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on a positive impact

Caring for Mothers and Children Evident through Lion Secondment Partnership with White Ribbon Alliance

By Jeremiah Kaplan
One of the hottest topics in America right now is reproductive rights for women, and health care is top of mind for many. Additionally, states are facing historic decisions setting legislative policy for these issues. These discussions are a great segue with family and friends into the work that I am doing with White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) to reduce maternal mortality globally. According to the United Nations, 300,000 women die globally each year during child birth and many are missing basic access to quality prenatal care and respectful engagement with their provider.  


My full-time job is Sales Director for Johnson & Johnson (J&J) covering the Middle East, based out of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  As part of J&J’s commitment to communities, they piloted a program in 2019 called the Lion Secondment. This role is a new component of the Secondment Program (full time assignments in the field with NGO’s launched in 2014). The Lion Secondee program enables J&J senior leaders to take on part-time (4-6 months), virtual, strategic and advisory assignments with NGO partner organizations to help strengthen and transform health systems. The pilot program was initiated with two key NGO partners (WRA and the Aga Khan Development Network) seeking strategic direction and senior leadership counsel to help build their organizational capacity.  The roles are remotely based and allow the J&J executives to provide senior level business support to the NGO partners while continuing to manage their leadership role and responsibilities with the Company.

I joined the Lion program as part of my journey dedicated to community service as a pillar of J&J’s Credo which describes our responsibility first to patients and healthcare workers, second to employees and next to the communities in which we live and work. I have been lucky enough to embrace this third paragraph of the Credo during my twenty-year career with J&J including chairing the Emerging Leaders of Cincinnati United Way for two years and engaging my teams in service projects regularly to build team spirit and connection. The Lion program offers a unique way for me to blend my corporate experience with my passion for community service.

The focus of my role with WRA is to provide senior level business development coaching to support the business planning process and to help shape a sustainable value proposition with an aim to increase support and facilitate a new donor base. Some of the specifics of the role include leading a workshop for WRA to explore models based on local movements using design thinking and visiting a National Alliance for alignment of local and global strategy. I also connect on a regular basis with our full-time secondee in Nigeria.

The experience so far has been rich, and it is refreshing to step outside of J&J for an extended period to consider strategy, deployment, planning and communication from a new perspective. I am incredibly grateful to my Company for the opportunity and look forward to completing the assignment while leaving a lasting impact on WRA and building a bridge for future collaboration between our organizations. Here is some of the feedback from Betsy McCallon, CEO of WRA,

Having an external set of eyes and ears is invaluable to an organization to help distill the key questions we are trying to answer as we look ahead to the next decade of working to improve the health and well-being of girls and women around the world.

As I close out my holiday in the US and reconnect with family and friends, including my expecting sister, I continue thinking about maternal healthcare and reproductive rights for all women across the world. My commitment to improving this aspect of healthcare and helping children start their lives with the best possible chance for growth has never been stronger. I believe that these rights are worth advocating for and every life saved is the reward.

White Ribbon Alliance