Pernessa C. Seele, CEO

Pernessa C. Seele is the founder and CEO of the Balm in Gilead, Inc., a not-for-profit organization celebrating three decades of providing technical training and services that strengthen the capacity of faith institutions in the United States and Africa to promote health education, disease management, and services that contribute to the elimination of human suffering. Time magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People. Essence magazine, in its 35th-anniversary edition, selected her as one of the 35 Most Beautiful and Remarkable Women in the World. Ebony magazine named her one of its Power 150. And she was selected by Women’s eNews as one of its 21 Leaders for the 21st Century. She believes loving your neighbors as you love yourself is key to healing our world of stigma, hate, fear and shame.

Pernessa C. Seele (born October 15, 1954) is an American immunologist and interfaith public health activist. Seele is the CEO and founder of Balm in Gilead, Inc., a religious-based organization that provides support to people with AIDS and their families, as well as working for prevention of HIV and AIDS. In 1989 she initiated the Harlem Week of Prayer, with 50 churches, synagogues and mosques participating. This became an annual event and organizing force for the religious community to respond to the AIDS crisis.

Seele incorporated a growing organization as “The Balm in Gilead, Inc.” This national movement to address public-health issues through communities of faith”[1] has grown to include more than ten thousand churches, and numerous branches in the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. After 30 years in New York, Seele and the organization are now based in Richmond, Virginia.[2]