Molly Gingerich

Molly Gingerich, 68, died May 24th in the loving care of her family in Albuquerque, NM, following a year-long battle with ovarian cancer.  Memorial services were held June 3rd at the Albuquerque Mennonite Church and  on June 24th at the USAID library, organized by the USAID Global Health Bureau. After attending American University for two years, Molly spent a year at the University of Grenoble in France, then graduated from Denver University.  Following a stint working with the Ford Foundation in Pakistan, she completed her master’s degree in public health at UCLA.  She began her public health career with the Center for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) working on early Women in Management programs in the late 1970s.  Following her marriage to James Gingerich in Islamabad, Pakistan, they transferred to Indonesia.  For the next 23 years, Molly worked with USAID in public health.  She became passionate about all activities USAID funded which supported improved access to quality health services, particularly for women and children.  Throughout her career which took her from Pakistan to Indonesia, a year at Stanford University, Kenya, Nepal, USAID/Washington, and back to Indonesia as the head of the Health, Population, and Nutrition (HPN) office, Molly combined excellent technical knowledge of the programs with a rare ability to bring government, NGO and private sector partners to focus on the larger visions…for improving the health status, often of the most powerless members of these populations. Her passion for achieving Safe Motherhood goals wherever she worked became well known.  Molly and three colleagues/friends began what today is known as the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.  That program is now an international coalition active in over 150 countries.  Its goal is to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for women and newborns.  Her work with colleagues in Kenya was a major contributor to Kenya achieving the most rapid decline in fertility during the 1990s ever recorded.  In Nepal, working with many local partners, Molly, her HPN team and trusted technical advisors, put in place a comprehensive program of vaccinations, Vitamin A distribution, clean health delivery kits, and greatly enhanced access to modern forms of contraception, which has contributed to dramatic changes in maternal and child mortality rates.  In all of these efforts, Molly aways sought to develop the abilities of national colleagues to carry on this work within their own organizations.  Despite being a desperately poor country, plagued by long-term violent political conflict, Nepal today is on track to achieve the UN Millenium Development Goal of reducing under-five deaths by two-thirds by 2015. The contributions of the USAID-supported programs during and since the 1990s has been a major contributor to this development. The Molly Gingerich Memorial Fund This award has been established at CEDPA as an endowed living testimony and memorial to the many contributions Molly made to improve Safe Motherhood.  Molly’s family, colleagues and friends from around the world have contributed to this fund.  Resources from this fund will be awarded to participants from developing countries enabling them to attend CEDPA-led training programs with a broad focus on Safe Motherhood.
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