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February 19, 2019

Building Bridges with Loyce Pace, MPH, President and Executive Director of the Global Health Council

By Danielle Shapiro

Having attended school in Washington, D.C., for the past three years, I know it is very easy to get caught up in politics. Although we try to engage in political discussion on Georgetown’s campus, debates are always split between multiple groups with different values. Organizations on campus claim to engage in bipartisan discussion, but truly it is one group trying to convince another who will not listen. True bipartisan organizations are difficult to find not only on Georgetown’s campus, but also within the U.S. government. The Global Health Council serves as one of these anomalies. The Global Health Council is an advocacy coalition in Washington, D.C., that advances interests of global health. Lobbyist organizations are often strongly partisan and can take control of government; however, the Global Health Council is a bipartisan organization that exhibits “lobbying for good.” On February 12, 2019, Loyce Pace, MPH, joined the Conversations in Global Health course to discuss her role as president and executive director of the Global Health Council.

Pace’s journey to Washington was not a conventional one. She initially attended Stanford University with the goal of becoming a doctor and never considered working with the federal government. During her undergraduate career, her interest in public health grew, so after graduating, she temporarily worked as a teacher until she fell into the health and wellness space. In the beginning, she focused her work on giving back to her home town of Los Angeles where she realized the path of achieving equity through health. However, she remained frustrated with the ceiling of community health work. Pace’s passion for community advocacy and desire to prioritize health led her to Washington, D.C. 

Although unconventional, Pace’s journey to the Global Health Council illuminates the importance of communication within the global health arena. It is very easy for policy makers to feel removed from the general public in Washington, D.C., and become preoccupied with dollars and cents. Policies are often based off of data and statistics, and the people behind the data are often forgotten. Pace explained this pattern with a powerful quote: “Statistics are stories with the tears wiped away.” 

As a science major, I normally focus on the importance of data. We are taught that we must prove our claims with evidence and statistics. However, Pace highlighted the importance of bridging the gap between scientists, policy makers, and people on the ground in order to make progress in global health. She emphasized the importance of sharing narratives and storytelling, and attributed her ability to remain connected with people on the ground to her teaching experience. She explained that this taught her how to translate information and connect with different audiences. Learning how to communicate is vital in global health. As scientists and policy makers, it is our duty to always keep people’s narratives in our minds in order to adequately address global health issues. 

Danielle Shapiro (COL’20) is a junior in the College, majoring in biology of global health and minoring in disability studies, and a student fellow with the Global Health Initiative.