Current and 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 individually as well as the organizations I work with produce. The executive leadership training and courses will help 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 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 taskforce for the establishment of the Women Doctors Association of Malawi (WDAM). She is one of the founding members and currently 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) providing 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. In November 2020, she was awarded a Doctor of Excellence award by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Malawi (CPSM) in recognition for 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 interesting challenges of finding drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) cases, map the transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, investigate 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, Stellenbosch University, she had been involved in many research studies, focusing on 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), 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, 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 Modelling 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, with the aim of building local research capacity by involving local students who will have the opportunity to participate in study activities at UNAM and collaborating 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 started with 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 the Director of the Chitkara Global Health Institute. She also serves as Advisory Board Member to Health and Development NGOs, and is the Co-Founder of the Women in Global Health India Chapter. She holds a PhD from IIT Madras and a postgraduate degree from TISS, Mumbai, India.

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 with 16 years of development experience working largely with civil society where she has held several positions. 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. She has a proven record in conducting research on Health Systems Strengthening with particular emphasis on task shifting to improve indicators on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV. She has vast experience conducting research amongst and for young women and adolescent girls in vulnerable communities of the region 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, where 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. 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 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

Cynthia Mambo is a public health professional with over 15 years of experience implementing and managing programs for HIV/AIDS, nutrition, sexual reproductive health, and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Mambo is the Deputy Coordinator & Senior Program Advisor for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program at the U.S Embassy in Malawi. Mambo is currently focused on supporting Malawi’s epidemic control trajectory and continues to use her experience in epidemiology, coordination, and relationship building with governmental, bilateral and multi-sectoral counterparts (Malawi government, Ministry of Health, U.S. government), and civil society organizations), to sustain achievements in the HIV response. As the world grapples with how to best address global pandemics such as COVID-19, the gains made over the years to eradicate HIV and achieve epidemic can be lost. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Mambo’s goal is to actively participate in local initiatives that aim to mitigate the impact of HIV on vulnerable populations like adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). She works to ensure that resources mobilized for the response are efficiently used and address gaps highlighted by the faith and civil society communities. During her time as a LEAD fellow, Mambo will conduct research to assess feasibility and acceptability of a mentorship model among AGYW to improve self-efficacy and promote health seeking behavior to access to HIV services in faith-based settings.

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, with a proven track record of working in complex and politically sensitive situations.

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 that, Kurtovic served as the Vice-Chair of the Board of the GFATM from  2015 – 2017.  Kurtovic was named into 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 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, and a Masters degree in public health. 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 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 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.

2019 Cohort

Stela Bivol Stela Bivol, MD, MPH | Moldova

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 focus 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

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. Working successfully across organizations, geographies and fault lines to build strong civil society organization coalitions, Luba brings Africa-centered leadership and locally-derived agendas to the HIV/AIDS response. While at Harvard, she will explore how to make data tools available for advocacy, and how to drive evidence-based health policy change in her region.


Sai Raghavan Sai Subhasree Raghavan, PhD | India

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 will research how to expand on SAATHI’s lessons learned and develop a strategic plan that will add new interventions, such as cervical cancer screening and treatment, to SAATHI’s portfolio.


Shabnum Sarfraz Shabnum Sarfraz, MBBS, MBA | Pakistan

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 will conduct research looking at barriers to women in health career advancement in Pakistan.