African First Ladies Fellowship Program Participants

The First Ladies

Thandiwe Banda

Her Excellency Mrs. Thandiwe Banda has been the First Lady of Zambia since her husband, President Rupiah Banda, took office in November of 2008. She has a strong interest in health issues especially with regards to maternal and child health. She is also an advocate for strengthening legislation with regards to sexual violence against girls and women. The First Lady believes that Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are critical partners of the government in helping improve social and economic status in the country and has committed to using her status as First Lady to mobilize resources for such NGOs. She has also called for more coordination between the various NGOs so as to improve the efficacy of their programs and avoid duplication of efforts.

Chantal Campaoré

Her Excellency Mrs. Chantal Compaoré has been the First Lady of Burkina Faso since her husband, President Blaise Compaoré, took office in 1987. Mrs. Compaoré is committed to issues affecting women and children, particularly female genital mutilation (FGM), violence against women, child health, and HIV/AIDS. Mrs. Compaoré directs the Suka Foundation which is involved in a range of activities related to maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, and girls' education, including the creation of SOS Children's Village for Ziniare, vaccination programs, construction of woman's house, and various public awareness campaigns, to name a few. Under Mrs. Compaoré's leadership, the Suka Foundation has partnered with the Foundation Biya, under the guidance of the First Lady of Cameroon Mrs. Chantal Biya, to combat HIV/AIDS transmission. Mrs. Compaoré is also the Inter-African Committee's Goodwill Ambassador.

Maria da Luz Guebuza

Her Excellency Mrs. Maria da Luz Guebuza has been the First Lady of Mozambique since her husband, President Armando Guebuza, took office in 2005. As First Lady, Mrs. Guebuza is committed to addressing the issues of literacy, HIV/AIDS, and orphaned and vulnerable children and has attended related conferences across Africa. In collaboration with UNICEF, Mrs. Guebuza launched the Unite For Children, Unite Against AIDS Campaign, a five-year campaign whose main aim is to put "children at the Centre of the national response to HIV/AIDS." The campaign is part of a global UN initiative. Mrs. Guebuza supports the work of Maranatha Volunteers, a non-profit group which administers a four-level literacy program, and the SOS Children's Village, an organization providing vital support to orphaned children in Mozambique.

Salma Kikwete

Her Excellency Mrs. Salma Kikwete has been the First Lady of Tanzania since her husband, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, took office in 2005. Mrs. Kikwete is the Founder and President of the WAMA Foundation, which targets development by improving women's social and economic status by re-defining gender roles and creating more opportunities for the development of women and children, particularly girls. The Foundation also aims to reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS infections among youth and children. Mrs. Kikwete is a member of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA). Mrs. Kikwete, along with her husband, President Kikwete, and the Presidents and First Ladies of Benin and the United States, was honored among the 2008 End Malaria Awards' President and First Lady Advocates of the Year.

Sia Nyama Koroma

Her Excellency Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma has been First Lady of Sierra Leone since her husband, President Ernest Bai Koroma, took office in September 2007. As First Lady, she has dedicated her efforts to promoting gender equality in Sierra Leone and empowering women through better education and health. She is also committed to the enhancement of the standard of living for the most poor and vulnerable groups, focusing her efforts on reducing infant and maternal mortality. In the international arena, Mrs. Koroma has used her status as the First Lady to raise the profile of Sierra Leone and to advocate for the poor and vulnerable. Mrs. Koroma was trained as a biochemist (M.Sc. in organic chemistry), and a psychiatric staff nurse both in Sierra Leone and in the United Kingdom.

Mathato Mosisili

Her Excellency Mrs. Mathato Mosisili has been First Lady of Lesotho since her husband, Prime Minister Bethuel Pakalitha Mosisili, took office in April 1998. She is committed to health issues, particularly the fight against HIV/AIDS and the care of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. She is the patron of the Lerato Trust Charity Fund and the Selibeng Women's forum. She is also a special member of the United Nations task force on women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Additionally, she coordinates the activities of the spouses of Parliamentarians with respect to HIV/AIDS activities at the community level. Mrs. Mosisili is trained as a teacher and has extensive experience as a lecturer at the Lesotho College of Education and as an education inspector.

Penehupifo Pohamba

Her Excellency Mrs. Penehupifo Pohamba has been First Lady of Namibia since her husband, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, took office in March 2005. In her tenure as First Lady, she has advocated for the empowerment of women to enable them to make a meaningful contribution to the development of society and has fought for the eradication of violence and other forms of injustice against women. She has also been active in supporting maternal and child health-care, and in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In July 2006, she was elected vice president for the Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC). Mrs. Pohamba was trained in midwifery both in Tanzania and Jamaica and practiced as a midwife and as a registered nurse until she became First Lady.

Ida Betty Odinga

Her Excellency Mrs. Ida Betty Odinga of Kenya has been playing an influential role in political and civil issues in Kenya since her husband, Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga, took office in April 2008. Mrs. Odinga is the founder of the Ida Odinga Trust (IOT), a non-partisan, non-profit organization that focuses on the advancement of women and children in the areas of education, maternal heath, and women in leadership roles. Being one of the first women in Kenya to lead a major corporation when she took over as the Managing Director of East Africa Spectre in 2003, Mrs. Odinga is known for her leadership. She also served as the National Chairperson of The League of Kenya Women Voters. In May 2009, she was nominated and accepted to serve as the Ambassador for Freedom from Fistula and has recently launched a program that mentors girls to stay in school and complete their education. She also supports various initiatives supporting patients of breast cancer and children with cancer, as well as heading the advisory board of the Kenya Paraplegic Association, among others. She is a patron of White Ribbon Alliance-Kenya, Kenya Medical Women's Association and Kenya Breast Health Organization, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and UNICEF nutrition initiatives. Mrs. Odinga is a teacher by profession having taught for a period of over 20 years.


Anita McBride

Anita McBride served as Assistant to President George W. Bush and Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush from 2005 to 2009. As Chief of Staff, she coordinated closely with policymakers and worked directly with agency heads, senior White House officials and members of Congress and their staffs to advise Laura Bush on her domestic and international initiatives, including education, global literacy, youth development, women's rights, and global health. Her White House service spans two decades and three U.S. presidential administrations. She presently serves as a senior advisor to the George W. Bush Institute, is an executive in residence at the Center for Presidential and Congressional Studies in the School of Public Affairs at American University, and is Chair of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Cora Neumann

Cora Neumann is codirector of the RAND African First Ladies Fellowship Program. She is currently working with African First Ladies and health ministries, U.S. government officials, and various international NGOs to develop improved women's health and education programs throughout Africa. She has conducted extensive field research among refugee and rural populations on the Thai-Burma border and in rural India, examining the restructuring of health systems, community resiliency, and the effects of foreign policy on local health outcomes.

Gery W. Ryan

Gery W. Ryan is codirector of the RAND African First Ladies Fellowship Program. He is a senior social scientist at RAND, director of the RAND Summer Associate Program, and a core faculty member at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. His research in health has focused on HIV/AIDS (including the scale-up of ART in Africa), childhood diarrhea and acute respiratory illnesses, nutrition and obesity, mental health, and complementary and alternative medicine. He has designed, implemented, and evaluated complex health and education delivery systems and has worked extensively in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Robert M. Tobias

Robert M. Tobias is the Director of Public Sector Executive Education at American University and teaches and oversees the Key Executive Leadership Programs that involve over 440 federal leaders. He is also the Director of the Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation at American University. The Institute brings together members of Congress, political appointees, career executives, union leaders, academics, and the consulting community to discuss and attempt to resolve public policy implementation issues.

Jeffrey Wasserman

Jeffrey Wasserman is a senior policy analyst at RAND and has over 25 years of experience directing large and complex health services research projects in the areas of public health preparedness, health care financing, and health promotion and disease prevention. He is currently leading projects related to evaluating the public health system's ability to prepare for and respond to infectious-disease outbreaks and to assessing the impact of health reform options in the United States. He has published numerous papers and technical reports and has co-authored three books on health policy.

Guest Lecturers

Samuel Adeniyi-Jones

Samuel Adeniyi-Jones is Director of the Africa Region within the Office of Global Health Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to this, he held several positions at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1981-2005. As a medical scientist with NIH and a consultant to organizations such as the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and World Health Organization, Dr. Adeniyi-Jones worked on HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and health research in Africa. At the dawn of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, he worked closely with governments of several African countries, including Uganda and Nigeria, to help develop their national AIDS control programs. For over twenty years, he has been an advocate, advisor, and technical expert for scientific institutions, governments, and healthcare organizations all over Africa.

Susan Brown

Susan Brown is the Director of Health Education for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. Her health education team is responsible for providing relevant breast cancer and breast health information to the public and affiliates through multiple venues. She provides guidance and direction in the design, development, implementation, evaluation, and coordination of educational materials, programs, and projects. She collaborates with leadership in the breast health and breast cancer organizations to penetrate target markets and create educational initiatives for designated populations. In addition, she represents Komen for the Cure as a spokesperson and content expert for national and international audiences, affiliates, and volunteer training. Prior to Komen, she worked as a professional registered nurse in oncology, focusing on breast cancer exclusively since 1987.

Catherine Connor

Catherine Connor is Director of Public Policy at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation where she oversees both a domestic and global HIV and AIDS policy portfolio. Her work focuses on improving global HIV/AIDS financing policies and prioritizing pediatric HIV/AIDS within the global HIV/AIDS response. Specifically, Connor spearheads the Foundation's U.S. legislative efforts and multilateral advocacy engagement on global health issues, including policies related to pediatric HIV/AIDS and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs. She also manages the Foundation's global advocacy portfolio, working with field staff to advocate for the elimination of pediatric HIV and AIDS in individual countries and throughout the region. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2007, Connor worked at Patton Boggs LLP in Washington, D.C. as a lawyer and lobbyist specializing in U.S. health care law and public policy.

Linda Distlerath

Linda Distlerath is a Senior Vice President at APCO Worldwide. She was formerly the Vice President of Global Health Policy and Health Policy, Asia Pacific, at Merck & Co., Inc. Dr. Distlerath specializes in HIV/AIDS and vaccine-related policy, collaborations with nongovernmental organizations, and public-private partnerships with foundations, multi-lateral organizations, academic institutions, and governments worldwide. She has significant experience in sub-Saharan Africa, China, and Southeast Asia. While at Merck, Dr. Distlerath spearheaded the development and implementation of the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP), a unique public-private partnership among Merck and The Merck Company Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Government of Botswana. She also created another major HIV/AIDS partnership between Merck and the government of China. Dr. Distlerath is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a trustee for the Committee for Economic Development, an advisory board member for the journal Global Health Governance, and adjunct professor in public health at East Tennessee State University.

Frederick Gerber

Frederick Gerber is the Country Director for Iraq and Special Projects at Project HOPE, a non-profit health capacity development foundation. In Iraq, he worked the past six years to support a first lady public-private partnership initiative to build, equip, and train a 101-bed pediatric specialty hospital. In his role as Director of Special Projects, he recently completed planning and executing 21 large-scale volunteer global operations, safely deploying over 1,000 civilian health care providers to over 104 countries, treating over .5 million patients, performing 8,000 surgeries, and training over .5 million trainers and trainees. Prior to joining Project HOPE, he worked 31 years in his first career in the U.S. Army Medical Department as a medical planner/operator. During this time he commanded and deployed small to large medical systems around the globe. He provided medical care on three battlefields and numerous Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations.

Jocelyn Frye

Jocelyn Frye is the Deputy Assistant to President Obama for Domestic Policy and Director of Policy and Special Projects for the First Lady. In this role, she oversees the broad issue portfolio of the First Lady, with a particular focus on women, families, and engagement with the greater D.C. community. Prior to her appointment, Frye served as General Counsel at the National Partnership for Women & Families in Washington, D.C., where she directed the National Partnership's Workplace Fairness Program, concentrating on a wide range of employment and gender discrimination issues. Frye has extensive experience working on issues related to equal employment opportunity and workplace fairness. During her 15-year tenure at the National Partnership, she testified before Congress and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on federal enforcement of employment discrimination laws, analyzed the effectiveness of federal equal employment enforcement efforts, coordinated amicus curiae briefs and work on judicial nominations, and participated in a number of civil rights and women's coalitions.

Rhoda Igweta-Murangiri

Rhoda Igweta is a Senior Public Policy and Advocacy Officer for Africa at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation where she is responsible for regional advocacy. She works in collaboration with key Foundation staff on the implementation of a global advocacy strategy and in-country advocacy strategies for the Foundation's presence in countries in Africa. Specifically, she is working on advancing the Foundation priorities with leading regional policymaking bodies, including the African Union, SADC and the EAC, as well as maintaining close working relationships with key policymakers and opinion shapers at both country and regional levels. She is based in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to joining the Foundation, Igweta-Murangiri worked for the National Human Rights Commission and specialized in advocacy for the promotion and protection of rights, including the right to health.

Jennifer Klein

Jennifer Klein serves as a Senior Advisor on Global Women's Issues in the Office of Global Women's Issues at the Department of State. Her work focuses primarily on global health and education. Prior to joining the State Department, she was a consultant to foundations and non-profit organizations on children's, women's, and health issues. Under the Clinton Administration, Klein was the Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy—functioning both as First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's domestic policy advisor and as a member of the Domestic Policy Council staff. In that capacity, she focused on health care, child care, early childhood development, adoption and child welfare, and other women's and children's issues. She also led interagency policy development processes, drafted legislation and regulations, worked closely with congressional staff and advocacy groups, briefed members of the press, and developed events for the President and First Lady.

Joanne Manrique

Joanne Manrique is the Executive Director of the Susan G. Komen Global Health Alliance, where she leads global strategy for Komen. Manrique has served as an advisor to multiple global leaders including as maternal health advisor to several presidents, as Latin America Advisor to presidential candidate John Kerry; and as a Women's Research & Education Institute fellow advising United States Representative Rosa DeLauro on FDA and international women's health issues. Manrique also served as Executive Director to the President of Experior Advisory, a firm run by the former Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. Her work at Experior included directing research and policy projects on public health programs for refugees, women, and children in the Middle East and Latin America. Manrique has spoken widely on the effects that armed conflict has on women's health. In Lebanon, she helped to establish an NGO to advance critical aid projects, without regard for religious affiliation.

Marjorie Margolies

Marjorie Margolies is the President and founder of Women's Campaign International (WCI). As a teacher, trainer, member of Congress, journalist, and author, Margolies has served as a mentor and role model to countless young women. In addition to her work with WCI, Margolies teaches at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania and is a senior fellow with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. In addition, she has recently been appointed to the Vietnam Education Foundation, a White House commission. Some of her other accomplishments include the Democratic Party nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania in 1998, head of the United States Delegation to the 1995 Women's Conference in Beijing, and head of official U.S. delegations to India, Spain, Austria, Turkey, and Khazakstan. In 1992 she was elected to Congress, an experience she chronicled in the book A Woman's Place: The Freshman Women Who Changed the Face of Congress. She spent more than 25 years as a television journalist, winning five Emmys. In 1976, she wrote They Came to Stay, a book about her experiences in becoming the first single parent to adopt children from overseas, one of four books she authored. She has a combined family of 11 children.

Betsy McCallon

Betsy McCallon is the Deputy Director for the Global Secretariat of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA). She has provided strategic direction and leadership in the management and coordination of WRA safe motherhood initiatives since 2004. McCallon's specialties include program design and management, and strengthening WRA's global alliance through capacity building and strategic planning. She also provides strategic direction on maternal and newborn health (MNH) advocacy efforts focusing on the future large-scale impact of MNH initiatives. She currently works as a liaison between advocates and experts in developing countries and resource-rich countries to help leverage commitment and resources. McCallon's greatest accomplishment with WRA has been helping provide a platform for women's voices—especially in developing countries—to be heard loudly and clearly. McCallon has worked extensively throughout Asia, Africa, and Central America.

Sally McDonough

Sally McDonough is the Director of the Office of Communications for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. McDonough leads the Institute on communications strategy and oversees the execution of all public affairs and media activities and oversees the Institute's health information center and its public health campaigns. Prior to joining the NHLBI, McDonough served as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications and Press Secretary to First Lady Laura Bush. At the White House, McDonough was a member of the First Lady's senior staff where she was the chief advisor on communications matters. McDonough's work has earned her several awards for excellence in advertising, public relations, and professional achievement.

Niamani Mutima

Niamani Mutima is the executive director for African Grantmaker's Affinity Group (AGAG). She joined AGAG in 2001 after 20 years of working on Africa socio-economic development issues. As AGAG's first staff person, she has worked to develop the idea of how a community of funders can work together to promote increased and more effective funding in Africa. Before joining AGAG, Niamani worked with public and private organizations in the U.S and in African countries on a range of development issues focusing on strategic alliances and links. She worked with the African American Institute for over 17 years and traveled extensively to and within Africa working to facilitate relationships and communications between African and American institutional leaders in a range of public and private sectors. She is a writer and poet, and is a contributing editor of Black Masks, a national theater journal.

Conrad Person

Conrad Person is the Director of Corporate Contributions at Johnson & Johnson. He has developed and implemented programs for health care capacity improvement around the world with a special emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa. As an expert in humanitarian product donations, he served as board chair of the Partnership for Quality Medical Donations. Person was the founding board chair of the Association for Corporate Contributions Professionals, an organization devoted to enhancing the impact of corporate giving programs through professional development. He has 25 years of manufacturing and human resources experience in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. He resides in Plainfield, N.J. and serves as Chair of the Union County Cultural and Heritage Programs Advisory Board and as treasurer of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Carolyn Reynolds

Carolyn Reynolds is communications advisor in the Human Development Network of The World Bank. In this capacity she advises senior management on strategic communications and policy on education, health, social protection, and related programs. Previously, she led the team responsible for global Bank-civil society relations. On leave from the Bank from 2007 to 2009, Reynolds was managing director of Impact 08, a public advocacy campaign funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Hewlett Foundation to encourage the new U.S. President to make global health and development a higher priority in U.S. foreign policy. Prior to joining the World Bank in 1998, she was advocacy director for InterAction, the largest coalition of U.S. NGOs working on international humanitarian relief and development, and as an aide and acting staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa.

Gary Saffitz

Gary Saffitz joined the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) as Manager for Advocacy in January 2010 to lead and support GAIN's nutrition advocacy efforts at the country, regional, and global level and to create more enabling environments for fortification and other nutrition interventions. Prior to GAIN, he was the Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs where he provided leadership and strategic oversight to advocacy and communication programs in over 20 countries, with a focus on family planning, HIV/AIDS, tobacco control, child survival, and several other global health initiatives. He also ran his own social marketing/communication agency and was a previous vice president and account group head at Porter Novelli, where his work focused on chronic disease interventions including the National High Blood Pressure Education Program in the U.S.

Luwam Semere

Luwam Semere is an obstetrician/gynecologist and is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Semere received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School where she conducted research related to female genital cuttings in Eritrea and also rotated through the Palestine Red Crescent Maternity Hospital in Jerusalem. She then completed her training at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital Integrated Residency Program in Obstetrics and Gynecology during which time she worked at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre, Malawi. She has co-authored a paper regarding obstetric fistula in developing countries. She is currently pursuing research regarding reproductive health outcomes among African refugee populations.

Ambassador Melanne Verveer

Ambassador Melanne Verveer was appointed Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues on April 6, 2009. In this capacity, she serves as the Director of the Department of State's new office on global women's issues, coordinating foreign policy issues and activities related to the political, economic, and social advancement of women around the world. She previously served as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady in the Clinton Administration and was Chief Assistant to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton in all her wide-ranging international activities to advance women's rights and further social development, democracy, and peace-building initiatives. She co-founded Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international nonprofit working to expand women's roles in generating economic opportunity, promoting political participation, and safeguarding human rights. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Women's Foreign Policy Group, and numerous other organizations.

JoDee Winterhof

JoDee Winterhof serves as the Vice President for Policy and Advocacy at CARE. In this capacity, she leads CARE's legislative agenda on crucial issues including hunger and food security, climate change, maternal health, gender-based violence, and microfinance. Winterhof has nearly 20 years of experience in navigating the complex intersection between politics, campaigns, and public policy. Prior to joining CARE, she was on the Senior Team of the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign. She also served as the Chief of Staff to Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, where she helped shepherd the passage of the 2002 Farm Bill during a competitive reelection campaign and also saw his team through a number of significant legislative achievements from the groundbreaking school modernization funding, to the doubling of the National Institutes of Health budget. Winterhof started her own small business in 2005 before expanding the Washington office of Grassroots Solutions, a nationally recognized firm specializing in grassroots advocacy, targeting, field consulting, and training.

Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer

Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer was appointed in June 2006 to lead the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), an historic $1.2 billion, five-year initiative to control malaria in Africa. In 2008, the Lantos-Hyde Act authorized an expansion of PMI, and in 2009 it was included as a key component of the U.S. Government's Global Health Initiative. The PMI strategy is targeted to achieve Africa-wide impact by halving the burden of malaria in 70 percent of at-risk populations in sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 450 million people, thereby removing malaria as a major public health problem and promoting economic growth and development throughout the region. Prior to his appointment at PMI, Rear Admiral Ziemer previously served as Executive Director of World Relief, a humanitarian organization headquartered in Baltimore, M.D.

Behind the Scenes

A special thanks goes to Tewodaj Mengistu, Nono Ayivi-Guedehoussou, Nicole Field Brzeski, and Catherine Cruz for their long hours and tireless efforts toward making this workshop a success, as well as to Joel Brand, Judy Bearer, Leanna Ferguson, Dora Johnson, Clayton Mathis, Ronni Kass, Christina Walker, Christine Carey, Kathleen West and others for all their expert advice and willingness to respond to so many last minute demands.

The Fellows

Sonia Gama Adriano Angola
Sahr Abraham Grass-Sessay Sierra Leone
Canon Justina Hilukiluah Namibia
Makhoabane F. Ledimo Lesotho
Kennedy Limwanya Zambia
Chunga Manzi Zambia
Dennis M. Muhambe Kenya
Daudi Nasib Tanzania
Erastus J. S. Peyonyofi Nekuta Namibia
Jane Patrick Pebane Lesotho
Daouda Sawadogo Burkina Faso


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