As a child, Paul Zeitz was sexually abused, and he’s made it his mission to help those who have suffered through what he has. But with online access, sexual abuse and exploitation has only increased. Today, Dr. Zeitz talks about what we can do as a society to prevent this, plus his views on reparations and other social justice topics.
Jackie Ferguson: My guest today is Dr. Paul Zeitz. He’s a physician epidemiologist and award-winning advocate for global justice and human rights with over 35 years of advocacy experience. He serves as the interim coordinator for global, sorry, let me say he serves as the interim coordinator of global movement to end sexual violence against children and adolescents and keep kids safe.
A US-based movement. Dr. Zeitz serves as the executive director of build a movement 2022. And he has co-leader of hashtag breathed with me revolution where he co-conveners the U S national truth, racial healing and transformation movement. He worked for the Obama and the Trump administrations from 2014 to 2017 as the director of data revolution for sustainable development and the office of the global AIDS coordinator.
President’s emergency plan for aids relief in the U S department of state. He founded and served as the executive director of the global aids Alliance from 2000 to 2006. Dr. Zeitz is the author of two books, waging justice, and waging optimism. And his third book, waging love is available soon, married for over 30 years. Paul and his wife, Mindy are the proud parents of five sons and one grandson.
Well, Paul, I am so excited to have you on the podcast today and I’m just really honored to get an opportunity to talk to you. So thank you for being here.
Dr. Paul Zeitz: Oh, it’s my honor. Thank you, Jackie. Thanks for having me.
Jackie: Of course. Let’s start with understanding, you know, why you’ve done so much. And, and certainly you know, we’re, we start with reading just a short bio, which is normally shorter for my guests. This one’s a lot longer, you know, and I’ve, you know, so people understand your background, but I want to ask you, you know, where does this passion to change the world come from?
Paul: I don’t know exactly where it comes from. I began thinking about the possibilities of big change. I think it really got rooted in me when I was in my preventive medicine residency at Johns Hopkins university, and I had been studying medicine and I have been studying public health, but I got to sit in rooms with the leaders who actually led global smallpox eradication.
And they actually shared, you know, the experience of having a technology, like a smallpox vaccine and the work that it took to actually bring that to global scale and actually eradicate a disease. So I felt like really honored to be able to learn from, and it really is something that may change during that time, because I saw what was possible.
I saw the big ideas are possible and you have to fight against all odds to overcome a lot of challenges, but you can win. And then I immediately, my first job after graduate school was in working on polio eradication, which was the next disease opportunity and Latin America had been moving the fastest and the first, and I actually went down there and started working in Guatemala.
And we worked on a, I went down to a country level and really studied and learned and was part of a program there to eradicate polio in the whole country of Guatemala. I traveled to every province in a six-month period and worked with local stakeholders and leaders to help bring that to fruition. So those were my early days.
Jackie: That’s amazing. And, know, you’re involved in so many movements, which is amazing, and I love the word movement. You say that you’re involved in movements, certainly, you know, as co-founder of The Diversity Movement, I can say that, that, that is a great word and so important to create that momentum. Can you talk a little bit about some of the movements that you’re involved in and how you got started with each of those?
Paul: So right now I’m focusing a lot of time with a new movement that was launched in early March called the Brave Movement, and it’s focused on ending childhood sexual violence. In my late forties, about 13 or 14 years ago, I recalled memories of myself being a survivor of sexual violence at the hands of my father.
Dr. Paul Zeitz is a justice imagineer, author, physician, epidemiologist and tenacious award-winning advocate for global justice as well as human rights with over 20 years of advocacy experience. He is a survivor of early childhood incest, and serves as the Brave Movement Executive Coordinator.
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The Inclusive Language Handbook: A Guide to Better Communication and Transformational Leadership, by Jackie Ferguson and Roxanne Bellamy