Gene Falk, WG '80

2008 Joseph Wharton Award for Social Impact

Gene Falk, WG '80
Co-Founder, Executive Director

While pediatric AIDS has virtually been eliminated in the developed world, in Sub-Saharan Africa hundreds of thousands of babies are needlessly infected with HIV each year.

Gene Falk is the Executive Director and Co-founder of mothers2mothers (m2m), which focuses on preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to children; maintaining the health of the new mothers and their babies; and supporting the empowerment of these women in a society where this is critical to their chances for long-term survival. Gene brings an unusual background to this role: he helped develop m2m while working as a senior executive in the media industry before leaving a long career in New York and moving South Africa to oversee m2m’s roll-out and expansion.

A grass-roots program for under-resourced health care systems, mothers2mothers trains and employs new mothers with HIV to provide life-saving education and support to their peers. Under Gene’s leadership, the organization has grown from a handful of programs in the Cape Town area to over 300 locations in 7 countries, reaching more than 80,000 women each month. It employs nearly 1000 women living with HIV/AIDS as trained, experienced service providers.

Immediately prior to working with m2m, Gene was Senior Vice President at Showtime Networks whose line up included Showtime, The Movie Channel, Sundance Channel, and others. There, he established and ran the Digital Media Group, and he oversaw all of the company’s new business opportunities, business development activities and new media ventures.

Earlier in his tenure at Showtime, Gene started served as Senior Vice President and General Manager for its Direct Broadcast (DBS) division. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Showtime’s pay per view division, he led marketing and distribution efforts for events ranging from Mike Tyson fights to concerts by the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead, and was central to the company’s partnership with legendary promoter Don King.

Gene has a long-standing history activism for HIV/AIDS and gay and lesbian civil rights. As a founding national Board member of GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and subsequently as its Board Chair, Gene played a key role in building one of the country’s leading LGBT civil rights groups. Gene provided critical support and direction to HIV/AIDS groups including Treatment Action Group (TAG) and Gay Men’s Health Crisis (gmhc), and was instrumental in establishing the Michael Palm Foundation, a leading source of funding for LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations. In both his professional and his activist roles, Gene has served on many other boards and has received numerous awards and citations, including TAG's "Treatment in Action" award for his contributions to the fight against AIDS, and the Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

He holds a BA cum laude, from Williams, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.