When Nadine Post arrived in Boston last July 8 to report a profile on the nonprofit Build Health International, which constructs and maintains modern hospitals in Haiti and other low-income regions, she was alerted that BHI’s Jim Ansara, his staff and their Boston-based hospital-operator partners might be distracted during interviews. The day before, Haiti’s President, Jovenel Moïse, had been assassinated. Anyone with any ties to Haiti was in shock and concerned about the safety of their loved ones and colleagues. Buildings editor Post says that under these trying circumstances, she was impressed anyone kept their appointments with her.  

Fast forward to Aug. 14, two weeks before Post was set to write the BHI profile. A magnitude-7.2 earthquake hit the southern peninsula of Haiti. Two days later, Tropical Depression Grace hit.

Post contacted Ansara, BHI’s dynamo and this year’s winner of the Award of Excellence (see p. 26), to report a story on the disasters. Ansara and his team had already sprung into action. BHI’s staff in Haiti did hospital assessments while U.S. staff started a fundraising campaign and organized plane shipments of medical supplies to Haiti—no simple undertaking.   

Post was again impressed with BHI. And she reshaped her profile to begin with the quake response (ENR 8/30-9/6/2021 p. 20).

On Feb. 21, the sudden death of Dr. Paul Farmer, a global public health visionary and hero to Ansara and legions of others, rocked the community. Ansara was devastated. He flew to Miami with his wife Karen for the  funeral.

That was the week before Post, Senior Art Director Scott Hilling, freelance videographer/photographer Bruce Buckley and I were scheduled to be in Boston for the AOE video and photo shoots.

By the time we arrived in Boston, the grief was still palpable. But there was also a steely resolve to press forward with Farmer’s global mission to provide dignified health care for the needy. “Everyone was showing true grit,” says Post.

BHI is Ansara’s second career. He is the retired founder of Shawmut Design and Construction. Post nominated him for the AOE because he created a movement, despite myriad obstacles, to help the less fortunate get better health care.

She speaks for ENR’s AOE team when she says, “It has been a privilege to get to know Jim and so many others working diligently to improve global public health. It’s not every day that journalists are fortunate enough to hitch their wagon to someone else’s star, even if only for a short time.”