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Remarks: 2023 Aspen Ideas: Health Opening Session

June 21, 2023  • Daniel R. Porterfield

Aspen Institute President and CEO Dan Porterfield delivered the below remarks at the opening session of Aspen Ideas: Health on June 21, 2023 in Aspen, CO. Follow him on LinkedIn.

Welcome to the 10th annual Aspen Ideas: Health! We are all fortunate to have this opportunity to learn together. Please join me for few expressions of gratitude:

First, thank you to the Northwell Health Nurses Choir for that amazing performance;

Thank you to our 10 Big Ideas presenters;

Thank you to the Aspen Ideas: Health team, especially Ruth Katz, Natalie Johnson, and Elliot Gerson;

Thank you to our underwriters, our partners, our speakers, our guests, and our trustees—especially our dynamic new chair, Margot Pritzker…

And with Margot, three trustees who will speak this week: former HHS Secretary Alex Azar; Mt. Sinai CEO Ken Davis; and Paragon Biosciences Chairman and CEO Jeff Aronin.

The Aspen Institute came into the world in an age of post-War hope and institution-building, when a group of thinkers and doers from civil society and the business world gathered here in the Colorado mountains to discuss nothing less than the future of humanity.

They did so with a shared belief in human dignity and a social order defined by freedom, justice, opportunity, and democratic fellow-feeling.

From that first convening, our ever-growing institution has pursued a bold purpose, formalized by our Board of Trustees this year, which is…

…to ignite human potential to build understanding…and create new possibilities for a better world.

Each year, Aspen Ideas: Health embraces this noble purpose and expresses it anew:

Together, in these tents, we ignite human potential by trying to understand all the factors that help or harm our wellbeing.

We build understanding among a particular group of ethically-attuned leaders, scholars, and innovators.

We create new possibilities for a better world—by thinking together about what to fix in health care and then forging new partnerships to do it.

Across more than 60 sessions in the coming days, we will have the chance to go deep together on cutting edge topics, such as:

The maze-like legal landscape for reproductive health care;

The emerging impacts of our changing climate on human health;

New technologies with the potential to dramatically improve health outcomes;

Breakthrough research on how the senses can be a conduit to better health and wellbeing; and

The urgency of reforming health care delivery systems for greater equity — and at the same time dealing with the perennial American problem of run-away health costs…and the growing need to re-invest in a generation of health care professionals who are stressed out, burned out, and uncertain about whether to stay in their fields.

The great theme across all of these topics, of course, is change. Turbocharged, accelerating, perhaps dizzying change—for good and for ill. Sorting through the changes and challenges in health care takes a community—and we have tried to design this Festival so that you can carry back home to your life-enhancing work a great wealth of new ideas and new partners and new coalitions and joy, hope, and love.

Thank you for being here. We hope that you find people and ideas that excite you.