2021 BD Gold Humanism in Community Health Innovator Award presented to Thomas Tighe, visionary leader of Direct Relief


The Arnold P. Gold Foundation and Gold Corporate Council member BD (Becton, Dickinson & Company) are pleased to announce the presentation of the 2021 BD Gold Humanism in Community Health Innovator Award to Thomas Tighe, the President and CEO of Direct Relief.

BD has long supported Community Health Centers, which serve an essential role in building healthy communities, and the BD Gold joint award was created to recognize the critical role of community health centers in a more visible way. Through the 2021 award, BD and the Gold Foundation recognize Mr. Tighe’s and his team’s great contributions to underserved communities during the COVID-19 crisis. BD is a founding member of the Gold Corporate Council, a group of the world’s foremost healthcare companies that has committed to elevate humanism in healthcare and advance the Gold Foundation’s mission.

During the past year, under Mr. Tighe’s leadership, Direct Relief mobilized and donated nearly $400 million in personal protective equipment (PPE), emergency grants, and essential medications to almost 2,900 community health centers and other safety-net providers. In doing so, Direct Relief enabled these essential healthcare providers (including Free and Charitable Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers) to provide care to millions of at-risk Americans who were uninsured or underinsured.

“BD has partnered with Direct Relief for over 25 years and we have witnessed the incredible growth and strategic direction of the organization under Thomas’ leadership,” said Ellen Rafferty, Senior Manager of Social Investing at BD. “Although we have been continually impressed with the organization’s work, we were particularly moved by Thomas and his team’s round-the-clock efforts during the pandemic to help deliver critical aid to underserved communities and save lives.”

“Direct Relief helped community health centers keep their doors open to provide COVID-19 testing, keep patients out of overstretched emergency rooms, and deal with the secondary problems unleashed by COVID-19, including widespread behavioral health issues and unmanaged chronic conditions,” said Ms. Rafferty.

The award was presented to Mr. Tighe at the Gold Foundation’s Humanism & Healing Conference this spring.

“During this devastating pandemic, Thomas and his team at Direct Relief have served as a model of humanism in action,” said Dr. Richard I. Levin, President and CEO of the Gold Foundation. “Their swift aid and partnership with BD exemplify the kind of modern collaborations among corporations and not-for-profits that create a more humanistic world.”

In accepting his award, Mr. Tighe said that he did so on behalf of everyone who is part of Direct Relief who makes the organization’s work possible, and emphasized the centrality of humanism, how essential it is for us to care for each other. “The more the science advances us, and the ability to solve clinical problems and diagnose and treat them, let’s not forget what’s it’s all about at the end of the day,” he said.

This marks the second time the BD Gold award has been presented. The inaugural recipient was Ms. Malvise A. Scott, Executive Advisor to the CEO, National Association of Community Health Centers and an iconic leader in the community health field. She received the award in 2019.

Mr. Tighe also participated in a panel at the Gold conference titled “Blueprint for Social Factors that Impact Health: Lessons from Community Health Centers.” The session, part of the Gold Human InSight Webinar series, was sponsored by BD and can be viewed here.

Before joining Direct Relief in October 2000, Tighe served for five years as Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer of the Peace Corps. A native of Palo Alto, California, Tighe earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of Law.

About BD

BD is a global medical technology company that is advancing the world of health by improving medical discovery, diagnostics and the delivery of care. BD leads in patient and health care worker safety and the technologies that enable medical research and clinical laboratories. The company provides innovative solutions that help advance medical research and genomics, enhance the diagnosis of infectious disease and cancer, improve medication management, promote infection prevention, equip surgical and interventional procedures, and support the management of diabetes. The company partners with organizations around the world to address some of the most challenging global health issues. BD has nearly 50,000 associates across 50 countries who work in close collaboration with customers and partners to help enhance outcomes, lower health care delivery costs, increase efficiencies, improve health care safety and expand access to health. For more information on BD, please visit bd.com.

About the Gold Foundation

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is an international nonprofit organization devoted to keeping healthcare human through compassionate, collaborative, scientifically excellent care. This Gold standard of care embraces all and targets barriers to such care. We empower experts, learners, and leaders to together create systems and cultures that support humanistic care for all. Founded in 1988, with strong roots in medical education, the Gold Foundation has expanded to embrace today’s challenges and the whole healthcare team with patients at the center. Learn more at www.gold-foundation.org.


Munira Syeda

Munira Syeda is a contributing writer to the Gold Foundation.