August 17, 2021

What’s Next For Our 2020 LEAD Fellows?

By Toochi Uradu, HGHI Intern and Carissa Novak, HGHI Program Manager

The HGHI Lead Fellowship for Promoting Women in Global Health is designed to equip women leaders in global health with the skills and networks to mentor future female leaders and to affect far-reaching change in their communities. This unique program offers an opportunity to for fellows to advance their knowledge across a host of global health issues and cultivate their leadership and mentorship skills. Although the COVID-19 pandemic transformed the fellowship into a virtual experience this past year, the 2020 LEAD fellows engaged in a rich curriculum, took part in personalized leadership training and closely collaborated with faculty mentors throughout the fellowship year.

As Aida Kurtovic, Carmen Contreras, and Cynthia Mambo wrap up their fellowship this summer, we asked them to reflect on their time as LEAD fellows and to share how the fellowship has shaped their personal and professional journeys. We were given a glimpse into the profound impact the LEAD Fellowship has had on each of the fellows, and how they will collaborate as a network of women leaders to inspire and support other aspiring global health leaders around the world.

Aida Kurtovic 

Aida joined the fellowship program from Bosnia as the Head of Partnerships in Health (PH). As a LEAD fellow, Aida engaged in several impactful courses, including Negotiation Strategies: Building Agreements Across Boundaries and Women Leading Change at the Harvard Kennedy School, as well as The Art of Communication and Advanced Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Strategies: Mastering the Science and Art at the Harvard Extension School. Through a variety of workshops and events, Aida was able to enhance her communication, policy development, and mentorship skills. A highlight from her time as a fellow was when Aida spoke at a Brown Bag Seminar with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; her presentation “Civil Society Organization Support to the Bosnian Health System under COVID-19 Pandemic Circumstances: How to Maintain the HIV Response in Focus,” explored interventions designed to increase the accessibility of ARV treatment and streamline new clinical testing protocols in Bosnia. 

Watch Aida’s full interview below to hear her takeaways from the 2020 fellowship year.

At the conclusion of the fellowship year, Aida plans to expand the scope of her work, shifting her focus from a national perspective on HIV/AIDS policy development to new regional initiatives. Aida credits her mentors, Margaret Bordeaux, Annemarie Sasdi, and Salmaan Keshavjee, who have empowered her to continue advocating for marginalized communities. Ultimately, she hopes to “contribute to the development of future women leaders in global health, but also in our societies.”

Cynthia Mambo

Cynthia joined the fellowship program as the Deputy PEPFAR Coordinator in Malawi. For Cynthia, “the beauty about this fellowship is that [she] could design [her] own program.” With this mindset, she engaged in courses that would further develop her leadership skills such as, Influence and Persuasion in Leadership at the Harvard Extension School, and Women Leading Change at the Harvard Kennedy School. Leveraging her expertise and position to empower young women in global health is of fundamental importance to Cynthia. For this reason, she provided mentorship to several undergraduate students throughout the year. Cynthia’s HSPH Brown Bag presentation, “Promoting Access to HIV Services among Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) in Malawi,” reflected her dedication to equipping young women with health promotive resources.

Watch Cynthia’s full interview below to hear her takeaways from the 2020 fellowship year.

Cynthia is looking forward to transitioning into her new role with the Global Fund in Geneva at the conclusion of the fellowship year. She intends to continue working with her mentors, Wafaie Fawzi and Mojisola Odeku, to adapt her fellowship project, which aims to support interventions that promote health-seeking behaviors among adolescents. Cynthia has enjoyed building a sisterhood with both former and current LEAD Fellows, and with their influence hopes to support young Malawian women.

Carmen Contreras

Carmen joined the fellowship program from Perú, where she is the Director of Mental Health for Socios En Salud, Partners in Health. Carmen’s background in mental health inspired her coursework selection during the fellowship year. Courses she completed include Case Studies in Global Mental Health Delivery, Women, Gender and Health: Critical Issues in Mental Health, and Foundations of Global Mental Health through the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Over the year, Carmen shared her wealth of knowledge through speaking engagements, including Integrating TB and Mental Health Services to End the Epidemic, and Salud para todos: 25 años de salud y esperanza para las comunidades más vulnerables del Perú

Watch Carmen’s full interview below to hear her takeaways from the 2020 fellowship year.

As the fellowship year concludes, Carmen will continue to work with Partners in Health on her grant projects that promote mental health development in vulnerable communities in Perú. She will also continue working with her fellowship mentors, Ana Langer and Shekhar Sekena, to design interventions for mental health providers. Join Carmen this October at the Youth Tech Health Initiative Live Global 2021 Event, where she will speak on efforts to link youth to mental health care in communities affected by COVID-19 in Perú.

Learn More About The LEAD Fellowship

While the 2021-2022 LEAD cohort has been selected, you can learn more about the fellowship program and how to apply for future years on our website