Cybele Bjorklund named senior VP at health startup

Cybele Bjorklund—the inaugural vice president for federal strategy at Johns Hopkins who has marshaled her expertise in health policy and legislation to support the institution’s mission of research, discovery, and service—has been named senior vice president for policy and government strategy at the startup Virta Health. Her last day will be Friday, June 11.

In a message announcing Bjorklund’s departure, Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University, and Paul B. Rothman, dean of the medical faculty, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, and vice president for medicine at Johns Hopkins University, praised the impact she made on a role that was new to the institution.

Cybele Bjorklund

Image caption: Cybele Bjorklund

“We are deeply grateful to Cybele for her thoughtful leadership, unwavering integrity, and immense collegiality,” they wrote. “Although we will miss having her partnership on a daily basis, she has assured us that her love of her alma mater is ever present and she is always ready for consultation on issues large or small.”

A veteran of Capitol Hill and a Johns Hopkins alumna, Bjorklund joined Johns Hopkins in February 2019 and brought to the role more than two decades of experience in navigating some of the most complex and politically challenging health policy issues. Under her leadership, the office of federal strategy increased Johns Hopkins’ presence in Washington, D.C. by building and strengthening relationships not only with key congressional leadership and staff, but also with think tanks, NGOs, and academic medical and research associations. She also aided the expansion of the programming and reach of the highly successful “Hopkins on the Hill” program and helped to advance aspirations for 555 Penn, the university’s new home in the heart of the capital.

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A consummate collaborator, Bjorklund worked across the enterprise to forge partnerships between and among the university’s schools and divisions to create the new Johns Hopkins Health Symposium and contributed to the design and launch of the new Business of Health initiative, a multi-school partnership among the Carey Business School and Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Nursing.

In the past 14 months, she has worked on behalf of Hopkins researchers and students to ensure that federal support reached those who most needed it. Bjorklund was instrumental in ensuring Johns Hopkins Health System received funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which infused funds into the institution’s COVID-19 preparedness and response.

“Helping our faculty, students and entire enterprise engage in a meaningful way with leading policymakers and thought leaders has been the privilege of a lifetime, especially as an alumna and particularly during this past year,” Bjorklund said. “Indeed, the institution’s pandemic response showcased the incredible depth of talent, resourcefulness and perseverance across both JHHS and the university.”

Melisa Lindamood, director of federal affairs, will serve as interim vice president for federal strategy while a national search is conducted for Bjorklund’s replacement.


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