José Luis Castro, FRSA, is the President and CEO of Vital Strategies, where he has led a rapid expansion of Vital Strategies’ portfolio to tackle the world’s most difficult health challenges, primarily in low- and middle-income countries. The organization now reaches into 73 countries and has touched the lives of more than 2 billion people.
An expert in global health and public health management, Mr. Castro was a founder of Vital Strategies in 2004 and has led it since then to become an organization with offices in six countries, an annual operating budget of $182 million and a team of more than 400. Starting with a primary focus on tobacco control and additional programs in tuberculosis and maternal health, in the past decade Vital has expanded with work across the field of noncommunicable diseases and injuries, including road safety, overdose prevention, data for health, food policy, air quality and urban health.
In 2017, Mr. Castro invited Resolve To Save Lives, an initiative focused on cardiovascular disease and epidemic prevention, to get its start within Vital Strategies. Even before its extraordinary response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Resolve to Save Lives was recognized by Devex as one of the 12 most important moments in global health in 2017. The Civil Registration and Vital Statistics program’s joint proposal with Plan International for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100 & Change initiative was cited by the Center for High Impact Philanthropy as one of 11 global “best bets” for philanthropic investment.
In October 2020, Mr. Castro concluded his six-year term as the eighth Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), a post he held while also leading Vital Strategies. During his leadership, The Union expanded its global portfolio and forged new strategic partnerships, including with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, USAID, the U.K. Department for International Development and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
He served from 2017 to 2019 as the first president of the NCD Alliance, a network of more than 2,000 civil society organizations in 170 countries dedicated to combating the global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases. In 2014, Mr. Castro co-founded the Global TB Caucus, an international network of over 2,300 parliamentarians from 132 countries, which remains one of the world’s largest political networks dedicated to advancing a global health priority.
Between 1993 and 2001, Mr. Castro worked with the Indian government to establish the largest tuberculosis control program in the world. Prior to that, during the largest outbreak of multidrug-resistant TB ever to occur in the United States, Mr. Castro helped build the program that is still the foundation for TB control in New York City.
Mr. Castro earned his Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania and was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Pace University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.