40 Under 40 2018 | Christina Zurla

Christina Zurla has dedicated her career to working both at the grassroots and the national level to get important health messages to audiences who most need the information. Zurla has shaped communications around nearly every critical public health issue facing our nation over the past two decades – from HIV and AIDS, youth violence and suicide prevention, opioid use and misuse, to disaster relief and recovery, smoking cessation, and mental health promotion.

At Gallup, Zurla became a maven trainer, teaching thousands of cash-strapped communities how to use communications to build support for public health efforts. At The Pew Charitable Trusts, Zurla worked with conservative and liberal leaders to reform our nation’s broken prison system.

In 2016, Zurla joined global consulting firm ICF as a senior leader in its social marketing practice, where she manages its opioids and substance use prevention communications portfolio, including national education campaigns with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Zurla led the team that launched CDC’s seminal Rx Awareness campaign, the first federal effort addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, and helped develop and launch the inaugural iteration of CDC’s provider-focused routine HIV testing campaigns, which remain in place today.

She also led the research, development, and launch of SAMHSA’s congressionally-mandated "Talk. They Hear You." national media campaign, encouraging parents to talk with their kids as early as 9 years old about the dangers of underage drinking. Her work with SAMHSA, the Surgeon General’s office, and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention to develop and launch the revised National Strategy for Suicide Prevention has helped re-establish the nation’s suicide prevention priorities.

- Zurla helped develop and launch critical communications strategies to broaden exposure for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and supported youth violence crisis response efforts during incidents of school violence, including the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

- She worked with more than a dozen states and federal legislators to develop and pass bipartisan policies that reduce prison sentences for low-level, non-violent offenders.

- She worked with FEMA on disaster recovery communications efforts post-Hurricane Katrina and has measured success securing ongoing funding for the Disaster Distress Helpline.

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