I’m a specialist in health and environment policy and in how we communicate to get better, fuller, longer lives. I spend a lot of my time thinking about the extraordinary speed of change that is ahead and I firmly believe that much of that innovation is likely to come from emerging economies; Europe and North America are too settled in old ways of doing things and too held back by entrenched special interests.
We’ll need all the innovation we can get if we are to thrive in a world that is ageing, crowded and increasingly stressed by our appetite for stuff. But whenever I feel like despairing, I remember the expert meeting in London in the 1890s that broke up because no-one could think of any conceivable strategy for dealing with the dung that seemed certain to engulf a city with more and more horse-drawn vehicles
If you don’t mind grammatical errors, I can work in English, French, Portuguese or Welsh and speak a smattering of Dutch, Hebrew and Irish. I’m based in rural Ireland with my partner of 30 years and three dogs. I spend more time than I should at the gym, often listening to audiobooks on history or theology.
The rest is at noonday, but the travels begin at the breakings of the day, wherein are but glimmerings or little light…yet there must the traveller begin and travel; and in his faithful travels…the light will break in upon him more and more.- Isaac Penington 1665
How'd you get here?
I started my professional career as a broadcast journalist in the USA. I was in New York as the AIDS epidemic revealed itself fully in the early 1980s and ended up as the first director of communications at the largest AIDS service organisation in the US. The intersection of science and politics fascinated me, and I’ve worked in health policy and communications ever since. A contract with the government of Botswana took me to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and an understanding of the risk of environmental collapse. The fights over access to HIV antiretrovirals in the late 1990s taught me that we can’t rely on governments to do the right thing unless we prod them with incentives and the occasional outburst.