Director at Office of the President and Chief of Staff for Global Development
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Funding Sustainability Solutions Around the World
Human health and sustainable technology are intertwined subjects in the eyes of Haley Hill, Director, Office of the President and Chief of Staff, Global Development for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Hill, who graduated from Northwestern University with a doctorate in chemistry in 2008, merges her knowledge of science and business in a unique career path that allows her to engage her interests and priorities.
After her graduation from Northwestern, Hill found her way to management consulting. She was energized by work that bridged scientific and business professionals in fields such as healthcare, social impact, and corporate strategy. It was an unconventional choice among her classmates, but one that brought her joy and set her on the path to her current role.
“You have to follow what you are passionate about,” says Hill. “The critical thinking skills that you learn and that you have to apply when you are shaping your own research project [as a doctoral student] is really what I leverage now in my current role.” Hill stepped in to her position in August 2018 after serving two years as the Deputy Director for Strategy, Planning, and Management for the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Team at the Gates Foundation.
During her time with WASH, Hill worked with a team to fund innovation in sanitation technology for developing countries. She says some 4.5 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation around the world. Now, her former team is months away from seeing the deployment of solutions they funded on the ground in places from Africa to India. Solutions, Hill explains, that will not only reduce related human health issues, but also to provide cutting edge solutions in places where water is scarce.
“I think the thing that’s most exciting is to see the innovations now entering the field. Technologies are making the jump from the academic lab into the prototype stage.”— Haley Hill (TGS '08), Director, Office of the President and Chief of Staff, Global Development at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
“We are investing in the development of what we call decentralized or off-grid sustainable sanitation solutions,” says Hill, who also emphasizes that this is an opportunity for developing countries to implement more advanced technologies than those employed in countries like the United States by using less water, a nonrenewable natural resource. “I think the thing that’s most exciting is to see the innovations now entering the field. Technologies are making the jump from the academic lab into the prototype stage,” says Hill, who was delighted to see her program fund more than 20 academic centers working on the research, development, and testing that preceded the implementation phase. If one looks back to 2012, she says, “people didn’t think these sorts of technologies would be possible.” Now, it has been proven through this and similar work that, “we actually can tackle a problem that people think is insurmountable,” says Hill. These experiences have energized her to take on a larger role going forward.
In the expanded role she assumes this month with the Gates Foundation, Hill will serve the Global Development division that is focused on the delivery of health innovation—particularly for women, children, and families around the world. She will also direct the emergency response team that provides funds quickly in the face of natural and humanitarian disasters. “One of the things that is fantastic about The Gates Foundation is the ability to shine light on an issue and get people to think about a topic in a different way,” says Hill, as she embarks on this new turn in her career path with tremendous optimism for the multi-faceted solutions that lie ahead.