Alumni Changemaker: Gilbert Collins

Developing programs that improve lives around the world

To honor our 40 years, we're celebrating our most valuable resource - our alumni - through 40 profiles highlighting their leadership. Alumnus Gilbert Collins completed his fellowship at Princeton University in 1995.

Gilbert embodies the values of focus, commitment, and leadership. Being born in Germany, growing up in Wisconsin, and speaking 5 different languages, he received his AB in Government from Harvard University. After attending the Public Policy and International Affairs Program's Junior Summer Institute and recognizing the value of policymaking, he went on to get his MPA in Public Policy and International Development at Princeton University.

During his time at Princeton, he interned at the Office of the Staff Counselor for the United Nations and at the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. Upon graduating, he began working in international humanitarian relief at the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, eventually becoming Team Leader for Evaluation and Planning. During this time he helped develop programs that secured health, water, sanitation, shelter, nutrition, and psychosocial support for vulnerable and displaced groups around the world. He also gained experience during a detail at the U.S. Dept of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

His commitment to serving the global perspective continued during the eight years he spent living in southern Africa, directing U.S. Peace Corps programs in Botswana and Namibia. Here he planned and led the efforts of hundreds of Peace Corps Volunteers in promoting development in education, small enterprise, and health, particularly HIV/AIDS.

The powerful influence of the 7-week Junior Summer Institute not only changed his career course but also eventually brought him back to Princeton from 2014 to 2016 when he served as Director of Graduate Student Life and was able to inspire future policymakers and help prepare students for public service careers.

“Public policy is generated from many voices and it’s important that all those voices have a seat at the table.”

In his current position as Director of Global Health Programs for Princeton University and Associate Director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing, Gilbert is offering his experience and skillset to programs that impact the wellbeing of people around the world. The program not only guides students in health policy research and education but empowers them to facilitate change to the current health inequities.

Gilbert also appeared on the quiz show Jeopardy! in 2018 which speaks to his broad set of talents. He was a 5-time winner and was invited back to compete in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, where he reached the semifinals. Here his well-rounded knowledge base and international experience merged with his focus to deliver success.

He continues to extend his leadership to both PPIA and Princeton in Africa as a member of their Board of Directors. Gilbert has contributed his extensive skill set and experience to the betterment of all human beings. Through his commitment to policy and programs that foster wellbeing and equality, he is positively impacting people’s lives.

Thank you, Gilbert, for remaining focused on what is possible and using your gifts and talents to bring that forward. Your global focus inspires both unity and stewardship. The leadership and counsel you offer future leaders will no doubt create more happy people in the world.

Read more Changemaker profiles here!

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