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winter 2018
Catherine Hastings Zilber header

Atlanta power player — Catherine Hastings Zilber ’98

Promoting public health

Catherine Hastings Zilber ’98 still thanks Dr. Jack Seitz, professor of government, for opening her eyes to global issues. She discovered a particular interest in public health and went to Washington, D.C., right after graduation to work in the field.

After finishing graduate school at the London School of Economics and Political Science, she got the offer that she had been waiting for: an opportunity to work overseas with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

“I still can’t believe I said no at first,” she says. “I went to bed that evening realizing that I had made maybe the biggest mistake of my life. It makes me laugh now to think about how scared I was. When I emailed them back the next morning to say I had changed my mind, I thought they’d think I was crazy; instead they said, ‘Well good.’”

Zilber spent two years in Kigali, Rwanda, working with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. There she also met her husband, who followed her and her work to Ethiopia and Jamaica. They had two children — Noa (9) and Ben (6) — while abroad.

Five years ago, Zilber and her family moved to Atlanta, where she is a team lead for programs with the CDC Foundation, a nonprofit that mobilizes private sector resources to support the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Zilber now helps manage a department of over 100 staff who are implementing public health programs in the United States and in 130 countries.

“I work with an amazing group of epidemiologists, researchers and program managers,” says Zilber. “I’m on the implementation side of the house, responding to a wide range of public health issues, including malaria, meningitis, Ebola, Zika … and the emergency response after last year’s hurricanes.”

In addition to majoring in government at Wofford, Zilber also graduated with a major in French, something that definitely has come in handy on her projects in West Africa and Haiti.

“It makes a difference when you can communicate with colleagues in the ministries of health as well as local partners,” she says. “I’m constantly learning, and knowing that we are making an impact and creating new partnerships to make the world healthier and safer is definitely inspiring.”

By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington '89