Helene D. Gayle is President and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s leading community foundations. The Trust works with donors, nonprofits, community leaders, and residents to lead and inspire philanthropic efforts that improve the quality of life for the residents of the Chicago region. As the seventh executive in the Trust’s history, Dr. Gayle is responsible for establishing the priorities of the Trust and building positive engagement with the Trust’s diverse family of stakeholders in ways that advance the organization’s mission and goals.
Previously, Dr. Gayle was the CEO of McKinsey Social Initiative (now McKinsey.org), a nonprofit that builds partnerships for social impact. For almost a decade, she was President and CEO of CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization with approximately 10,000 staff whose poverty-fighting programs reached over 97 million people in 87 countries. An expert on global development, humanitarian, and health issues, Dr. Gayle also spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), working primarily on combating HIV/AIDS. She was appointed as the first director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, and achieved the rank of Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General in the U.S. Public Health Service. Dr. Gayle also served as the AIDS coordinator and chief of the HIV/AIDS division for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She also worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, directing program on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues.
Dr. Gayle serves on public company and nonprofit boards including the Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company, The Rockefeller Foundation, Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, New America, and the ONE Campaign. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Public Health Association, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
She has been named one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women,” Foreign Policy magazine’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers,” Newsweek’s top 10 “Women in Leadership,” The NonProfit Times Power and Influence Top 50, and has been featured by media outlets as diverse as the New York Times, Washington Post, ForbesWoman, Glamour, Essence, O Magazine, National Public Radio, and CNN. She has also authored numerous articles on global and domestic public health issues, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and social justice.
Dr. Gayle was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. She earned a B.A. in psychology at Barnard College, an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University. She is board certified in pediatrics.
Her contributions have been honored with awards from Columbia University, Barnard College, Spelman College, Bryn Mawr College, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the U.S. Public Health Service, and AARP, among others. She has received 15 honorary degrees and holds faculty appointments at the University of Washington and Emory University.
See our complete list: Chicago’s 25 Most Powerful Women 2019