May 22, 2012 | The Editors

Raising hope and support at breakfast

Celebrating the progress we’re making in global health.


Man in dark suit and blue shirt speaks before an audience seated at round tables, logo reading "Breakfast for Global Health" in background.
PATH’s incoming president and CEO, Steve Davis, addresses our supporters. Photo: PATH/Christopher Nelson Photography.

Early morning is my favorite time of day. A quiet hour spent sipping coffee and reading the paper—it’s hard to beat.

But today, I had a very different and very inspiring morning—and not just because I was treated to mango lassi instead of coffee. This morning I joined almost 700 people at the Breakfast for Global Health, PATH’s annual fundraising event. We came together to celebrate the progress we’re making in global health.

But before I share highlights, let me get straight to the bottom line. When asked by Neha Jejurikar, a young Seattle-area woman and ardent PATH supporter, our guests contributed more than $500,000 to PATH. We are deeply grateful for their support and commitment.

Bollywood by the bay

We met at a conference center near Seattle’s waterfront—not in a typical conference room, but in the cavernous luggage storage room. A little bit of PATH ingenuity, together with a performance by a local high school’s Bollywood troupe, brought us right into the heart of India, where PATH is working to make families healthier.

Man holding cup of coffee looks at an exhibit on a table in front of him while a woman explains.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, center, tours the exhibits. Photo: PATH/Christopher Nelson Photography.

Board president Molly Joel Coye began by welcoming friends, including Gordon Perkin, one of PATH’s founders; Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who toured the exhibits before the program; and longtime supporter Bill Gates, Sr. Molly eloquently described how global health is nothing less than the most pressing social issue of our time. “Global health is a success story,” Molly explained. “The headline for today is that what we’re doing works.”

Then she introduced Steve Davis, who’ll become our president and CEO on June 4. Steve is a well-known leader in Seattle’s business and philanthropic communities, but this was his first public appearance as PATH’s new leader. He spoke about the dynamic landscape of our work to bring health within reach for everyone, where the lines between global health and development have blurred and an unprecedented mix of actors—governments, the private sector, and individual donors—have come together.

“Major forces are shaping an increasingly complex landscape,” Steve said. “Within this environment of change, PATH is uniquely positioned to make an even larger impact. It’s in our DNA.”

Simple solutions in India

One place we’re having an impact is India. Sita Shankar, leader of PATH’s maternal and child health work there, told us about a young woman named Suman who lost not one but two babies during pregnancy. I wasn’t the only one who fought back tears as Sita asked us to imagine what it’s like for a young mother to be so isolated, so desperately in need of basic health information, so unaware of the dangers of many traditional birth practices.

Sita explained how simple solutions developed by PATH’s Sure Start project are helping mothers get the support and care they need to give birth safely. Suman, Sita explained, is now the proud mother of a healthy baby girl. And Sure Start has reached well over 24.5 million people with lifesaving information and actions. You can meet some of them in this video.

Normal, but not quite

For me, tomorrow will probably be a typical morning—a good cup of coffee paired with the quiet routine of a Seattle family getting ready for school and work. But I suspect for me and nearly 700 other friends of PATH it won’t be exactly the same. We’ll view the world just a little bit differently, having witnessed the incredible impact that dedicated individuals—from global health experts like Sita Shankar to generous donors in the Seattle community—are having on women and their families around the world.

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