CDC Foundation President and CEO Charles Stokes To Retire at the End of 2015

Charles Stokes, president and chief executive officer of the CDC Foundation, today announced that he plans to retire from the foundation effective Dec. 31, 2015. Stokes, who will be 66 in August, has led the CDC Foundation since 1995, soon after the foundation was created by Congress as an independent, nonprofit organization. The CDC Foundation is charged with forging public-private partnerships to support the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 24/7 work to save lives and protect people from health and safety threats.

“Leading the CDC Foundation and working with staff here and at CDC has been a privilege and the highlight of my career,” said Stokes. “CDC is the strongest, most trusted public health leader in the world. Working in close partnership with their leaders at all levels, and with the indispensable support of our many donors and our board of directors, we have grown the CDC Foundation from a startup to an organization that now supports CDC’s life-saving public health protection work around the globe. While it is difficult to leave, I am excited about beginning the next phase of my life where I will be able to spend more time with my wife, three sons and their families, and, most especially, my two granddaughters.”

Douglas W. Nelson, CDC Foundation board chair and retired president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, praised Stokes for his dedication to the CDC Foundation’s mission of connecting CDC to private-sector organizations to extend the agency’s vital public health work. “Charlie has been a tremendous leader for the CDC Foundation,” he said. “Today the CDC Foundation helps to advance CDC’s work in infectious disease, chronic disease, emergency response and a multitude of other vital programs.” Under Stokes’ leadership, the CDC Foundation has grown from a staff of two to a staff of more than 150 central and field staff who manage in excess of 250 public health programs in partnership with CDC.

“Not many people are able to start an entity from scratch and build it into something that makes such a difference in the lives of people in the United States and throughout the world—but Charlie through his work with CDC and staff at the CDC Foundation has been able to do just that,” said Nelson. The CDC Foundation’s board of directors will form a search committee to find a new president and CEO so that person will be able to join the CDC Foundation before year end, according to Nelson.

Prior to joining the CDC Foundation, Stokes worked for 22 years with the Missouri Department of Health, serving as deputy director for the department from 1983 through 1994. Stokes has been active for many years in the fields of public health and public administration, filling leadership roles at the state and national levels. He served as president of the Missouri Public Health Association and the Missouri Institute of Public Administration. He currently serves as vice chairman of the Atlanta-based Raoul Foundation board and is a member of the Advisory Committee on Public Issues for the Ad Council.

In 1989 Stokes received the Noble J. Swearingen Award, bestowed once each year by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials for excellence in administrative management. He also received the 1995 Public Health Leadership Award from St. Louis University, and in 2013 he received the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Health-Care Heroes Lifetime Achievement award. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012. Stokes is a graduate of St. Louis University and obtained his master’s degree in education from Lincoln University.