Volunteer Award – Reunion 2016
Emily Knox came to Drew not only to follow family tradition. She is proud of her Drew legacy (from her great-great-grandfather to numerous other relatives over the generations), but the greatest attractions for Emily were Drew’s digital and international opportunities.
A theatre arts major and anthropology minor, Emily traveled with the first Drew Second-Year Seminar to Thailand, then completed a semester in London. When on campus, she was a DUDS member and officer, and a Drew Ambassador; she recalls that showing the campus to prospective students offered opportunities to “fall in love with our forest all over again.”
Upon graduation, Emily joined Peace Corps as a community health volunteer in rural Zambia, an experience that influenced the rest of her life. The HIV epidemic had struck the country. Emily says, “going to five funerals in one day changes you.” Her career moved seamlessly from volunteering to employment in aid agencies, doing her part “to make the world a better place.” With certifications in project management from University of Liverpool, humanitarian operations from Oxford Brookes University, and UN Protocol, she has established herself as a skilled, multicultural project leader with global expertise in implementing large conferences and high-level events.
Emily’s first conference, immediately following her Peace Corps service, was the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa. She returned to the US to work with Population Council in Washington, DC, then left again to join the XIV International AIDS Conference secretariat in Barcelona. For nearly a decade, she directed program development for the International AIDS Society’s conferences, based first in Amsterdam and later in Geneva. She then launched into five years of consulting, organizing major global health events for UN and non-governmental organizations, managing delegations and leading advocacy projects in Africa, North America and Europe.
Currently, Emily is global director of conferences and summits at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. She works in Paris, but lives in Switzerland with her husband, painter Hanne Blitz, and daughter Sophia. Like her parents (2007 Service Awardee Carolyn Benjamin Knox C’67, and Drew Trustee Bill Knox), her family loves to open their home to international students or young professionals interning with nearby organizations. Since 2004, she has volunteered for Democrats Abroad Switzerland. She is proud of her role in the game-changing, global response to AIDS, fulfilling her goal to “do something” about what she witnessed in Zambia as a volunteer decades before.