Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Taubman Center

Rebecca Black -- The U.S. Role in Global Health: Past Success, Future Challenge

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Watson Institute, Joukowsky Forum

Rebecca Black, a 25-year veteran of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will speak about the U.S. government's major contributions to the global decline in the death of children and mothers, fertility rates, and the spread of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases that can threaten U.S. security. Success has been due in large part to long term commitments, disease-focused initiatives, a partnership approach, and tight progress measurement.

Today, the status of global health is increasingly affected by aging populations, the rising importance of non-communicable diseases, and the persistence of stubborn problems like nutrition. Addressing these issues will require multi-pronged approaches, fostering difficult behavioral changes, and improving health systems. These challenges compete for funding and attention with the need to address pandemic infections that threaten U.S. security. The military and private sector have also increased their presence in the global health sector, bringing new opportunities as well as challenges. Ms. Black will discuss these past trends, as well as the competing demands now facing U.S. global health efforts.

Rebecca Black most recently was USAID's mission chief in Cambodia, a country slated to be one of the first to achieve zero new HIV/AIDS infections and deaths. She also led the USAID mission in Mali while the country achieved its first major decline in child mortality combined with a marked improvement in nutrition. Black co-led a $2.5 billion assistance program in Afghanistan, and managed economic development and urban environment programs in India, South Africa, and Eastern Europe.

System development and building local capability has been her prime focus throughout her career, as well as commitment to partnerships and collaborative work for impact. Black has a Master's in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and worked for and in the City of Boston promoting community development prior to her career in international development.