The Tools to Make a Difference

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Development leadership role offers Akudo Anyanwu another chance at “building stuff”

New Associate Dean of Development and Alumni Relations Akudo Anyanwu, MD, MPH, likes to look a challenge in the face. She is here to make a difference, digging into the school’s $45 million building project and widening global vision with equal fervor.

“My passion and my purpose have been institution building—the common thread has always been building stuff,” she says. Her global bona fides are unquestioned, beginning with a determination to address global disparities in HIV care.

Photo by Chris Hartlove

Near the turn of the millennium, an epidemic largely contained in the Western world was still raging unchecked in parts of Africa. “Whole villages were being eaten to the core, like an apple,” she remembers. Drugs had been developed that would turn HIV into a chronic disease vs. a death sentence. Lacking were the money and the will to send them to impoverished nations. Anyanwu grabbed her toolbox.

From 2003 through 2007, she worked at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, starting as a policy adviser to the Global Fund and then as a Country Director building partnerships to support the Global Fund in various developing countries. Anyanwu then served as the executive director of the Friends of the Global Fund Africa, raising almost $600 million for HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis treatment for developing countries. She also promoted global health policies while fighting stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and serving on the boards of Rollback Malaria, the Global Health Council, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Since 2014, she served as director of strategic partnerships and development for four global health institutions at Emory University.

“I just look at the impact that this school can have on the world … that is significant scale-up in my eyes.”
— Akudo Anyanwu, MD, MPH

Anyanwu, a Philadelphia native, is the daughter of Nigerian educators who impressed upon her the importance of hard work, education, and service. The winner of Harvard University’s 2013 Public Health Innovator Award, Anyanwu has also been recognized with the STEVIE gold award for female entrepreneurs, the Women’s Social Leadership Award, and the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders Award.

She expects to have an impact at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and then some. What’s already been built here puts her that much farther ahead in what Anyanwu, who earned her MD at Tufts University and her MPH at Harvard, hopes to accomplish. “I just look at the impact that this school can have on the world … that is significant scale-up in my eyes. Nurses are the underpinning of any health care system. Johns Hopkins is training the leaders in nursing who will improve health systems.”

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