Daniel E. Pellegrom

Daniel Pellegrom
Dan Pellegrom is our Special Advisor and former President and CEO. During his 26 years as president, Dan’s passionate advocacy for reproductive health rights and gender equity advanced Pathfinder’s work in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Under Dan’s leadership, Pathfinder held its ground on the most controversial issues while at the same time growing the budget from $8 million annually to over $100 million. Pathfinder became only the second US-based organization to receive the United Nations Population Award in 1996.

Professional Degrees: MDiv

Currently lives in: Newton, MA, USA

Joined Pathfinder in: 1986

Professional Organizations: Dan has served on various boards of directors including The Guttmacher Institute, World Neighbors, and is a past board chair of both the Brush Foundation and InterAction, the largest coalition of US-based humanitarian organizations working abroad.

Some Career Successes:

  • Served as executive director of two US-based Planned Parenthood affiliates.
  • Received of The Union Medal, the highest award given by the Union Theological Seminary, for extending the work of social justice in the world.

Have you always wanted to do this work?

Long before I devoted my career to family planning—before sexual and reproductive health care was the issue that would grab me and never let go—I was committed to social change. In 1958, as president of the student council at Columbia University, I experienced firsthand, as two powerful student groups overtook the school to protest segregation and the Vietnam War. Only five years later, I served as the executive director of a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Memphis, Tennessee, the first in the south to provide abortion services following the Roe v Wade decision by the Supreme Court. Social justice has always been a core value of mine. It inspired my support for family planning and led me to Pathfinder.

Was there a moment when the importance of Pathfinder's work really hit home for you?

Twenty years ago, while visiting a hospital in northern Nigeria, I saw the unacceptable state of maternal care. In a large hospital labor room, filled—row upon row—with single beds, women waited to give birth. In each bed, two women lay head to tie, stripped naked and in labor. Though I have been in similar maternity wards since, I will never forget that scene or those women. They have been the driving force of my career and they are at the heart of all Pathfinder does.

What's your favorite part about working at Pathfinder?

Pathfinder’s work has reached millions of people in more than 100 countries. I feel privileged to have been a part of that.

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