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Helene D. Gayle, M.D., MPH, 11th President of Spelman College

President Helene Gayle

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Helene D. Gayle, M.D., MPH, began serving as the 11th president of Spelman College on July 1, 2022. Dr. Gayle previously served as president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, from October 2017 to June 2022. Under her leadership, the Trust adopted a new strategic focus on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region.  

For almost a decade, Dr. Gayle was president and CEO of CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization. A pediatrician and public health physician with expertise in economic development, humanitarian, and health issues, she spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. She led the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues.  

Dr. Gayle serves on public company and nonprofit boards, including The Coca-Cola Company, Organon, Palo Alto Networks, Brookings Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies, New America and the ONE Campaign. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, Council on Foreign Relations, American Public Health Association, National Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics.   She was awarded the Chicago Mayor’s Medal of Honor for her work on COVID relief and recovery for the city. Named one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” and one of NonProfit Times’ "Power and Influence Top 50," she has authored numerous articles on global and domestic public health issues, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and wealth inequity.   

Dr. Gayle is from Buffalo, N.Y. She earned a B.A. in psychology at Barnard College, an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, and an MPH at Johns Hopkins University. She is a tenured Full Professor in the Department of Environmental and Health Sciences at Spelman College and has received 18 honorary degrees. She also holds faculty appointments at the University of Washington and Emory University.

Dr. Gayle is married to Stephen Keith, M.D., the First Gentleman of Spelman College and a proud Spelman dad.

Speaker Request | Helene Gayle, M.D., MPH - Biography (PDF)


A Message From the President



Large Blue Quote LeftSpelman is a national treasure and national resource. Spelman contributes to solving intractable problems, is a key source to address critical hiring needs, as an incubator for developing innovative and entrepreneurial leaders prepared for today's world and the changing world of tomorrow."
-- Dr. Helene D. Gayle


Full Presidential Biography

Helen D. Gayle, M.D., MPH, has served as president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, since October 2017. Under her leadership, the Trust adopted a new strategic focus on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region.

For almost a decade, Dr. Gayle was president and CEO of CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization. A public health physician with expertise in economic development, humanitarian, and health issues, she spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. She worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, directing programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues.

Dr. Gayle serves on public company and nonprofit boards, including The Coca-Cola Company, Organon, Palo Alto Networks, Brookings Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies, New America, ONE Campaign, and Economic Club of Chicago. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Council on Foreign Relations, American Public Health Association, National Academy of Medicine, National Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics. She chairs the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

She was awarded the Chicago Mayor’s Medal of Honor for her work on COVID relief and recovery for the city. Named one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” and one of NonProfit Times’ "Power and Influence Top 50," she has authored numerous articles on global and domestic public health issues, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and wealth inequity.

Dr. Gayle was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y. She earned a B.A. in psychology at Barnard College, an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University. She has received 18 honorary degrees and holds faculty appointments at the University of Washington and Emory University.

Dr. Gayle will reside with her husband Stephen Keith, MD, in Atlanta, Georgia following her transition to Spelman College.


Curriculum Vitae (PDF)   Speaker Request
Start of QuoteAs the 11th president, I am committed to working with all of you to change the lives of those who will change the lives of others. We all owe a debt of gratitude to President Emeritus Mary Schmidt Campbell and the presidents who came before her for Spelman's standing among  elite institutions and the impact that it has had on the nation and on the world."

-- Dr. Helene D. Gayle