Jimmy Kolker

US Ambassador [retired], Former HHS Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs, 2014-2017

Jimmy Kolker retired as the Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on January 20, 2017. In this role, Ambassador Kolker was the Department’s chief health diplomat, representing the United States at World Health Organization meetings and as alternate Board Member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.


Amb. Kolker had a 30-year diplomatic career with the U.S. Department of State where he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda (2002-2005) and to Burkina Faso (1999-2002). From 2005-2007, he served as Deputy Global AIDS Coordinator in the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, leading implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Amb. Kolker was Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. embassies in Denmark and Botswana and won awards for political reporting at earlier posts in the UK, Sweden, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

From 2007-2011, prior to joining HHS, Amb. Kolker was Chief of the HIV and AIDS Section at UNICEF’s New York headquarters. In this role, he led UNICEF's work on HIV and AIDS, focusing on mother-to-child-transmission of HIV, pediatric treatment, prevention among adolescents and young people, and protection for children and families affected by AIDS.

Since retiring, Amb. Kolker joined the boards of the ABInBev Foundation, the Firelight Foundation, and Building Tomorrow. He is a visiting scholar at American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Georgetown University's Center for Global Health Science and Security, and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has been an advisor to NGOs – Last Mile Health, Catholic Relief Services' Changing the Way We Care project, and to Texas Children's Hospital's Global HOPE pediatric cancer initiative.

Amb. Kolker holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School  and a B.A. magna cum laude from Carleton College in Minnesota. He was a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellow (1970-1971). He speaks French, Swedish, and Portuguese.