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Helene D. Gayle        

Former CEO of The Chicago Community Trust; 11th President of Spelman College; Expert on Global Development, Humanitarian & Health Issues

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH, is the former president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations. She served in this role from October 2017 to June 2022. Under her leadership, the Trust adopted a new strategic focus on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region. Dr. Gayle is currently the President of Spelman College, a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent, and has held this position since July 2022.

For almost a decade, Dr. Gayle was president and CEO of CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization. An expert on global development, humanitarian, and health issues, she spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. She worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, directing programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues.

Dr. Gayle serves on public company and nonprofit boards, including The Coca-Cola Company, Organon, Palo Alto Networks, Brookings Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies, New America, ONE Campaign, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Economic Club of Chicago. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Council on Foreign Relations, Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, National Academy of Medicine, American Public Health Association, National Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics.

She was awarded the Chicago Mayor’s Medal of Honor for her work on COVID relief and recovery for the city. Named one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” and one of NonProfit Times “Power and Influence Top 50,” she has authored numerous articles on global and domestic public health issues, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and social justice.

Dr. Gayle was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. She earned a BA in psychology at Barnard College, an MD at the University of Pennsylvania and an MPH at Johns Hopkins University. She has received 18 honorary degrees and holds faculty appointments at the University of Washington and Emory University.


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Helene Gayle M.D., MPH Dr. Gayle is CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation's leading community foundations. Prior to this role, for almost a ...
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Helene Gayle, the co-chair of the committee that devised that framework, noted that the issue her committee grappled with was racism, not race. Racism leads to  ...
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