New Board Chair Kent Alexander on NTDs, Kenya visit, and what’s next for The Task Force
With a passion for community service coupled with legal and nonprofit expertise, new Task Force Board Chair Kent Alexander wasted no time in understanding how he could best support The Task Force’s work. In November 2022, Alexander traveled with Task Force staff and board members to Kenya to meet community members, health leaders, government officials and partners working to end preventable blindness and intestinal worms. We spoke with him when he first joined the board in 2019 and reached out again after his Kenya visit to hear his insights and to learn what he hopes to accomplish in his new role.
What initially got you interested in serving on The Task Force board?
I’ve been a Task Force fan for a long time. Task Force Co-Founder Bill Foege is, of course, legendary. I have also been honored to work closely with Former CEO Mark Rosenberg in the past. And, from my time at CARE, I knew The Task Force had a platinum reputation in the NGO community. Mostly, though, I was drawn to the compelling mission and track record of successes, along with the expertise of the staff. (See more in this earlier interview.)
What would you like to accomplish as board chair and what do you see as the “next chapter” for the board and The Task Force?
My focus will be working with my fellow board members to empower the Task Force leadership and staff to continue evolving to meet changing global health needs. No organization, of course, should remain static. Specifically, I see the board drawing on our collective business, government and civic ties to ensure generous funding for our programs; drawing on our diverse professional experiences to support new strategic initiatives; and enhancing the Task Force’s effectiveness by exploring complementary opportunities with other Atlanta-based organizations.
In November 2022, you saw first-hand The Task Force’s work in Kenya. What are some of your takeaways from the trip?
I was blown away by the experience. Hearing about the work had been impressive. Seeing it real-time was awe-inspiring. My main takeaways are vivid images connecting me even more closely to our mission: mass drug administrations of treatment to prevent trachoma and intestinal worms in a rural village; school children teaching classmates best hygiene practices to prevent the spread of diseases; a doctor analyzing slides under a microscope for worms; Maasai government leaders from humble origins talking passionately about the need to eliminate NTDs and their commitment to doing that; and a health professional performing a 15-minute operation that literally restored vision to a man blinded by trachoma. It was all so powerful. (See more here.)
Header image – Photo credit: Paul Emerson for The Task Force for Global Health