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The Deans Sommer and Klag Professor of the Practice in Public Health
Distinguished Professor of the Practice

Shelley Hearne, DrPH, strengthens public health’s ability to effectively engage in policymaking and advocacy for the healthiest, safest, most equitable living environments.

Contact Info

624 N. Broadway, Hampton House

Research Interests

advocacy; food safety; bioterrorism preparedness; pandemic influenza; health tracking; public health infrastructure

Experiences & Accomplishments
Columbia Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia Mailman School of Public Health
Bowdoin College

Dr. Hearne has spent over three decades as a change maker bent on boosting the health, safety, and sustainability of our planet and the people on it.  She works with foundations, policy-makers, business and non-profit sectors to tackle some of the thorniest health and environmental issues of the day: from pandemic response to health policy strategies for reducing preventable risks in our everyday lives.

In 2021, she became full time faculty as the Deans Sommer and Klag Distinguished Professor of the Practice for Public Health Advocacy and director of the Lerner Center for Public Health Advocacy. Dr. Hearne also serves as the executive director of the Forsythia Foundation.

Most recently, she was the founding president of CityHealth (, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, and executive director of the Big Cities Health Coalition, representing the lead health officials of the nation's largest cities. She also was managing director of the Pew Health Group of The Pew Charitable Trusts, overseeing its food safety, medical safety, research, and biomedical programs. 

Dr. Hearne founded and led the Trust for America’s Health, a national health advocacy organization dedicated to preventing epidemics, protecting people.

Additional past posts included  Executive Director of the Pew Environmental Health Commission, the Acting Director of the NJ DEP Office of Pollution Prevention, and a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She was the Chair of the American Public Health Association’s Executive Board and Vice President of the Council on Education for Public Health – the accreditation body for public health schools.

Shelley recently co-authored the book, Policy Engagement, with Dr Keshia Pollack Porter and Katrina Forrest, as part of the Strategic Skills for Public Health Practice series with the de Beaumont Foundation, ASTHO, and APHA Press.

She also has authored many national health reports, from bioterrorism response to obesity. Dr. Hearne has testified regularly before the U.S. Congress on bioterrorism, pandemic preparedness, health tracking and public health funding. She provides continual service to the public health field serving, including National Academy of Science Committees (including the Oversight Committee, Division on Earth and Life Studies) and chairing accreditation site visits to public health schools, such as Harvard and Yale Universities. Most recently she served for ten years on the Radiation Effect Research Foundation in Japan and was a member of Congressional-sponsored NAS investigation that produced the report, Lessons Learned form the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving U.S. Nuclear Plants. She is a Trustee on the Bowdoin College board and chairs their Committee on Inclusion.

Honors & Awards

• The American Public Health Association Executive Director’s Citation
• The Bowdoin College Common Good Award, which honors those alumni who have demonstrated an extraordinary, profound, and sustained commitment to the common good, in the interest and for the benefit of society
• The Senator Frank Lautenberg Award for lifetime achievement in public health advocacy, 2006
• University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University School of Public Health graduation speaker, 2006.
• Keynote Speaker for the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health Hooding Ceremony (graduation), 2006
• Delta Omega Society member, Alpha Eta Chapter, elected 2006
• 2004 Delta Omega Curricula Award for the class, Issues in Health Advocacy. Through the Association of Schools of Public Health, the top national award for innovative public health curriculum, which integrates practical community-based practice and scholarship into classroom discussions, applies public health principles, uses science-based decision-making and involves the community in a teaching partnership

Select Publications

Hearne has published a range of articles, covering urban health department needs, health advocacy and accountablity reports on the nation's status addressing major health emergencies and other critical public health problems. Below is a small sampling.

  • Hearne S, Pollack Porter K, Forrest K, Policy Engagement, Strategic Skills for Public Health Practice, APHA Press, Washington DC, 2023.

  • Hearne S & Jernigan D, "Who Will Advocate to Keep the Public Healthy? Establishing Competency-Based Advocacy Training for the Public Health Field." Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 2024

  • Hearne, S., Segal, L., Earls, M., Juliano C., and Stephens, T. 2005 “Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism 2005.” Trust for America’s Health. Washington, DC. 

  • Hearne S and Forrest, K. “Shifting from Problem Identification to Problem Solving: CityHealth as an Accountability and Solution-Driving Tool for Governmental Entities.” Temple Law Review, 92 (4). 2020.

  • Hearne, S., Hamburg, M.A., Segal, L. 2004 “Commentary: SARS and Its Implications for U.S. Public Health Policy: ‘We’ve Been Lucky’.” Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, Volume 2, No. 2

  • Hearne, S., 2015. "Bearing Fruit: The Fight for FDA's Food Safety Reforms" Health Affairs, Nov. Vol. 31, no. 11

  • Hearne, S., Castrucci, B., Leider, J.P. et al, 2015, "The Future of Urban Health: Needs, Barriers, Opportunities, and Policy Advancement at Large Urban Health Departments," Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. 21():S4-S13, January/February.

  • Hearne S. Federal Standards, Enforcement and Public Accountability: Lessons from the Environmental Field. In Ethical and Legal Considerations in Mitigating Pandemic Disease, Chapter 4: Ethical Issues in Pandemic Planning and Response.  Forum on Microbial Threats.  Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC.  2007.