Geneva, 29 September 2020 – The Gavi Board has appointed José Manuel Barroso as its new Chair, beginning in January 2021.
Barroso served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 2002-2004 and as President of the European Commission from 2004-2014, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union in 2012. He is currently non-executive Chairman of London-based Goldman Sachs International.
The Board’s Search Committee named Barroso’s considerable stature and experience, his track record as a leader, his immense experience chairing multi-stakeholder Boards and his commitment to international cooperation as deciding factors in making the selection.
“This is truly an honour from an organisation I have admired for some time,” said José Manuel Barroso. “As we face the worst pandemic in over a century, the world needs Gavi now more than ever, both to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach every country, rich and poor, and press ahead with its core mission to protect hundreds of millions of people from preventable diseases.”
José Manuel Barroso will replace Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, economist, international development expert and former Finance and Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria and World Bank Managing Director, whose term as Board Chair ends in December 2020.
Since her appointment in 2016 Ngozi has led Gavi through some of the most successful years in its history, tackling the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo, contributing to a polio-free Africa and securing a historic US$ 8.8 billion in funds at June’s Global Vaccine Summit. More recently she has played a central role in the design of the COVAX Facility, which aims to secure global, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, once available.
“I’m enormously proud of everything the Vaccine Alliance has achieved over the past five years, as well as the immense dedication and hard-work of both the Gavi Board members and Secretariat staff – I’d like to offer my sincere gratitude to all of them,” said Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. “I know, however, that I leave the position in good hands. José is an excellent choice, with a track record in championing development, equity and gender diversity issues, and I am convinced that he is the right person to lead Gavi into its next chapter.”
“Firstly, I am delighted to extend a warm welcome to José Manuel Barroso, whose experience, commitment and hands-on approach to international cooperation will be immensely useful as Gavi’s embarks on its next strategic period to enhance vaccine equity and truly leave no one behind as well as taking on new challenges as a partner in the global response to COVID-19,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “I also want to acknowledge the tremendous contribution to Gavi of our current Chair, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, whose term comes to an end in December. Dr Ngozi’s dynamism, intelligence and political nous has been an invaluable asset over the past five years and it has been an honour to work so closely with her. We look forward to continuing to draw on her leadership.”
The selection process began in October 2019 and was led by a Search Committee chaired by former Board Vice Chair Bill Roedy. This committee engaged with a field of 115 candidates in total across a wide spectrum of experiences and background, undertaking rigorous due diligence, referencing and interviews before making the final decision. The Gavi Board Chair is an unremunerated position.