In April, I asked Gayle Smith to head the State Department’s global COVID-19 response – which required her to take a leave of absence from her important work as President and CEO at the ONE Campaign. With her unparalleled experience, including helping to lead the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, I knew she could steer our global pandemic response and chart a successful path toward COVID-19 recovery.
Eight months after asking Gayle to join the team, the United States has donated more than 260 million vaccine doses to more than 110 countries and economies worldwide – well on our way to fulfilling President Biden’s commitment of 1.2 billion doses. We are the largest single-country donor to COVAX, and we have worked with governments, international organizations, and the private sector to get life-saving equipment where it is needed most. We have convened global leaders to ensure this is a worldwide effort, and we are investing in global health security to not only respond to this pandemic but prepare for the next one. Together, we have saved countless lives, and we will continue to do so thanks to Gayle’s lasting contributions.
As Gayle heads back to the ONE Campaign, she leaves behind a phenomenal set of accomplishments, a robust team and network who are prepared to carry our important work forward, and a comprehensive set of next steps to build on our progress. As Gayle has said many times, our work to defeat this pandemic and prevent future health threats is not over. We have important work ahead, which is why Mary Beth Goodman, a senior member of State’s COVID team, and former Special Assistant to the President and NSC Senior Director for Global Development and Humanitarian Response, will serve as Acting Coordinator for Global COVID Response and Health Security.
I am grateful for Gayle’s leadership, vision, and service, and, most of all, for the life-saving accomplishments and legacy she leaves behind.