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Activist fights against poverty and disease

January 25, 2008

Activist fights against poverty and disease

Stephen Lewis, a humanitarian, diplomat and human rights activist, will visit Tacoma for the Wang Center for International Programs’ symposium “Advances in Global Health by Non-Governmental Organizations,” slated for Feb. 21 and 22.Lewis is the former United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. He will deliver the keynote address, “Time to Deliver: Winning the Battle Against Poverty and Disease in the Developing World,” on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center.

Lewis is currently the chair of the board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation in Canada. The foundation helps ease the pain of HIV/AIDS in Africa at the grassroots level by providing care to women, assists orphans and other children affected by the disease, supports the grandmothers who care for their orphaned grandchildren and supports associations on people living with the disease.

Additionally, Lewis is a professor in global health in the Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He is a senior advisor to the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York and co-director of AIDS-Free World, a new international AIDS advocacy organization based in the United States.

His work with the United Nations spanned more than two decades. He was the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from June 2001 until the end of 2006. From 1995 to 1999, Lewis was deputy executive director of UNICEF at the organization’s global headquarters in New York. From 1984 through 1988, he was Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

Lewis was an elected member of the Ontario Legislative Assembly from 1963 to1978. In 1970, he became the leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, during which time he led the Official Opposition.

Lewis co-chairs the Leadership Programme Committee for the XVII International AIDS Conference, which will be held in Mexico City in August 2008. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

The Wang Center’s symposium will highlight global health, one of the dominant issues of our times. It has a direct effect on other major issues, from globalization and poverty to natural resource use and climate change. Currently, the center is hosting a film series about the topic.

Symposium presentations and seminars on campus Feb. 22 will feature representatives of non-governmental organizations and area leaders in science and business who will discuss how they have been involved in finding and delivering solutions – from active on-site intervention and benchmark research to the formulation of public policy.

This is the third in a series of symposia sponsored by the Wang Center and PLU. It follows “China: Bridges for a New Century,” in 2003, and “Pathways to Peace: Norway’s Approach to Democracy and Development,” in 2005.

For more information contact or call 253-535-7577.

University Communications staff writer Megan Haley compiled this report. Comments, questions, ideas? Please contact her at ext. 8691 or at