PATH chief to leave, will head to Gates Foundation

 
Chris Elias

Chris Elias, head of Seattle-based PATH, announced today that he is leaving, after a decade, to take over as head of the global development program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The news release includes these generic quotes:

“Chris brings great experience in managing complex programs on the ground, around the world,” said Jeff Raikes, CEO of the foundation. “He will help us expand the depth of our expertise from research and development through to delivery of the tools needed to give the poorest people the chance to live healthy and productive lives. I’m excited to work with Chris to strengthen our partnerships and maximize our impact.”

“I am deeply honored to be joining the Gates Foundation,” said Elias. “I look forward to applying my experience in health and development to help advance the foundation’s ambitious mission.”

Here is Elias’ letter to PATH staff:

I am writing with some important news about PATH and our leadership team.

Before I joined PATH in 2000, I knew it to be a highly effective global health organization. But I had no way of recognizing then just how extraordinary PATH’s leaders and staff actually were. Over the past 11 years, as we have collaborated on many of the world’s most urgent health challenges, I have come to appreciate and deeply admire the skill, expertise, and dedication that PATH staff bring to their work and to the global community every day. As a result of our work together, PATH has become one of the most effective and innovative global health organizations, and we are having a profound impact on millions of lives around the world.

It is with the deepest confidence in PATH’s capacity and strength that I write to let you know that I will be stepping down from my position of president and CEO on February 1, 2012. I am leaving PATH to become the president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where I will help lead the foundation’s efforts to increase opportunities for people in developing countries to overcome hunger, poverty, and disease. The Foundation’s press release regarding this appointment can be found in their press room. PATH has also issued a press release, available here.

I have been working with PATH’s board and Executive Leadership Team to prepare for this transition, and I briefed our Global Program Leaders, Country Program Leaders, and Shared Services Directors on my decision this morning. Molly Joel Coye, PATH’s board chair, has already formed a board committee to recruit my successor. The board is committed to a thoughtful and expeditious recruitment process. After my departure, the ELT will manage the organization’s day-to-day operations, just as they did during my recent sabbatical, with support from Molly, until PATH’s new president arrives.

In the coming weeks, I will host several brownbag discussions to answer your questions and help PATH prepare for this transition. I will convene the first one today at noon in the Seattle office and have asked available ELT members to join as well. We will arrange a videoconference link to the DC office.

I want you to know that my decision to leave PATH after 11 years of service was a very difficult one. We have worked together during a truly remarkable time in global health, and it has been my honor to lead the organization through significant growth. I leave knowing that PATH is an exceptionally strong organization and that our work together is only the beginning of PATH’s impact. I already look forward to watching PATH continue to innovate and bring health within reach for everyone.

Thank you for your confidence in my leadership and for your commitment to our work together at PATH.

With warmest regards,

Christopher J. Elias, MD, MPH
President and CEO
PATH

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.