Suzanne Ehlers steers global family planning advocacy

Suzanne Ehlers, president and CEO of Population Action International. Photo by: personal collection

In May, Population Action International’s board of directors unanimously named Suzanne Ehlers CEO and president of the company she had served for six years as vice president of international advocacy.

“I know PAI’s program work very well, which will ground me in my management role,” she said. “My focus will be on improving our internal systems. I have a lot of colleagues who have been with me and will give me the truth through the noise.”

Under its new leader, PAI will continue to push for family planning as a cornerstone of all international development activities. Convincing the U.S. government to appropriate $1 billion per year to the cause is one of PAI’s key objectives, according to Ehlers.

In 2007, Elhers leveraged new money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for an initiative to integrate sexual and reproductive health with HIV/AIDS in policies, programs, and services across 10 sub-Saharan countries.

“The spillover is the stuff you can’t predict and was fantastic; we saw advocacy at a national level in these 10 countries like we’ve never seen before,” she said of the Mobilizing for RH/HIV Integration Initiative. “People who never thought they could qualify for Global Fund money were at the table.”

Elhers – “an early leader in the philanthropic community on the impact of international trade on environmental issues,” according to her peers – also plans to help build momentum for mitigating the effects of climate change, particularly their disproportionate impact on women.

Read the announcement of Devex’s 40-under-40 honorees.

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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