Nikolaj Gilbert joined PATH, a global public health organization headquartered in Seattle, in January of 2020 – just as the first cases of COVID-19 began appearing globally and shortly before the first U.S. cases were reported in Washington state. With little more than a year on the job, having immigrated to the United States from Denmark with his family and onboarded to PATH almost entirely virtually, the new CEO already has a strong vision for the future, one that challenges it to be an even better global partner.
PATH works locally, with national and sub-national health organizations around the world, as well as globally with partners like the World Health Organization, developing vaccines, devices, and tools that can reach people who would otherwise not have access. This expertise has been essential in light of the global pandemic, as many of the hardest hit communities navigate COVID-19 on top of other major health threats. Doing this well requires a strong set of institutional values that drive all of PATH’s work – and Gilbert is the right leader for the job.
In early June when a renewed push for racial justice in the U.S. reached a fever pitch, Gilbert said that PATH accelerated its efforts to ensure the organization held its staff and leaders accountable to its values and for the first time, publicly acknowledged racism as a public health issue. In a statement, PATH said that “…while racism has a uniquely devastating role in the history of the United States, it is a global crisis, marginalizing people and communities everywhere.”
Gilbert has been a staunch advocate for vaccine equity and a multilateral approach to pandemic response. In an article for Devex in October, he called out nationalist policies that have undermined global strategy and fractured the cooperation needed to end the COVID-19 pandemic, warning, “No country will reap the full benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine by only considering the needs of its own population.” More recently, he has used his voice to draw attention to the financing and market challenges of delivering medical oxygen to health care facilities in low- and middle-income countries.
Throughout the pandemic, PATH has worked closely with Gavi/COVAX, the vaccine arm of a global public-private-philanthropic collaboration that was formed to stop the disease in its tracks. And throughout Africa and much of Southeast Asia, PATH has been coordinating with countries to refine their plans for an equitable rollout that prioritizes those who are most vulnerable.
Read the full article about Nikolaj Gilbert by Andie Long at Global Washington.