Former President and Chief Executive Officer
As President & CEO of Pathfinder, Purnima oversaw more than 1,000 staff around the world, an annual budget exceeding $100 million, and sexual and reproductive health programs in more than 20 developing countries.
Prior to joining Pathfinder, she was Deputy Executive Director (Programme) of the United Nations Population Fund and UN Assistant-Secretary-General. Purnima has devoted her career to advocating for population and development issues and working on sexual and reproductive health, especially the linkages between gender and AIDS. Before joining UNFPA, she served in senior level positions in several international organizations such as UNAIDS, World Health Organization, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Population Council.
Before launching into an international career, Purnima worked for over a decade in India on public health and gender-related issues, while serving as Associate Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
Purnima holds a doctoral degree from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India in women's studies. She has co-authored several papers and co-edited a number of books, and is a founding editor of the journal Culture, Health and Sexuality.
Do you have a personal connection to Pathfinder's work?
I have always looked up to my mother who was an incredible woman and also worked in the field of women's health and family planning at a time when it was almost taboo. She was one of my first personal and professional mentors. I am very grateful not only to be doing this important work, but for being able to carry on in the field that meant so much to my mother. In fact, I was just looking through old publications of hers and she had published a study in the early 1990's regarding development of a model of HIV prevention among low-income adolescent girls in urban India. This is very much the type of efforts Pathfinder engages in while integrating activities to improve access to contraception, among other key needs for this highly vulnerable population.
What's one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
My first career was as a singer and actress in Mumbai, India!
Other Pathfinder Staff
Carina Stover is the Director of Pathfinder's Evidence to Action Project.
Mahesh is Pathfinder's Director of Programs in India.
Alden Nouga is Pathfinder International's Director of Institutional Giving.