Claire Topal, Principal

Claire has two decades of experience in thoughtful service to non-profits and foundations in strategic messaging and content creation, cross-sector partnership cultivation, project leadership, and the “pixie dust” of transformational high-level meetings. She knows how to translate vision into tangible materials and outcomes, is committed to sincerity, and avoids rhetoric. She appreciates the challenges and constraints of every position — from the project manager to the CEO. She takes deadlines seriously and follows through. And she appreciates that everyone has unique preferences for how (and how much) they like to communicate.

In addition to her role as Principal for Red Tomato Consulting, Claire also serves as Senior Advisor for International Health at The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). Previously, she was Managing Director for the Pacific Health Summit, where she led strategy, fundraising, and execution of the annual, invitation-only global health process through such themes as pandemic influenza, maternal and newborn health, vaccines, over and undernutrition, MDR-TB, and affordable technologies for health. During her leadership, she internationalized the meeting to include corporate, policy, and NGO leaders and unlikely, game-changing voices from 40 countries, convening Asian, African, and South American policy, NGO, and industry leaders with their Western counterparts, and engaging strategic developing country media thought leaders as partners. She also directed marketing, impact analyses, and publications. As NBR’s Vice President of International Health and Director of NBR’s Center for Health and Aging, Claire led policy research and strategic dialogues on key global health issues throughout the Asia region and served as senior editor for health-related publications.

Prior to joining NBR, she taught fine art and English literature in Shanghai and worked for the social science journal Issues & Studies: An International Quarterly on China, Taiwan, and East Asian Affairs in Taipei. She was also Associate Account Executive at the Vantage Consulting Group in New York City and worked at the International Desk of the Associated Press and in the Cultural Affairs office of the Louvre Museum in Paris. Claire holds an AB in French and Studies in Modernism, Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude, from Cornell University, and a Masters from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where she focused on Pacific Asia Studies and Conflict Resolution. She is also a painter. More on LinkedIn.

PAW2The First Red Tomato

“Be a Red Tomato,” he said. “Don’t wither on the vine.”

Philip A. Weisman, my mother’s father, lived for 90 years. He was a public health officer in the US Army of Occupation in Mie Ken, Japan, where he played a pivotal role in helping rebuild the prefecture’s bombed-out hospital and medical school. He built a friendship with Mikimoto, the inventor of the cultured pearl, on the foundation of chocolate. He then returned to Dayton, Ohio, to my brilliant grandmother, Charna, and my mother, Cathy. After completing his Surgical Residency at the Mayo Clinic, he worked for 40 years as Dayton’s first Board-Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon starting in 1953. His office was full of sculptures and other artworks created by patients whose hands he had repaired. He wrote copious articles, served on many boards, and was a member of numerous societies committed to causes of social good. He cared deeply about Rotary and its global public health efforts. He loved scuba diving, snorkeling, painting, and photography. He wrote profound letters – typed on his typewriter and lovingly illustrated with drawings – to every member of his family, and planned elaborate “dates” with each of us from babyhood to adulthood, making valiant efforts to understand our unique identities. He entertained me as a child by reciting poetry from memory – backwards and forwards. He filled meticulously organized files of all his children and grandchildren’s letters, artwork, and photos. On his deathbed, he was reading the Wall Street Journal and re-reading Grapes of Wrath every day, with a magnifying glass, and still making jokes and radiating light – even when he could no longer see, hear, move, or speak clearly.