Jimmy Kolker

Jimmy Kolker serves part-time as Senior Advisor to the Coordinator for Global Covid Response and Health Security at the U.S. Department of State. He retired in 2017 as Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In that role, Ambassador Kolker was the Department’s chief health diplomat, representing the United States at the World Health Organization. He was directly involved in the U.S. response to Ebola and Zika and helped develop the Global
Health Security Agenda.

Amb. Kolker had a 30-year diplomatic career with the U.S. Department of State where he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda (2002-2005) and to Burkina Faso (1999-2002). From 2005-2007, he was Deputy Global AIDS Coordinator in the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, leading implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Amb. Kolker was Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. embassies in Denmark and Botswana and won awards for political reporting at earlier posts in the UK, Sweden, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

From 2007-2011, Amb. Kolker was Chief of the AIDS Section at UNICEF’s New York headquarters, focusing on mother-to-child transmission of HIV, pediatric treatment, prevention among adolescents and young people, and protection for children affected by AIDS. Amb. Kolker is on the boards of the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, Building Tomorrow, MANA Nutrition, the G4Surgery Alliance, and the Firelight Foundation. He is an adjunct at Georgetown School of Foreign Service Security Studies Program and an advisor to NGOs — Last Mile Health, the Augusta Victoria Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital’s Global HOPE pediatric cancer initiative.

He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and CSIS commissions on Preparing for the Next Pandemic. Since the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, he has published analytical articles, testified before Congress and is frequently quoted on global health diplomacy and U.S. engagement with the World Health Organization.

In 2019, Amb. Kolker received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater Carleton College. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and a B.A. magna cum laude from Carleton. He was a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellow (1970-1971). He speaks French, Swedish, and Portuguese.