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Dolores D. Wharton

Civic leader Dolores D. Wharton was born on July 3, 1927 in New York City to V. Kenneth Duncan and Josephine Bradford. Wharton attended New York University, Danbury State Teacher’s College, and the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where she studied modern dance with Martha Graham. She received her B.F.A. degree from Chicago State Teacher’s College in the 1960s.

Wharton and her husband, Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., lived in Southeast Asia from 1958 to 1964. Following her return to the United States, Wharton wrote Contemporary Artists of Malaysia: A Biographic Survey, the first academic survey ever written on Malaysian art. Wharton became the first lady of Michigan State University in 1969, when her husband was appointed president of the university. As first lady, Wharton strengthened the university’s relationship with the greater Lansing, Michigan area, and with the student body. President Gerald Ford appointed Wharton to the National Council on the Arts of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1971. She became the first woman, and the first African American, elected to the board of the Michigan Bell Telephone Company in 1974, as well as the boards of the Kellogg Company and the Phillips Petroleum Company in 1976. Wharton initiated and chaired both company’s first social responsibility committees. She was also the first woman, and the first African American, elected to the board of the Gannett Company in 1979. Wharton went on to establish the Fund for Corporate Interns, Inc. (later the Fund for Corporate Initiatives) in 1980. In 1984, Wharton expanded FCI to include the young executives program, a week-long seminar that provided corporate leadership development to minority and women corporate employees.

Throughout her career, Wharton served on numerous other boards including the New York Telephone Company, Tulane University’s board of visitors, The Key Bank National Association, Golub, Inc., the Corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NPR, and COMSAT. Wharton was also served on the board of the Michigan Council on the Arts, the Aspen Institute, the Asia Society, CSIS, the SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology, the New York City Center, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Glimmerglass Opera, among others. Wharton has been awarded nine honorary degrees.

Wharton and her husband, Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., have two sons, Clifton Wharton III and Bruce Wharton.

Dolores Wharton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 14, 2016 and October 4, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.001

Sex

Female

Interview Date

07/14/2016 |and| 10/4/2016

Last Name

Wharton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

D.

Schools

Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School

New York University

Western Connecticut State University

Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater

University of Chicago

Main Street School

Danbury High School

Bethel High School

First Name

Dolores

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

WHA03

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Wonderful.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/3/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Asian Food

Short Description

Civic leader Dolores D. Wharton (1927 - ) was the first woman, and the first African American, elected to the boards of Michigan Bell Telephone Company, Kellogg Company, Phillips Petroleum Company, and Gannett Company.

Employment

The Fund for Corporate Initiatives

Favorite Color

Multicolor

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dolores D. Wharton's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls the social scene in Philadelphia and New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers her family home in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers her family home in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton describes the Little Red School House in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her childhood activities in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about race relations in New York City during the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her stepfather, James W. Owens

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her high school experiences in Danbury, Connecticut, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her high school experiences in Danbury, Connecticut, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her mother's second marriage to James W. Owens

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about racial boundaries in Danbury, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her mother's departure from the Episcopal church

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers meeting her husband, Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls living in New York City and Connecticut during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers the military service of her friends and family during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her dance training in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers reconnecting with Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. after World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls being neighbors with Marian Anderson in Danbury, Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her wedding, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her wedding, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls living with her husband in Harlem, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls attending the University of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her lifestyle in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls moving back to New York City in the late 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers living in Singapore with her family

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls the art scene in Southeast Asia in the early 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her dance program in Malaysia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her children's education in Malaysia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her husband's appointment as president of Michigan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her role as first lady of Michigan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her support of her husband's career at Michigan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers student protests at Michigan State University in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls joining the Michigan Council for the Arts

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls visiting Michigan universities with her husband

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about joining corporate boards in Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton describes the fundraising campaigns at Michigan State University

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her husband's presidency of the State University of New York System

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about corporate social responsibility committees

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton describes the Fund for Corporate Initiatives' programs

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Dolores D. Wharton's interview, session 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls joining the board of Michigan Bell Telephone Company

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her corporate boards responsibilities

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls joining the board of the New York Telephone Company

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers joining the board of the Phillips Petroleum Company

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her experiences on the board of Phillips Petroleum Company

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her travels to Norway

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers corporate board members

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls founding corporate social responsibility committees

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her experiences on the board of the Kellogg Company

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton describes responsibilities at Michigan State University

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls joining the board of the Gannett Company, Inc.

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her not-for-profit board memberships in Albany, New York

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls mentoring college undergraduates in Albany, New York

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton describes the Fund for Corporate Initiatives

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her collaboration with the Aspen Institute

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about the Fund for Corporate Initiatives participants

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her internship programs

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about the age limit rules on corporate boards

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls traveling to South Africa with the Kellogg Company

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her visit to Soweto, South Africa

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls the Kellogg Company's presence in South Africa

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her husband's appointment as deputy secretary of state

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers Cyrus Vance and Grace Sloane Vance

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her board activities during the 1990s

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls founding a charity in memory of her son, Clifton R. Wharton III

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls retiring from various boards and non-profit programs

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about the process of writing her memoirs

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Dolores D. Wharton reflects upon her life

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her plans for the future

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Dolores D. Wharton remembers meeting her husband, Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.
Dolores D. Wharton describes the Fund for Corporate Initiatives' programs
Transcript
Now you're in high school. When did you meet Cliff [HistoryMaker Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.]? You were in high school, correct?$$Yes. There was no social--there was no real social interaction with young men in, in Danbury [Connecticut]. There was one--no, I won't go there--and he would (unclear).$$Well, I read that you were--you had a date with someone else, and then when you met--you went on a date with a cadet or (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, that was--yeah, well, that was much--that was later.$$It was later, okay.$$That was later.$$All right.$$Mother [Josephine Bradford Owens] wanted me to interact more with--well, I think she did. I think she wanted me to go up to meet--she was interacting with her cousin, the Fitzgeralds, who were in Boston [Massachusetts]; they had been--they were related to the Bradfords, the mother. Bertha Fitzgerald was related to--she was related to the Bradfords, and mother went once to visit them, and she had me going up to Boston. I went to Boston once to visit my cousin, and she had a party, a birthday party, and Cliff was supposedly at that party and I was supposed to have met him then. I don't remember it--having met him; I had a lot of young men paying attention to me (laughter). The year later, Betty [Betty Fitzgerald] invited me up for a--she was at Radcliffe [Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts], and she invited me up to a dance at Radcliffe, and she got Cliff as my date, and we met at Harvard Yard [Cambridge, Massachusetts].$$How old were you?$$I think I was what--eighteen? We went to--we met in Harvard Yard, he took us to Adams House--for dinner at Adams House, and then we went back to Betty's dorm and got dressed for the dance; it was black tie, but--well, it might have been semiformal. The girls were in long dresses. And we went to the dance, we had a lovely time--just grand, just really delightful. I've described this as, I felt like I was--what was it--Sarah [sic. Scarlett O'Hara] in 'Gone with the Wind,' dancing with Clark Gable. Ooh! He was gorgeous (laughter), he really was so handsome. He's tall and thin, and he was Mr. Harvard, and oh, it was lovely. Then the dance was almost over and Cliff asked Betty and me if we would like to come to his church the next morning, where he was serving as an acolyte, and we accepted. We--you know, an extension of the weekend. So, the next morning we got on the "T," and went to the black part of Boston--Roxbury [Boston, Massachusetts]--and we went to the church. We were sitting in the pews quietly, and we thought we were being very quiet, and up comes a little white priest with all of his British accent and pulled back and said, "How dare you speak at the House of God!" Well, we just disintegrated, the two of us sitting in those pews. So, off he goes, and he goes back to where the acolytes are, and he tells this story back there, with the acolytes, of these two girls who happen to be there inside the vestry, talking. Can you imagine that? Well, Cliff knew full well who it was (laughter), of course. And the ceremony began, and he was going through with all of his incense and waving all this smoke all over the place. That passed, and then we went outside, and there were lots of people outside doing their--you know, the little old ladies with their bonnets; they were all black. It was a totally black church, and Cliff got his mother [Harriette Banks Wharton] and introduced me to his mother. His mother was very stern. She was a schoolteacher. She was very much a schoolteacher, and she was very busy greeting people--her friends, the other members of the congregation. And she greeted me and then she left, she went off someplace, and I was talking to Cliff. And then she came back suddenly and said, "Cliff, Cliff, you have to excuse yourself from these young ladies, I want--," and then she said, "he has to go, he has to meet some friends of mine." So, off he went, and we said, "Goodbye," and Betty and I got back on the "T" and I came back to Danbury.$You wanna get into all this?$$Sure.$$I went to the corporations--the major corporations there in Albany [New York]. I just had my secretary call up and say, "Mrs. Wharton [HistoryMaker Dolores D. Wharton] would like to come and have an appointment with you," and I went to see all the CEOs and human resource people, and talked--sat down--well, I--first I, with Cliff's [HistoryMaker Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.] help, I made a questionnaire for these--to find out what was going on in the corporations in Albany, why the blacks, why the women were not moving up the corporate ladder. What's happening? And I went to the CEOs and I--a number of them--and found out a lot about what might be able to be done, and got some ideas, and I talked about it a lot here and there, and got a contact with a chap who was the head of the school of--dean of the school of business and--but basically, Cliff and I really talked about what could be done. And we organized a program [Fund for Corporate Interns, Inc.; Fund for Corporate Initiatives, Inc.] and I went to the dean of the school of business and asked him to come aboard and to do some teaching with the young people, but first I went to the corporations and asked them to give me summer internships in their companies for women and minorities to work in their companies for a real job--a job with a beginning, a middle and an ending--just not a gofer's job. I negotiated this and a decent salary for them, and knowing--and telling them that on the weekends those young people would be coming to me and I would be teaching--I would be training them. I got a let- ooh, I got a number of corporations to come aboard saying, "Okay Dolores Wharton, we'll give you jobs for these kids." I went to the deans of the schools of business and the universities all around--Union [Union College, Schenectady, New York] and RPI [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York]--all around, and I got those deans to take my material to their bright students that don't--you can't deal with them if they're not bright. I couldn't do it, I couldn't do it. I'm small, I can't do it. So, for the young people to apply to me to come for the internships--these jobs that I had gotten for them--and I placed them, and gave them the jobs, and they went off on--in the summer, throughout the entire summer, to their jobs, but they came to me on weekends, and that's when I trained them where I had this dean of the school of business from State University of New York in Albany [State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York]--and we trained them in person in various aspects of what you do in developing your relationships to your colleagues on the board in your company. And we also gave them writing, I--one of our--Cliff's colleagues there, we taught them writing for the business sector. They don't always write for business, they write for their compositions. But writing for the business sector, I gave them speech, I got a speech teacher from the youth theater; he taught them how to stand up and make presentations.$$Right.$$And I had lovely residents. I gave them--how to deal with people outside of their corporations when they would be invited to dinners, and that kind of thing. How do you introduce some people, one outstanding person to another? How do you behave yourself? Good program. And that's what we did on weekends. And I was told by the dean that when those--when my young people went out to get jobs at the university--when the recruiters came in to hire at the universities, my kids just turned out, they just got the jobs--they cleaned up because they knew how to behave themselves.$$How many students moved through that program?$$I don't really remember, but there were a--I know it's the other program, the young executive program, that I remember. We put a couple a hundred through that one, and I (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And does it exist anymore?$$No. Once I got to a certain age, I'd gone off my boards. I--you know, I--at seventy, I had to go off.$$Okay.$$And I didn't have the contacts anymore. Cliff didn't have the contacts. We used our contacts, that was our faculty--our contacts. They were brilliant (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So it lived as long as you were on the board.$$Yes. And also, other institutions were beginning to develop programs like--they were copying me, they really were. They were doing what I was doing, quite a few others. So it got so--and I didn't have to do this, so I decided it was time to close the doors.

Dr. Helene Gayle

Epidemiologist and public health administrator Dr. Helene D. Gayle was born on August 16, 1955, in Buffalo, New York. The daughter of social worker Marietta Spiller Dabney Gayle and businessman Jacob Astor Gayle, she attended Lancaster, New York’s Court Street Elementary School and Lancaster Middle School. Moving back to Buffalo, Gayle graduated with honors from Woodlawn Junior High School and then from Bennett High School in 1972. Briefly attending Baldwin-Wallace College, she graduated from Barnard College in New York City with her B.S. degree in psychology. Deciding to pursue medicine, Gayle earned her M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where she served as president of the Student National Medical Association. Gayle went on to earn her Masters of Public Health degree from John Hopkins University. She did her pediatric internship and residency at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Gayle was selected to enter the epidemiology training program at Atlanta’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 1984. By 2001, she had risen to director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention of the CDC. Throughout, Gayle concentrated on the effects of AIDS on children, adolescents and families. In the early 1990s, she began to investigate the global ramifications of the disease and authored numerous reports on the real risk factors involved with AIDS. In so doing, she became one of the foremost experts on the subject, appearing on ABC’s Nightline and other news and information programs. Gayle also served as a medical researcher in the AIDS Division of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Gayle warned about substance abuse and advocated female condoms and vaginal virucides. In 2001, Gayle joined the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation as director of the HIV, TB and Reproductive Health Program and was responsible for administering its $300 million dollar budget. At the same time, she was named Assistant Surgeon General and Rear Admiral in the United States Public Health Service. In 2006, Gayle was chosen as the new president and CEO of CARE, the international poverty fighting organization.

Gayle is the recipient of many honors, including: the U.S. Public Health Service achievement medal, in 1989; the National Medical Association Scroll of Merit Award, 2002; Barnard College, Columbia University, Barnard Woman of Achievement, 2001 and the Women of Color, Health Science and Technology Awards, Medical Leadership in Industry Award in 2002. Gayle sits on many community boards. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Accession Number

A2006.118

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/14/2006

Last Name

Gayle

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Bennett High School

Court Street Elementary School

Lancaster Middle School

Johns Hopkins University

University of Pennsylvania

Barnard College

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Evenings, Weekends

First Name

Helene

Birth City, State, Country

Buffalo

HM ID

GAY01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Any

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/16/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Epidemiologist Dr. Helene Gayle (1955 - ) was president and CEO of CARE, the international poverty fighting organization. She served as director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention of the Center for Disease Control; the director of the HIV, TB and Reproductive Health Program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the Assistant Surgeon General and Rear Admiral in the United States Public Health Service.

Employment

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

United States Public Health Services

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

CARE

Children's Hospital National Medical Center

McKinsey Social Initiative

The Chicago Community Trust

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Helene Gayle's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Helene Gayle lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes some of the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Helene Gayle remembers Court Street Elementary School in Lancaster, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her childhood hobbies

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her parents' civil rights involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Helene Gayle recalls how she became interested in medicine

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her experience at Woodlawn Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Helene Gayle remembers attending Bennett High School in Buffalo, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Helene Gayle recalls the death of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Helene Gayle remembers being injured in a car accident as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Helene Gayle remembers Bennett High School's Black Student Union

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her friendships in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Helene Gayle remembers her decision to attend Barnard College

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her mentors at Barnard College in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dr. Helene Gayle recalls her decision to attend University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Dr. Helene Gayle recalls studying public health at Johns Hopkins University

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Dr. Helene Gayle explains her interest in public health

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes the public health campaign against smallpox

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her experience at Johns Hopkins University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Center for Disease Control

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Helene Gayle recalls initially being deterred from working with HIV

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her travels to Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Helene Gayle recalls becoming director of the Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes the relationship of the African American community to public health

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes myths about HIV in the African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Helene Gayle talks about the occurrence of HIV among African Americans

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes HIV policy under President George Walker Bush

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes advancements in HIV research

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Helene Gayle reflects upon her leadership of public health organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Helene Gayle reflects upon the response to HIV in the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Helene Gayle talks about the future of HIV treatment

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes the importance of philanthropy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Helene Gayle talks about Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Helene Gayle describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Helene Gayle talks about her relationship with Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. Helene Gayle reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dr. Helene Gayle reflects upon her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

13$2

DATitle
Dr. Helene Gayle explains her interest in public health
Dr. Helene Gayle recalls initially being deterred from working with HIV
Transcript
Now at that time would you say you were keenly aware of some of the health disparities in the black community and what the causes were?$$In a general sense, you know, this is when I heard the smallpox talk when I was, my brother was graduating from college and I went to his college graduation that was my, I guess that was in my last year, or my third year, what was ended up being my last year of medical school [University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], and I'd been thinking about public health because I had this general notion of, of the fact that it kind of was an area where you could make a huge impact on, on populations, and then I heard this man [Donald A. Henderson] who had been the leader, one of the leaders of the smallpox eradication campaign and it kind of, for me, crystalized my thinking that this was a way that you could tangibly impact large numbers of peoples' lives, eradicate a disease like we did with smallpox or, you know, really change the course of something in a major way as opposed to doing one-by-one patient care where a lot of times what you're doing is putting band aids on for what are really larger systemic issues.$$Okay, so what I hear you saying and correct me if I'm wrong, is that somebody's got to organize a campaign to deal with disease, you know, to do a certain diseases. It's not enough just to treat 'em as an individual, as individuals coming in who are sick. It's better to, to try to hit with a organized hammer.$$Well, I think what you do in public health as opposed to taking care of individuals, you take care of populations, so the same things you do with individuals, you do with populations, so you look at, you know, you're able to look at what are the reasons why one population has more, is impacted more by hypertension, HIV [human immunodeficiency virus], tuberculosis, you know, low birth weight, or whatever the issue is, and look at what does it take to change that for populations. A lot of times that means changing policies. It may mean, you know, putting in systems that didn't exist. It may mean doing campaigns, but it's really looking at what are the reasons why populations of people are more likely to be hit by a disease or have a less good health in disease like infant mortality or death rates or birth rates, or whatever, and how do you look at what are the issues that influence that, and a lot of times those things aren't necessarily just the virus or the, you know, the infection, or the toxin, it has as much to do with how societies organize or don't organize to make sure that some people have access to the things that cause good health. I mean it could be as simple as the fact that we have bad grocery stores in poor neighborhoods so that obesity and poor nutrition is more likely in poor communities, and so I mean public health looks at all of those factors and not just, you know, X diseases caused by X germ.$$Okay, so for instance, coal miners keep getting black lungs because they're coal miners?$$Right, and so as opposed to being the person who looks at a coal miner and says that person has a particular disease state, let me give them the medicine, public health says these people are at risk because the conditions within the coal mines are making them sick. What do we do to change the conditions in the coal mine?$$Okay. And sometimes that's a struggle, isn't it? I mean in terms of trying to change--$$Change policies, and that's why I say public health really is the interface between medicine and politics and society because in order to make a difference for those coal miners, you may have to get legislation passed in [U.S.] Congress that will affect the conditions that they're, they're living under. So, you know, I think those, that's why for me public health is a, was always a real good blend for my interests because it does marry changing societal factors that cause poor health as well as looking at what's the immediate cause.$Interestingly, at the time when I came, which was 1984, three years after HIV [human immunodeficiency virus] had first been described, I was, had a passing interest in HIV. At that time, pediatric HIV had not been very visible so it wasn't something that I had been involved in in my training, but I asked people about, you know, whether HIV would be a good thing to do my EIS [Epidemic Intelligence Service] years in and most people said, "Stay away from it, it's just a political disease and it's not that important and it's gonna be gone soon anyway," so I kind of, you know, didn't think too much about HIV at the time. I went ahead and did the nutrition and worked on issues of malnutrition in children.$$Let me stop you. What do they mean by political disease?$$Well, it was highly political. You know it was a disease that had a lot of, you know, because it was occurring in gay men and injection drug users, you know, it was very politicized. There were a lot of, you know, just politics involved and people said, you know, "Stay away from it 'cause you just get broiled--embroiled in a bunch of politics around, you know, gays and drug users." And, you know, issues of morality, and all the issues that are involved in, you know, working with marginalized populations that (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well what was it, the sense then from the physicians that you were talking to that it was gonna stay in a small, I mean, it wasn't really, they thought it was gonna stay right there (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, well that's what I said, I mean people that, people said, you know, "This is something that's gonna be gone." They compared it to like the Legionnaires' disease which CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia] had had been involved with, you know, big, an outbreak confined to a certain group of people, lot of visibility, lot of hype, and then it will be gone, and so go and deal with something that has longer term relevance. So, you know, for me it was, it was partly that, but it was also just, you know, again, since I had been in pediatrics where HIV had not yet really taken a hold, it wasn't as much in my consciousness at the time and so I focused on nutrition and looked at issues of low birth weight, malnutrition, did a lot of work in Africa as well as work here in the United States focusing on those issues. After that, I just, I really enjoyed my experience at the CDC and so took an additional year and preventive medicine residency, so it was another additional residency to get further training in public health and preventive medicine and I did that in our group that focused, the CDC group that focused on specifically issues of childhood mortality in Africa and I worked a lot on childhood, child survival issues, diarrhea and the things that are the main causes of children in African, diarrheal diseases, measles, malaria. I did a year doing a lot of work focused on that, and then just, and then those both the EIS and the preventive medicine program are short-term programs and so I had to make the decision after that: did I wanna stay at CDC and seek permanent employment, or did I wanna go and do something else? And by that time, it was clear that HIV was an important issue, and was, in fact, probably gonna be the defining public health issue of our day, and so I elected to interview the HIV group and started out as a staff epidemiologist in the HIV program. It was called the AIDS program then.$$So it was about 1987 (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Eighty-seven [1987], yeah, yeah.