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Board of Directors

Debrework Zewdie, PhD

Professor, City University of New York, Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy

Dr. Debrework Zewdie is a committed, dynamic and inspiring leader who has dedicated the past 40 years to international development work, with a particular focus on mitigating the cross-sectoral impact of the HIV epidemic on development. She has achieved groundbreaking results in her capacities as scientist, strategist, manager and policymaker.

Highly regarded for her ability to bring diverse stakeholders together to create and implement collaborative development solutions, she has an extensive track record in pioneering innovation and managing change. A graduate of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, she received her PhD in clinical immunology from the University of London. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Syva (a diagnostics company in Palo Alto, California) and was a Senior MacArthur Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and a Richard L. and Ronay A. Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her work has been published in over 100 journals and book chapters, covering a wide variety of subjects.

Zewdie spent more than two decades managing development programs and institutions of increasing complexity, ranging from national-level programs in her native Ethiopia to international bodies that include the World Bank, where she led the global HIV/AIDS program, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. An advocate for women’s health, she was a founding vice president and member of the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA).

After retiring as a senior advisor to the World Bank in 2015, Zewdie was named a distinguished scholar and visiting professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, where she lectures on leadership in public health and continues her development work with institutions of higher learning. In 2019 she co-chaired the Independent Task Force on Workplace Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Harassment and Abuse of Authority for UNICEF and chaired the Ethiopia 2050 Blue Ribbon Panel, which presented its report on the country’s future to the government of Ethiopia in 2020.