Global Health Council Summit 2020

GHLS Overview

Since 2015, Global Health Council has been convening members of its network in Washington, DC for an
annual symposium to discuss current trends and calls to action in global health. Over the years, we have
acknowledged a “new normal” in global health policy and our responsibility as a community to pursue
communication, collaboration, or campaign practices that facilitate meaningful change and shared
progress. Those events have led to calls for new narratives and partnerships for USG programs as well as
commitments to integrated, country-based investments or plans, in pursuit of UHC and a broader 2030
agenda. Nothing has made these conversations more relevant than the game-changing events of 2020.


Enter this year’s symposium, less a singular forum and more a series of events hosted with a range of
global and regional stakeholders. Our virtual 2020 summit took place over two days
with a focus on Pandemics, Politics, and Privilege: The Good, Bad, & Ugly U.S. Legacy in Global Health.

We know that we don’t have all the answers as an organization or subset of actors but we want to be
part of driving the solution to longstanding challenges and push us all to do better by those we serve.
This means taking a hard look with and hearing more from those directly affected by U.S. policies and
programs to discuss where those efforts have succeeded and failed, and how we approach investments
or initiatives with a stronger focus on equity, justice, and humility. We want to walk away from this time
together with a deeper commitment to shifting the power dynamics and structural barriers not only to
respective goals but also our ideal method of reaching those such as shared plans and resources or local
leadership and decision-making. The current system isn’t built to make these dreams we have a reality.

GHLS20 Sessions


Summit Welcome & Unpacking Race, Privilege, and Intersectional Bias as Drivers of Global Health Policy

What would it look like to be “anti-racist” in global health? And, why is that so radical? Building on our dialogues with Black leaders this and last year, we’ll be creating space to have deeper reflections on how institutions and individuals move beyond the current colonial framework in U.S. global health.

Opening Keynote: Solomé Lemma, Executive Director of Thousand Currents


Building Back Better After COVID-19… to What and for Whom?

We thought we were ready for this moment and, yet when COVID-19 hit the world was tested in unanticipated ways. This session was a real-time post-mortem on the global response and our active recovery, with conversations on the Global Health Security Agenda’s highlights and lowlights as well as findings from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. We offered country and community perspectives from downstream and shine a light on governments that got it right, challenging our assumptions about readiness and resilience.

Opening Keynote: Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa

Moderator: Dr. Ngozi Erondu, Infectious Disease Epidemiologist & Global Health Policy Expert


  • Dr. Jamechia Hoyle, Science Lead, Toeroek Associates, Inc.
  • Dr. Joanne McGriff, Associate Director of the Center for Global Safe WASH, Emory University
  • Dr. John Nkengasong, Director, Africa CDC
  • Niniola Williams, Managing Director, DRASA


Reimagining U.S. Global Health Initiatives in Light of Pandemics, Politics, and Privilege

We heard from country and community leaders to get their take on existing U.S. global health policies and how they perpetuate a culture of colonialism. How could we revisit what might not be working as well as we thought, particularly in a post-COVID world? Beyond a set of principles, what are specific proposals we can put in front of a new presidential administration or congressional leaders that correct those shortcomings? Policymakers were on hand to respond to recommendations and offer their take on immediate opportunities for change.

Opening Keynote: U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Moderator: Algene Sajery, Foreign Policy & National Security Expert & Founder of Catalyst Global Strategies, LLC


  • Travis Adkins, U.S. Policy, Security & African Studies Lecturer, Georgetown University
  • Caya Lewis Atkins, Founder and Principal, Global DC Strategies
  • Linda Etim, Sr. Advisor, Global Health Policy & Advocacy, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Dr. Tsion Firew, Emergency Physician and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Columbia University


Global Solidarity Panel  

Building on the Day 1 topic of colonialism and racism in global health, this interactive session inspired and rejuvenated attendees by recognizing participants’ links to one another, drawing resources from a wide community of global health practitioners to find power in our collective action and envision a new way forward for global health. We heard from a globally diverse panel of movement leaders who are rejecting the status quo and engaging in creative, visionary models of transnational solidarity in their global health practice.

The writer Arundhati Roy has written of how “historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different.” As mainstream media outlets are openly and incredulously questioning why some health systems in Africa or Asia have been able to deal with the pandemic more effectively than others in the West, we must double down on efforts to interrogate, unpack, question, and overturn definitions and hierarchies that have accompanied traditional global health practices. We’ve urged countries to learn from each other. Now, we need to learn from them.

Opening Keynote: Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS 

Moderator of Fireside Chat: Lori Adelman, Vice President, Influence & Engagement, Global Fund for Women

Panel Moderator: Sarah Hillware, Deputy Director, Women in Global Health


  • Dr. Joannie Bewa, Physician and Sexual & Reproductive Health Researcher, Women in Global Health
  • Rosebell Kagumire, Curator & Editor of
  • Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, UN Special Rapporteur, OHCHR 
  • Rashida Petersen, Regional Director, East, Global Fund for Women

Closing Remarks

Closing Remarks:

  • Angela Bruce-Raeburn, Regional Advocacy Director for Africa, Global Health Advocacy Incubator
  • Bobby Jefferson, VP & Chief Technology Officer, DAI Global Health
  • Crystal Lander, Executive Director, Global Affairs, Pathfinder International
  • Itzbeth Menjivar, Founder, BridgePeople LLC
  • Loyce Pace, President & Executive Director, Global Health Council