End of the Year Letter from the HAI Executive Director, 2013
2013 has been an extraordinary year of transition and growth for HAI. As I reflect on these changes, the recent passing of Nelson Mandela also reminds us of our activist origins. HAI was born out of the anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and 1980s as a solidarity organization, not a charity.
Photo of Mozambique Community Health Center taken by Stephen Gloyd.
Steve Gloyd stepped down in July as Executive Director after 25 years of visionary leadership. Steve founded HAI’s earliest manifestation, the Mozambique Health Committee (MHC), in 1987 as an organization committed to “pragmatic solidarity” to support the newly independent country in its struggle against aggression by the neighboring Apartheid regime. In those early days, MHC sent doctors, nurses, and engineers from the United States and Canada to work side by side with Mozambican colleagues in the health service in the thick of a brutal war of destabilization funded by Pretoria. The insurgents who were trained and supported by the South African regime targeted health workers, school teachers, and other government providers trying to bring services to the poor for the first time in Mozambique history. MHC’s project staff in Manica Province worked in extraordinarily difficult and often dangerous circumstances.
MHC provided both material and technical support to Mozambique, but also helped raise consciousness about apartheid in the United States through its participation in the national Mozambique Support Network (MSN) that maintained chapters in 25 U.S. cities. As MHC expanded beyond Mozambique in the years that followed it transformed into Health Alliance International, but we have remained true to MHC’s core values and mission; that is, to support public sector health systems, raise consciousness about the impact of social inequality and racism on health, and engage in activism to promote pro-poor policies and politics in the developing world and at home in the U.S. With the passing of Nelson Mandela, we are reminded of our deep roots in the struggle against apartheid and the profound inspiration that Mandela provided to social justice movements around the world. HAI owes its existence to Mandela and the South African struggle he led.
Left: Streets of Cote d'Ivoire, photo by Julia Robinson, HAI Staff.
Right: Timor-Leste Mobile Moms (Liga Inan) project, photo by Susan Thompson, HAI Staff.
At HAI, we continue our work in Africa and beyond in tribute to his legacy. We seek to honor his commitment and sacrifice by engaging in deep, long-term support to our public sector colleagues in our country projects in Mandela’s spirit of solidarity and social justice. Each of HAI’s country programs have grown impressively and strengthened over this past year. Through Ahoua Kone’s and Dr. Aristide Billy’s leadership, the Cote d’Ivoire PEPFAR CDC-funded project has expanded to 38 sites in the center-north regions that now provide life-saving antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS to nearly 5400 patients. In HAI’s Timor-Leste project under Susan Thompson’s leadership, the new USAID-funded “Mobile Moms” project is already being viewed as a model for the use of cell phone technology to expand the reach of maternal child services to women in rural areas. The Timor project hired a dynamic new country director this year, Che Katz. In Mozambique, Kenny Sherr and Cathy Michel have led growth in the project to now include eight active grants, including funding from the U.S. National institutes of Health, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, GAVI, TB Reach, and the Population Council. The Mozambique team continued to support development of the Beira Operations Research Center in central Mozambique. The Center is unique to Mozambique and southern Africa in its focus on operations research and implementation science to improve service delivery in the national health system.
HAI also ramped up its advocacy activities this year as well, with a renewed effort to promote the “NGO Code of Conduct for Health System Strengthening”, and new efforts to raise awareness about the health impact of “free” trade agreements, austerity economic policies, and war. At the University of Washington, HAI has continued to support faculty research, MPH and PhD student theses, and campus educational activities as a Department of Global Health collaborating “Center”.
HAI headquarters staff and friends celebrating 25 years of leadership from Stephen Gloyd and welcoming in the new Executive Director, James Pfeiffer.
Photo credit: Sarah Gimbel, HAI Staff.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without our remarkable HAI staff whose professionalism and commitment keep the train on the tracks. There were some notable milestones this year at HQ. In 2013, Peggy Riehle completed 20 years as Director of Finance with HAI and she continues to be the rock solid foundation of the organization. Andrea Chateaubriand, the HAI spiritual center at HQ, just completed 10 years. Mara Child, a previous HAI executive assistant, joined HAI late in the year as its new Deputy Director to work closely with me to manage our expected growth and expansion over the years ahead. After years of work with HAI’s Mozambique program, Sarah Gimbel became an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the UW in 2013, adding to our impressive roster of talented and productive faculty. The HAI Board of Directors has also experienced transition this year with Aaron Katz stepping down after 12 years of leadership. Paul Thottingal joined the board bringing extensive technical and clinical expertise. Nancy Anderson, a physician who worked on HAI’s first project in Mozambique 25 years ago, also joined the board bringing HAI’s story full circle and offering a sense of continuity amidst the change of 2013.
I could not be more thrilled, honored, or humbled in assuming the Executive Director position of this remarkable and unique organization. Steve continues to work with HAI as a “Senior Advisor”, but more importantly he continues in the HAI family as a friend, mentor, and comrade in health. What a joy to work with such a committed, mission-driven, and professional group here at HQ and in all of our country programs. We will continue to promote this mission with hard work and commitment over the year ahead, while also building an internal work culture that supports the family and community lives of HAI workers, promotes diversity in our ranks, and adheres to core values of mutual respect and civility in the workplace. I can’t wait to get started in 2014.