We should know in one week who will be the Global Fund’s new Executive Director. The Board is expected to make a selection on the first day of its 14-15 November meeting in Geneva.
On 23 October, on the eve of a Board Retreat, the Global Fund released the names of the four candidates shortlisted for the position – Simon Bland, the current director of the UNAIDS office in New York; Frannie Leautier, formerly a senior vice president at the African Development Bank; Peter Sands, a senior fellow at Harvard and former chief executive of Standard Chartered PLC; and Anil Soni, head of global infectious diseases at Mylan, a global pharmaceutical company, and former chief executive of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (see GFO article). At the retreat (on 24-25 October), the shortlisted candidates were slated to make presentations and to be interviewed by the full Board. The candidates were also expected to have informal meetings with Board members and alternates.
Since then, the candidates have been participating in teleconferences with various Board constituencies.
On 14 November, at the Board meeting, the voting will be conducted according to a process established by the Board at its 36th meeting in November 2016. A straw poll will be conducted initially. Unless the straw poll produces a very clear consensus, there will be three cycles of weighted voting, with Board members asked to rank the candidates by order of preference (first preference 5 points, second preference 3 points, third preference 1 point). With each cycle, the candidate with the least number of total votes will be removed from consideration. Ultimately, the weighted voting cycles will result in a single “most-preferred” candidate.
Following the identification of the most-preferred candidate, he or she receives an up or down vote by the Board. As with all decisions taken by the Board, in order for this decision to pass there must be an affirmative two-thirds majority vote of each of the donor and implementer blocs.
This process is very similar to the process used in 2012 when Dr Mark Dybul was selected E.D.
Following its 37th meeting in May 2017, the Board adopted by electronic vote contingency procedures to be implemented in the event of a tie in the voting or if the Board is deadlocked.
The four shortlisted candidates are the ones that remain in contention after a process that began when the Executive Director Nomination Committee (EDNC) undertook an extensive advertising and outreach campaign, with the assistance of the executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, beginning in June 2017. The campaign resulted in a pool of 109 candidates, of which 21% were women and 19% were from the global South. The EDNC selected 11 candidates for a first round of interviews, which took place on 25-26 September. Eight candidates were invited to a second round of interviews, also conducted by the EDNC, on 9-10 October.
Meanwhile, in a blog posting, the organization Women in Global Health (WGH) said. “Since women are the majority of the workforce in the sectors of health the Global Fund covers, it is surprising that the shortlist is not three women and one man or at least 50/50 women and men.” (The shortlist consists of three men and one woman.)
“It goes without saying that whoever is selected, regardless of gender, needs to have a strong understanding of the interplay of gender within the three diseases and how to apply a gender transformative approach to their leadership,” WGH said.
The organization also said that “in contrast to the World Health Organization’s recent attempts at developing a more transparent and open process for the selection of their director general, the Global Fund process has been shrouded in secrecy.”
The voting procedures adopted at the Board’s 36th meeting are contained in Document GF-B36-07, which would normally be posted at https://www.theglobalfund.org/en/board/meetings/36/, or at https://www.theglobalfund.org/board-decisions/b36-dp07/ but it was not there when we went to press. The contingency procedures adopted following the Board’s 37th meeting are contained in Document GF-B37-ER03; this document is not available on the Global Fund website.