In support of its mission to enhance the wellbeing of the residents of Austin, Travis County and Central Texas, the Department of Population Health at the Dell Medical School has named Jayne Nussbaum as its first Executive Director. In this role, she will join Department Chair Bill Tierney, MD, in co-managing departmental affairs and oversee the development of the department’s internal operations, including human resources, budgeting and finance, facilities management, strategic planning and communications.
Jayne has more than 20 years of experience managing public health projects and teams in non-profit and governmental settings. Before joining Dell Med, she served as the Interim Chief Operating Officer and Director of Strategic Development at the Louisiana Public Health Institute, a regional non-profit organization with a broad portfolio of efforts aimed at addressing social determinants of health in communities and enhancing health care systems to improve health. Prior to that, Jayne worked for the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a variety of capacities including government affairs, communications, external relations and policy development.
Jayne is a graduate of Louisiana State University and received her MPAff from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at UT Austin. A native New Orleanian, she returned to the Crescent City after Hurricane Katrina to help in the rebuilding efforts as well to enjoy its rich cultural, culinary and musical heritage. In her spare time, she serves as President of the Delwood 2 Neighborhood Association and enjoys running, paddling and gardening. Jayne took a few minutes to answer a few questions about her new role:
What will be the focus of your work at Dell Medical School?
My role is to co-create and co-manage the Department of Population Health, including developing and implementing strategic and sustainable business plans. My primary focus is to make sure members of our growing team have what they need – in human resources, budgeting, facilities, etc. – to carry out the department’s mission to enhance the health and wellbeing of the residents of Austin, Travis County, and Central Texas with an emphasis on vulnerable persons and those suffering from health disparities.
What attracted you to this role?
As a career public health professional, I’m very excited about the opportunity to leverage the breadth and depth of the healthcare system and academic medicine to improve population health and increase health equity. I’m also thrilled to be on the ground floor helping Bill Tierney create this department; one of only a handful of similar medical school departments in the nation. And as a UT Austin alumnus, I’m grateful to have the good fortune to circle back to work where I launched my career in public service.
What are some experiences from your background that you think will inform your work?
For the last ten years, I was in leadership roles in the nonprofit sector and state government during significant times of change, which required substantially rethinking and realigning organizational strategy, resources and structure. At the Louisiana Public Health Institute, a large part of my job was collaborating with teams to bring diverse local and regional stakeholders – including community health centers, government and foundations – and resources together to create innovative projects to improve population health.
How do you imagine leveraging community collaborations and partnerships?
Multi-sector collaborations and long-term stakeholder commitments along with reengineering the healthcare system to promote health and well-being outside of clinical settings are essential to improving population health. To move the needle and make lasting change, we need everyone at the table – health, housing, education, business, transportation, etc. – to address the gnarly social issues which affect people’s health outside of the four walls of a clinic or hospital. Collectively, we have to agree on common goals and work toward sustainable policy, systems and environmental change.
What benefits do you expect your work, and the overall work of the Department of Population Health, to provide to the people of Austin and Travis County?
The bottom line is that it’s our job – and our commitment – to improve the health of all people living in Central Texas, but especially those vulnerable populations with poorer health outcomes.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities that you’re anticipating?
We are basically building this Department from scratch, except for the existing Family Medicine Residency Program, so we have a lot of work ahead of us to staff up and develop the necessary infrastructure. However, it’s also an opportunity to make sure that the community’s needs drive and shape how the Department develops. We kicked off the launch of the Department with a Population Health/Community Summit earlier this year and will continue to prioritize ongoing stakeholder input as we evolve. We’re also forming a Community Strategy Team of community members that will help guide the Department of Population Health’s as well as Dell Medical School’s community engagement activities.
What are you most excited about as you get started?
I’m excited about working with a such group of smart, dedicated folks at Dell Med and in the community that really want to change the world and have fun doing it!