UW News

November 13, 2019

Founder of World Justice Project, former top Microsoft lawyer Bill Neukom to chair advisory board for UW Population Health Initiative

UW News

Neukom standing at podium

William Neukom is the new chair the external advisory board for the University of Washington Population Health Initiative and founder and CEO of The World Justice Project.Daniel Maissan/World Justice Project

Known for his decades-long leadership of Microsoft’s law and corporate affairs team and then at the American Bar Association, his success as CEO of the San Francisco Giants and founder/CEO of the World Justice Project, Bill Neukom will now chair the external advisory board for the University of Washington Population Health Initiative.

The university initiative is a 25-year, interdisciplinary effort to bring understanding and solutions to the biggest challenges facing communities, and revolves around three major pillars — human health, environmental resilience and social and economic equity — here in the Northwest and around the world.

Neukom and the advisory board are charged with providing guidance in areas such as strategic planning and program development, furthering the university’s understanding of population health trends and helping to assess the effectiveness of the initiative.

“This is a bold and imaginative initiative of the president of the University of Washington to identify and build up the essential ingredients for functional communities — human health, environment, education, justice, economic opportunity,” said Neukom. “I can’t imagine a more important initiative with more promise to improve life for literally millions of people. It is a privilege and honor to be a part of it. And, besides, when UW President Ana Mari Cauce calls and asks you to do something with the university, you don’t say no!”

The new board will advise the initiative’s 30-member executive council, which is chaired by President Cauce. The council vice chair is Ali Mokdad, chief strategy officer for population health and professor of health metrics sciences.

“We are thrilled that Bill has agreed to serve as chair and grateful for his leadership in this important work,” said President Cauce. “His incredible energy and commitment to making a positive difference in the world is reflected in his many outstanding achievements. I know he will be a huge asset to the initiative and a trusted thought partner as we work to improve the health and well-being of all people.”

After retiring from Microsoft as executive vice president of law and corporate affairs in 2002, he returned to the law firm of K&L Gates and served as the firm’s chair from 2003 to 2007. Neukom was president of the American Bar Association from 2007 to 2008 and CEO of the Giants baseball team from 2008 to 2011. In 2006, Neukom founded the World Justice Project, which he created as a president’s initiative within the bar association and since 2009 has run as an independent nonprofit organization. The justice project’s mission is to build knowledge, generate awareness and stimulate action to advance the rule of law, while nurturing a global network of rule of law organizations and community-led programs worldwide.

“Effective rule of law reduces corruption, combats poverty and disease and protects people from injustices large and small,” the project’s website explains. “It is the foundation for communities of justice, opportunity and peace — underpinning development, accountable government and respect for fundamental rights.”

The World Justice Project also created the Rule of Law Index, which measures how the general public experiences and perceives the rule of law. The project surveyed more than 120,000 households in 126 countries and jurisdictions to create a resource of original and independent data on the rule of law.

“Our mission is so big that we needed to have a crystal-clear vision of where we wanted to go,” Neukom said. “Gathering data related to the rule of law, measuring real-world adherence and challenges to the rule of law was the first step. Bill Gates always said, ‘If you can’t measure something, you can’t change it.’ That’s especially true here.”

In addition to leading the UW Population Health Initiative advisory board, Neukom’s commitment to higher education includes serving on the Board of Trustees at University of Puget Sound, chairing the Board of Trustees at Dartmouth; and chairing the Dean’s Advisory Council at Stanford Law School, where he also teaches a seminar on the rule of law. At UW, he served on the Washington Futures Committee and has been a guest lecturer at the UW School of Law.

In 1995, Neukom and his children founded the Neukom Family Foundation to support not-for-profit organizations in the fields of education, the environment, health, human services and justice.

“Bill’s tremendous breadth of professional accomplishments, his extensive leadership experience and his vision for tackling the world’s big challenges through interdisciplinary collaboration makes him the ideal fit to chair our board,” said Mokdad. “We look forward to working closely with Bill to create a high-functioning board that dramatically accelerates the UW’s collective efforts to improve population health.”

President Cauce will work with Neukom to recruit and appoint the rest of the Population Health Initiative’s external advisory board with local, national and international members who represent the three pillars of population health: human health, environmental resilience and social and economic equity.

The first external advisory board meeting will be held on the University of Washington campus in May 2020.


For more information, contact Jake Ellison, Jbe3@UW.edu .