Dr. La Vonne Downey is third from left.
Dr. La Vonne Downey is third from left.

Who are the people that power our work helping the United Nations build a safer, healthier, more peaceful world?

Meet Dr. La Vonne Downey, an academic in the health field, a Champion for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign, and the latest participant in our “Supporter Spotlight” series. In this role, she helps the campaign support UN efforts to expand access to global childhood vaccines that protect children from deadly and debilitating diseases such as diarrhea, measles, pneumonia, and polio.

Here are her words on why she is involved with Shot@Life.

What motivates you to work with Shot@Life?

To paraphrase John Muir, when you tug at a single thing, “health,” in the universe you find that it is attached to everything. It impacts every aspect of an individual’s life from education to family, community, economic, and global well-being. When we protect people’s health we save lives and enable them to use the gifts they were born to give to the world.

What is your biggest accomplishment with Shot@Life?

By promoting preventive health for children, I have been able to connect people to global health. This has meant that I have gotten to witness my students, friends, other professors, legislators, and the larger community become engaged and connected global citizens. They have all shown such ingenuity, caring, and compassion in working with me. It has been inspiring and an honor to be part of that process.

What have you learned from your involvement with Shot@Life?

Two things: First of all that we belong to and with each other. Secondly, that when we give people a chance to help improve the health and life of others, one sees the best part of them. It is a privilege to be able to see people’s better angels working a multitude of ways on a daily basis.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Get an amazing education, and then use it to make your works an expression of your gifts. Those gifts that are given to you are not for you alone, or for our own self-improvement, but they are actually to be offered to and for the need of the community.

What advice would you give someone who wants to make a difference in the world?

The measure of our compassion lies not in our service of those whom may seem on the margins, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them. Find a way to connect your ideas to others even if it seems like they nothing in common with you as there is always a way in and a third way through. Also activism is not just raising an issue, but also means you are involved and engaged with working on changing policies.

What kind of world do you want to see in 2030?

A world where we all see ourselves as global citizens in an interdependent world, with a society where everyone has equal access to succeed in life, with an idea of diversity that respects and understands that each individual is unique and important – all of which is built on an understanding of universal human rights that belong to all people.

TAKE ACTION: Interested in supporting Shot@Life’s work? Visit ShotatLife.org to learn more.