This blog was cross-posted from Global Health Fellows Program II and written by David Godsted
Being relatively new not only to GHFP-II, but also to the field of Global Health – I’ve spent nearly 15 years in various development positions overseas, and while my last position was in support of refugee resettlement, our clients’ health was one of a myriad of services we provided them – it was with a very open mind, and a bit of trepidation, that I agreed to be a mentor at the Global Health Council’s TFGH15 event in Washington DC on April 16.
A number of questions crossed my mind as I walked over to the Hamilton. How would the evening flow? How many emerging leaders in global health would come? Would any of them sign up to speak with me about their futures in global health? As I arrived at the Hamilton and scanned over the list of other mentors, I was particularly concerned about that last question. The distinguished list of participants who had agreed to one-on-one mentor sessions included representatives from USAID, the National Institutes of Health, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and many more. A number of other GHFP staff were in attendance with me, and I even asked a couple of them to stop by my table if there were long gaps in my series of 10-minute mentoring sessions!
As the room began to fill, the attendees began to mingle. A number of attendees sought me out to get a head start on asking me questions about GHFP-II: how did Fellowships work, what Fellowships were currently available, what was the process for becoming a Fellow, were there any Internships available, etc. I was pleasantly surprised at how proactive the attendees were. There was a real buzz of conversation permeating the room as Dr. Christine Sow, the President and Executive Director of the Global Health Council, officially kicked off the event, followed by a brief presentation by GHFP-II’s Program Director, Dr. Sharon Rudy. I noted that they actually had a bit of trouble corralling the attendees for their brief remarks, as the ‘unofficial’ networking had already begun!
It was soon time to begin the planned conversational hubs and mentoring sessions. While I was feeling a bit more relaxed about my role as a mentor, I found myself wishing I could attend some of the conversational hubs as well, which looked to be fascinating. Topics included ‘the real value-added opportunities of multi-stakeholder partnerships,’ ‘where will the future of global health funding come from and how can it be more effective,’ and ‘young social entrepreneurs on the front lines of global health.’ I barely had time to settle into my table when, to my relief, an attendee approached and we began our mentoring session.
As it turned out, I should never have been concerned; all of my mentoring sessions were filled. I couldn’t have been more impressed by how prepared and knowledgeable each attendee was. All of them had taken the time to carefully read my bio, and their decisions to have sessions with me were clearly grounded in various aspects of my past. Some attendees were interested in seeing how my Peace Corps experience had translated into later development positions I had held, while others were connected to my current role with GHFP-II. Each 10 minute conversation felt as if it could have gone on for an hour as we had so much to discuss, and I was more than happy to give my business card to each of them so that we might follow up after the event. I’m pleased to report that most have them have already been in touch with me!
As the evening drew to a close and I began to head home, it struck me that if the title of the event, ‘The Future of Global Health,’ was a question, my experience had served to provide an answer. What is the future of global health? It is a very bright future indeed, as evidenced by the current and emerging leaders in global health that I had so thoroughly enjoyed meeting.