Few people ever get the chance to make the world a better and healthier place through PR, but Kate James has been given that opportunity and she continues to make the most of it. Since joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in early 2010, James has centralized the philanthropic group's communications structure and worked to leverage social media and other tools to create a global conversation around worthwhile causes. "Kate's expertise at managing large teams to harness the voice of global, multifaceted organizations has helped expand our efforts to share what we learn and support the work of our grantees and partners," foundation CEO Jeff Raikes, told PRWeek last September.
One example is a three-year partnership between the foundation and Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona that leverages the team's worldwide popularity by having players participate in PSAs on the fight to eradicate polio. The goal is not only raising awareness among sports fans, but also spreading the word on the importance of vaccines.
James came to the foundation after stints in corporate communications at Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank, and GlaxoSmithKline, and brings with her a strong belief in analytics to better gauge the effectiveness of the group's messages and communications platforms.
The Gates Foundation has made more than $25 billion in grant commitments, the vast majority centered on efforts outside the US, so James is also working to beef up the organization's global communications infrastructure by not only adding new staff with international media experience, but also expanding offices in Beijing and Delhi to include media outreach and advocacy.
Along with Bill and Melinda Gates, James is one of the public faces of the foundation, a role she takes very seriously. In June, she was in Rio de Janeiro to speak at the Rio+Social event, held in conjunction with the Rio+20 sustainability conference.
Here, she and others debated the role social media plays in impacting global sustainability issues, including energy, the climate, jobs, food, and water.