Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Howell Wechsler, EdD, MPH, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, is a national expert on childhood obesity, having previously served as the Director of the Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation was founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation in response to the rapid increase in childhood obesity rates over the last three decades. Dr. Wechsler leads a team of more than 110 professional staff in 40 states and the District of Columbia taking action to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity by making it easier for kids to be physically active and eat healthier foods including:
- Supporting more than 31,000 schools serving over 19 million students, in 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, in their efforts to become healthier places where physical activity and healthier foods are available before, during, and after school.
- Supporting more than 1,800 out-of-school time programs, reaching more than 200,000 young people to create healthier environments.
- Working with more than 120 companies to make healthier products more available in and affordable to schools.
- Reducing the number of beverage calories shipped to schools by 90 percent through the Alliance’s landmark beverage agreement.
- Facilitating 56,000 doctors’ offices providing obesity prevention and treatment to more than 2.9 million children through healthcare benefits.
Prior to taking on the role of Alliance CEO in 2013, Dr. Wechsler spent 18 years at the CDC, joining as a health scientist in 1995 and most recently serving as the Director of DASH from 2004 to May 2013. He supervised the management of DASH's three surveillance systems -- Youth Risk Behavior System, School Health Policies and Programs Study, and School Health Profiles. He also oversaw the division’s research and evaluation studies, development and dissemination of tools to help schools implement evidence-based policies and practices, and the funding of and technical assistance to state and local education agencies and national, non-governmental organizations. He was also the lead author of the CDC’s Guidelines for School Health Programs to Promote Lifelong Healthy Eating and played a leading role in the development of the School Health Index: A Self-Assessment and Planning Guide.
Dr. Wechsler has received a number of professional honors including the William A. Howe Award in 2012, the highest honor from the American School Health Association; the Milton J.E. Senn Award in 2006 from the American Academy of Pediatrics for achievement in the field of school health; the William G. Anderson Award in 2005 from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance in recognition of meritorious service to the profession of health education, physical education, recreation, and dance; and the Secretary’s Award for Innovations in Health from the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in 1991.
Before joining the CDC in 1995, Dr. Wechsler served for six years as Project Director of the Washington Heights-Inwood Healthy Heart Program in New York City. This community-based cardiovascular disease prevention program was affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University, where Dr. Wechsler taught courses in health communications. Dr. Wechsler earned a doctorate in health education from Teachers College, Columbia University, a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He entered the field of public health during his service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire.