Arthur Danart, 81, passed away at his home in Austin, Texas on January 4. He is remembered by his friends and former colleagues as an unfailingly cheerful raconteur, as a thoughtful and considerate manager, and as a pioneer in the development of innovative ways to deliver health and family planning services to low-income populations.
After graduating from college, Art joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to Colombia for two years. Following his Peace Corps service, Art joined Westinghouse Heath Systems, leaving that firm with a colleague to launch a startup company that helped develop approaches that provided physicians with unbiased drug prescribing information. More relevant to the longer term, Art became very interested in a novel concept that was just gaining traction in the development community—the use of social marketing techniques to expand the availability of health and family planning products and services to low-income populations in developing countries.
USAID, meanwhile, had become similarly interested in the potential of social marketing, but did not have personnel with the technical knowledge, a personal belief in the potential of the approach, or the organizational skills needed to design, test, and implement social marketing programs. USAID recruited Art in 1976 to fill that role. Over the next several years, Art was the Agency’s leading advocate for social marketing. He created (with his colleague Jack Thomas, deceased) a design template for AID Missions, and travelled to over a dozen Missions to help develop and launch social marketing programs. By the time Art moved on to his first Foreign Service assignment—to Peru—social marketing programs based on Art’s model were up and operating in over a dozen countries. From these early efforts over 40 countries have nationwide social marketing programs providing millions of low-income women and men access to health services.
Following his service in Peru, Art was assigned to REDSO/Nairobi, where he enthusiastically helped Missions develop and implement new programs to provide services to underserved populations, with a special focus on efforts to combat the raging HIV/AIDS pandemic and to extend the availability of family planning services in the region.
By the time Art took up his assignment as AID Representative in Mexico in 1992, he had established himself as one of the Agency’s most effective and consequential Health & Population officers. Mexico posed different challenges. USAID’s program included dozens of cooperative ventures covering population, HIV prevention, environment, energy, narcotics education, support for the judiciary, and a range of government-to-government initiatives to support the newly approved North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The management of the portfolio was made more complicated by the Mexican Government’s sensitivity to US involvement in their country’s affairs. Art successfully negotiated this challenging environment and gained the respect and affection of Mexican counterparts who recognized his authenticity and respect for Mexican priorities. USAID acknowledged the importance and effectiveness of Art’s work by upgrading the status of the AID Representative’s Office to a USAID Mission in 1998.
Art and his beloved wife of 52 years, Karen, retired to Austin, Texas in 1998. Art is survived by Karen, their son Josh, and his brother Victor.
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