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Helene Gayle in conversation with Charlayne Hunter-Gault for the Holmes-Hunter Lecture

Spelman College president to speak at event named in honor of first African American students to attend UGA

Helene Gayle, the 11th president of Spelman College and public health expert, will present the 2024 Holmes-Hunter Lecture at 2 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Chapel at the University of Georgia.

Helene Gayle, M.D., MPH

Named in honor of Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes Sr., the first African American students to attend the University of Georgia, the lecture is sponsored by the Office of the President and focuses on race relations, civil rights and education. It has been held annually since 1985.

Gayle will engage in a fireside chat with Hunter-Gault during the annual event covering a variety of topics and conversation.

Gayle, M.D., MPH, began her tenure as Spelman’s president on July 1, 2022. Previously, she served for five years as president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations. Under Gayle’s leadership, the Trust adopted a new strategic focus on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region.

For nearly a decade, Gayle was president and CEO of CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization. A pediatrician and public health physician with expertise in economic development, humanitarian and health issues, she spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. She led the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues. She serves on several public company and nonprofit boards including The Coca-Cola Company, Palo Alto Networks, Organon, the Brookings Institution, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. She has been appointed by President Joe Biden to serve on the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States and by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the Advisory Committee to the CDC Director.

Originally from Buffalo, Gayle earned a B.A. in psychology at Barnard College, an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Gayle is a tenured full professor in the Department of Environmental and Health Sciences at Spelman College and has received 18 honorary degrees.

To learn more about the annual lecture, visit: