Harvard Global Health Institute Awards Three Harvard LEAD Fellowships for Promoting Women in Global Health

In an effort to equip and empower a diverse pool of leaders in global health, the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health offer a fellowship specifically designed to strengthen leadership skills in talented individuals from low- and middle-income countries who will, in turn, commit to the mentorship of future female leaders in global health.  

The Harvard LEAD fellowship is a transformative experience designed to empower leaders in global health. Based on their specific needs and goals, our 2020 fellows will spend time at Harvard University engaging in tailored leadership training, mentoring, speaking and networking opportunities, and independent project work. While a fellow at Harvard, they will each have access to world-class faculty, classes, and executive education programs. They will be both encouraged and challenged in new, inspiring ways. 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we intend to start the fellowship in the fall and offer online introductory activities. The full fellowship curriculum, including leadership workshops, mentorship relationships, and classes, will begin in early 2021. We are exploring different formats for the Spring semester, including an in-person experience, an online program, or a blended format. 

We are thrilled to welcome the 2020 Cohort of Harvard LEAD Fellows:

Carmen Contreras, MPH  |  Peru

“During this fellowship, I will improve my leadership ‘soft skills’ to promote positive team dynamics. I want to improve my ability to recognize early difficulties that team members may be having, and to have the empathy to address these challenges respectfully. I also want to learn strategies for working with young professionals who may respond better to a different style of leadership than what I experienced as a young professional. In addition, I want to learn communication and negotiation strategies that will help me forge partnerships with other organizations.”

Carmen Contreras is a public health professional with over 25 years of experience in the field. Contreras has a graduate degree in psychology, with qualifications in Adolescent Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health, and a Masters degree in public health. Contreras began her career by working with families of hospitalized minors with adolescent mothers. She then moved into work that supported research on drug use/abuse prevention in adolescents, domestic abuse prevention, and the development of educational mental health materials with the Department of Health. For 17 years, Contreras has been employed at Socios En Salud (SES), Partners In Health, Peru. At Socios En Salud, Contreras coordinates diverse research projects on the understanding and improvement of tuberculosis (TB) affected populations, community health, and mental health. Between 2013 and 2016, Contreras was part of the SES Community Advisory Board, a group made up of community representatives that discussed and proposed recommendations to different TB protocols in Peru. From 2014 to 2017, Contreras was a member of the Community Research Advisors Group (CRAG) of the Tuberculosis Trials Consortium (TBTC) housed at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CRAG is an advisory group consisting of representatives from five continents, established to increase the value and impact of TB research and interventions to bring greater benefit to affected communities.

Aida Kurtovic, MA, LLB  |  Bosnia

“I am a big believer of life-long education, and after completion of a massive task with the Global Fund, and an analysis of my goals and aspirations, I feel it is the right time to focus again on my personal and academic development. At Harvard, I will seek for intellectual challenge, expansion of my horizons with new knowledge, and approaches which will help me to create more impact, meeting world class experts and my cohort fellows. I believe that Harvard will have a catalytic effect on my current and future roles, career, and help me to grow as a leader.”

Aida Kurtovic is Head of Partnerships in Health (PH), a prominent civil society organization striving to enable equal access to health to all people and strengthen the health system. Aida brings a comprehensive set of skills, including strategic vision, diplomatic sensitivity, and attention to detail, all of which were developed over more than two decades in positions in international development and health program management, with a proven track record of working in complex and politically sensitive situations. 

In her previous professional endeavors, Kurtovic served as the Chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) from  2017 – 2019. Prior to that, Kurtovic served as the Vice-Chair of the Board of the GFATM from  2015 – 2017.  Kurtovic was named into the honorary title of the Chair Emeritus of the Board of The Global Fund by the Board in May 2019. From 2012 until 2014, she represented the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region and was a member of the Strategic Investment and Impact Committee of the Board of the Global Fund.  Deeply involved with Global Fund’s governance reforms, Kurtovic served as the Chair of the Ad Hoc Nominations Committee in charge of selection of the new Inspector General of the Global Fund. Kurtovic was the Vice-chair of the Country Coordinating mechanism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, focusing on strengthening the health system’s response to HIV and AIDS, development of the national programs, policy papers, guidelines, and support to the key affected populations.

Cynthia Mambo, BSc, MA  |  Malawi

“The Harvard LEAD Fellowship will give me the opportunity to strengthen and develop strong management and effective leadership skills, foster teamwork, and growth. This fellowship will not only impact me, but the communities that I interface with. I am grateful for this opportunity.”

Cynthia Mambo is a public health professional with over 15 years of experience implementing and managing programs for HIV/AIDS, nutrition, sexual reproductive health, and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Mambo is the Deputy Coordinator & Senior Program Advisor for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program at the U.S Embassy in Malawi. Mambo is currently focused on supporting Malawi’s epidemic control trajectory and continues to use her experience in epidemiology, coordination, and relationship building with governmental, bilateral and multi-sectoral counterparts (Malawi government, Ministry of Health, U.S. government), and civil society organizations), to sustain achievements in the HIV response. As the world grapples with how to best address global pandemics such as COVID-19, the gains made over the years to eradicate HIV and achieve epidemic can be lost. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Mambo’s goal is to actively participate in local initiatives that aim to mitigate the impact of HIV on vulnerable populations like adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). She works to ensure that resources mobilized for the response are efficiently used and address gaps highlighted by the faith and civil society communities. During her time as a LEAD fellow, Mambo will conduct research to assess feasibility and acceptability of a mentorship model among AGYW to improve self-efficacy and promote health seeking behavior to access to HIV services in faith-based settings.