Spotlight on CARE USA President & CEO Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH

Spotlight on CARE USA President & CEO Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH

Publication info


Where are you originally from?

I am from Buffalo, New York.

What is your professional background?

I am a physician trained in pediatrics and public health. Before coming to CARE, I worked at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) for many years and then the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

How long have you worked with CARE and what is your current job title?

I’ve been at CARE since 2006.  I am the President and CEO.

What drew you to CARE?

Having worked in public health most of my career, I was drawn to CARE because it offered me the chance to broaden my work and address some of the underlying social and economic factors that fuel health inequities and keep people trapped in poverty.

What does your typical day look like?

Every day is different. Some days I am in the office meeting with our staff or visitors to CARE. The next day I could be traveling to meet with a donor or deliver a speech at a conference, meeting with members of Congress or I could be traveling to visit projects in the countries in which we do our work.

What has been your most challenging experience at CARE? Your most encouraging?

One of the great challenges I’ve faced at CARE is the security situation in many of the countries in which we work. The growing insecurity in some regions makes it difficult for CARE to reach the people who depend on our help. Because it’s a delicate balance, it’s also a constant concern and challenge.

The most encouraging is when I can see the impact we have had in our investment in girls and women. For example, seeing what a two dollar loan can do to change the life of a woman and her family. What education does for girls and boys to change the trajectory of their lives and the lives of their future families. I love going into schools and asking children what they want to be when they grow up and seeing them have dreams for very different futures than their parents had.

If you weren’t at CARE, what would you be doing?

Working for some other organization that would allow me to have an impact on increasing social justice and decreasing inequality.

What are some of your hobbies outside of focusing on work? How do you try to stay positive while working to end poverty and enact change?

I don’t have a particular hobby. What keeps me motivated is believing that I’m where I’m supposed to be at this time in my life. What I enjoy most is spending time with the people in my life. I love to entertain and do so frequently. I love going with friends to movies, plays and concerts. And I love to read. I gain a great degree of satisfaction feeling like I can help make a difference and contribute to making ours a more just and equal world.

What inspired you to pursue a career in public health?

I always knew I wanted a career that would allow me to make a positive impact. Because health is so fundamental to everything else in life, I choose health as a vehicle for making a tangible difference in people’s lives. Public health allows you to move from having an impact at an individual level to having an impact on a community, national or international level. So, I saw public health as a way to use medicine and health to have an impact on a broader scale.

Has working at CARE changed your perspective on the world? Do you feel more connected or more isolated in the global community?

I think the work we do at CARE helps me see greater connectedness with the global community.  I see everyday people in the countries we work in who have the same aspirations that people in my country have about their future and the future of their children.

What is the most important thing you can do each day to achieve your goals?

Stay true to your passion and commit yourself to it. Look at where you want to put your energy and follow your passion, if you are doing something you enjoy that’s probably the first step toward achieving your goals.

Finally, what motivates you to wake up every day and work hard to give back to the communities or on the health, economic, or societal issues CARE is working to solve?

I am very fortunate to be here. You reach a point in life where you know you may have more years behind you than ahead of you and I want to know that I’m using each day in ways that are meaningful to me and at CARE I know that I am. To stay motivated I think of the tens of millions of people we reach in the countries we work in and the global impact we are having on the individuals and families we serve in some of the poorest communities in the world. That’s what motivates me.


CARE USA President & CEO Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH