PIH Names First Chief Gender and Social Equity Officer

Loune Viaud, 30-year PIH veteran, takes on new role after advocating for women, children, and adolescent rights in Haiti, globally

Posted on Dec 17, 2021

Loune Viaud holds a vaccine vial in Haiti
Loune Viaud, who has helped lead PIH in Haiti and globally since 1988, assumed her new role as chief gender and social equity officer in September. Photo by Nadia Todres for PIH

Partners In Health has named Loune Viaud chief gender and social equity officer, a new role inspired by the PIH Strategic Plan, 2020–2025. Reporting directly to CEO Dr. Sheila Davis, Viaud now leads goal setting, strategy, and advocacy around gender and social equity issues across the organization. 

“PIH is centering our care around the rights of women, children, and adolescents and doubling down on social and economic support for our patients,” said Davis. “I can think of no one better to spearhead this work than Loune. As a fearless and founding leader of PIH, she has transformed our understanding of social medicine, especially around gender and equity in health.”

Viaud earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications in Haiti and supplemented her knowledge through certificate courses in human rights and women’s health at Harvard University. She joined PIH as a program coordinator in 1988 and over the next three decades was instrumental in expanding PIH’s work from one facility in Haiti’s central region to 16, and from Haiti to 12 countries around the globe. In 2000 she became deputy director of PIH. In 2012, she returned to Haiti to became co-executive director of Zanmi Lasante, as PIH is known in Haiti, and then sole executive director of Zanmi Lasante in 2017. With her leadership, PIH has grown to serve 4 million people with high quality primary care. Viaud transitioned into the chief gender and social equity officer role in September.

Loune Viaud sits with young boy during home visit in Haiti
Loune Viaud has advocated for the rights of women, children, and adolescents in Haiti and globally throughout her career. Photo by Elana Hayasaka / PIH

“Focusing on the challenges faced by women, children, and some of the poorest members of our communities around the world promises to take PIH’s care to the next level,” said Viaud. “I’m so excited to be doing this vital work.”

In 1990, Viaud pioneered central Haiti’s first women’s health center, known as Proje Sante Fanm, before launching female-centered health trainings, literacy programs, and scholarships. In naming her a “Woman of the Year” in 2003, Ms. magazine wrote, “Viaud’s program of empowering Haitian women to recognize their right to good health has started a quiet revolution.” She is the recipient of a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for her vision, moral courage, and activism.  

Additionally, Viaud urged the United Nations Security Council to support more equitable health care for women and girls, becoming the first female Haitian civilian to address the Security Council in over 50 years.

Keys to Viaud’s vision for PIH are ensuring women across all PIH sites have access to training and tools, and supporting future leaders in the field of global health delivery, in part via expanded and formalized academic opportunities. Over the coming year, she expects to conduct an in-depth analysis of gender and social equity issues across all PIH sites to understand what is available, where there are gaps, and where we can build better systems. The study will culminate with Viaud visiting PIH sites.

Marc Julmisse, another female leader, stepped into the role of interim executive director of Zanmi Lasante in September. PIH expects to name a permanent executive director within the year.

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