While Jean and HB continued to focus their grantmaking largely on agriculture, Bob followed his passion for finding ways to leverage systemic change that addressed the root causes of environmental and social ills. He was deeply committed to the issue of sustainable development, which became a prominent strategic theme shaping the foundation’s early years. He was an early supporter of promoting access to reproductive health services for women and adolescent girls. The Foundation was initially housed at Population Action International, where Bob served as National Co-Chair. Bob understood the value of analytical research to provide sound evidence to support improved policies.
Gordon G. Wallace (Gordie), wife of Bob Wallace, was an early pioneer in efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) wherever practiced. She supported African women’s efforts to document the negative health impacts of FGM on women and girls and build community support for FGM abandonment. Her efforts catalyzed broader recognition of the far-reaching health consequences of this harmful practice. Two early examples of the strategic nature of her work were support for Mandeleo, a major Kenyan women’s association, which embraced alternative rituals, and for the National Association of Nigerian Nurses & Midwives, an organization that recognized the impact of FGM on women’s ability to safely deliver children. Wallace Global Fund’s support of pioneering FGM activists continues to this day.