David Torres

“At some point, you have to make the call for yourself: how long do you want to do this? What brings you joy and fulfillment?” Middlebury’s new Professor of the Practice, David Torres, recalled the turning point in his unique path to mothers2mothers, the organization he currently serves as Senior Advisor. mothers2mothers (m2m) is an internationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

The organization is a social enterprise that employs, trains, and helps to empower HIV-positive women as community health workers. It hires and works with “Mentor Mothers” to impact the health of mothers by putting them at the center as the driving force of preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV and improving reproductive, maternal, and child health. m2m engages with the government and local partners to educate and employ women within communities. Rooted in empowering of women, the organization works to address the acute shortage of healthcare workers and the stigma around HIV. Currently based in Cape Town, South Africa, David has been responsible for a range of initiatives over the past 12 years, including partnership and donor relationship management, financial advising, and strategic support for international fundraising and business development. He also serves as a member of the Senior Management Team and as the Secretary for the Board of Directors of mothers2mothers International.

David’s journey to m2m and the global health world at large was an atypical one with twists and turns. After graduating from Middlebury in 1984 with a degree in Political Science and International Relations, he spent nearly 22 years at JPMorgan Chase & Co. to become Managing Director in the UK, after having spent some time in Latin America and the US. During this long career in banking, he specialized in fixed income sales, sales management, investment banking, and business management. Though it seems like forever-ago, he recalls the 12-hour work days and the stressful work environment that he was living under. It was difficult to balance the work and family life, and he was not spending enough time with his two children who were only getting older. It was at this point that he and his wife Kathryn decided that his life style was unsustainable. Together they decided to put a timeline to his banking career and gave himself five years to transition out of JPMorgan. “My wife actually made me put this writing and sign it!”

In 2005, he kept his promise, and took a sabbatical from his role at JPMorgan to travel to various corners of the world with his family. During the trip, he worked as a volunteer at m2m in Cape Town for two months, working on a business plan for a project. He immediately fell in love with this new environment, as the work was engaging and he already had some personal network in the region.

He has always been interested in the social sector, and this opportunity allowed him to dive deep into the world of global health. Upon returning to London, David decided to put an end to his long banking career, and move to South Africa with his family to join m2m as a permanent staff member. In describing this transition, David was surprised by the similarities and overlap of skills required in both the banking and not-for-profit worlds. At m2m, he has been directly involved in local and international fundraising and development, as well as the business development. He has drawn from his background in financial analysis and management to help the organization with financial planning and negotiation with various ministries and stakeholders. The wealth of experiences and skills that he was able to develop from his time at JP Morgan translated well into his role at m2m, once he understood the technical aspects and legal language of the work. David admitted, “the connection between the two worlds was something that I did not expect.” As for the major differences between the two fields, David emphasized how his current work is less transactional, and how he needs to approach his current role with a lot more patience and humility, as he is constantly interacting with people of various backgrounds.

Though his banking career opened many doors for him, he pointed to his liberal arts background that set the groundwork and foundation for his career. “At the core, not a lot has changed—we still need people who can synthesize and articulate ideas to solve difficult problems,” David explained as he spoke on the practical application of his liberal arts background to the world of global health and finance. As a new Profesor of the Practice (starting in January 2019), he is excited to contribute and give back to the Panther community by teaching classes in social entrepreneurship and global health, advising students with professional and personal inquiries, and bringing his practical expertise of the subject matter. He will teach “Social Entrepreneurship and Global Health” over J-Term, which is now at full capacity, and “Global Health” over the spring semester. He is a huge believer in social entrepreneurship—marrying business means with humanitarian goals—and its potential to solve some of the oldest problems in new ways. He will also be serving as an advisor and consultant to early stage social entrepreneurs, and he will be engaged with the efforts by the Center for Careers & Internships (CCI) to help students find opportunities in global health, social entrepreneurship, and banking.  

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This article was featured in the Fall 2018 Global Health Newsletter.