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Steve Davis

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Steve Davis
SDphoto.jpg SDphoto.jpg
🏳️ Nationality
🏫 EducationPrinceton University (BA), University of Washington (MA), Columbia University School of Law (JD)
💼 Occupation
🏢 OrganizationPATH
TitlePresident and CEO

Steve Davis is the president and CEO of PATH, a leader in global health innovation. PATH is an international nongovernmental organization driving transformative innovation to save lives in low- and middle-income countries, with a specific focus on women and children. Davis also holds a faculty appointment as a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he teaches a class on Taking Social Innovation to Scale.[1]

An outspoken advocate for social innovation, inclusive growth, and equity in health,[2] Davis published a passionate essay following the 2016 US presidential election in which he argued that "there's been an alarming tendency by bullies and demagogues across the political spectrum to blame an 'other' for the difference between the life we live and the life to which we aspire."[3] He went on to state that instead of Us vs. Them, "'Us Must Include Them.' As Americans, our interests are too entwined and our problems too complex to think we can create a better future by fostering anger and resentment at some 'other.' The false story of 'Us vs. Them' isn't just a domestic fallacy—it's a mistruth with global implications."[3]

Davis' long-standing commitment to human rights and global development grew from his early work on refugee programs and policies,[1][4][5][6] including time as a policy intern at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. During this internship, Davis researched and analyzed policy development surrounding refugees and displaced persons in Africa and Asia, particularly with respect to immigration and travel policies and the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on refugee policies. This interest deepened as Davis went on to graduate studies focused on Chinese politics and law,[7] working and publishing on China's emerging role in global affairs, as well as concentrating on the challenges and opportunities for creating more inclusive economies and political systems.

He has employed his passion and dedication to equity, justice, and innovation as a leader and strategist for a range of private and nonprofit companies and international organizations, including as director of social innovation at McKinsey & Company,[8] interim CEO of the Infectious Disease Research Institute,[8] and CEO of internet pioneer and global digital media firm Corbis.[7][8] Earlier in his career, he practiced law at the international law firm of K&L Gates with a focus on intellectual property.[9] His diverse career and experience has positioned him as a thought leader[6] in developing unique multi-sectoral partnerships to advance social innovation and drive health solutions to scale across the world.[1]

Davis is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations[10][2] and Challenge Seattle. He serves on the board of InterAction and sits on several advisory groups, including the World Economic Forum's Health & Healthcare Stewards, New York University's College of Global Public Health Advisory Committee, Medtronic Labs Advisory Board, AXA Stakeholder Advisory Panel, and the Washington Global Health Alliance Executive Roundtable.[4] He previously served on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards, including as board chair of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center,[11][12] and for several years was a senior fellow at the University of Washington School of Law.[13]

Early life[edit]

Davis grew up in a large family in the small ranching community of Dillon, Montana,[9] before heading east to study religion and row crew at Princeton University. His desire to explore the world led to a Princeton-in-Asia Fellowship teaching literature in Taiwan.[14][15] During his tenure in Southeast Asia, Davis spent time at a refugee camp in Thailand.[2] It was an experience that would shape his world view and his career.

"I saw the world for the first time in a real way. I saw the havoc of the war in Southeast Asia playing out. It got me out of my bubble as I tried to reconcile my privilege and scholarly world with what I saw. The kids, the challenges, the sadness, the desperation. It was graphic. But mostly, what struck me was the cumbersome process of the refugee system. I have since used that visual in my head when making decisions."[5]


Davis earned his BA in Religion from Princeton University, his MA in China Studies from the University of Washington, and his law degree from Columbia University,[4] with a focus on Chinese Law.[7] He also participated in certificate programs at both Beijing University and Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Education.

Career summary[edit]

Davis has served as a business leader and advisor across the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. He has been featured in several videos, podcasts, radio and television interviews, and print articles, as well as in Peter Vanham's book Before I Was CEO: Life Lessons From Leaders Before They Reached the Top, published in 2016.


In 2012, Steve Davis became president and chief executive officer of PATH,[5] an international nongovernmental organization based in Seattle, Washington, with more than 1,500 employees worldwide[16] and an annual revenue of over $288 million.[17] By accelerating innovation across five platforms—vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations—PATH saves lives and improves health, especially among women and children in Africa and Asia.

Davis participates in a wide range of domestic and international forums, both as a spokesperson for PATH and as an advocate for innovative responses to global development challenges. Davis combines his extensive experience as a technology business leader, global health advocate, and social innovator to accelerate great ideas and bring lifesaving solutions to scale.[1] Speaking about his varied career in a 2103 interview, Davis cited the cross-sectoral skills he has accumulated over the years as "crucial when it comes to adapting innovations to the places that need them most."[15]

Prior to his appointment as president and CEO, Davis was the interim director of PATH's India program in 2010[2][5] and served on the organization's board of directors for nine years.[5] As president and CEO of PATH, Davis replaced Dr. Christopher J. Elias, who left to serve as president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[2]

McKinsey & Company[edit]

Davis was a senior advisor and director of social innovation for several years at McKinsey & Company,[8] a global management consulting firm. As director, he led McKinsey's global Social Innovation Practice and served as a core leader of its Social Sector Office.[8] In this role, he oversaw support to and partnerships with philanthropic organizations, social entrepreneurs, and social investors engaged in tackling some of the world's largest social problems. Davis revamped the company's social innovation practice, built and led teams focused on global social innovation solutions and strategies, expanded McKinsey's reach and relevance in the social sector, and supported the firm's civic engagements and strategies. As senior advisor, he focused on topics such as public- and private-sector partnerships, intellectual property models, in-country health and development scale-up issues, innovative financing models, development of new prizes for social sectors, and social impact bonds.

Infectious Disease Research Institute[edit]

In 2008, Davis held a six-month assignment as interim CEO of Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI),[18] a nonprofit biotech organization working to develop novel, advanced products for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of neglected diseases of poverty.


Lauded by Salon as "Bill Gates' other CEO,"[7] Davis helped run the privately held digital media firm Corbis for 14 years, including 10 as its CEO. Working closely with owner Bill Gates, Davis led development of the firm from an early Internet research and development opportunity into a global media leader in creating, sourcing, and distributing imagery and providing related services to publishers, advertising and design agencies, filmmakers, and other creative professionals and emerging markets. Davis oversaw expansion from a single startup office to a multinational company with 24 offices in 16 countries, more than 1,100 employees, and more than $250 million in annual revenue.

Arriving "at Corbis through the back door of intellectual property—as an attorney interested in the process of protecting the copyright of digitally transmitted images,"[7] Davis' work at the firm included design of the product, service, technology, and distribution strategy in a previously unformed sector. At Corbis, Davis oversaw the acquisition program for the world's largest and most comprehensive digital image archive, he led development of a global brand and services, and he was recognized as a thought leader and expert in industry, particularly with respect to emerging issues related to intellectual property rights and management, as well as the application of new technologies in the humanities.

K&L Gates[edit]

As a young attorney, Davis conducted legal research and writing at prestigious Seattle-based international law firm K&L Gates (formerly Preston Gates & Ellis), specializing in intellectual property,[9] international joint ventures, and nonprofit agencies and public institutions, including work on municipal development projects, international transactions and litigation, and transportation policy.

Personal life[edit]

Davis was one of the first openly gay business leaders in Seattle.[12] In the context of inclusion of all people and nationalities, Davis wrote in late 2016 that "a truly thriving, healthy, and unified family, community, or country is one where differing voices and ideas are not just welcomed but expected—and honored."[3] Moreover, "limiting anyone's rights—diminishing anyone's humanity—diminishes us all."[3] A strong advocate for LGBTQ rights,[2] Davis and his partner of more than 37 years have one adopted adult son.[12]

Selected publications[edit]

External links[edit]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Stephen Davis". Stanford Graduate School of Business. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Paulson, Tom (2012-03-26). "Steve Davis, entrepreneur and rights advocate, to head PATH". Humanosphere. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Davis, Steve (2016-12-07). "A Tofu Thanksgiving in Montana". Medium. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Executive Roundtable - Washington Global Health Alliance". Washington Global Health Alliance. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Donnelly, Kathleen. "A conversation with our new CEO". PATH Blog. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Steve Davis | Shared Value Initiative". sharedvalue.org. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 DiLucchio, Patrizia. "Bill Gates' other CEO". Salon. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Holtzman, Clay. "Steve Davis named to exec post at McKinsey". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Zak, Annie. "Steve Davis' PATH: Seattle nonprofit CEO worked with Bill Gates, was a civil rights activist in China and loves Netflix". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  10. "Membership Roster". Council on Foreign Relations website. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  11. Nolasco, Joanna. "Steve Davis named CEO of nonprofit PATH". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Outstanding Voices: PATH CEO Steve Davis has changed attitudes leading by example". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  13. "Faculty & Administration". University of Washington School of Law website. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  14. DiLucchio, Patrizia. "Bill Gates' other CEO". Salon. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Health Care Activist Steve Davis: Avoiding the 'I'll Give Back Later' Trap - Knowledge@Wharton". Knowledge@Wharton. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  16. "Fast facts for the media - PATH". www.path.org. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  17. "From innovation to impact". PATH. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
  18. "From Tech to Biotech: Former Corbis CEO Steve Davis Tackles Global Health With IDRI | Xconomy". Xconomy. 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2017-04-03.

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