LaVarne A. Burton, President and Chief Executive Officer
LaVarne Addison Burton is President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Kidney Fund (AKF), a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to fight kidney disease and help people live healthier lives. Ms. Burton has led AKF since 2005. As the number of Americans living with kidney disease has grown to 37 million, so has the need increased for the programs and services of the American Kidney Fund. Through its diverse and wide-reaching programs, AKF supports people no matter where they are in the fight against kidney disease—from education and prevention through treatment and transplant.
No other kidney organization touches as many lives directly as AKF. In 2018, AKF helped 87,000 low-income dialysis and transplant patients nationwide access health care through treatment-related grant assistance. Millions of people benefit annually from AKF’s efforts to fight kidney disease through Know Your Kidneys, AKF’s nationwide health education and prevention outreach program. For 30 years, AKF’s Clinical Scientist in Nephrology Program has contributed to the pipeline of the most promising clinical researchers who have become leaders in the field of nephrology. AKF advocates on behalf of people with kidney disease and provides a platform to help ensure that patients are enabled tell their own stories and have their voices heard. Through its peer-to-peer KidneyNation platform, AKF engages patients, their loved ones and caregivers in funding the fight against kidney disease.
The American Kidney Fund has significantly enhanced its programs and services during Ms. Burton’s tenure. Her leadership has propelled the organization to many notable milestones, including the growth of AKF’s free kidney disease screening program into the nation’s largest; development of award-winning public awareness media campaigns; tripling of patient financial assistance to ensure access to care; establishment of a nationwide AKF Advocacy Network that has grown to more than 10,000 Ambassadors; and the launch of the renal community’s only national annual gala, The Hope Affair, which honors patients and advocates. AKF is included in the Consumer Reports list of “Best Charities for Your Donations” and has received Charity Navigator’s highest, 4-star rating for the 18th consecutive year—one of only four nonprofits nationwide to achieve that distinction.
Ms. Burton served as Executive Secretary to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she managed policy development and regulations and was advisor to the Secretary of the federal government’s largest domestic agency. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget Policy at HHS and as Senior Analyst to the Budget Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, advising the Committee on funding policy and legislative positions for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs.
Ms. Burton is a member and Past Chair of the National Health Council (NHC) Board of Directors. The 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.
She also serves or has served on a number of other boards, including Kidney Care Partners; Advisory Council for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as the NIH Council of Councils. She was a Founder and Board Member of Women in the Health Care Industry Foundation and was named by The Wall Street Journal to be among a select group of 100 women chosen nationwide to be members of The Journal’s Executive Taskforce on Women in the Economy.
Ms. Burton was born in Augusta, Georgia and attended public schools there. She received her bachelor’s degree from Howard University and master’s degree from George Washington University, both in Washington, D.C.