The TIME100 Next 2021 list is out and Get Us PPE’s Executive Director, Shikha Gupta, M.D. was named an honoree, alongside viral immunologist Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett, infectious-diseases physician Dr. Ayesha Verrall, Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, comedian Amber Ruffin, musicians Dua Lipa and Phoebe Bridgers, and others! The annual list—out this week —honors 100 individuals who are “shaping the future of their fields and defining the next generation of leadership.”
In a crisis, small acts can make a big impact. And in extraordinary times, ordinary people, driven by service, can do extraordinary things.
– Congressman Andy Kim on Dr. Shikha Gupta
Converging Medicine, Tech & Policy
When Get Us PPE formed in March 2020, Dr. Shikha Gupta was one of the first volunteers. Our organization began as a grassroots movement to get sparse personal protective equipment (PPE) like N95 masks, hospital gowns, and nitrile gloves to healthcare workers facing shortages.
Shikha and her colleagues were fuelled by what she describes as collective “righteous outrage” as friends and colleagues were at the frontlines of the pandemic without the protection they needed to stay safe. Although expected to last a mere two weeks, it was clear that we needed a longer-term plan with no other help in sight.
Alongside two siblings, a cousin, and about 200 other fellow volunteers, Shikha worked to spread the word about the PPE crisis. Get Us PPE’s goal at the time was to mobilize any PPE available, including dusty boxes of N95s left over in people’s garages from home improvement projects, and encourage donations to local hospitals in need.
Over the next few frenzied months, Shikha and two other Get Us PPE volunteers spearheaded a transformation: they rebuilt what had been a short-term crisis response team functioning in a state of organized chaos into the largest nonprofit delivering donated PPE to people in need. This new nonprofit was built to last. The organization that once posted maps of hospitals for individuals to drop off their extra boxes of N95s was now a sophisticated operation.
Congressman Kim writes, “Dr. Shikha Gupta wasn’t on the White House Task Force. She wasn’t a governor or a member of Congress. She held no title other than doctor and citizen. But when she and her colleagues saw a need—and a hashtag—they met the moment and took action.”
Fair Distribution in Times of Need
Based out of Washington D.C., Shikha has centered her career in the intersection of medicine, public health policy, and technology and is a passionate advocate for health equity, believing we as citizens hold the power to affect policy changes.
In November 2020, Shikha became Get Us PPE’s first executive director, overseeing the deployment of Get Us PPE’s Fairness Distribution Algorithm—the first crisis relief algorithm to optimize efficiency and equity through AI matching technology. As an effective communicator, Shikha has used her platform to amplify the voices of these groups in need of PPE, as well as promoting masking and adequate PPE production as a way to reduce the spread of the pandemic.
Shikha Gupta: A Leader With A Vision For a Post-COVID-19 World
On February 17, 2021, she was named a TIME100 Next honoree. TIME100 Next “highlights 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future,” writes TIME CEO and Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal, representing hope “amid a global pandemic, deepening inequality, systemic injustice and existential questions about truth, democracy and the planet itself.” Dan Macsai, the editorial director of the TIME100 says, “Everyone on this list is poised to make history. And in fact, many already have.”
Despite the pandemic’s hold on our attention, Shikha is looking forward to a post-COVID-19 world. One that, she hopes, will employ Get Us PPE’s technology in future disaster relief efforts.
Get Us PPE is proud of the work Shikha has done and is honored to have her named among many distinguished and impressive figures—both past and present.