Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications, University of Florida
Ann Christiano is the Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida. Her role is to develop a curriculum in the newly-emerging discipline of public interest communications, which uses the tools of public relations and journalism to create positive social change. Christiano directs the frank gathering, which connects activists, strategists, funders, and scholars in Gainesville each February. She also directs frank academy, which trains scientists, nonprofit leaders and others to develop communications skills that can amplify their work. Before joining the University of Florida, Christiano directed communications for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Vulnerable Populations portfolio. This portfolio creates new opportunities for better health by investing in health where it starts and grows—in our homes, schools, and jobs. The social innovations the portfolio supports work in the domains of education, housing or corrections, but always address health needs of people who are vulnerable. As part of her work, Christiano oversaw communications strategies for programs like the Greenhouse project, which is a radical reinvention of the traditional long term care model, and CeaseFire, which uses a public health approach to reduce gun violence in America’s most violent neighborhoods. Earlier in her career at RWJF she developed a robust government relations program that helped foundation grantees build productive relationships with their elected officials and significantly increased the Foundation’s profile among Washington policy-makers. She has also worked with the Washington Business Group on Health, now the National Business group on Health. Early in her career, Ann had the privilege to work directly with Frank Karel, and benefited from his extraordinary vision for the field of philanthropic and public interest communications.