Michael Madnick: From lawyer to malnutrition fighter

    Michael Madnick, deputy executive director at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. Photo by: personal collection

    While he’s always had a curiosity about the world, Michael Madnick entered the international development community “accidentally” when his law firm was retained by the United Nations Foundation. Now, as deputy executive director for the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, he has become an authority on one of development’s core issues.

    “We need to increase recognition that malnutrition will impede or advance progress on every other Millennium Development Goal,” said Madnick, who came to GAIN from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last February. “Raising the boat on this issue raises the boat on all of them.”

    With fresh research on the impact of nutrition within the first 1,000 days, from conception to a child’s second birthday, Madnick is guiding GAIN to expand its efforts in providing a healthy head start for children, including participation in the State Department’s new initiative “1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future.”

    “The findings are revelatory; you have the concrete window that people can rally around and plan for,” he said. “The cognitive development and physical development losses to the individual during that time are unrecoverable.”

    More recently, Madnick has been working on a new financing facility to assure access to a pre-mix of key vitamins and minerals that go into food fortification. This is part of an overall effort to move the government into getting more explicit around food planning and to partner with the private sector in unlocking market potential. GAIN, he added, will ramp up efforts to build a U.S. constituency for its mission and advocate for more nutrition funding.

    One of his crowning achievements, Madnick said, is building support for malaria prevention through the U.N. Foundation.

    “The public really picked up on this issue,” he said, “and we were able to make a dent on an eminently preventable disease.”

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    About the author

    • Josh Miller

      Josh joined Devex's Washington office in early 2010 as an international development correspondent covering U.S. aid reform, the D.C. development scene and Latin America. He previously served as a marketing communications coordinator for TechnoServe, a news production specialist for the Associated Press and a news desk assistant for the PBS NewsHour. He has reported for publications in Caracas, Chicago, Madrid, New Delhi, Philadelphia, and Washington, and holds a bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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