Sandra Thurman has been a leading advocate in the fight against AIDS for more than two decades. She is the director of the Interfaith Health Program and the Joseph W. Blount Center for Health and Human Rights at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. In addition, she serves as president of the International AIDS Trust (IAT), a nonprofit organization dedicated to policy and leadership development in the global effort to combat HIV/AIDS. Under her leadership, IAT created the first AIDS Leadership Programs for heads of state, parliamentarians and women leaders from around the world and provides training to leaders at national, state and local levels on the development and implementation of policies that foster effective prevention and treatment programs. From its inception, IAT has worked closely with its founding co-chairs, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former South Africa President Nelson Mandela and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to support the active involvement of leaders in all sectors in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
From 1997 to 2001, Thurman served as the director of the Office of National AIDS Policy at the White House and was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the first Presidential Envoy for the AIDS Cooperation. She led the efforts to triple funding for the U.S. government's international HIV/AIDS programs and double funding for domestic HIV/AIDS programs, increasing total U.S. spending on HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment programs to more than $10 billion annually. In 1999, Thurman led the first U.S. delegation to look at the impact of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. That trip led to the first report by the President of the United States to the Congress on the impact of AIDS, and to the First Presidential Initiative on AIDS (the LIFE Initiative).
Thurman also has served as director of Advocacy Programs for the Task Force on Child Survival and Development at the Carter Center. The Task Force, cosponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank and UNICEF, focused on increasing immunization and child survival rates worldwide. In the mid-1980s, she was a volunteer at AID Atlanta, a community-based nonprofit organization providing health and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS. She eventually became its executive director and under her leadership, AID Atlanta tripled in size, becoming a multimillion-dollar, direct-service agency with 90 staff members and more than 1,000 volunteers.
Thurman has served on the boards of a variety of nonprofit organizations including the March of Dimes, National Kidney Foundation, Atlanta Ballet, National Episcopal AIDS Coalition and the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation. In addition, she has chaired fundraising events for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Heart Strings and other charities. She is a graduate of Mercer University.