July 29, 2022

HGHI Presents the 2022 LEAD Fellows for Promoting Women in Global Health

The Harvard Global Health Institute is thrilled to announce the fourth cohort of LEAD Fellows for Promoting Women in Global Health. Founded in 2019, the LEAD Fellowship is a collaboration between the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Women in Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Made possible by the generous support of Jane Jie Sun, the mission of LEAD is to promote leadership skills in women from low- and middle-income countries, where women deliver over 70% of healthcare yet make up only 5% of executive positions. The 2022-2023 cohort of LEAD fellows includes four outstanding women leaders from Somaliland, Colombia, Nigeria, and Zambia. The four fellows will commence their year of leadership development, mentorship, and training this September. During the fellowship, they will engage in individualized leadership training, work with world-class faculty, attend executive courses, participate in skill-building workshops, and take part in extensive mentorship and coaching programs. Please see below to learn more about the 2022-2023 cohort.

Introducing the 2022-2023 LEAD fellows: Ana C. Gonzalez of Colombia, Choolwe Jacobs of Zambia, Flora Nwagagbo of Nigeria, and Ifrah Abdi of Somaliland.

Ana C. Gonzalez, MA, MD, PhD  |  Colombia

Ana Cristina González Vélez is a Colombian Medical Doctor with over 25 years of experience. She holds a master’s degree in Social Research in Health as well as a Ph.D. in Bioethics, Applied Ethics, and Collective Health. Dr. González is a renowned international expert and leader in the field of health and sexual and reproductive rights, the right to health, and gender equality. She has held several positions across the spectrum of her profession: as a service provider, policy formulator, researcher, international advisor, activist, and teacher on “health law” at the Faculty of Medicine. Dr. González is the former national public health director in Colombia and co-founder of La Mesa por la Vida y la Salud de las Mujeres and the Medical Group for The Right to Decide in Colombia. She pioneered the Causa Justa movement of Colombia that established the most liberal abortion laws in Latin America and the Caribbean. She is also part of the regional coalition “Articulación Feminista Marcosur” and was recently included as one of the 100 most influential people in the TIME100 list of 2022.

“This program represents a huge opportunity for me personally but also at a collective level, as I have been part of different national and regional efforts in Colombia and Latin America aimed to produce changes in the field of reproductive rights…The analysis around the political method, the innovative framings, or the mentorship process I have helped to build as part of the battles for women’s reproductive freedom could benefit immensely from [the LEAD program’s] executive education courses, the senior advisors, the literature, and the experience from other leaders around the world…I [am committed] to bringing more women leaders into the field of reproductive justice.” – Ana Cristina Gonzalez

Choolwe Jacobs, PhD, MPH | Zambia

Dr. Choolwe Jacobs is a Public Health Specialist and a Socio-Epidemiologist currently working as Head of the Department for Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at the University of Zambia. She is the co-founder and country director for Women in Global Health, Zambia. She has extensive experience working on Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health, HIV/AIDS, and non-communicable diseases. Dr. Jacobs specializes in gender and health equity in access to health care services and health outcomes as well as in global health leadership. She has been providing technical advice to the Ministry of Health through her leading role in developing technical national guidance on health topics around sexual, reproductive, and child health.

“I have a vision of taking critical leadership roles to ensure gender equity in global health leadership and in health care access or outcomes for populations at national, regional, and global levels. I look forward to a life-changing transformative experience through the Harvard LEAD Fellowship and to being able to obtain skills, capacity, and experience in leadership. I will maximize this opportunity not only for my career goals in global health leadership but more so for the benefit of many emerging leaders in the country, region, and globally through mentorship.” – Choolwe Jacobs

Ifrah Abdi, BSN, MMSc-GHD | Somaliland

Ifrah Abdi is a Certified nurse-midwife and graduate of Edna Adan University Hospital in Somaliland. Ifrah has worked at Edna Adan University Hospital as a midwife for the past 18 years. In Somaliland, Ifrah trains traditional birth attendants in rural villages to help improve outcomes during pregnancy and childbirth. Ifrah presently serves as the Associate Dean of Nursing at Edna University Hospital and is a recent graduate of the Masters in Global Health Delivery Program at Harvard Medical School. Ifrah’s thesis project at HMS assessed factors that impact maternal health outcomes in Somaliland. Ifrah’s vision for Somaliland is the end of preventable maternal deaths by ensuring women can access care at every stage before, during, and after pregnancy.

“I am honored to be a 2022 LEAD fellow. This is a perfect opportunity to share information and advocate for change by empowering girls at a young age, to help create a new generation of powerful women leaders in Somaliland who are unafraid to pursue their dreams and reach their potential. My goal is to utilize the executive leadership training and courses to help me implement continental frameworks that promote gender parity and inclusion so that, over time, women will be in more positions of leadership and able to contribute to the development of the continent.” -Ifrah Abdi

Flora Nwagagbo, MBBS, MPH, PMP  |  Nigeria

Flora Nwagagbo is a public health professional with over 16 years of diversified healthcare experience, spanning clinical practice, healthcare management, public health, and program management. She is the Senior Program Specialist for TB/HIV Care and Support and leads the TB/HIV implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Nigeria. She also serves as the Incident Commander for the HIV treatment program focused on scaling up access to life-saving antiretroviral treatment in Nigeria and achieving HIV epidemic control. In addition, she provides technical and programmatic management of multi-component awards for CDC Nigeria. Prior to joining the CDC, she led the implementation of large-scale health projects funded by USAID, the Global Fund, and multinational companies in the public and private sectors in Nigeria.

“The LEAD Fellowship program is timely. It is coming at a time when my agency is launching its enterprise-wide Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) plan to address pervasive and longstanding health disparities and inequities…It is an honor to be a part of such a rich community of experienced leaders and to learn from their journey. I look forward to the coaching, mentoring, communication, negotiation, and conflict management sessions which will enhance my leadership capacity. I am confident that the fellowship will help me become the exemplary, inspirational, and transformational woman leader that my country and global health so desperately need, and I will be better able to mentor future women leaders who will positively impact global health.” – Flora Nwagagbo.

For more information on the LEAD fellowship at HGHI, please here.