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Column: CDC Foundation aids Haiti’s recovery efforts

By Maria Saporta

Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, February 22, 2013

The Atlanta-based CDC Foundation has championed an effort to build two new public health buildings in Haiti as a way to help the country continue its recovery from the 2010 earthquake.

The two buildings will be dedicated in Port-au-Prince on Feb. 25.

After the earthquake, Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population was destroyed, forcing its health officials to work out of temporary housing or tents. Haiti also had other public health needs, including a place to conduct epidemiology training and conduct research.

“We made a commitment to help, but we didn’t have the money in our emergency fund,” said Charlie Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation.

The CDC Foundation raises money from the private sector to support ongoing programs of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So once the need in Haiti was identified, the CDC Foundation was able to secure a $587,000 donation from Kaiser Permanente to build a new Ministry of Public Health.

The foundation also received in-kind contributions from Proteus On-Demand, an Austell, Ga.-based facilities company. The Proteus buildings are both earthquake- and hurricane-resistant, Stokes said.

The CDC Foundation also received a $2 million contribution from the GE Foundation and a $500,000 contribution from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the second building for Haiti’s Field Epidemiology Training Program officials, who will be working side-by-side with CDC staff stationed in Haiti.

The donors also provided furnishings, fixtures, electronics, computers, printers and Internet connectivity in the building, which is part of a medical campus.

“We made a promise, and we followed through on that promise,” Stokes said.

The Haiti contribution is only the latest example of how the CDC Foundation has provided supplemental support for CDC’s programs around the world.

The CDC Foundation was established in 1995 through an act of the U.S. Congress and with a $1 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. After starting with a skeletal staff, the CDC Foundation now has more than 40 employees.

“We have raised almost $370 million for the CDC, and a lot of that has been raised in the last five to seven years,” Stokes said. “At any one time, we have more than 200 programs going both in the United States and in more than 30 countries around the world. Our programs mirror the CDC’s efforts.”

Some of Atlanta’s most influential executives have been integrally involved with the CDC Foundation — Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, former United Parcel Service CEO Oz Nelson, GE executive John Rice, former BellSouth executive Phil Jacobs and retired Southern Co. CEO David Ratcliffe.

“The CDC is the anchor for global health in the country,” said Stokes, who has witnessed Atlanta’s growing influence as a center of global health. “We see the CDC as the hub.”

CAP breakfast

Central Atlanta Progress will hold its 72nd annual breakfast on Thursday, March 28, at the Georgia World Congress Center, where it will honor two Atlanta leaders for their contributions to downtown.

Ann Cramer, who recently retired as IBM’s director for corporate citizenship and corporate affairs and is now working with Coxe Curry & Associates, will receive the Dan Sweat Award. Sweat served as CAP’s president from 1973 to 1988.

The Turner Downtown Community Leadership Award will go to Clifford Kuhn, an associate professor of history at Georgia State University.

“These are two great leaders,” said A.J. Robinson, CAP’s president. “Ann Cramer is a legend. And Cliff Kuhn is closest thing we have today as an official Atlanta historian.”

The meeting also will showcase CAP’s accomplishments in the past year, including the Atlanta Streetcar project, a new playground in Woodruff Park and the Better Buildings Challenge, an effort to help make the region more sustainable.

Bobby Dodd Institute

The Bobby Dodd Institute will hold its annual Breakfast with Champions breakfast on March 14 at the Cobb Galleria.

The nonprofit will honor AT&T as its “Employer of the Year” for its leadership in creating job opportunities for veterans, especially veterans with disabilities.

The organization also will honor Jennifer Broom with its Circle of Excellence Award.

In 1993, Broom was living and working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, West Africa, when the car she was in was hit head on by a bus. She suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for10 days.

After she returned home, Broom had to learn how to swallow, talk and walk again. Since then, she has dedicated her life to others. The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Don Harp, who is retired from the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.

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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