Global health technology innovator to speak at spring commencement

January 03, 2013
Josh Nesbit

Josh Nesbit

Josh Nesbit, executive director and co-founder of Medic Mobile, a nongovernmental organization that employs mobile technologies to improve health care in challenging settings, has been selected as keynote speaker for the Gillings School of Global Public Health spring 2013 commencement, to be held Saturday, May 11, at 1 p.m. in the Carmichael Arena on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

While completing a degree in international health and bioethics at Stanford University, Nesbit worked with volunteer village health workers in Malawi, where he first recognized the need for large-scale, two-way text messaging as a way to improve health care delivery. His organization has implemented projects in more than 15 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to improve communications between clinical staff and health workers in the field in such critical areas as patient records, referrals and emergency care. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Nesbit helped coordinate Mission 4636, which set up an emergency texting number to relay information about trapped individuals and aid relief.

“The students at the Gillings School were clear in their desire to have a speaker with global interests and high professional impact, but one with whom they also could relate and connect on a personal level,” said student government president Katie Donohue. “Having heard Josh Nesbit speak multiple times, I thought he was an ideal candidate to inspire graduating students as they embark upon their careers.”

Peggy Bentley, PhD, associate dean for global health at the Gillings School, agrees that Nesbit will be an inspiration to graduates, their families and the School community. “[It’s amazing that] he became CEO of a nongovernmental organization when he was living in a dorm as an undergraduate. Like many of our students, his generation brings innovation, creativity, humility and boundless passion to solving public health problems. We are fortunate that the leadership of our student government chose Josh to be our 2013 commencement speaker.”

The 26-year-old Nesbit can claim a string of honors that belies his youth. In 2010, he was named one of the “40 Under 40” Leaders in International Development and was invited to serve on the board of directors of IntraHealth International, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to improving health care in developing countries through strengthening health workers and the systems that support them.
Nesbit also received the 2010 Truman Award for Leadership and Innovation from the Society for International Development. He was an Echoing Green Fellow and Rainer Arnhold Fellow in 2010 and was a 2009 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow.
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UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or