Named three times to FORTUNE’s list of the most influential women leaders in business, Lois Quam joined Pathfinder in 2017 as CEO. Pathfinder’s vision is a world where everyone has access to contraception, where there are zero new HIV infections, where no woman dies from preventable pregnancy-related complications, and where everyone leads a healthy sexual and reproductive life.
Prior to leading Pathfinder, Lois served as CEO of The Nature Conservancy and was selected by President Obama to head his signature Global Health Initiative at the Department of State which provided more than $8 billion annually to help solve major health challenges facing millions of individuals across 80 countries. Reporting directly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Lois advanced a comprehensive strategy to increase US global health diplomacy, created a $200 million public-private partnership, and introduced integrated systems approaches for global health problems. Prior to that, Lois was the founding CEO of Ovations, a division of the FORTUNE 50 global corporation UnitedHealth Group.
In this episode we discuss:
- The importance of supporting change from inside a community
- The incredible potential of women to impact our collective future
- The power of authentic stories to build empathy and action
- The statistics I shared are overwhelming. Like 12 millions girls under the age of 18 being married every single year, or that pregnancy complications are the leading cause of death for 15-19 year olds in the world’s poorest nations, killing 300K women annually. These statistics are so massive it’s hard to compute, which can cause our brains to click off. I really appreciate the way Lois is able to ground these statistics in very personal stories. She’s able to show the humanity behind the numbers, the personal impact behind the power of reproductive rights, and ultimately the personal justice and equity work that Pathfinder does in a relatable way for every woman (and man) globally. This isn’t someone else’s problem to deal with, it’s our collective responsibility.
- Reproductive health connects all of us. There is only one human doorway onto Earth, which is through a uterus. Reproductive health is a timeless and universal part of the human experience. Whether you’re male, female, or non-binary. Whether like Lois you have children, you want to have them in your future, or like me, you’ve chosen not to have them at all. Reproductive health is essential for each one of those desires. One of the blessings of the times we live in, is having autonomy over when and if to have children. Unfortunately, 45% of women globally aren’t able to make their own reproductive health decisions. It’s time for that to change. After all, there is no bigger impact on your life than creating a child (for both the parents and the child). The ability to enter that decision with intention is imperative for the health of families, communities, and society.
- One theme throughout the conversation was the power of community. The power of leaders in a community to change norms and taboos. The power of peer-to-peer groups to support each other while navigating shared experiences and processing past experiences. And the power of mentors to share what they’ve learned, so the same hardships aren’t unnecessarily repeated and the path is easier for the next generation. No matter who you are, or where you live, your experience matters. Share it generously with others. Share your perspective, and the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Lean in with curiosity as others share a piece of themselves with you.
- Connect with Lois on LinkedIn
- Pathfinder International
- US Supreme Court Opinion, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
- Gates Foundation
- President Obama’s statement on the Global Health Initiative
- Children’s Defense Fund