Jeff Kirsch

Vice President of National Policy + Advocacy
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About Jeff

Hometown: Teaneck, NJ

Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of Virginia

Who are you?

I’m the father of two wonderful girls, who are now mothers themselves, and the husband of 40 years to a terrific woman and social worker (who I met as a fellow VISTA volunteer in west Texas). And I’m proud to have been a dependable and caring soccer coach to my girls and many others over the years.

I’ve also been fortunate to be able to make a career out of my youthful passion to change the world. The social change/advocacy world has given me a strong sense of community and purpose throughout my life—and introduced me to my best friends. I’ve had the great opportunity to work with organizations that stimulated me and that made a real contribution to improving the lives of millions of people, allowed me to meet wonderful people, and afforded me a meaningful and substantial life.

What makes your job great?

At the broad level, I’m hoping my position at Healthy Schools Campaign allows me to use a wide range of skills, experiences and relationships that I’ve developed over the years. The organization’s mission addresses issues that I’ve focused on throughout my work life: healthcare, nutrition, physical activity and education. I have the opportunity to take the deep experience my colleagues have had in Chicago and bring those lessons and strong advocacy to a national audience. And I get to work with a wide range of national advocates and policy experts who share our vision of healthy kids and school wellness.

When did you come to Healthy Schools Campaign?

August 2017

Why did you join Healthy Schools Campaign?

I had the pleasure of working for 15 years as a vice president at the Council for a Strong America, the organization that mobilizes unexpected messengers to work on a wide range of children’s issues. Last May, I got a note from Rochelle asking if I had any suggestions for a new position they were creating for a vice president of national policy and advocacy. I told her I had just the right person!

I have always thought that working to get kids healthy and keep them healthy was a critical issue, both for the kids and their families—and also for the larger community who needs the next generation to be healthy and strong to help build and sustain communities and the nation. And just as Willie Sutton robbed banks because that’s where the money was, I like the fact that Healthy Schools Campaign looks to promote healthy kids in schools because that’s where the kids are!

This job brings new challenges of taking terrific and common-sense ideas—developed and vetted by Healthy Schools Campaign in Chicago—to a broader audience and trying to figure out how to actually get those ideas implemented in school districts across the country. These ideas—that will help kids be healthier and successful in school and in life—offer the chance to bypass the normal partisan divide and connect with a wide range of educators and policy-makers. I am hoping to take the expertise and passion of a wonderful staff and work with them to move their ambitious agenda forward to what I trust will be a welcoming audience in states and school districts across America.

Where does your motivation come from?

I have always relied on the passion and caring of a broad community of people who share values and vision for a better America. In my work life, I’ve had the chance to engage nationwide with hundreds of organizers and advocates from whom I’ve derived support, sustenance, friendship, and wonderful relationships and friendships. This sense of community and shared values and hope for the future is my secular spiritualism.

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