Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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We Mean Business > Engendering Women's Health and Leadership Diversity Woman: Tell us about your assignment in the Peace Corps. Pamela Barnes: I worked with a male nurse named Javier traveling among fve villages to deliver family planning, vaccines, iodine treatment, and any variety of public health interventions. It was truly extraordinary. I would not be here at EngenderHealth today, feeling the great sense of passion of this organization, if I hadn't had that experience. Pamela Barnes left a shining corporate career for the underfunded world of nonproft health. It was the best thing she ever did. By Marguerite Rigoglioso uccess is about putting yourself out there and taking a risk, Pamela Barnes says. She ought to know. First, she left a lucrative 20-year career in investment management and corporate fnance with GTE and RCA to focus on her pasPower Suit sion: women's health. Ten, at age 48, fve years into her stint as COO of one of the largest Planned Parenthood afliates in New York State, she up and headed to Paraguay for the Peace Corps. Tere she spent two years on the ground delivering family-planning education by bicycle throughout the countryside. Not your typical CEO trajectory. "I loved working in fnance and found it intellectually stimulating, but I knew I wanted to do something more," explains Barnes, who after returning from her South American sojourn became president and S di ve rs i tywoman. com CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Today, her desires and background have come together nicely at EngenderHealth, a leading global women's health organization based in New York City dedicated to making highquality family planning and sexual and reproductive health services accessible in 20 countries. As president and CEO, Barnes, 63, is committed to ensuring that every pregnancy is planned, every child is wanted, and every mother has the best chance at survival. Diversity Woman caught up with Barnes between global trips to talk about women's empowerment, reproductive health, and teamwork. DW: How did you have the courage to make that leap? PB: It's important to think about how you can put pieces together and how to network with like-minded people. I started by volunteering for Planned Parenthood, and then I was asked to take a position with them. So there were interim steps. DW: Why are you focused on women's health? PB: In the 1970s, I was very interested in issues of women's reproductive choice and was an activist. Later, I found myself one of very few women in the 1980s in a senior role at major corporations. Tat was a real awakening for me. I was surprised about the inequalities for women in business. While with the Peace Corps, I got a deep understanding of what it means to live in places where women don't even have access to the basics. At the end of that experience, I had a neighbor die due to postpartum hemorrhage, which was truly preventable. So there has been a natural coming together in my life of women's equality and women's health as they relate to our choices. Fa ll 2 0 1 3 DI VE R S IT Y WO MAN 27

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