‘During her interviews for the CEO job, Desmond-Hellmann brought up criticisms of the foundation and other thorny topics, to see how philanthropy’s power couple would respond.
‘“I felt like I tested what it would be like to have a conversation about a difficult issue,” Desmond-Hellmann said. And she liked what she heard.’
It seems like asking questions is something she feels she brings to her new job. As the first physician and research scientist to hold the top job at the world’s richest philanthropy, ‘That outside perspective is already proving valuable,’ she told the Seattle Times. … ‘What I hope I bring to the foundation … is coming at things from a fresh angle. I find myself asking a lot of questions, and I think that’s an asset.’
But she isn’t planning any major course changes. ‘The strategies we have are awesome,’ she said. ‘We’re working on some of the most important problems in the world.’
But so far, much of that work is still in the research phase, limited to pilot projects or facing logistical and political hurdles to implementation. Eradicating polio, for example, has proved much tougher than expected due to conflict and chaos in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Desmond-Hellmann said her top priority is to ensure that the foundation’s investments have a broad impact.
‘If you make a medicine and no one gets it, it’s not really worth celebrating,’” she said.
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