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Nina Schwalbe

Leader |  Expert  |  Advocate


Nina Schwalbe is a global public health expert and leader in vaccines and immunization.

In leadership roles at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Unicef and USAID, and through her writing and scholarship, Nina Schwalbe has shaped the end-to-end spectrum of global vaccine development and deployment. Her thoughtful, data-driven, innovative work in health financing and incentives, R&D, manufacturing, last-mile roll-out, gender- and human rights-based approaches, and the use of digital tools and artificial intelligence has shifted the paradigm on access to health. 

As Gavi’s Deputy Executive Secretary and Managing Director for Policy and Performance, Schwalbe set policies and best practices for country-level collaboration and planning, approaches to government co-financing and transition processes for countries phasing out of Gavi support. She led the implementation of Nobel Prize winner Michael Kremer’s design for a pilot Advance Market Commitment for Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine into a reality, a cost-reducing program that helped prevent over 700,000 childhood deaths. Schwalbe authored Gavi’s first-ever gender policy and successfully negotiated with pharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders to expand the Gavi portfolio to include affordable human papillomavirus (HPV).

As Chair of the Gavi Evaluation Advisory Committee from 2019 to 2021, Schwalbe guided core oversight functions of the partnership. Schwalbe’s strategic acumen, data-driven analysis and staunch commitment to gender- and human-rights based approaches infused the programming she led as UNICEF’s principal advisor and acting chief of health. She developed new initiatives on health systems strengthening, adolescent health and non-communicable diseases and served on the design team of the Global Financing Facility for Maternal, Child, Newborn and Adolescent Health. She was the founding director of the global public health program at the Open Society Foundations and policy director at the TB Alliance, researching faster cures for tuberculosis. 

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Schwalbe has been deeply engaged in helping shape an equitable, effective global response. In 2021, she launched USAID's COVID-19 Vaccine Access and Delivery Initiative and served as its first director. While at USAID, Schwalbe coordinated the distribution of 1 billion vaccine doses to low- and lower-middle-income countries and the creation of Global Vax, an all-of-government effort to accelerate US vaccine delivery assistance around the world. Schwalbe also co-chaired WHO-UNESCO Research Network Working Group on Educational Institutions and COVID-19.

Schwalbe is a lifelong champion for and practitioner of gender-based public health programming. She is Commissioner for the Lancet on gender and health and a Commissioner for the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Schwalbe has written for the Atlantic, the Lancet, the British Medical Journal, and Foreign Policy. She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and currently serves as Principal Visiting Fellow at the United Nations International Institute for Global Health and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. Schwalbe holds degrees from Harvard University and the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She lives in New York City with her family.

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