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Task Force for Global Health buys Decatur building m with $10 million from Woodruff Foundation

Task Force for Global Health

The building that the Task Force just bought in downtown Decatur (Special: Task Force for Global Health)

By Maria Saporta

The Task Force for Global Health, now on a side street in downtown Decatur, has bought a signature building on W. Ponce de Leon Avenue from DeKalb County for $12 million..

The purchase of the building in downtown Decatyre, which closed Thursday, was made possible by a recent $10 million grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and a $2 million gift from the Conrad Hilton Foundation.

The Task Force is launching a $24 million capital campaign to help with the renovation off the six-story building. It hopes to make its goal raising between $10 million to $12 million by the end of 2017.

Task Force for Global Health

Rendering of the building the Task Force just bought in downtown Decatur (Special: Task Force for Global Health)


Dave Ross, president and CEO of the Task Force, said the building will likely become a hub for global health initiatives in the Atlanta region.

“We are a growing organization, and we have outgrown our current space,” said Ross, who expects the number of employees to increase from 100 to 125 in the next year. “Atlanta needs to be understood in the world as a center of global health. We have a collection of assets that are really unique in the world. It’s a power house.”

The Task Force’s new building, when fully renovated, will have 90,000 square feet and will be capacity for about 375 employees.

“Our new headquarters will give us the means to increase the impact of our existing programs, launch new programs, and recruit the best talent in global health,” Ross said. “The building will also help fuel our region’s economic development and raise metro Atlanta’s profile as a global health center.”

Among the local institutions he named were Emory University, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, the Morehouse School of Medicine, the University of Georgia, CARE, the Carter Center – all anchored by the presence of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

dave ross

Dave Ross

The Task Force also is a founding member of the Georgia Global Health Alliance, a consortium of organizations working to foster collaboration among global health entities in the state in order to address complex issues such as Zika virus.

The Task Force envisions developing a new collaborative center for global health at its new headquarters, where other global health nonprofits may co-locate and work with The Task Force. DeKalb County and the Task Force will share the six-story building for a period up to five years. The Task Force will initially occupy three floors, and DeKalb County will lease back three floors.

Larry Johnson, who serves as the chair of DeKalb County Commission, was excited about how the sale of the building to the Task Force would stimulate the county’s economy.

“Their growth means hundreds of new high paying jobs and increased international visibility for the county,” Johnson said. “I’m also excited about developing a new partnership to address health disparities in DeKalb County.”

The Task Force’s new headquarters is expected to help raise metro Atlanta’s visibility as a center for global health, which is a new focus of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. One of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s 2017 strategic pillars will be to grow the global health sector.

The Task Force consists of programs to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases, increase access to vaccines, and strengthen health systems. The organization plays a major convening role in bringing together partners to work collaboratively on health problems in 154 countries. Locally, the Task Force is exploring how it might help address high chronic disease rates in parts of DeKalb County.

Global Health

The Task Force plans to turn the first floor into a collaboration and training space for the global health community (Special: Task Force for Global Health)

“The Task Force for Global Health is helping address some of the world’s greatest health needs,” said Robert W. Woodruff Foundation President Russ Hardin. “They work in partnership with hundreds of organizations to leverage resources and expertise for an extraordinary collective impact. We are proud that one of the world’s largest and most effective nonprofits calls Decatur home.”

The Task Force receives significant in-kind contributions from pharmaceutical companies for disease control and elimination programs. In 2016 alone, Pfizer, Merck, and GSK donated $3.2 billion worth of medicines, which makes The Task Force one of the largest nonprofits in the United States.

Much of The Task Force’s growth in recent years has been due to increases in funding from CDC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The organization expects to move into its new headquarters by fall 2017.

The Task Force has credited it success by the fact that it has stayed behind the scenes, often working collaboratively with multiple organizations and letting others get the spotlight.

“One element of our success as a convener  is that we’ve been fairly silent,” Ross said. “The award of the Hilton humanitarian prize in September has made us visible to a much larger universe of people.”

Task Force

Rendering of the video conference area of the collaboration space on the first floor of the building (Special: Task Force for Global Health)

Task Force

Rendering of the entrance of the new building for the Task Force (Special: Task Force for Global Health)

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.



  1. Burroughston Broch December 17, 2016 12:00 am

    It seems to me the Task Force would do more good by spending this $36 million on its programs rather than acquiring real estate.Report

  2. DecaturResident December 20, 2016 1:43 pm

    Burroughston Broch  Comments like this drive me nuts.  I’m not associated with the Task Force but support other nonprofits that do similar work.  Where do you expect them to work?  In the street?  What opportunities are lost due to the inability to house all their people today?  Nonprofit is a tax status not an operating model.  Like businesses need to spend money to make money, nonprofit need to spend (reasonably and conservatively) on themselves as well to ensure they thrive, they attract great people (critical with the kind of work this organization does), and they can serve more people in the end.  Comments like the above do nothing but perpetuate the “starvation cycle” nonprofits are falsely expected to live by and inflate the posters faux moral outrage.Report

  3. Burroughston Broch December 20, 2016 2:05 pm

    They can pay rent on a sidestreet and invest the $36 million in their programs. Becoming a landlord does not benefit their programs. The next step may be to use funds for an endowment rather than spending them to do some good. Even inside not-for-profits, there are those who want to build financial kingdoms. I once belonged to such an organization that accumulated an endowment 20 times its average expenses. Many members banded together and forced a change.
    By the way, not-for-profits live high on the hog. I’ll wager Michelle Nunn makes over $500K at her new gig. And as for the Clinton Foundation…
    They should remember their primary mission is to serve others, not themselves.Report

  4. mnst December 20, 2016 10:51 pm

    DecaturResident That guy is the definition of a troll; he sits on the computer all day posting contrarian comments on every news article published in Atlanta.Report

  5. DebAz December 21, 2016 7:16 am

    Burroughston Broch  Michelle Nunn oversees a huge multinational corporation. I bet she travels at least 50% of her time. If she was in the for-profit sector and run a company of a similar size and had to do the same work, she would be making tens of millions. So she is still taking one heck of a pay cut to work in the non-profit realm.
      As for owning the building, yes it does benefit their programs. It gives them cost certainty. It means they aren’t at the whims of a landlord who may decide to raise the rent an astronomical amount. They can make changes to the building when they want, as opposed to when the landlord wants to do it. If owning a building didn’t make sense, then companies like Coke wouldn’t do it either.Report

  6. Burroughston Broch December 22, 2016 1:01 pm

    mnst DecaturResident  So you cannot respond to what I wrote and instead resort to an ad hominem attack? Childish, you are.Report

  7. Burroughston Broch December 22, 2016 1:12 pm

    DebAz Burroughston Broch  Coke is a huge, for-profit company, not a philanthropic charity supposed to do good. It’s hardly relevant to this small (100 employees), not-for-profit organization buying and retrofitting a building capable of housing 375 employees.
    As for Michelle Nunn, we will see what she’s being paid when Care USA’s 2016 Form 990 is available. Her predecessor was paid $457,000 in 2015, and you can bet Nunn’s compensation will be appreciably higher. As for her taking a pay cut, I giggle. I have an acquaintance who is CEO and President of a $100+ million company with 15 locations (2 outside the US) and over 500 employees; he is paid $350,000 per year salary and receives a bonus only if the company meets goals. He travels probably more than Nunn. So spare me the tears.Report

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