Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Global Mission, Local Roots

November 19, 2013

I have many reasons to be proud of my native state of Washington—chief among them is its positive influence on the global health and development landscape.

This month, I have had the pleasure of celebrating milestone events for two prominent, global health organizations based in Seattle: Global Washington and the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI).

 It is the strength of local organizations—with their global reach and influence—that has helped Washington be an important player in global health and development.Global Washington is a key community partner for the foundation with roots from the University of Washington, Washington State University, and the Seattle International Foundation. Through these partnerships, Global Washington has become instrumental in the growth of an emerging global health and development sector in the evergreen state. The organization’s success lies in its convening power and in its ability to promote Washington State as a catalyzing force for making the world healthier, safer, and more equitable.

During the organization’s annual conference, Global Washington honors an outstanding international development leader from Washington State. At this year’s 5th annual conference on November 13, Bill Clapp and I presented the honor to Jennifer Potter, founding CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). Under Jennifer’s leadership, IGD established itself as a mover and shaker within the sector. The organization encourages sector-leading companies to make strategic investments in high-potential, high-need areas of Africa. Jennifer’s vision led to major collective impact, with over $100 million in committed investments. I felt quite humbled to introduce and honor an individual who has dedicated her life’s work to improving the lives of others.

Later this week, I’ll take part in celebrating another milestone event—this time for the new home and 20th anniversary of IDRI. The foundation is a major supporter of IDRI, which develops novel, advanced products for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of neglected diseases in impoverished nations. Its growth has been stunning to watch, and in the last decade its scientists have developed multiple products, which have touched millions of lives. The new IDRI facility in South Lake Union boasts open lab space to encourage collaborative work, as well as opportunities for community tours. IDRI is now positioned in the center of Washington’s global health and development hub, and I am thrilled to have them as neighbors.

Global Washington and IDRI aren’t the only catalytic health and development organizations in our neck of the woods—several of our partners, including local universities and colleges, PATH, Landesa, and Seattle BioMed, also work on behalf of the globe’s poorest people.  It is the strength of local organizations like these—with their global reach and influence—that has helped Washington be an important player in global health and development.

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