Friends of the Global Fight Welcomes New Additions to Senior Leadership Team


Washington, D.C., November 4, 2014 — Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria today announced the appointment of two new senior leaders: Kim Cernak as Deputy Director and Houston Ernst as Policy Director. Both will help to support Friends’ mission of educating, engaging and mobilizing U.S. lawmakers, key influencers and others in support of the lifesaving work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“We are so thrilled to welcome Kim and Houston to the team,” said Friends’ President Deb Derrick. “Both bring a wealth of experience working with U.S. senior leadership and NGOs on global health, development and foreign policy efforts.”

Cernak will support Derrick, helping to provide leadership, direction, oversight and coordination of Friends’ day-to-day operations. She previously served as Deputy Director of the Policy Office at USAID, defining and shaping the agency’s efforts around ending extreme poverty, the post-2015 development agenda, and key issues of national security and foreign policy.

Prior to this role, Cernak worked at the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Special Representative for Burma, where she collaborated closely with senior U.S. government officials, Congress, Burmese officials, NGOs and other key stakeholders to formulate and implement a development assistance strategy and planning process. Cernak also previously served as Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Jacob J. Lew, whom she supported in the development of the Global Health Initiative and assisted with strategic issues related to the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator.

Ernst will lead Friends’ Policy Department, and work to inform and support the Global Fund’s work among U.S. policymakers, partners and opinion leaders. He will coordinate with colleagues at the Global Fund, in Congress, in the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and among other global health partners to oversee Friends’ and the Global Fund’s events and outreach on Capitol Hill.

Most recently, Ernst served as a Program Officer in the Africa Division at the International Republican Institute (IRI). Prior to IRI, he worked on Capitol Hill for more than six years as a legislative advisor, first to U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson in his capacities as a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on African Affairs; and, later, to Congressman Blake Farenthold on a portfolio of issues, including homeland security, defense, veterans affairs, foreign policy, trade and immigration.

“Kim and Houston join us at a unique time,” said Derrick. “As we look forward to commemorating Friends’ 10th anniversary this December, and prepare for the next phase in the fight to end HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, they will be tremendous assets to our efforts.”


Friends of the Global Fight works to end the worldwide burden of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We educate, engage and mobilize U.S. decision makers to support the Global Fund, the world’s largest public health financier. For more information about Friends of the Global Fight, visit



Sarah Marston
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