Traci L. Baird, President and CEO of EngenderHealth with PRB's CEO Jeffrey N. Jordan.

Why Jeff Jordan Is a True Partner in Progress

Traci L. Baird, President and CEO of EngenderHealth, remarks on the retirement of PRB President and CEO Jeffrey N. Jordan

Jeff and I like to say that we are partners in progress, a phrase that we think captures the spirit of coming together—conspiring, some might say— for a good purpose. And good purpose is a value we share. Together we have steered our respective organizations through what we now call an unprecedented time, a time of poly-crises, or simply post-2020, striving to improve people’s lives with evidence-based solutions. With other international organizations working in sexual and reproductive health and rights, we catalyzed the TIME Initiative to answer hard questions about the evolving role of international  organizations working in sexual and reproductive health and rights. We’ve sat side-by-side in countless summits and forums and workshops and meetings, shared resources and ideas and restaurant recommendations, and served as each other’s sounding boards. Although we have never worked at the same organization, we have worked, learned, and grown as a team, supporting each other in both our shared and individual goals.

Since I met Jeff, his giving spirit and the satisfaction he gets from uplifting others have been clear and consistent. When I joined the Reproductive Health CEOs Group—which for years has brought together leaders of U.S.-based international sexual and reproductive health and rights organizations —Jeff was serving as its co-chair. Right away, Jeff let me know that he was there for me, and I was welcome to reach out if I needed anything. I appreciated the invitation, and I knew it was sincere, but anything? At times I felt like I needed everything! Fortunately for me, Jeff pushed in, asking me how things were going with my board, my staff, my relocation to the D.C. area. He didn’t wait for me to figure out what I needed; he started offering.

I have seen Jeff welcome others to our group and more broadly to our sector with similar enthusiasm and generosity. His eagerness to engage draws others into conversation, and his participation is often punctuated with him saying “OK, I’ll stop talking now!” and focusing his attention on others with curiosity and appreciation.

As Jeff approaches his retirement, I know plenty will be said about his impressive career. The breadth of the content, geography, and approach of the roles and results on Jeff’s resume will inspire many people. I especially admire how he can weave together a story about why data matters and explain the relevance of demography and evidence in our lives and our society. I remember one day he apologized sincerely for missing a lunch with a group of D.C.-based CEOs. His excuse? Working on his remarks for the 17th annual Rafael M. Salas Memorial Lecture, which he had been invited to deliver at the United Nations in just a few days. (He knocked it out of the park; listen to “Data and Demagoguery: Human Rights and Development in the Disinformation Age” here.)

I also value the great energy that Jeff contributes in ways that might not earn a bullet point on his LinkedIn profile but are meaningful to many of us, including his dedicated advocacy with various parts of the government over the last two years to push for explicit clarity on how the Helms Amendment is being implemented, his stepping back from meetings and events so others can step forward, and his willingness to think beyond the specific and critical scope of PRB to support broader efforts that promote human rights and equality—and so many more.

Speaking of more, Jeff eased me into the idea of his retirement by assuring me that he’s not going anywhere—and then proceeded to tell me about all the various places he and his wife Hannah want to travel! But I know what he means, and I know he means it: He will continue to be a partner in progress to those working for health, rights, and equality, whether they are at PRB ensuring that high-quality data are used for decision-making; or at other organizations in the sexual and reproductive health and rights space; or living and working in distant communities—all of us benefitting from the ripple effects of Jeff’s career and the positive energy he continues to put out into the world.

Jeff, thank you for embodying what it means to be a true partner and a true friend. Best of luck—and much joy—in your retirement.