will inform our strategy around sustainable financing, one of the key barriers to system change we are seeking to address. His insights into the operation of a FQHC and the complexities of the system that supports health will also help us as we design and test new approaches for the future in strategy, stewardship, financing, and beyond. More broadly, Michael is a critical thinker who will challenge and support our team in making our work ever stronger. The timing could not be better as we pursue new and ambitious efforts to disrupt the status quo and prevailing market structures.”

Mr. Harris joins a deep bench of talent on The Rippel Foundation Board, which is comprised of experts in health as well as those with legal, financial, philanthropic, and organizational change backgrounds. With responsibilities that go beyond that of most foundation boards, Rippel trustees guide the efforts of the foundation, including ReThink Health and Foresight: Designing the Future for Health, the foundation’s two primary initiatives.

Announcing ReThink Health Ventures: A New Project to Reimagine and Transform Health

On December 7, ReThink Health, the Rippel Foundation’s premiere initiative, launched its latest endeavor in our enduring effort to reimagine and transform health: ReThink Health Ventures. The Ventures project offers a critical opportunity to delve into the challenges facing our health system and to test real-world solutions with some of the most advanced multi-sector partnerships in the country.

Ventures brings together some of the nation’s most innovative
multi-sector partnerships to do business differently, together, and take the next big step in overcoming barriers and generating greater inclusive health value—demonstrated by the improved health of populations, better care, lower costs, greater equity, and increased workforce productivity.

Our aim is to show changemakers that, despite the many challenges our nation faces today, an integrated, dynamic, and high-functioning health ecosystem is possible. But it’s going to require enormous ingenuity and a good deal of bravery.  

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Rippel Foundation, Ventures will be closely coordinated with complementary initiatives taking place across the country.

Read more about Ventures

Follow ReThink Health on Twitter: @ReThinkHealth

Health Transformation is Possible and Necessary

In the August issue of Health Affairs, ReThink Health demonstrates that select, combined investments in both clinical and population-level initiatives, along with sustainable long-term financing strategies, have the potential to dramatically reduce costs, improve health, boost productivity, and increase health equity over the next 25 years.

Using our ReThink Health Dynamics Model, which simulates a regional health system, we identify a scenario that could reduce healthcare costs by as much as 14 percent and chronic illness by as much as 20 percent, and increase workforce productivity by approximately 9 percent beyond where they would otherwise be by 2040.

This scenario establishes that health transformation is possible.



Learn more:

What We Discovered at “The Frontiers” about Financing and Leading Improvements in Health

The following is a cross-post from the Health Affairs Blog

by Laura Landy, founder & chair of ReThink Health and president & CEO of the Rippel Foundation

From the Wild West to the “final frontier” of space, the metaphor of the frontier has always served as a touchstone for American optimism. ReThink Health, an initiative of the Rippel Foundation, shares that optimism. Through our work with changemakers at the regional level, we seek to understand the frontiers of health policy and practice, boldly pursuing our vision: a United States in which all the sectors that affect health are led, designed, and financed in ways that foster healthy people and thriving communities.

Eighteen months ago, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ReThink Health embarked on a journey to Advance the Frontiers in Sustainable Financing and Health System Stewardship. Aimed at exploring and mapping what is happening in the field of regional health transformation, and identifying how we and others can help accelerate those efforts, this project allowed us to test and confirm ReThink Health’s learnings to date, build on them, and share those discoveries broadly.

What we found was both validating and instructive. While changemakers often have a clear vision of what transformed health looks like, they need help figuring out how to navigate the pathway that will take them there. The project reinforced the idea that the greatest challenges to transforming health at the regional level are around long-term, sustainable financing, and broad-based stewardship—which is a term that refers to leaders stepping beyond their organizational boundaries, working together, and sharing responsibility to advance health transformation.

To continue reading, please go to the complete post on the Health Affairs Blog

Dr. Judith Lichtman on Researching Heart Disease in Young Women and Why It Matters

Under a grant from the Rippel Foundation, Dr. Judith Lichtman, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health, has been studying heart disease in young women. The results of her study were published last month in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes revealing that younger women may ignore or dismiss the earliest symptoms of an impending heart attack, such as pain and dizziness, and delay seeking emergency medical care. Dr. Lichtman’s findings received extensive media attention. We sat down with her to learn more about the importance of her results for improving women’s health.

Most of the research on heart disease focuses on older patients. Why did you focus on younger women and what surprised you most about your findings?

DR. LICHTMAN: Younger women in the 18 to 55 age bracket tend to have worse outcomes and are a relatively rare population who suffer from heart disease. Women in this age group represent less than 5 percent of all heart disease patients, yet are twice as likely to die after being hospitalized for a heart attack compared to men their age. In fact, each year more than 15,000 women under the age of 55 die of heart disease in the U.S. Knowing that women tend to delay seeking care for a heart attack, I wanted to examine their recognition of symptoms, decision-making process to seek medical care, and interactions with the health care system. This had never been studied before.

We focused on women who were 30 to 55 years old. My research team and I explored how they responded during the crucial period when their first symptoms manifested. We found that women’s initial symptoms varied widely in both nature and duration. While most women experienced chest pain and pressure, the hallmark of a heart attack, they described other symptoms as well, such as fatigue, muscle pain and indigestion. Most did not experience the “Hollywood heart attack” that is commonly portrayed in movies and TV, and they did not realize the severity of their symptoms. In some cases, women waited days before seeking medical treatment. Some women, once they called their doctor, were triaged and deemed less urgent cases.

What can be done to better educate patients and make sure doctors pay more attention to the warning signs?

DR. LICHTMAN: Many of the women in our study had clear risk factors, including a family history of heart attacks, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes, but still did not think they were having a heart attack at first. Participants said they were concerned about initiating a false alarm in case their symptoms were due to something else, or they assumed that they were too young to experience a heart attack. We need to empower women to recognize symptoms and seek prompt care without stigma or perceived judgment. This is particularly critical for young women at increased risk for heart disease.

Because heart attacks are rarer in younger women, doctors may be missing important opportunities to identify the signs and symptoms of heart disease. If a woman has a strong family history of heart disease and has multiple risk factors, then health care providers should listen carefully and not dismiss her because of the small probability that she is having a heart attack.

What are the important messages doctors and patients can take away from your research?

DR. LICHTMAN: The big take-home message is that more women need to be aware of the possibility of having a heart attack at a younger age. If you’re a woman who has a family history of heart disease and some combination of risk factors, including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, or being a smoker, then this should be on your radar. And doctors need to figure out how to withhold judgment when a patient shows symptoms of a heart attack that do not pan out. We need to be very careful about how we react, especially if a patient comes forward with a family history and risk factors. They should be taken very seriously and not judged.

What do you hope this study can contribute to public health and, more specifically, do you think that this study can have an impact on the delivery of care to women

DR. LICHTMAN: I hope this study will raise awareness for this subgroup of high-risk young women and encourage more research on heart disease in this population. This is not because it’s a novelty that these women are younger, but rather because the evidence shows that they have worse outcomes. We need to make sure that current media campaigns and prevention messages reflect all the potential symptoms of a heart attack.

As far as impacting care delivery, this study indicates a real need to empower women patients to not second-guess their symptoms or doubt taking a trip to the hospital. At the same time, health care providers have to find a better way to triage and treat them. Hopefully this research will lead to more discussions about how we make sure these women do not fall through the cracks of the health care system, and are provided with good, timely care.


New Leadership in New Jersey to Improve Health Care and Cost

By Laura Landy

Like many across the country, New Jersey’s health system is challenged. In 2011 Bob Hughes—now President of the Missouri Foundation for Health—and I wrote a report that highlighted how poor planning and anemic leadership, as well as parochial concerns severely hindered cooperation and coordination to improve health and health care in our state. Even some of the most powerful players in New Jersey’s health system were not immune from the effects of this difficult environment. Despite their common interests, the Medical Society of New Jersey, the New Jersey Association of Health Plans, and the New Jersey Hospital Association had not really talked about how they could work together to overcome serious hurdles related to costs, care and quality for many years. There were no shared programs, planning activities, education projects, or policy initiatives—and no relationships were solidified. These key influencers of the health care system were separate, siloed, and skeptical that anything other than the status quo could exist.

After early discussions with the Hospital Association, Rippel launched an effort to bring together payers, providers, and hospitals to see if they might find common ground and work together to improve health in New Jersey and particularly address ways to lower costs and reduce the volume of unnecessary procedures and services. Facilitated by the Foundation, a well-planned, deliberate, and responsive engagement process was created to help reintroduce the leadership—staff and boards—of the three groups to one another. Through this process, we worked with the groups to build trust and relationships and explore what they might do together. Together the three groups have started to develop a New Jersey health leadership program, and proposed launching a new statewide effort to improve end of life care as their initial project, a problem that costs New Jersey a hefty amount of funding each year—more than most states in the country, according to the Dartmouth Atlas.

The efforts of 25 stakeholders working together over a two-year period yielded this new cross-sector leadership program designed to advance capacity to improve health and care in the state. The program will bring current and emerging leaders together to build relationships, gain knowledge and skills, and adopt attitudes that will be required to transform health and care in New Jersey. Starting with a focus on the state’s costly end of life care, the three associations are now working with an academic partner and anticipate launching the leadership program in 2015. We are excited to see New Jersey leaders taking this important step and know that many lie ahead. Developing leadership across the state in this way and encouraging all players to work together toward common goals will have a tremendous impact on moving New Jersey forward in a way that creates a health system that will benefit all residents.