This is a guest blog post by IMC graduate, Angie McCrone.
After graduating from the IMC master’s program at WVU in December 2013, I was determined to embark on a new adventure. I had spent five years running a nonprofit that helps artists with developmental disabilities sell their work, and although my work was rewarding, I was ready to pursue something on a global scale. I wanted to make a difference in the world of global health.
My reasons for being passionate about global health are pretty intuitive; I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and have several family members in the medical field there. My whole life, I heard people refer to my home as the lost cause of Africa, a place they refer to like it is a county, not a continent. They would explain that there were too many problems, and pouring US dollars into it wouldn’t help.
Fortunately, they were very wrong. The more you learn about global health the more you realize that calculated and researched strategies make big differences! Consider the eradication of polio in India or Botswana’s achievement of bringing HIV transfer from mother to child down to just 4%. These are incredible and measured results of global health initiatives that save millions of lives.
So it is obvious why I have a vested interest in global health, but I would argue that all marketing and communications professionals should care deeply about global health efforts. Communications professionals have the talent and know-how to change the world! More than any other profession, marketers have an incredible ability to change behavior. This is such an incredible skill that the global health field desperately needs. Think of your impact if your communications expertise were used to change risky sexual behavior or drug use in areas with a high HIV prevalence. These actions can be linked directly to lives saved.
Not sure you believe me? Consider the opportunity from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that offers marketers an opportunity to make a difference each year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Their Cannes Chimera Initiative asks marketing and communications agencies (see the video below) to design campaigns that solve global problems.
After realizing my strong desire to be a change-maker, I applied for a Global Health Corps (GHC) fellowship. In April, I was offered an opportunity and adventure of a lifetime, working as a Global Health Corps fellow and Marketing and Development Associate at the Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University.
GHC pairs young professionals with global health organizations that are looking for innovative solutions for solving some of the world’s most difficult health challenges. Our class of 128 fellows is placed in Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and the United States.
GHC fellows come from varied backgrounds and are placed in a wide range of positions and organizations. To help them navigate the new landscape, GHC partners local fellows with an international fellow. As communications professionals, we know how important having a local perspective is to developing genuine communications plans.
Global Health Corps fellows have an incredible opportunity to get valuable experience working in international markets. Since most of the organizations have limited resources, fellows also have a chance to take on large projects that they may not be able to do otherwise. It would be extremely difficult to get this level of real world training at most entry to mid-level positions.
Also, there is no need to have training or global health education to apply to GHC. The paid fellowship includes a two week global health training institute at Yale University, quarterly professional and personal development retreats, and a closing retreat in East Africa. Fellows can also opt-in to have an advisor in their field of choice, and the GHC alumni and staff are dedicated to our current and future success.
My Nepalese co-fellow, Sudip Bhandari (right) and me at a cocktail party for GHC supporters at Chelsea Piers in NYC
Do you want to contribute to a better world? Are you thinking of joining the movement toward global health equity? Consider applying for a Global Health Corps fellowship, or working for a global health organization. Even if you’re not willing to dedicate your career to global health, communications volunteers are always needed at nonprofits, and pro-bono work from a marketing firm on a single communications campaign can save millions.
So go on, marketers! Go change the world. Isn’t it great to know you can?
About the author:
Angie McCrone is the Marketing and Development Associate for the Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University and a 2014-2015 Global Health Corps fellow. Previously, she managed the marketing and sales of a nonprofit that promotes the creative work of artists with developmental disabilities. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California: Santa Cruz, majoring in studio art and minoring in literature and received her master’s degree in integrated marketing communications at West Virginia University.
Global Health Corps is building a community of change-makers who share the common belief that health is a human right. Their mission is to mobilize a global community of emerging leaders to build the movement for health equity.
The Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Business School. Launched in 2007 under the guidance of Dr. Jim Y. Kim, Dr. Paul Farmer, and Professor Michael Porter, GHD is a response to the knowledge gap that occurs between medical discovery and clinical application in low resource settings. Their mission is to build a network of professionals dedicated to improving the delivery of value-based health care globally. To join one of their professional virtual communities visit: ghdonline.org