Dr. Mohammad Akhter is the President and CEO of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations. InterAction's 160 members provide humanitarian and development assistance in every developing country, working to overcome poverty, exclusion and suffering by advancing social justice and basic dignity for all.
Dr. Akhter's journey to this position appears to be the epitome of the American dream. He was born into a family of farmers in India shortly before the partition that established India and Pakistan as two separate nations. His mother had an eighth-grade education. His father had completed high school on a sports scholarship. This helped them to establish a toehold in the new nation.
Dr. Akhter's grandfather couldn't write his name, but his parents made sure that all six of their children had master's degrees and the cycle of poverty was broken. He believes that health and education are the twin lights leading one away from poverty.
Dr. Akhter earned his medical degree from King Edwards Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan (1967), and his master of public health degree from Johns Hopkins University (1973). His public health residency was completed at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. In 1976, he was certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine.
Dr. Akhter serves as clinical professor in the department of family and community medicine at Georgetown University Medical School, and as an adjunct professor of international public health at George Washington University School of Public Health. He also served as Dean of the College of Community Medicine, as well as professor and chair of the department of public and hospital administration in Lahore, Pakistan.
Prior to joining InterAction, Dr. Akhter served as the Senior Associate Dean for Public and International Health at the Howard University College of Medicine.
Dr. Akhter has served in many public health leadership positions including Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, Commissioner of Public Health for Washington, D.C., and President and Medical Director of the Missouri Patient Care Review Foundation.
Through public service and professional appointments, publications, research, numerous international activities, and memberships in professional associations, he has furthered awareness of public health issues internationally.