Doctor of Philosophy in Social Policy

Transforming engagement into action

By Max Pearlstein ’01

Marianne McPherson, PhD'09

In her role with 100 Million Healthier Lives (100MHL), Marianne McPherson, PhD’09, is attempting to do the unprecedented. 100MHL, which is convened by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is working towards an audacious goal: 100 million people living healthier lives by 2020. As director of implementation, McPherson is a key leader of a small team charged with keeping the massive movement on track. She does a bit of everything, from coordinating resources for members, to developing the website and a measurement platform and providing leadership to the wide network of participants.

“I really enjoy helping to connect the dots across a variety of issues,” McPherson says. “We have a big tent approach, with people working on many different topics, and it’s my job to make it easier for them to perform their piece of the puzzle. I love being able to support the diverse collection of members who together are transforming health and wellbeing with a core focus on equity.”

According to McPherson, 100MHL currently has more than 900 members in 20 countries—its potential reach is already more than 100 million people in the United States alone. Together, they work to transform health and wellbeing through various projects, like a partnership with the Office of the Surgeon General to turn the tide on the opioid crisis in the U.S. or another to interrupt the school to prison pipeline.

McPherson believes the movement is now at an inflection point. “We’ve been welcoming new members, and I think this is the time for us to transition that momentum for engagement into momentum for action,” she says. “I think that between now and 2020, my days will be full of the incredible challenge and incredible privilege I have to provide the tools, support and facilitative leadership needed to make this movement, that I really believe in, fly.”