My new interview series, REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2014 includes experts in technology, the arts, well-being and social good. It is an exciting group of creative thought leaders and enlightened personalities. Some are extraordinary examples of social responsibility; others are creating game changing paradigm shifts in their market segments.
Profile: In May 2014, Lisa Goldman Van Nostrand was elected to a second term on the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership Board of Directors as one of two Private Sector representatives. The RBM Partnership is the global framework to implement coordinated action against malaria. It mobilizes for action and resources and forges consensus among partners. The Partnership is comprised of more than 500 partners, including malaria endemic countries, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, nongovernmental and community-based organizations, foundations, and research and academic institutions.
Since 2005, Lisa has served as Strategic Advisor for Sumitomo Chemical, representing the company in global partnerships as well as developing branding and marketing for the Vector Control Division. Her assignments in the last seven years have ranged from the highest platforms of international advocacy to community-level work in villages across Africa. Key projects include the Olyset photo library, the “Palufoot” PSA campaigns, and the official opening ceremony for Olyset manufacturing in Arusha. Sumitomo Chemical is deeply committed to developing and providing vector control tools for public health, as a core part of the company’s CSR approach.
Lisa is a founding board member of the Youssou N’Dour Foundation. She also produced international partnerships and sponsorships for the Africa Live concert, DVD and CD properties – which was broadcast on the BBC, PBS, across Africa and Europe, and around the world, and helped put the fight against malaria into the spotlight.
In prior years, Lisa founded her own Internet design company and was director of the Interactive Media Festival, an international competition, gallery and exhibition of interactive media.
Mary Olson: How have your views changed as you look back on your experience?
Lisa Goldman-Van Nostrand: Coming from the Internet world of rapid evolution – a Cambrian explosion of innovation over the last few decades – to work on Malaria, an ancient problem that has co-evolved with humanity – I’ve really had to shift my perspective on time frames for action. In the hyper-competitive Internet development world, you have to act quickly on an idea or lose its moment. For malaria advocacy, the horizon stretches out and a project idea may be realized years after inception without being diminished. There is urgency but the time scale is increased by an order of magnitude.
MO: How do you see the way the world is emerging?
LGVN: There is a convergence underway in the global health and development spheres, much like what we experienced as the Internet, media and telecommunications converged in the 1990s. This puts us at a strategic crossroads in the world of malaria. With 2015 we approach the completion of the Millennium Development Goals and the advent of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals. New ideas can come to scale very quickly in a changing landscape, but not all the existing models make the transition. Malaria partners need to move with clarity and consideration through this transition, and work more closely with ascendent development issues while avoiding a deadly resurgence.
MO: What are your thoughts as you look forward?
LGVN:: Transformative change opens great opportunities, but it’s also immensely challenging. Ultimately, the gains we have achieved, cutting malaria mortality in half over the last 10 years through coordinated action, are at risk of reversal. Resurgence is a risk not only for people living in endemic countries, who have lost immunity due to the 50% reduction in malaria transmission over the last decade — but for all of us. The irrefutable link between malaria and poverty means that if we fail to seize this historic opportunity to move to eliminate malaria, the very foundations of sustainable economic development will be undermined. Looking ahead, we will need to find new, creative ways to keep malaria in the foreground of the global development agenda.