By Maria Saporta
The founding CEO of the Center for Global Health Innovation (CGHI) – Maria Thacker-Goethe – is stepping down from that leadership role for personal and family reasons.
Thacker-Goethe, however, will remain with the organization as leader of the Office of Life Sciences and Digital Health, formerly Georgia Bio.
When Thacker-Goethe was named CEO of the CGHI in February 2020, she had been heading up Georgia Bio – a position she continued in her Global Health role. Basically, she had been doing both jobs and now she will resume just having the life sciences (Georgia Bio) role.
“On behalf of the board, I would like to express our gratitude to Maria and her many contributions to the Center and the community we serve,” said Gary Reedy, CGHI board chair, in a statement. “The Center is fortunate to have had such a visionary leader to build and steward a world-class organization. She has created a truly remarkable legacy and has positioned us to continue achieving our mission of advancing global health equity through collaboration and health innovation.”
The CGHI board also has announced that it has appointed Kelly McCutchen as interim chief operating officer to lead the organization through this period of transition. The release also stated that Thacker-Goethe’s leadership transition is not related to any disagreement with the organization on any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies, or practices.
“It has been an extraordinary honor to work with the many talented individuals in the health innovation community while making a longtime dream for Georgia become reality with the Center,” Thacker-Goethe said in the release. “I am enormously proud of the organization we are today, of the talented and dedicated team that made it happen, and the impact we have had at home in Georgia and across the country.”
She went on to say: “The Center is at a critical inflection point, and it is time for a new leader to come in to take the organization into the next phase of its growth.”
The Center has been developing a global health innovation district in the former AT&T/BellSouth/Southern Bell tower at the corner of West Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue in Midtown.
The Center was formed as a merger of Georgia’s leading global health and life science organizations. It came together as part of the 2018 Global Health ATL initiative to bring together diverse global health, health technology and life sciences entities to collaborate, innovate and activate solutions to enhance human health outcomes around the world.
Under Thacker-Goethe’s leadership, the Center and grew its network to over 700 public and private organizations, increased its annual revenue from $1 million to $12 million, grew the staff from three to 10 full-time staff plus 115 contractors. It also launched a free global learning series documenting the history and nine key lessons learned from the campaign to eradicate smallpox.
The Center also highlighted Georgia’s unique role as a (some would say the) center for global health with the presence of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Carter Center, the Task Force for Global Health, MedShare and MAP International, among other entities.
Reedy and Charles Redding, vice chair of the board, will co-chair the search committee to identify a new CEO. Details about the search process and how to apply will be shared soon.