Esther Dyson (@edyson on twitter) is executive founder of Wellville (@WaytoWellville), a ten-year, nonprofit evidence-generating project devoted to implementing and refining models for investing in community health (not health *care*) that return profits to investors and health to the participants and their communities. Wellville advises the five US-based Wellville communities on accelerating their own health initiatives, in Clatsop County, OR; Lake County, CA; Muskegon County, MI; North Hartford, CT; and Spartanburg, SC. Dyson is the W2W lead for Muskegon, and is actively involved in overall policy and fundraising for the project.
Aside from that full-time role, Dyson spends her extra time investing in and nurturing start-ups, with a recent focus on health care (somewhat constrained to avoid conflicts with Wellville). On the health side, she is an investor in 23andMe (also a director), 4D Healthware, Applied Proteomics, Basil Health, Big Health, Care.Coach, Clover Health, Dopamine Labs, Eligible, Enso, Hawthorne Effect, Health Loop, HealthCelerate, HealthTap, i2Dx, Joany, Medesk, MedicaSafe, mEquilibrium, Nanowear, NeuroGeneCES, Nuna, Omada Health, PatientsLikeMe, PatientsKnowBest, Prognos.ai, Proofpilot, Resilient, Sapiens, StartupHealth, Syllable, Tocagen, Turbine.ai, Valkee, Vital Score, Wellpass (director) and Zipongo.
Over its 10-year life, Way to Wellville will measure its progress both year by year and at the end, using both specific program-based metrics and the overall community goals. Its mission is not just to help five small (<200,000 people) communities get healthy, but to develop and refine business models for doing so and to inspire other communities and government entities to copy its methods. Its motto is “Don’t rent your health. Invest in it!”
Wellville favors implementation over innovation: applying approaches known to work, at scale in small communities where scale/density is relatively easy to achieve in terms of both resources and political buy-in. Each community sets its own priorities and goals around issues such as early childhood experience, obesity/diabetes, mental health, dental health, smoking, addiction and overall human capacity and health disparities; Wellville assists in finding partners and funders and in managing accountability.