Current & Past Fellows

2021 Cohort

Bridget Msolomba Malewezi, MD, MPH | Malawi

“As a leader of various local women’s organizations, I believe the skills and knowledge I will gain from participation in the fellowship will elevate the quality and standard of work that I [engage in] individually as well as the organizations I work with produce. The executive leadership training and courses will help me build cohesive and collaborative teams as I intend to share what I learn with my fellow women and leaders and generate thriving and active women-led organizations that will contribute as entities to the women’s health agenda in Malawi and globally.”

Bridget Msolomba Malewezi is a medical doctor, public health practitioner, motivational speaker, activist & health columnist. She is a graduate of the University of Malawi College of Medicine & Emory University where she completed her MPH with a focus on Global Health. She is currently the Vice President of the Malawi Chapter of Women in Global Health (WGH) as well as Acting Chair of the task force for the establishment of the Women Doctors Association of Malawi (WDAM). She is one of the founding members, an executive member and chairperson of Public Relations and COVID Public Awareness for the Society of Medical Doctors Malawi (SMD).

She has worked in various capacities including Country Director for Seed Global Health Malawi focusing on health systems strengthening and human resources for health (HRH). Prior to that, she served in various roles including Program Manager at Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). In this role she provided technical assistance to several government departments on the introduction of new vaccines for childhood illnesses as well as reproductive health.

Her health column in the national newspaper is now in its 11th year and she has broadened this into social media pages on Facebook & Instagram – ‘DrBonHealth’ – sharing information on health and most recently on COVID-19. In November 2020, she was awarded a Doctor of Excellence award by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Malawi (CPSM) in recognition of her dedication, leadership, and years of service to the medical fraternity.

Mareli Claassens, PhD, MPH | Namibia

The Harvard LEAD fellowship will hone my expertise in organizational leadership for a founding presidency of WoNam, in networking with organizations with similar aims and objectives, and in preparation for a leadership position in Global Health.”

Mareli Claassens is a clinical epidemiologist with a passion for Africa and its many peoples. She is enthusiastic to address the challenges of identifying drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) cases, mapping the transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, investigating pharmacogenomics and pharmacokinetics of DR-TB treatment in African populations, and the interface between COVID-19, TB, and HIV. While employed at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre of Stellenbosch University, she had been involved in many tuberculosis research studies. Her research covered TB case finding, TB infection control, TB in healthcare workers, initial loss to follow-up in presumed TB cases, antiretroviral treatment in TB patients and modeling studies investigating TB prevalence and incidence. 

Currently she is an Associate Research Professor at the University of Namibia (UNAM). She is funded as an African Research Leader by the UK Medical Research Council, the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, and as a Senior Fellow by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership. Her mission is to investigate DR-TB case finding in three regions of Namibia. She is a Research Fellow at Stellenbosch University, a Research Associate at the South African Centre for Modeling and Epidemiological Analysis, a member of the Global Burden of Disease Collaborator network, and a member of the Global Young Academy. She is collaborating with colleagues from Stellenbosch University, Imperial College London, Research Centre Borstel, University of Bern, Emory University, National Taiwan University and others. Their aim is to improve local research capacity by involving local students who will have the opportunity to participate in study activities at UNAM and affiliated centers.

Preethi John, PhD | India

“It is a privilege and honour to be a Harvard LEAD Fellow and I expect it will offer a life-changing transformative experience. I hope to utilise this period to expand my leadership skills to not only build sustainable institutes but also further enhance my capability in mentoring and capacity building. It would be my dream if this could inspire and motivate several others to join the women in global health movement and strengthen the resilience of the health system. The learning I will get from world class resources at Harvard will not only develop my calibre to be a better teacher, trainer, and researcher but also equip me to give back to my organisation, healthcare professionals, women, and to India.”

Preethi John is a health and development management professional with 25 years of experience in public and private sector organizations. Her expertise and experience have groomed her as a leader and institution builder. Her career track began at the Institute of Health Management Pachod, Pune, India where she was able to contribute to the spectrum of rural and urban healthcare management and action research programs. A long stint at Aravind Eye Care System (A WHO Collaborating Centre) enabled her to gain expertise in capacity building of healthcare human resources from developing countries across South Asia, Africa, and Latin America. At Chitkara University, Punjab, India she got the opportunity to pilot a model for the development of allied health professionals and establish the Chitkara School of Health Sciences as its Founder Dean. She is currently Deputy Director MBA Health at Global Business School for Health, University College London. 

In 2022 she was competitively selected as a Global Health Mentor GHMe in the Women Mentoring Women programme. She had mentees from Uganda, Greece and India. She is also currently serving as a Commissioner for Human Resources for Health in the Lancet Citizens Commission Reimagining India’s Healthcare System. 

She also serves as Advisory Board Member to Health and Development NGOs, and is the Co-Founder and current Chair of the Women in Global Health India Chapter. She holds a PhD from IIT Madras and a postgraduate degree from TISS, Mumbai, India. She is a LEAD Fellow, cohort 2021 and a visiting scientist to Harvard School of Public Health. 

Alice Kayongo, MPH | Uganda

This LEAD Fellowship comes at the perfect time when I am taking on a new senior leadership role at WACI Health, an organisation deeply committed to improving health policy and outcomes in Africa. I strongly believe in the under-utilized potential for women in Africa to lead and inspire future generations and the LEAD fellowship simply has all the ingredients I believe are critical to this aspiration. I am therefore deeply honoured and privileged to be part of the next cohort and will take this once-in-a lifetime opportunity to make a difference in my country, continent and globally.”

Alice Kayongo is a public health practitioner and human rights advocate. She has held several diverse positions in her 16 years of development experience, working largely with civil society. In addition to her academic training, she has more than 13 years of experience working with extremely vulnerable and voiceless grassroots communities affected by HIV on health literacy, advocacy, and empowerment. Together with these communities she has worked to identify key advocacy priorities in a manner that triggers ownership and increases the communities’ meaningful participation.

Alice is an active researcher within the health, women’s, and children’s rights development sector in Uganda, Africa, and internationally. Her research interests for the health development sector are in: Health Financing, Intellectual Property Rights, and Access to Medicines, the impetus for community mobilization and engagement in monitoring and evaluation of health service delivery at the community level. Her research has emphasized task shifting to improve indicators on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV. She has conducted vast research on and for young women and adolescent girls in vulnerable communities, specifically focusing on predictors of loss to follow-up amongst young people enrolled in HIV Treatment and Care. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology as well as a Master of Public Health.

Alice volunteers on several boards including the Public Health Ambassadors Uganda board, the Health GAP board as well as the Uhuru Institute Board. 

Julieta Kavetuna, MPhil | Namibia

“Life is a school which gives us opportunities to learn every day, thus I am ready to explore new avenues and improve on my current abilities and capabilities of leadership. I will capitalize on acquiring additional skills aiming to elevate Maternal and Mental Health among the top priority in our healthcare system. Namibia will be the Center of Excellence, with a global standing in issues of Maternal Mental Health in Africa. The policy I will be drafting during this fellowship will be a model instrument, which will ensure that every expecting mother receives the desired physical and mental care during and after birth.”

Julieta Kavetuna has been a community activist her entire life. Her activism is centered on the promotion of gender equity and the provision of quality health care for all, especially in the area of mental health. She has spent more than 13 years as a parliamentarian. She was politically assigned for 5-year terms as Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of Health and Social Services. During her tenure in the Ministry of Youth, she launched a campaign “Operation Hope”, which successfully inspired hundreds of unemployed young people to identify their needs and pave their own ways to take up studies or create their own employment. With the Ministry of Health she aimed to become a Mental Health champion.  She has also served as Secretary General of the National Youth Council, where she established the Credit for Youth Scheme and the Young Women Leadership structures.

She is a Registered Nurse and holds a string of post-graduate qualifications including; a diploma in gender and development, an Honors Public Management and Policy Planning certificate, and a Master of Philosophy in Public Mental Health from the University of Cape Town.

2020 Cohort 

Cynthia Mambo, BSc, MA  |  Malawi

“I am honored to be a 2020 LEAD fellow/ visiting scientist at the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The fellowship is educational and remarkably transformative. I was at a point in my career where I wanted timeout to reflect on my career path, I received support to better articulate my career goals and gain new skills and advance my professional career.”

Cynthia Mambo is a public health professional with over 15 years of experience providing leadership, program management, and strategic advice for consortium health programs in Southern Africa. She has extensive experience collaborating and negotiating with key stakeholders (country host governments, multilateral and bilateral partners, Civil Society organizations, implementing partners, and other donors). Currently, Cynthia is working for the Global Fund in Geneva, Switzerland leading the Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) initiative. She is responsible for providing technical oversight and management of the Strategic Initiative and supports the coordination of AGYW work across the Secretariat. Previously she served as the Malawi Deputy PEPFAR Coordinator overseeing the PEPFAR program and complementing the host country Government’s HIV response. Her achievement in this role was to provide quality HIV services to over one million recipients of care. Cynthia is passionate about AGYW. Her goal is to influence and empower this demographic to commit to their education so that they can grow to take charge and make informed decisions about their lives. 

Aida Kurtovic, MA, LLB  |  Bosnia

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.

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 this role Kurtovic served as the Vice-Chair of the Board of the GFATM from  2015 – 2017.  Kurtovic was named 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 the 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.

Carmen Contreras, MPH  |  Peru

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, as well as a Masters degree in public health. Contreras began her career by working with families of hospitalized minors with adolescent mothers. She then transitioned 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 of populations affected by tuberculosis (TB), improvement of 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 better benefit affected communities.

2019 Cohort 

Stela Bivol

Stela Bivol, MD, MPH | Moldova

“Being one of the four inaugural fellows was a privilege and a transformative experience. I come back home with refreshed views and new ideas. I learned about leadership and new trends in global health, I honed some new strategic planning, communication, negotiation and adaptive leadership skills, learned more about design thinking for public health innovations. It was an opportunity to expand the network and put the foundation to a few promising collaborations. I look forward to applying it in our work in the country and the region as part of the 18-month growth plan following the residence phase. We are also starting a mentorship program so I am excited to support women in global health to advance in their careers.”

Stela Bivol is director of the Center for Health Policy and Studies (PAS Center), a non-profit focused on disease response and health systems strengthening in Eastern Europe. A trained family physician, Bivol’s passion lies in bringing a people-centered model of care to Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She has led region-wide efforts to improve the TB response, funded by the Global Fund, contributing to accelerated health reforms in countries such as Belarus and Kazakhstan. While at Harvard, Bivol will focused on what it will take to move Eastern European nations from foreign-funded emergency responses to infectious diseases towards sustainable, more resilient health systems.

Maureen Luba

Maureen Luba, B.S. | Malawi

“I came to Harvard to hone my professional and leadership skills but in the end I got so much more than that. Spending fourth months at Harvard immersed in a rigorous program gave me the opportunity to network and draw from experiences from many of the greatest global health leaders and advocates. As a LEAD fellow I was able to engage in courses from any Harvard school. The flexibility and customization of this experience allowed me to strengthen the particular skills that define my career as a global health leader.”

Maureen Luba is Africa region advocacy advisor for the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) and an award-winning advocate based in Malawi. A rising force in community work around HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, Luba also founded a mentorship program for girls focused on education and sexual and reproductive health. Luba brings Africa-centered leadership and locally-derived agendas to the HIV/AIDS response in her work across organizations, geographies and fault lines to build strong civil society organization coalitions. While at Harvard, she explored how to make data tools available for advocacy as well as how to drive evidence-based health policy change in her region.

Sai Raghavan

Sai Subhasree Raghavan, PhD | India

“The Harvard Global Health Lead Fellowship is once in a lifetime opportunity which helped me to reflect, rejuvenate and refuel my mind and body, both of which were fatigued from 20 years of continuous and intensive public health program implementation. The world-renown professors of strategy, leadership, communication, and innovation at Harvard University, opened their classrooms for us, not only to learn but also to contribute to the learning. The case study-based class discussions that were drawn from the experiences of leaders and organizations across the world, made us aware of the need for strengthening the unconscious mind by consciously reducing the biases and transforming self, communities, and countries for building one equal and just world we all aspire. The executive education program on climate change made me realize the urgency of action in my country and the program on culture of innovation and leadership transformed me into another world of discovery, inspiring me to want to become an innovation coach for the young public health professionals. The fellowship acquired special status, when we met the benefactor of the fellowship, powerful yet gentle woman leader from China, who reminded me of the importance of continuing the giving circle by nurturing young women leaders who can transform the Asia Pacific Region. Sharing four months with three other extra-ordinary, ambitious and courageous women from Pakistan, Moldova and Malwai taught me, that we often forget the wonders lie outside our conscious purview, if only we allow our minds to peer into and believe the strength of others. “

Sai Subhasree Raghavan is the founding president of SAATHII (Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India), a non-profit working towards universal access to healthcare, justice, and social welfare for marginalized communities across 36 states in India. Under her stewardship SAATHII implements HIV prevention, care, and treatment programs as well as initiatives on maternal and infant mortality. At Harvard, Raghavan researched how to expand on SAATHI’s lessons learned and develop a strategic plan that will design new interventions, such as cervical cancer screening and treatment.

Shabnum Sarfraz

Shabnum Sarfraz, MBBS, MBA | Pakistan

“HGHI graciously opened doors for me to take advantage of the vast intellectual resources available at the various schools and departments of the Harvard University and most importantly gave me the complete freedom to design “my time at Harvard”. The fellowship sharpened my leadership skills necessary to work successfully at the highest policy level while working with diverse stakeholders in contested arenas.”

Dr. Shabnum Sarfraz is senior advisor for health systems and policy research at P2Impact Associates, an organization focused on evidence-informed pathways to transforming the health, education and social sectors in Pakistan. A doctor with an MBA, Sarfaz has found her calling in health systems management, and policy reforms. She has managed large-scale, high-impact health projects while working with the government of Pakistan and partners such as DFID, USAID, and WHO. She is leading the women in Global Health drive in her country. While at Harvard, Sarfraz conducted research on barriers to health career advancement for women in Pakistan.