Purnima is a distinguished diplomat, leader, manager, academician, and social activist, as well as an internationally recognized expert on HIV, maternal health, behavior change, gender, and population.
She has more than 30 years of leadership experience, the last 15 years of which have been in the United Nations system, including UNAIDS and WHO. Before joining Pathfinder, as Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director (Programme) of UNFPA, Purnima directed global policies and programs for the agency.
Professional Degrees: MA, MPhil, and PhD in social work with a focus on women in the work force.
Currently lives in: Brookline, MA, USA
Previously lived and/or worked in: India, Switzerland, and worked throughout the world.
Languages: Hindi, French, English, and Marathi
Joined Pathfinder in: February 2012
Professional Organizations: Partnership for Maternal; Newborn and Child Health (former co-chair), The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (Policy Advisory Committee member)
Do you have a personal connection to Pathfinder's work?
I have always looked up to my mother who was an incredible woman and also worked in the field of women's health and family planning at a time when it was almost taboo. She was one of my first personal and professional mentors. I am very grateful not only to be doing this important work, but for being able to carry on in the field that meant so much to my mother. In fact, I was just looking through old publications of hers and she had published a study in the early 1990's regarding development of a model of HIV prevention among low-income adolescent girls in urban India. This is very much the type of efforts Pathfinder engages in while integrating activities to improve access to contraception, among other key needs for this highly vulnerable population.
What's one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
My first career was as a singer and actress in Mumbai, India!