In 2012, I had the privilege of being appointed in the first national nurse lead post for public health when I became director of nursing at the DH and PHE. This brought huge opportunities and responsibility to ensure that we maximised and valued nurses', midwives' and health visitors' contributions to improving the population's health and reducing health inequalities. I made a bold statement back then that I aimed 'to position our professions in England at the leading edge of population health nursing'. This article discusses some of the strategy behind the progress we have made to date. This involved many professionals and partners. I am grateful for their knowledge and skill in developing our approach, and their enthusiasm and willingness to act as champions to make a difference.