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Making Connections, Part 1 of 4

Join author and host Allison Gilbert and her special guests for a four-part series on the loneliness epidemic, one of the greatest public health crises of the 21st century.

Long before COVID, people in the U.S. and across the world have struggled with loneliness, isolation, and lack of social connection. In 2023, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy declared loneliness an epidemic and announced a strategy to help reverse this alarming trend. And months later, journalist Allison Gilbert reported for the New York Times about the appointment of world-renowned therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer as New York State’s Ambassador to Loneliness, the first such position in the country. Reimagine and Allison are co-hosting a new series to learn about strategies to build deeper connections, particularly among the most vulnerable.

The conversation kicks off with U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, Dr. Ruth Westheimer – psychosexual therapist, author, and lecturer – and Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, director of the Social Connection & Health Lab at Brigham Young University and lead scientific editor of the Surgeon General’s Advisory. Everyone is welcome. Bring your most pressing questions!

About Reimagine

Reimagine is a nonprofit organization catalyzing a uniquely powerful community–people of different backgrounds, ages, races, and faiths (and no faith) coming together in the hopes of healing ourselves and the world. We specifically support each other in facing adversity, loss, and mortality and–at our own pace– actively channeling life's biggest challenges into meaningful action and growth.


Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2021 to serve as the 21st Surgeon General of the United States. As the nation’s top doctor, Dr. Vivek Murthy helps to advance the health and well-being of all Americans and has worked to address critical public health issues. He has issued Surgeon General Advisories on the youth mental health crisis and social media’s impact on youth mental health, the epidemic of loneliness and isolation, and on burnout in the health worker community. Dr. Murthy also issued a Surgeon General’s Framework on mental health in the workplace and he is the first Surgeon General to host a podcast, House Calls with Dr. Vivek Murthy, where he invites guests and listeners to explore how we can all build more connected and meaningful lives.

As Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr. Murthy oversees more than 6,000 dedicated public health officers serving underserved and vulnerable populations.

Dr. Murthy previously served as the 19th Surgeon General under President Obama. Raised in Miami, Dr. Murthy received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard, his medical degree from the Yale School of Medicine, and his Masters in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management.

Twitter/X: @Surgeon_General

Instagram: @u.s.surgeongeneral

Facebook: /USSurgeonGeneral

Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer, America’s most famous sex therapist, is now the first Ambassador to Loneliness in the United States, appointed by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul in November 2023. Breaking stigmas and pioneering the field of media sex education, the long-time cultural icon, is now taking on the loneliness epidemic, helping individuals live more meaningful and connected lives.

For more than 40 years, beginning in the 1980’s with her nationally syndicated radio show Sexually Speaking and her nightly cable TV program The Dr. Ruth Show, Dr. Westheimer remains the country’s most beloved advice-giver – offering blunt, sensible guidance to millions through media interviews and her popular X/Twitter account @AskDrRuth.

Through her decades-long career, Dr. Westheimer has written a celebrated newspaper column and authored or co-authored 47 books, including Sex For Dummies, which has been sold in 27 countries and translated into 17 languages. She has written several books for children, including Grandma On Wheels and Leopold the Turtle.

Born in Germany and sent to an orphanage in Switzerland when she was 10 years old to escape the Holocaust, Dr. Westheimer’s fascinating life has been portrayed on the stage in Becoming Dr. Ruth, a show that played Off Broadway to critical acclaim and continues to be performed around the country, and in the documentary, Ask Dr. Ruth, currently running on Hulu.

Dr. Westheimer obtained a Masters Degree in Sociology from the New School of Social Research and received a Doctorate of Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has taught at Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Lehman College, Brooklyn College, Adelphi University, and West Point.

A board member of the YMHA of Washington Heights, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and Ben Gurion University, Dr. Westheimer has two children, four grandchildren, and resides in New York City.


Julianne Holt-Lunstad is a professor of psychology and neuroscience, and director of the Social Connection & Health Lab at Brigham Young University. She is also the founding scientific chair and board member for the U.S. Foundation for Social Connection and the Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection. Dr. Holt-Lunstad is an international scientific expert whose research focuses on the individual and population health effects, biological mechanisms, and effective strategies to mitigate risk and promote protection associated with social connection. Her research has been seminal in the recognition of social isolation and loneliness as risk factors for early mortality. As the lead scientific editor for a US Surgeon General’s Advisory and Framework for a National Strategy, her work also focuses on translating evidence into practice and policy. She serves as a scientific advisor and regularly consults for organizations across sectors aimed at addressing this issue. She has provided expert testimony in a US Congressional Hearing, served as a member of multiple National Academy of Sciences consensus committees, the UK Cross Departmental Loneliness Team, European Joint Research Council, World Health Organization, and a subject matter expert for the Gravity Project, Commit to Connect the national clearinghouse of interventions, and the CDC. Her work has been widely recognized within her discipline, including several awards, and is regularly highlighted in major media outlets.


Allison Gilbert is the host of Reimagine’s Passed and Present conversation series and author and co-author of numerous books, including Listen, World!: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America’s Most-Read Woman; Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive; and Always Too Soon: Voices of Support for Those Who Have Lost Both Parents. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and is a past Board Member of the National Alliance for Children’s Grief.

A regular contributor to the New York Times and other publications, Allison launched Pub Day, a literary consultancy, to help writers best-position their book ideas for publication.


Talk, Panel, & Conversation


Wellness COVID-19 Isolation & Connection