Careers in Global Development: Ambassador Jimmy Kolker

September 4, 2018 • 1:30 – 3:00 pm EDT

"Careers in Global Development” is a monthly series featuring U.S. senior-level, multilateral and NGO officials who have worked in the field of development for at least twenty years. The series is aimed at young professionals who are interested in working in development and will include a one-hour dialogue on both the specific expertise of the speaker, as well as the career path and influences along the way. It will focus on specific areas of interest, including the role of humanitarian assistance in development and U.S. foreign policy; development as a tool to counter violent extremism; and sectoral issues such as food security, health, and education.

This session features Ambassador Jimmy Kolker. Ambassador Kolker retired in January 2017 as Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In this role, Kolker was the Department’s chief health diplomat, heading the office of Global Affairs, a division in the office of the Secretary and representing the United States at World Health Organization meetings and as alternate Board Member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  

Ambassador Kolker had a 30-year diplomatic career with the U.S. Department of State where he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso (1999-2002) and to Uganda (2002-2005). From 2005-2007, he was Deputy Global AIDS Coordinator in the Office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator, leading the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  Ambassador Kolker was Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. embassies in Denmark and Botswana and won awards for political reporting at earlier posts in the UK, Sweden, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

From 2007-2011, Ambassador Kolker was Chief of the AIDS Section at UNICEF’s New York headquarters. During this time, he led UNICEF's work on HIV and AIDS, focusing on mother-to-child-transmission of HIV, pediatric treatment, prevention among adolescents and young people, and protection for children and families affected by AIDS.
Since retirement, Amb. Kolker has been affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University. He serves on the boards of the ABInBev Foundation, the Firelight Foundation and Building Tomorrow and advisory committees for Catholic Relief Services and Texas Children's Hospital Global HOPE.

Ambassador Kolker holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and a B.A. magna cum laude from Carleton College in Minnesota. He was a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellow (1970-1971). He speaks French, Swedish, and Portuguese. 

This event is made possible through generous support from Chevron.

Event Partners


William J. Garvelink

Ambassador Jimmy Kolker

Former Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); Former Ambassador to Burkina Faso and Uganda