Photo courtesy of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Photo courtesy of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

It is becoming more important than ever for large brands to be approachable and share their story of how they’re making an impact on the world. The same goes for nonprofits and large foundations, but the challenge for those in global health and development is two-fold. First, they have to communicate highly technical, scientifically complex and somewhat controversial topics with ease. Second, they have to make that story so engaging that the public would want to learn more. By living in Seattle, I sit on the front row of the latest advancements in global health and development, but I never thought I’d be able to step behind the scenes and connect with leaders in these fields in person.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a new initiative they called #GatesSocial. They gathered 50 people working in global health and development who were also somewhat active on social media. We met for a two-day kickoff for their 10th anniversary meeting of the Grand Challenges Program, an initiative that encourages innovators to come up with big breakthroughs to improve the lives and health of the people in the poorest nations. You can read more about it on Impatient Optimists or Gates Notes.

Our first day was spent hearing from Gates Foundation President Sue Desmond-Hellmann in a timely. candid discussion about major global health crises such as ebola and polio; Grand Challenges Canada director Peter Singer about their imperatives to look at mental health and award-winning journalist Nicholas Kristoff about his new book “A Path Appears.” So much inspiration, both from the speakers and the attendees.

Most important of all, it allowed us to engage with a large group of leaders who are doing incredible work in the global health and development space. No matter where you are in the world, if you mention the Gates Foundation, people have a sense of awe and excitement. I’m blessed to go behind the scenes and engage with a brand that I’ve loved for a long time. I’m going to do a four-part blog series on #GatesSocial here on the blog. as there is too much inspiration to put in one small post. Stay tuned!

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