Remarks by the Roger E. Joseph Family Upon Presentation of the 2015 Roger E. Joseph Prize to Rear Admiral R. Timothy Ziemer

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sarah Leopold (at podium) with (standing, from left) Rabbi Aaron Panken, Rear Admiral Timothy R. Ziemer, Ellen Joseph, Linda Karshan, Roxanne Leopold, and Roger Karshan. 

The family of Roger E. Joseph presented the 2015 Roger E. Joseph Prize to Rear Admiral R. Timothy Ziemer, President’s Malaria Initiative Coordinator, at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) Ordination on Sunday, May 3 at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. 

Their remarks are below. 


Admiral Ziemer, honored guests, dear graduates and friends:

It is, as always, an honor to share this special day with you, together with members of our family, and to formally confer the 2015 Roger E. Joseph Prize upon R. Timothy Ziemer, Rear Admiral, United States Navy (Retired) and the President’s Malaria Initiative.  

When President George W. Bush appointed Admiral Ziemer to coordinate the President’s Malaria Initiative in 2006, he chose a distinguished naval career officer, a humanitarian who had led disaster response and healthcare relief in over 30 countries, and an individual of extraordinary integrity.  

This Initiative was founded at a time when the U.S. government’s anti-malaria efforts were in a shambles -- backing outdated drugs and a budget that went to consultants designing ad campaigns telling Africans to buy mosquito nets – which most could not afford.

Admiral Ziemer came to this assignment with a special understanding and background.  From infancy through high school, he lived in Ban Me Thuot, in the central highlands of French Indochina, in what is now Vietnam.

His parents were Presbyterian missionaries, who imbued him with their values of faith, selflessness, and altruism.  As a young child, Admiral Ziemer witnessed the plight of those ostracized by illness when he watched how his father built a compound for people with leprosy, and then cared for them. 

When it was time to address a continent afflicted by malaria, he recalled his own childhood sleeping under mosquito nets and surviving a bout of malaria.

During the past nine years, under Admiral Ziemer’s dedicated leadership, the President’s Malaria Initiative has achieved remarkable success in combating this stubborn worldwide scourge.  With little fanfare, never seeking publicity or acclaim, Admiral Ziemer is recognized by his fellow malaria fighters as one of the most quietly effective leaders in public health worldwide.

Many countries now use the protocols he adopted after he demanded proof that they worked: free distribution of insecticide-treated nets, indoor pesticide spraying, routine doses of malaria medicine for pregnant women, rapid blood tests for diagnosis, and a new fast-acting drug with one of the several longer-lasting drugs for treatment. 

Admiral Ziemer, as you travel from Africa to Asia, meeting with government health ministers, national laboratories, village chiefs, local malaria educators, rural doctors and pharmacists, and local residents, you bring hope, as well as tangible relief, in your sacred mission of saving lives.

I would like to read the citation, which accompanies the $10,000 honorarium:


Loyal son of the United States of America

Inspiring example of a man governed by conscience and whose exceptional career reflects a life of passion and devotion to public health

Who has transformed his professional expertise as a US Navy Rear Admiral into a sacred mission

Whose calling bespeaks his personal gifts of mind and heart as he serves the people world-wide in relieving the burden of poverty and combatting malaria

With clarity of vision and the profound understanding of the disadvantaged, especially the most vulnerable, his work mirrors the message of our prayers, “We as partners of God will repair the world.”

And, in the words of Maimonides, “One should see the world and see himself as a scale.  When he does one good deed the scale is tipped to the good. He and the world are saved.”

Andrew Berger, Chair, Board of Governors

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., President

May 3, 2015 - 14 Iyar 5775 - City of New York


To read the remarks given by the Rear Admiral Ziemer, click here > 

For further information about 2015 Graduation and Ordination Ceremonies, click here >

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.