Who is on the shortlist for Global Fund's new executive director?

From left to right: Peter Sands, Frannie Léautier, Simon Bland and Anil Soni. Photos by: World Economic Forum / World Bank / Aktionsbündnis gegen Aids / ICTJ

MANILA — After a difficult start to its search for a new executive director early this year, the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced Monday the latest set of candidates it is considering for the position.

The list includes an eclectic mix of candidates with diverse backgrounds to replace former executive director Mark Dybul, who stood down in May after a four-year term. Two of the candidates have extensive experience in the financial industry, while the other two have spent the bulk of their careers working in global health, including previous engagements with the Global Fund.

Three of the finalists are men, and one woman. The board is expected to select the fund’s new head at its meeting on November 14, but prior to that welcome comments and input from stakeholders.

Simon Bland 

Bland is currently the director of the UNAIDS office in New York, a position he has held since 2013. Prior to that, he spent decades with the U.K. Department for International Development, managing several of its overseas work programs, including some of the bilateral donor’s programs in Eurasia and Africa, and leading its Global Funds department. The latter position is in charge of handling the U.K.’s policies, programs, financial management, and shareholder relations with a broad range of global funds, including innovative financing mechanisms, in the areas of education and health. These included UNITAID, the Global Partnership for Education and the Global Fund itself.

Bland was also chair of the Global Fund board between 2011 and 2013 — during which time Dybul was appointed executive director — and has been a board member since 2008.

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Bland the Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his work in global health.

Frannie Leautier 

Leautier was appointed senior vice president at the African Development Bank in May 2016, but previously spent more than a decade with the World Bank serving in different capacities — including as vice president of the World Bank Group and head of the World Bank Institute — between 1992 and 2007.

Before joining AfDB, Leautier also founded a consulting firm that advises companies on risk assessment and management processes, and co-founded a private equity fund called MKOBA, which invests in small and medium enterprises in several countries in Africa. She was executive secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation, which provides capacity building and financial support to a wide range of stakeholders, including governments and NGOs. She also sat and continues to sit as board member in a number of African and international development institutions, including at the global nonprofit Women’s World Banking.

Peter Sands 

Sands currently wears multiple hats. He is a research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and at the Harvard Global Health Institute, but is also an advisor to a number of finance and tech-focused companies.

Most recently, Sands was chairman of the World Bank’s International Working Group on Financing Pandemic Preparedness, and before that was chair of the National Academy of Medicine’s Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework For The Future. His work on these fronts has allowed him to build a name for himself in the global health security space.

The bulk of his career, however, was in the financial and banking industry. From 2002 to 2015, he was finance director and then chief executive of Standard Chartered PLC, although his last couple of years with the bank coincided with a drop in profits, which led to a change in bank leadership. Before that, he worked his way up at Mckinsey & Company from 1988 to 2002.

Anil Soni 

Soni is head of global infectious diseases at Mylan, a global pharmaceutical company with a focus on generic and specialty pharmaceutical products. His career has been largely in the global health sector, with a particular focus on addressing HIV/AIDS.

Before his current role, he was senior advisor on HIV with Born Free Africa, a philanthropic initiative whose goal is to end HIV transmission from mothers to their children, and at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He was also with the Clinton Health Access Initiative from 2005 to 2010, where he was credited with brokering a deal that expanded pediatric AIDS treatment to thousands of children. He also served as chief executive of the initiative for some of those years.

Previously, he served as executive director of Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (now called Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), and was chief of staff to the Global Fund’s founding chief executive, Richard Feachem.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.