President, CEO of AKF to Chair National Patient Advocacy Organization


WASHINGTON–The National Health Council (NHC) announced that LaVarne A. Burton has been elected as the 2013 chairperson of the NHC’s board of directors. Burton is the resident and chief executive officer of the American Kidney Fund (AKF), headquartered in Rockville, Md.

The AKF is the nation’s leading source of charitable assistance to dialysis patients, helping one in four patients with their treatment-related needs. Burton has led AKF since October 2005 and has guided the organization in a significant enhancement of its mission-focused programs and services. Under her leadership, AKF has expanded its kidney disease screening program into communities nationwide and has launched the campaign Pair Up: Join the Fight to Prevent Kidney Disease. Ninety-seven cents of every dollar spent by AKF goes toward programs and services. In recognition of this financial stewardship, AKF was recently named one of the nation’s top three health charities by Consumers Digest, and is a 10-time recipient of the highest four-star rating from Charity Navigator.

Previously, Burton served as executive secretary to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where she managed policy development and regulations and was advisor to the Secretary of the largest domestic agency within the federal government. She also served as deputy assistant secretary for Budget Policy at the Department of HHS. Burton received her bachelor’s degree from Howard University and her master’s degree from George Washington University.

The National Health Council (NHC) is the only organization of its kind that brings together all segments of the health community to provide a united voice for the more than 133 million people with chronic diseases and disabilities and their family caregivers.

In the coming year, the priority issues for the NHC will include:

  • Working with various federal agencies to define essential health benefits, which will guarantee the minimum coverage people receive in state health exchanges.
  • Encouraging the development of new treatments and diagnostic tools for people with chronic conditions through passage of the MODDERN Cures Act.
  • Supporting comparative effectiveness research by working with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to develop a robust patient engagement process and establish usability criteria and a transparent evaluation process of research results.
  • Working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on implementation of a benefit-risk framework that incorporates the spectrum of patient perspectives into critical judgments at FDA about access to medicines.
  • Encouraging sustained funding for federal health programs and health research.


Made up of more than 100 national health-related organizations and businesses, the National Health Council’s core membership includes approximately 50 of the nation’s leading patient advocacy groups, which control its governance. Other members include professional and membership associations, nonprofit organizations with an interest in health, and major pharmaceutical, medical device, health insurance, and biotechnology companies. To learn more, visit the NHC website at

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