A Q&A with Wame Jallow, PMC’s New VP of International Programs
Wame Jallow joined Population Media Center in early May 2022 as Vice President of International Programs. She joins PMC with over 20 years in global health-related programming in the areas of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, Hepatitis C, non-communicable diseases, sexual and reproductive health, OVC, maternal and child health, and nutrition. She’s managed and implemented programs at the global, region, and country levels, working within the civil society, public, and donor sectors. As a senior manager, Wame has delivered methodologies and approaches on strategy, advocacy, monitoring, evaluation, research, cost analyses, resource mobilization, community-led interventions, community systems strengthening, social impact communication, policy review, and so much more. All invaluable skills that made her the obvious candidate for the position at PMC.
We met with Wame for a Q&A style interview to introduce her to the PMC community.
PMC: First, can you tell us a little about your life outside of work? Where do you live? Where did you grow up?
Wame: As a result of my parents’ careers, I was fortunate to travel and grow up across several countries in Africa, Caribbean and the United States. Seeing the world inspired my appetite to find a career across borders. I currently live in Botswana with my two beautiful daughters, Kelelelo and Tlhomamiso.
PMC: How did you end up in the international development sector?
Wame: My parents started off their careers in science-related areas, which naturally motivated my interest on environmental issues and then public health. My migration to Botswana in 2002 (during the early years of the ARV program roll-out and height of the epidemic), sparked and solidified my interest to be part of Botswana’s efforts to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS and support the development of its health sector. I became curious to cultivate knowledge and experiences in unfamiliar territories. The aspiration snowballed from there, and I quickly found myself learning and working in places I never imagined.
PMC: What were a few of your early career moments that have stuck with you?
Wame: The most prominent was when I visited an orphanage filled beyond capacity – and without adequate means – with infants and young children. A lot of the children were orphaned or abandoned by families due to AIDS-related deaths, stigma, or lack of sustenance. I had a hundred ideas on how to solve the present symptoms until someone pointed out the root causes. That was a great lesson for me. I have since taken a keen interest in unpacking the root of any issues I’m working on — for when we address the root cause we create better solutions and lasting impact.
PMC: You’ve carved a path for yourself in this industry and have a have done a lot of really important work, would you say this is the work you are meant to be doing?
Wame: If I had a choice to do it again in another lifetime – I would choose the same path!
I love listening, learning, and creating solutions with communities. For me, the journey begins with understanding the story, finding the problems, figuring out the solutions, and creating change – no matter how big or small. I am passionate about local, community-led approaches and believe we should all strive to serve and preserve the communities around us.
PMC: If you could change one global health or social issue today, what would it be?
Wame: I’m really torn between famine and gender-based violence. They are equally weighty and the root cause of many other social issues we face.
PMC: What are you most excited about when you think about your new role with PMC?
I’m excited to learn from the PMC team, both the teams at headquarters and the in-country teams filled with talented, passion-driven, creative, and inspiring people. Everyone I have met and spoken to is deeply invested in the organization’s mission and values.
PMC: Outside of work, what are some of your favorite leisure activities? What do you do to relax?
Wame: I love being outdoors with my daughters – we hike and explore together a lot. I also find a lot of joy in cooking, hunting for eccentric art and jewelry pieces, and dancing or listing to music.