“Change starts with ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The path to the extraordinary is open to anybody at any time.” ~Larry Brilliant, physician, technologist, philanthropist
I first discovered this truth early in my career, when I returned to the United States from a development fellowship in Zambia. I was all fired up and ready to save the world, but when I tried to find a job in global public health, I quickly learned there was a rigid career path. I had been a speechwriter in the White House and had worked in African villages, but I wasn’t deemed qualified without a Peace Corps stint or a master’s degree in public health. I refused to let that stop me, though, and spent the next two decades as an advocate rallying people and resources to fight the diseases of the poor.
Larry’s words inspire me because they capture the spirit of optimism needed to take on global challenges, and the audacity to think that individuals can achieve great things.
There are so many reasons to be optimistic about our world. Fewer babies are needlessly dying, more girls are going to school, and more science is being applied to fight climate change than ever before. Yet we are seeing disturbing nationalistic and isolationist moves worldwide that threaten to slow or even reverse this progress.
To maintain the positive momentum, we need to build catalytic coalitions of people and organizations, both public and private, that bring together diverse perspectives. We need engineers and lawyers and writers as well as doctors and policy experts. The problems we face are so complex that they require true partnership across talent and geography.
I believe that global cooperation has a ripple effect that can solve even the most intractable challenges.
That is why I am starting Panorama, a non-profit action tank designed to help solve global problems and create change for good. We will partner with foundations, multilateral institutions, non-governmental organizations, and private companies to help them address complicated issues like refugee rights, inclusive paid family and medical leave, and the development of new vaccines for the next pandemic. We will also start our own projects when we see a gap that needs to be filled.
We are a team of passionate people who like to take on crazy audacious goals because we believe we can make a difference. I learned the value of teamwork by working with Dr. Bill Foege, the legendary global health hero who helped eradicate smallpox. Here is a person who won the Presidential Medal of Freedom and is revered worldwide, yet he is almost absurdly humble, always sharing credit and reminding people that nothing is accomplished alone.
I’m proud of the Panorama team for what we and our partners have already achieved.
• In partnership with Wellcome Trust and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Panorama led the effort to secure more than $540 million to create new vaccines for emerging diseases, announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
• Supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, we are advancing the field of Planetary Health to ensure that business and government leaders can make informed decisions based on the interplay among human, animal and environmental health.
• We worked alongside the Boston Consulting Group to analyze the costs and benefits of offering inclusive paid family and medical leave programs, and will use that evidence to persuade American companies that adopting such policies is better for business and the wellbeing of employees.
• Together with the Global Health Institute at Stony Brook University, we created an on-line Global Health Diplomacy course to help new and seasoned professionals understand how to incentivize governments to achieve health goals for their citizens.
As our name suggests, Panorama has big, sweeping ambitions. We aim to be visionary and inclusive, working on a wide array of issues with a broad swath of partners. We are excited to welcome anyone willing to think globally and act boldly with us – there is plenty of work to be done.