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CARE USA’s Helene Gayle of Atlanta to join board of the Coca-Cola Co.

helene gayle

By Maria Saporta

Just one day after the announcement that two legendary Atlanta directors were not standing for re-election to the Coca-Cola Co. board, it was announced that Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of Atlanta-based CARE USA would be joining the board at the company’s annual meeting in April.

Gayle, 57, leads one of the world’s leading international humanitarian organizations whose poverty fighting programs reached about 122 million people in 84 countries last year, according to the company’s press release.

For decades, Gayle has been recognized as an expert on global health, development and humanitarian issues. She worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 20 years, primarily on HIV/AIDS programs. Then she joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, directing programs on HIV/AIDS and other global issues before being tapped to head CARE USA in 2006.

Helene Gayle

Helene Gayle

Gayle also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Public Health Association, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics. She currently serves on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships and the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board.

“Helene brings a global mindset and a deep understanding of health and humanitarian issues to our Company,” said Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Co., in a statement. “Her expertise and insight will be invaluable as we continue to expand our global initiatives around sustainability and women.”

CARE USA, under Gayle’s leadership, also was part of a pilot program with the Coca-Cola Co. on how to make sure people had access to clean water in some of the most impoverished parts of the world. The lack of access to clean water is a leading contributor to diseases, especially in the third world.

Named one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women,” and Foreign Policy magazine’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers,” Gayle earned a B.A. in psychology at Barnard College, an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins University.

Once elected to the Board, Dr. Gayle is expected to serve on the Compensation Committee. She will become the board’s 16th member following the annual meeting of shareowners.

On Thursday, the company announced that legendary businessmen Donald R. Keough and James B. Williams would not be standing for re-election to the board at April’s annual meeting. Keough and Williams are retiring after decades of distinguished service to the company.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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  1. scfranklin February 26, 2013 5:11 pm

    Maria, thank you for celebrating Dr. Gayle’s nomination to the Coca Cola Company Board of Directors. Her work around the world on behalf of women and children who live in poverty without many options for a better life is phenomenal. Atlanta is so fortunate to have Helene as a resident and a thought leader. I offer my congratulations to Helene for this nomination.Report


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