Pathfinder International

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Pathfinder International
Pathfinder International logo.JPG
A Global Leader in Sexual and Reproductive Health
Formation 1957
Legal status Foundation
Purpose Birth control, Humanitarian
Headquarters Watertown, MA
Region served Africa, Asia, South America
President & CEO Purnima Mane
Board Chair Cynthia A. Fields
Key people Clarence Gamble, Henry Foster, Paul H. Todd, Jr.
Budget $101 million
Staff 1,033 people worldwide
Formerly called The Pathfinder Fund

Pathfinder International is based in Watertown, Massachusetts and is a global non-profit organization (NGO 501(c)(3)), that focuses on reproductive health, family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and related health services. The organization operates in more than 20 developing countries throughout Africa, Asia, the Near East, and Latin America. According to part of their mission statement, "Pathfinder International places reproductive health services at the center of all that we do—believing that health care is not only a fundamental human right but is critical for expanding opportunities for women, families, communities, and nations, while paving the way for transformations in environmental stewardship, decreases in population pressures, and innovations in poverty reduction."[1]


Pathfinder International was originally incorporated as The Pathfinder Fund in 1957. The pioneering family planning work, however, began decades earlier in the late 1920s when Pathfinder founder, Clarence Gamble, heir of the Procter & Gamble soap company fortune, supported efforts to introduce contraception to women and couples in the United States and 60 other countries. He also launched the first community-based service model, which is still the foundation of Pathfinder’s success today.

Sarah Gamble, Clarence Gamble's wife, named the organization in honor of a quote by the poet Antonio Machado, "Traveler, there is no path, paths are made by walking." This quote alludes to our groundbreaking work to bring contraceptive information and services to wherever they are needed.

Despite the highly sensitive and complex nature of work, Pathfinder has steadily expanded operations since 1957. Over the decades we have taken difficult positions to increase access to high-quality reproductive health services. This has earned Pathfinder wide recognition and respect throughout the world, highlighted by receiving the 1996 United Nations Population Award. In 2007, Pathfinder celebrated 50 years of incorporation, and 80 years of “pathfinding” work in family planning.

Pathfinder surpassed revenue of USD 100 million for the first time in 2010 (FY).[2] In 2011, Pathfinder announced the retirement of Daniel E. Pellegrom, the longest-serving president of a global reproductive health organization in history after becoming CEO of Pathfinder International in 1985. In 2012, Purnima Mane joined Pathfinder as President and CEO, after serving as Deputy Director of United Nations Population Fund.[3]


Pathfinder International works together with many organizations, ranging from national ministries of health to local NGOs, to deliver reproductive health and family planning information and services to women, young adults, commercial sex workers, and rural populations. Pathfinder's programs also integrate HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment activities. The group has worked with UN Women, UNFPA, World Bank and a number of other partners to organize different programs and projects.[4]

Pathfinder operates family planning and reproductive health programs in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin American, offering highly effective clinical and non-clinical service models, training for service providers and managers, and technical assistance to strengthen grantee organizations. Pathfinder expands and improves client-centered services and systems through multiple service delivery points, from doorstep, workplace, and market place delivery to depots, health posts, clinics, and hospitals. Pathfinder expands access to services for underserved groups and those at risk—young adults, men, postpartum and postabortion women, and hard-to-reach groups. The organization creates a positive environment for the use of family planning and reproductive health services through communications and advocacy interventions. Pathfinder strengthens provider performance and competence through training, curricula formulation, and contraceptive technology updates. They also integrate maternal and child health, HIV prevention, and postabortion care services into family planning programs to meet client needs. Pathfinder ensures clients' informed consent and voluntary choice and strive to provide the widest range of modern contraceptive methods possible in individual country contexts.[5]



  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • Burundi
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Mozambique
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

Asia and Pacific[edit]

  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Vietnam

Latin America[edit]

  • Brazil
  • Peru

Middle East[edit]

  • Egypt
  • Yemen



Pathfinder advances opportunities for women, men, and young people to make choices about their sexual and reproductive health - choices they have gone without. By addressing a vast unmet need for contraception, Pathfinder helps clients to prevent unintended pregnancy, space their births, and reduce the risk of illness and infection, fostering brighter futures for themselves and their families.

Maternal and newborn[edit]

Pathfinder works to ensure that mothers and their newborns have access to information and services at every point, from the home to the health facility. The organization promotes contraception, trains midwives and skilled birth attendants, and enhances emergency obstetric care. Pathfinder's approach helps contribute to the reduction of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality and their devastating effects on families, communities, and nations.


Pathfinder leads worldwide efforts to integrate family planning services with HIV prevention and AIDS care and treatment, while supporting those affected by the epidemic. Their key approaches – including prevention of mother-to-child transmission, youth-friendly HIV services, and community home-based care – empower individuals to address HIV and AIDS throughout their lives.

Youth health[edit]

Recognizing the unique sexual and reproductive health needs and interests of young people, Pathfinder delivers innovative youth programs. The organization capitalizes on the vitality, potential, and dynamism of this critical group, including them as active partners in identifying what services best meet their needs.


Working to reduce maternal mortality and support the rights of women to determine what is best for their own wellbeing, Pathfinder helps ensure the availability of safe, legal abortion services. The organization also trains providers to care for women suffering complications of unsafe abortions. As a critical part of these services, Pathfinder ensures that women have immediate access to counseling and contraceptives to prevent future unintended pregnancies.


Restrictive laws and policies can have a real – and sometimes devastating – impact on the people Pathfinder serves. Pathfinder strongly supports the rights of women, men, and young people to control their reproductive lives by focusing their efforts on educating decision makers, both in the US and over-seas, in shaping legislation and policies that promote the sexual and reproductive health of people in developing countries.


Pathfinder’s approach is based on collaboration at all levels—from local NGOs and community and faith-based organizations to governments and multilateral partners—to strengthen the systems that deliver health care. It is an organization who is proud of their partnerships around the world. Pathfinder accepts contributions from the US government, foreign governments, individuals, and foundations. Most of the group's funding comes from the United States Agency for International Development, totalling $76 million if fiscal 2011, and making Pathfinder one of the largest recipients of such aid.[8]

As part of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, US government support for AIDS prevention was contingent on opposing prostitution starting in 2003.[9] Pathfinder preferred to remain neutral so as not to alienate sex workers from their anti-HIV efforts so they sued in federal court with other non-profits.[10] In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the requirement violated the First Amendment's prohibition against compelled speech in Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, Inc.[11]


Like many older birth control organizations, Pathfinder initially overlapped with the eugenics movement. The founder, Clarence Gamble, was a member of Human Betterment League of North Carolina and advocated forced sterilization of mental patients.[12]

During the 1970s, the organization was accused of distributing unsafe contraceptives. Specifically, Pathfinder continued to distribute the Dalkon Shield internationally after it had been pulled from the U.S. market due to high infection rates and used Depo-Provera when it was still considered experimental prior to FDA approval.[13][14]



  • Cynthia A. Fields - Chair of the Board Chair
  • James M. Schwartz - Vice Chair
  • Manuel Urbina, MD, MPH - Secretary
  • Benjamin R. Kahrl - Treasurer

Board of Directors[edit]

  • Sharon W. Allison
  • Andrew A. Arkutu, MB, FRCOG
  • Richard L. Berkowitz, MD
  • Robert Bobb
  • Andrew L. Frey
  • Walter J. Gamble, MD
  • Jane L. Havemeyer
  • Edward M. Kaplan
  • Rajen A. Kilachand
  • Elisabeth L. Lyon
  • Florence W. Manguyu, MD
  • Lucia Riddle
  • Margaret Ruttenberg
  • James Schwartz
  • Prakash Shah
  • Valerie C. Spencer
  • Ronda E. Stryker
  • John F. Swift
  • Alfred W. Tate
  • Ralph S. Tate
  • June L. Tatelman
  • George N. Todd
  • Roslyn M. Watson


  1. ^ "Mission". Pathfinder International. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Pathfinder International: Accredited Charity". Wise Giving Alliance. Better Business Bureau. July 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Pathfinder President". World Health Organization. Retrieved Dead Link.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ "Our Partners". Pathfinder International. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "How We Work". Pathfinder International. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Where We Work". Pathfinder International. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "Focus Areas". Pathfinder International. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Grant Recipients". USAID Implementing Partners: United States Agency for International Development Fiscal Year 2011. US AID. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Liptak, Adam (20 June 2013). "Justices Say U.S. Cannot Impose Antiprostitution Condition on AIDS Grants". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  10. ^ Mientka, Matthew (22 April 2013). "US Supreme Court Divides On Free Speech Rights Of Health Groups". Medical Daily. IBT Media. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Roberts, John (20 June 2013). "AGENCY FOR INT’L DEVELOPMENT v. ALLIANCE FOR". Legal Information Institute. Cornell Law School. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Begos, Kevin (18 May 2011). "The American eugenics movement after World War II". Indy Week. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Miller, James A. (September–October 1996). "Money for mischief: USAID and Pathfinder tag-team women in the developing world". PRI Review. Population Research Institute. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Ehrenreich, Barbara; Minkin, Stephen; and Dowie, Mark (November–December 1979). "The Charge: Gynocide". Mother Jones. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  15. ^ "Leadership Staff". Pathfinder International. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 

External links[edit]