SEATTLE — Frank Rijsberman, a philanthropic program director at Google.org, will join the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program as director of itsWater, Sanitation, & Hygiene initiative on October 11, 2010.
A prominent voice on global water issues, Rijsberman has been responsible for public health grant making for the philanthropic arm of Google, and previously served as director general of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a leading research organization on water, food, and the environment.
“Frank brings a passion for the issues, and an impressive set of experience to the foundation,” said Sylvia Mathews Burwell
, president of the foundation’s Global Development Program. “He is a visionary manager with strong leadership qualities that will help the team deliver on our strategy to provide people with safe and sustainable sanitation services to help them lead healthier, more productive lives.”
Rijsberman will lead a foundation team dedicated to reducing the burden of water-borne disease and improving access to sanitation, particularly in Africa and Asia, where the impact of limited services and poor infrastructure is highest. Since 2006, the foundation has committed $200 million to support sustainable approaches to clean water and sanitation services in developing countries. Its funding now focuses primarily on sanitation.
As program director with Google.org, Rijsberman developed and managed grants and investments in global public health focused on using innovative technologies to combat emerging infectious diseases in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to this, Rijsberman served as director general of IWMI where he transformed the organization from a single, localized institute into an international research network with 12 offices across Africa and Asia. He was also a member of the Task Force on Water and Sanitation for the UN Millennium Development Goals Project, and one of the key organizers of the second World Water Forum. He served as part-time professor at the UNESCO-IHE Institute of Water Education, the world’s largest facility dedicated to research and capacity-building in the fields of water, environment, and infrastructure.
Originally from The Netherlands, Rijsberman received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Delft University of Technology, and earned a multi-disciplinary Ph.D. in water resources planning and management and civil engineering from Colorado State University. He has worked in Africa, Asia, and Europe, and speaks four languages including his native Dutch.