Ana Cristina González-Vélez, MA, MD, PhD | Colombia | 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 American 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 Gonzaléz-Vélez
Ana Cristina González-Vélez is a Colombian Medical Doctor with over 25 years’ experience. She holds a master's degree in Social Research in Health as well as a PhD in Bioethics, Applied Ethics and Collective Health. A renowned international expert and leader in the field of health and sexual and reproductive rights, the right to health, and gender equality. Dr. González 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 law in Latin America and the Carribean. She is also part of the regional coalition “Articulación Feminista Marcosur. and was recently included as one of 100 most influential people in the TIME100 list of 2022.
Choolwe Jacobs, PhD, MPH | Zambia | 2022
“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 be 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
Dr. Choolwe Jacobs is a Public Health Specialist and a Socio-Epidemiologist, currently working as Head of Department for Epidemiology and Biostatics 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 disease. She focuses in particular on 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 of development of technical national guidance on health topics around sexual, reproductive, and child health.
Flora Nwagagbo, MBBS, MPH, PMP | Nigeria | 2022
“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.
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.
Ifrah Abdi, BSN, MMSc-GHD | Somaliland | 2022
“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
Ifrah Abdi is a Certified nurse-midwife and graduate from 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.
Bridget Msolomba Malewezi, MD, MPH | Malawi | 2021
“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) and a member of the WGH Chapter Steering Committee representing the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Additionally she is the Acting Chair of the task force for the establishment of the Women Doctors Association of Malawi (WDAM). She is one of the founding members, a former executive member and former 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 12th year and she has broadened this into social media pages on Facebook & Instagram – ‘DrBonHealth’ – sharing information on health and most recently on COVID-19. Dr. Malewezi is the recipient of the inaugural 2022 “Woman of Substance” award for Medicine from Plan International Malawi and Pan African Learning and Growth Network. 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, MBChB, PhD | Namibia | 2021
“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 medical doctor and infectious diseases epidemiologist with a passion for Africa and its many peoples. Her work addresses the interesting challenges of finding 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. 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 and the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, and as a Senior Fellow by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership. She is 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 Center Borstel, University of Bern, Emory University, National Taiwan University and others, with the aim of building research capacity by involving local students who will have the opportunity to participate in study activities at UNAM and the collaborating centers. During the LEAD fellowship, she completed a graduate certificate in social justice at Harvard Extension School and an executive education certificate in public leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. She is working with her Harvard mentors on a roadmap for the elimination of TB in Namibia and with her fellow Namibian LEAD fellow, Julieta Kavetuna, on establishing an academy for marginalized girls and young adolescents.
Preethi John, PhD | India | 2021
“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.
Julieta Kavetuna, M.Phil | Namibia | 2021
Julieta Kavetuna's 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, beginning with her political assignment 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 the campaign “Operation Hope”, which successfully inspired hundreds of unemployed young people to take charge of their education or employment paths. While with the Ministry of Health she became a Mental Health champion. She has also served as Secretary General of the National Youth Council, where she established the Credit for Youth in Business Scheme and improved the Young Women Leadership structures.
Julieta 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. She is currently running a clinic specialized in mental wellness of health workers and maternal mental health. With the guidance of her Mentor Professor Shekhar Sexana and her extensive acquired network, she is working to establish a Public Health Foundation of Namibia. Julieta is also collaborating with co-fellow Dr. Mareli Claassens to develop social infrastructure in Namibia that aims to empower marginalized girls, both educationally and socially.
Alice Kayongo, MPH | Uganda | 2021
“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 with 17 years’ development experience, having held several positions with civil society. She is currently a Senior Associate with the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Throughout her career, Alice has lead efforts to amplify the voice of underrepresented communities in decision-making processes that affect their health and lives. Her work triggers ownership and increases communities’ meaningful participation in the health and development sector.
Alice is an active researcher within the women’s and children’s health and rights sector in Uganda, Africa and internationally. Her research interests for the health development sector are in community mobilization and engagement in monitoring and evaluation of health service delivery at the community level, as well as in healthcare financing and health rights. Alice holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology as well as a Master of Public Health. She is a 2021 Harvard LEAD Fellow and volunteers on several boards including the Health GAP board, among others.
Cynthia Mambo, BSc, MA | Malawi | 2020
“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.
Carmen Contreras, MPH | Peru | 2020
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. She is in pursuit of a master’s degree in both Public Health and Health Research and Education. 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 19 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 | 2020
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.
Stela Bivol, MD, MPH | Moldova | 2019
“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.”
A public health enthusiast, Stela’s passion lies in taking public health innovations towards qualitative changes in health systems that ultimately impact people’s lives. Stela has over two decades of progressive career towards senior roles that combines leadership, management, technical and policy work at global, regional and national levels.
During her LEAD Fellowship Stela focused on public leadership, strategic communication, negotiation and adaptive leadership skills and design thinking for public health innovation. The new skill set came in timely to lead her team through COVID-related disruption and adaptive leadership challenges in real time. After the LEAD Fellowship, Stela Bivol joined WHO Regional Office for Europe as a Strategic Advisor Infectious Disease to support development of regional policies and efforts to ending tuberculosis, AIDS and the epidemics of viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections by 2030.
In her previous role as director of the Center for Health Policy and Studies, Stela led a region-wide initiative to improve the TB response through a multi-partner effort among 30 regional and national contributors. Via a groundbreaking grant from the Global Fund she introduced novel technological solutions, accelerated health reforms and improved engagement of communities and civil society in TB prevention and care in 11 countries. In parallel, she served on the Technical Review Panel of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. As an HIV Focal Point and Vice Chair, she co-led a 100-member body to review 14-billion USD worth funding requests from 110 countries.
Maureen Luba, B.S. | Malawi | 2019
“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 a Malawian Global Health Advocate currently serving as a Senior Program Manager at the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC). She works across different organizations, geographies and fault lines to build strong civil society coalitions. Her goal is to enhance civil society participation in provincial, national, regional and global decision-making processes. She aims to inform health-system-strengthening programs, policies and funding with locally-derived agendas. Maureen is a passionate and staunch advocate for women’s health with more than 13 years of experience working on HIV, TB and SHRS advocacy. She serves on a number of national, regional and global platforms where she continues to advocate and fight for access to quality health services for underprivileged communities. These platforms include her service as a Board member for International partnership for Microbicides, an Advisory group member of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, and her recent invitation to join the HIV Vaccine Enterprise Partnership Group. The HIV Vaccine Enterprise Partnership Group unites private sector partners, communities, academic researchers and funding bodies to support collaboration in HIV Research and Development. She is currently studying for a Masters Degree in Global Health Delivery at Harvard Medical School.
Shabnum Sarfraz, MBBS, MBA | Pakistan | 2019
Dr. Shabnum Sarfraz is an internationally recognized senior development professional with 15+ years of leadership experience in NGOs, policy think tanks, and government offices. She prioritizes large-scale high-impact reforms and boasts of project portfolios with a cumulative value of over $1.2 Billion. She sits in the Federal Planning Commission, Government of Pakistan, headed by the Prime Minister where she manages a broad range of legislative, policy and structural reforms. She is currently heading the complete cluster of Social Development Portfolio in Pakistan and is responsible for the overall financial control and oversight of the cluster’s delivery and performance.
Dr. Sarfraz is also heading the National COVID-19 Secretariat, a conduit between the UN and the government. This organization was instrumental in mobilizing funds to build back better post-COVID-19. Despite the economic contraction, she managed to secure 410 percent higher allocation for the health sector in Pakistan and is now steering the upgradation of 152 health facilities for a more resilient and responsive health infrastructure in the country.
Dr. Sarfraz steered the development of the recently launched national gender policy framework for Pakistan. She also founded the Women in Global Health chapter in Asia, bringing together 900+ women leaders for advancing gender transformative leadership and was able to secure 1000 scholarships for Pakistani nurses in the International Year of Nurses and Midwives (2020).
Dr. Sarfraz holds an MBA from Surrey University UK; a bachelor’s in medicine from Pakistan; and post-graduate certifications from Harvard University, McGill University, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Sarfraz recently won the 2021 Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Awards as conferred by the University of Surrey, UK in recognition of extraordinary professional achievements. Earlier in 2014, she received the USAID Maternal and Child Health Program Partner of the Quarter Award for outstanding performance, attention to detail, team spirit, and commitment to excellence.
Sai Subhasree Raghavan, PhD | India | 2019
“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.