Inspired to Give: Donor Dollars Stretch Far to Protect the Public's Health

“A dollar spent on public health is one of the highest yielding investments possible,” said Bob Yellowlees, retired chairman of the boards of Global Payments, Inc. and NDC Health.

A former board member of a number of public companies and non-profit institutions, Yellowlees speaks from experience, including as a supporter of the CDC Foundation, The Carter Center and the Emory Global Health Institute. Through these experiences, Yellowlees has a deep commitment to a healthier world.

One of the greatest challenges facing public health, Yellowlees said, is that its relevance to our daily lives is often underappreciated. Many consider public health the exclusive responsibility of the government, without understanding that foundations, corporations and individuals all can make an impact.

“There are health priorities within CDC that we can advance,” Yellowlees said. “The CDC Foundation can make that connection, which gets to the core of its mission of helping CDC do more, faster.”

Bob Yellowlees, retired chairman of the boards of Global Payments, Inc. and NDC Health

In addition to foreseeable funding gaps, health emergencies crop up without warning, requiring immediate response. Here, too, Yellowlees said, the CDC Foundation can play a vital role, as it did when Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. With clean water running low and many of the island’s children needing vaccination, the CDC Foundation issued an appeal to potential donors to help with the emergency response. In response, Yellowlees committed matching funds to encourage others to participate. The donation made possible an island-wide vaccination campaign at the height of Puerto Rico’s flu season.

There are health priorities within CDC that we can advance. The CDC Foundation can make that connection, which gets to the core of its mission of helping CDC do more, faster.

While good health should be a right that we all expect, Yellowlees said, its importance extends beyond the individual. Whether the risk is from Ebola, avian flu, HIV or polio, disease can spread quickly in an interconnected world. No matter the country, Yellowlees said, a healthy population is critical to both economic and political stability.

“Any business with a global customer base or distribution is heavily dependent on public health,” Yellowlees said. “Customers, workforce productivity and stable distribution channels are all critical to business success.”

A global leader in public health, CDC can only stay ahead of disease threats if the researchers, scientists and epidemiologists of tomorrow are learning about and engaging with CDC today. To that end, the CDC Foundation established the Stephen B. Thacker Fund, which helps support CDC’s Disease Detective Camp for high school students. As a supporter of the fund, Yellowlees said, it provides a valuable opportunity for an investor to touch the future by introducing youth to careers in public health. The first step here, and with public health in general, he said, is sharing information so that donors know how they can help.

“I think people around the world, and Americans in particular, are very generous when they understand there is an issue to solve,” Yellowlees said.


Individuals play an important role in helping the CDC Foundation extend the lifesaving mission of CDC, and donate to the CDC Foundation through a number of ways, including donor-advised funds, IRA distributions, planned gifts, unrestricted gifts, gifts of stock, memorial/honor gifts, workplace giving and named and endowed funds. Learn more.