Charity and good deeds may begin at home, but Atlantan Kent Alexander is thinking broadly. Recently elected chair of the Task Force for Global Health Board of Directors, Alexander has served on its board since 2018 and, most recently, has been serving as board vice-chair. He succeeds Teri McClure, former general counsel, and chief human resources officer for UPS, who has served as board chair since 2017.
An accomplished author, attorney and civic leader, Alexander has served as general counsel of CARE, as a presidentially appointed United States attorney, a partner at King & Spalding law firm, and senior vice president and general counsel for Emory University. He also co-authored the book, “The Suspect,” a based-on source for Clint Eastwood’s movie on Richard Jewell.
In making the announcement, Task Force for Global Health president and CEO Patrick O’Carroll said, “Kent Alexander has been a highly engaged and enthusiastic Task Force champion during his time on the board, and he brings a great deal of experience and connections to this role. We look forward to his leadership.”
The Task Force’s growth and increasing impact builds on the work and legacy of Task Force co-founder Dr. Bill Foege, a global health legend who helped lead the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox, among many other achievements. The Task Force’s revenue increased from 2016 to 2022, with an FY22 audited revenue of $103 million (excluding $632 million of in-kind donations), the number of employees grew to 200, and the number of programs grew from 10 to 17. The Task Force works with partners in more than 150 countries.
As Alexander steps into the role of board chair, the Task Force is approaching its 40th anniversary. Foege is considered such a giant in public health that Bill Gates looked to him for global health guidance when creating the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. After the eradication of smallpox in 1980, Foege took on the next big challenge: ensuring that children everywhere could be vaccinated against preventable diseases, like polio, measles and diphtheria. In 1984, when the Task Force was founded, only 20 percent of all children were able to get vaccinated, primarily those living in high-income countries like the U.S. and in Western Europe — leaving hundreds of millions of children in poor countries at risk, although the world had the tools and the know-how to protect them.
To solve this problem, Dr. Foege and others, at the request of the Rockefeller Foundation, brought together the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program to ensure that all children could be protected and established the Task Force (then called the Task Force for Child Survival) to coordinate this effort. Within six years, by 1990, global childhood immunization rates had soared to 80 percent.
Alexander recently toured Kenya with McClure and Task Force staff, where he remarked, “I saw first-hand the innovative, collaborative work to eliminate blinding trachoma and prevent and treat infection by intestinal worms. Since our founding, the Task Force has always prized results over recognition, channeling our expertise and close partnerships to save and improve people’s lives around the world.”
Alexander, who was spotlighted in the Atlanta Jewish Times Lowdown (Sept. 16, 2022) column, more recently told the AJT, “Part of growing up Jewish in Atlanta, especially with my parents (Elaine and Miles), was being wired to give back. We never called it ‘tikkun olam,’ but that was the idea. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my life so far. Helping others through groups like Task Force is a big part of that good fortune.”
Alexander graduated from Briarcliff High School, then Tufts University, and on to the University of Virginia School of Law. He and wife, Diane, a plastic surgeon, have two adult daughters.
He also served as president of The Temple and president of the American Jewish Committee Atlanta chapter. He also spent a year as chief of staff for Michelle Nunn’s U.S. Senate campaign.
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Kent Alexander
- Task Force for Global Health
- Teri McClure
- King & Spalding
- Emory University
- Richard Jewell
- Patrick O’Carroll
- Bill Foege
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- measles diphtheria
- Rockefeller Foundation
- World Health Organization
- the World Bank
- United Nations Development Program
- Task Force for Child Survival
- Briarcliff High School
- Tufts University
- University of Virginia School of Law
- The Temple
- American Jewish Committee