Massachusetts Elder Affairs Leader Joins Tufts Health Plan Foundation

WATERTOWN, MA – February 5, 2013 – The Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced today that Ruth Palombo, PhD, RD, most recently assistant secretary for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA), has joined the foundation as its new senior health policy officer.

A 30-year health and human services industry veteran, Palombo will be responsible for the foundation’s educational, network-building and policy-related activities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These efforts will align with the foundation’s mission of healthy aging and its work to help adults 60+ improve and maintain their health, manage their chronic diseases, prevent falls, engage in their communities, find encore careers and volunteer opportunities, and learn about available programs and services.

“This is a tremendous win for the foundation and the work we’re doing to help older adults in our communities,” said David Abelman, president of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. “With someone of Ruth’s experience on our team, we hope to build stronger ties with key government, community, academic and thought leaders as well as other foundations, and advance our drive to make Massachusetts a national model for healthy aging.”

Palombo joined the Massachusetts EOEA in 2008 as assistant secretary for program planning and management. In this role, she was responsible for policy planning and development of a wide range of issues affecting the health and well-being of older adults, including aging/senior centers, senior employment, aging and disability resource consortia and family caregiving. She was also extensively involved in grant activities across the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and was awarded three major grants for the implementation of evidence-based health promotion programs in Massachusetts, which she then supervised.

“Over the years, I have been very impressed with how the Tufts Health Plan Foundation supports evidence-based healthy aging programs in the community,” said Palombo. “I’ve seen first-hand how the foundation serves as a champion of healthy aging issues by building a collaborative approach among key stakeholders. It will be an honor to help serve as a catalyst in these efforts.”

No stranger to the Commonwealth, Palombo previously directed programs in nutrition, aging, health promotion and chronic disease prevention for more than 20 years at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. For five of these years, Palombo served as director for the office of elder health.

Additional experience in the field includes a joint appointment at Tufts University as assistant professor of Public Health and Family Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine and assistant professor for the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, where Palombo taught courses in gerontology, community nutrition and public health. Palombo was also co-director of the Ross Aging Initiative, a resource at Tufts University for faculty to promote interdisciplinary research, education, training and policy development in the field of aging.

Palombo began her career in nutrition services with nearly 15 years working at health and medical centers including Massachusetts General Hospital and the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts New England Medical Center.

Palombo earned her PhD in social policy with concentrations in aging and substance abuse from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She also received a master’s in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health. Supporting her early career in nutrition, Palombo received her bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and foods from Cornell University and a master’s degree in nutrition and public health from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Over the past decade and a half, Palombo has been published nearly 20 times and has presented at eight healthy aging-related conferences. Palombo is a member of and has served in leadership positions for the American Public Health Association, Gerontological Society of America, American Society on Aging and Massachusetts Gerontology Association, among others. She currently lives in Arlington, Mass.

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