From Roslyn Watson, Pathfinder Board Chair
The Gamble family’s blatant disregard for the Pathfinder Board governance process and their disparaging statements demonstrate more of the same behavior that precipitated the removal of Ben Kahrl from our Board of Directors. These statements are wholly inaccurate and unfounded. We are proud of our efforts to recruit a more diverse Board and to address the history of Dr. Clarence Gamble’s racially-biased and unscientific personal beliefs through an independent review free from family influence. This work continues to help us in our efforts to implement our new, country-led strategy that is designed to create a more equitable organization. The Pathfinder Board of Directors is firmly committed to strengthening sexual and reproductive rights and we will not be deterred by actions that are designed to distract us from fulfilling our mission.
Judy Kahrl, Walter Gamble, and Ben Kahrl have concluded their service to the Pathfinder International Board of Directors, following decades of involvement in numerous volunteer capacities. As members of Pathfinder’s “founding family,” Judy, Walter, and Ben have contributed considerable time, talent, and resources to Pathfinder over the years. We remain deeply grateful for their longstanding generosity and many commitments to our efforts to strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights around the world.
This change in our organization’s Board membership has occurred in the wake of our efforts to come to grips with the legacy of our late founder, Dr. Clarence Gamble, who was Judy and Walter’s father and Ben’s grandfather. Gamble’s connections to the eugenics movement of his time are undeniable and well known. Following a year-long engagement with an independent consulting firm experienced in culturally responsive research, we further determined that Dr. Gamble’s racially biased and unscientific personal beliefs influenced reproductive health and family planning programs under the Pathfinder banner, and even after his death in 1966. Pathfinder is committed to exploring our past and assessing our present so that we could identify and commit to working in concrete ways for a more just future.
The Governance and Executive Committees of the Board jointly brought forth a motion for Ben Kahrl’s removal because of numerous incidents of concern related to his professional board service conduct. The Board reviewed, discussed, and passed this motion during the Board meeting last week, and yesterday we received and accepted the resignations of Judy and Walter, along with a list of concerns that we have and will continue to address through appropriate channels. Their departures will not affect Pathfinder’s work or our enduring commitment to expanding access to quality sexual and reproductive health services to communities in need.
It is imperative that no scenario distract Pathfinder from its mission, while we continue to reconcile the Pathfinder of yesterday with the Pathfinder of tomorrow. We have always been an organization powered by empathy, guided by world-class technical expertise, and fortified by commitments to racial and gender equity. Now we’re doing the work of structuring and staffing ourselves to better confront those obstacles to justice that are regrettably endemic to our field. We find ourselves called upon by the partners who have long known us and by the communities we have long lived in, perhaps as urgently as ever, to lead by example. While we will do so with enduring gratitude for the hard work and generosity of the Gamble family, we will also keep our eyes fixed firmly on the future.