News & commentary about the global health workforce
Vital Home

SwitchPoint: A Love Story


SwitchPoint ignites the kind of magic that makes your heart beat, your toes tap, and your mind open.

SwitchPoint, like most of my other love interests, swept me off my feet immediately.

Now, no one got down on one knee when asking if I’d like to be part of the team organizing the conference, but they did ask nicely, and of course I said “Yes!” I’d been admiring the wealth of humanitarian innovation, global health, and technology in our field since I started working with IntraHealth, but now was my chance to dance with the stars.

I’ve met so many amazing presenters over the years—over 250, in fact—and have a special place in my heart for each of them. I love how Jorge Odón joked about his unusual career trajectory, from car mechanic to medical device inventor, and how he nuzzled my infant son who came to visit during the conference. 

It’s not every day you get to dive into a petri dish of potential connections.

I love how serious Phaedra Boinodiris is about serious games, gamification, women in games, and really all things game-related. I love how much Annie and John Feighery love water, and each other. I even love how much Clement Cid loves solar toilets. And don’t get me started on all of the inventions presented at SwitchPoint: BRCK, Embrace, e-nable, sanitary pads from banana fibers, the Odón Device, FOLD, mDEX—the list goes on.

And this year will be no different.

Just imagine what we’ll learn from Robert Furberg as he explains the process of implanted RFIDs (which are in his own hands!) and their implications for physical and mental health.

Or from Roya Mahboob, one of the first female IT CEOs in Afghanistan, who has helped girls and women in low- and middle-income countries gain access to technology in order to obtain the skills they need to succeed in today’s global market.

And David Moinina Sengeh’s talents are so great and so varied I don’t know if I’m more excited to hear him rap, show his fashion designs, or explain his unprecedented research and production of prosthetics and wearables. 

This is just part of what makes SwitchPoint so special.

I don’t think I’m alone in this love story, either. How many times have I heard, “Remember that time at SwitchPoint when I met so-and-so who helped me find funding/staff/the right design for my project and my life changed forever?” It’s not every day that you get the chance to dive into a petri dish of potential connections.

This creative, collaborative environment is just part of what makes SwitchPoint so special.

Of course, not every single moment of planning and preparation is lovely. Typically my feathers go unruffled, but there are times when the rising number of columns on my spreadsheet and items on my to-do lists make me wonder if I’ll ever regain my composure. But then I have a delightful interaction with a speaker that puts me right back on a blissful plane.

That’s the way love goes.

Once all the loose ends are tethered and the crowd convenes to hear these incredible unexpected entrepreneurs, artivists, innovators, educators, and advocates talk about their work—that’s when the spark happens. SwitchPoint speakers ignite the kind of magic that makes your heart beat, your toes tap, and your mind open.

Hats off to all of the past SwitchPoint presenters, and to everyone on the 2017 schedule: I can’t wait to meet you!  

SwitchPoint is right around the corner, April 27 & 28 in Saxapahaw, North Carolina. Get your tickets today!