Data Driven Strategies


How we work

Building on existing evidence, we apply qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches to answer the toughest questions.



We support clients to improve 
effectiveness and outcomes, maximize impact, and drive the intersection between strategy and policy.​

Our network includes experts in public health impact and outcomes research, product development and introduction, performance management, evaluation and advocacy.

Based in New York, with representation in New Delhi, Carcesand Lisbon, the practice draws on experts from around the world.


What we do

Strategy and
business plan development

We work with clients
to develop new strategies and business plans and support them through implementation, planning and execution.


Performance indicators
and risk assessment

We assist clients to articulate their theories of change, develop key performance indicators and “fit for purpose” risk assessment tools. 


Program design
and policy analysis

We help clients evaluate
the extent to which their programs, partnerships
and policies are fit for purpose.


for action

We synthesize the latest available data so that evidence is an integral part of strategy, policy, advocacy and programming. We commit to put this information in the public domain.


Leadership development

We coach senior leadership on management and execution and tailor fit for purpose technical content to get clients up to speed in emerging or complex issues.


COVID-19 response

Spark Street has contributed to the COVID response by providing pro-bono support to the City and State of New York, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the World Bank, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria, Gavi, Pfizer, the Peterson Institute, CHAP Health, UNU-IIGH, Unicef, WHO as well as government and professional colleagues from around the world to help analyze data, interpret evidence and share learning. We have also volunteered in our own local communities on issues ranging from school and arts reopening to the production of hand sanitizer. Spark Street thought pieces have been published by the Council of Foreign Relations, Foreign Policy, the World Economic Forum, the Conversation, the Lancet, Atlantic Magazine and the British Medical Journal.  We have been interviewed by NPR, CNN, Stat News, the Economist, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, Axios news, Devex, and New York's Our Town. 


Selected projects

​Our clients are organizations working in health and global development that aspire to significantly impact the systems in which they operate.​
Private enterprise
Product developers
Not for profit and intergovernmental organizations
Private foundations

Adolescent health

Spark Street supported Plan International to develop the 
evidence base for its global advocacy work on adolescents
and NCDs
and adolescents and Universal Health Coverage, 
used as a centrepiece for
advocacy efforts with the UN General Assembly In New York.


Core team

Nina Schwalbe

Principal | New York, USA

Nina founded Spark Street in 2016. She has held numerous leadership positions including as Managing Director for Policy and Performance at Gavi, the vaccine alliance, where she led Gavi’s work in strategic planning, policy development, market-shaping, performance management, and monitoring and evaluation. She also served as the principal advisor and acting chief of health at Unicef, overseeing their health programs in over 150 countries. 

Nina led the Policy team at Global Alliance for Tuberculosis Drug Development, where she focused on market access, product introduction and advocacy. She directed the global public health program for the Open Society Foundation and has worked for the Population Council and AVSC International (now Engender Health). She holds degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities and teaches on the faculty at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and currently serves as a Principal Visiting Fellow at the United Nations International Institute for Global Health. She also co-leads WHO's Research Network on COVID in educational institutions and is Commissioner for the Lancet on gender and health.

Susanna Lehtimaki

Senior Advisor | Lisbon, Portugal

Anna-Carin Matterson

Senior Advisor | Carcès France

Susanna focuses on results-based program development, strategic planning, and analysis.
She has held positions with UNICEF in country and at headquarters and worked in maternal and child health in Finland and India. 

Anna-Carin is a health policy and health system specialist. She started her career at the Swedish Ministry of Health and has served as a senior policy advisor to the Ministries of Health in Kenya and Zambia. Anna-Carin has managed the implementation of health programmes for Swedish Sida, the German GIZ, the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). At Gavi, she worked on policy development and evaluation, including 
developing Gavi's fragility and emergency, gender and risk policies. Anna-Carin holds a MSc in Health and Pharmaco- Economics and a BSc in Macro Economics. Anna-Carin is fluent in Swedish and English and has a working knowledge of French. 

Susanna holds a BA in Social Sciences and an MA in Public Health from Tampere University, Finland. She also has an MA in Russian and Eurasian Studies from European University in St. Petersburg and in addition to Finnish, is fluent in English and Russian. 

Abdallah Bchir

Senior Advisor | Tunis, Tunisia

Abdallah is a public health specialist with extensive experience in evaluation. He started his career as a medical doctor and professor of Public Health in Tunisia. He served as the Head of Gavi's Evaluation Unit, where he introduced the concepts of theory of change and prospective evaluation to Gavi’s work. He has also worked as a consultant for WHO and served on the Global Fund’s Technical Evaluation Reference Group. Abdallah holds MSc and PhD degrees in community health from the University of Montreal and currently splits his time between Geneva and Tunis. He is fluent in English, Arabic and French.

Elliot Hannon 

Senior Researcher | London, England

Elliot Hannon is a multimedia journalist who has worked as a foreign correspondent reporting and producing stories on four continents, most recently from London. Elliot spent four years in New Delhi reporting for NPR and Time magazine. He previously worked as a producer and editor at NPR in Washington D.C., contributing to the network’s flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. In addition to serving as a senior researcher at Spark Street Advisors, he is a staff writer at Slate magazine. Elliot has a B.A. in Political Science from Emory University and a master’s degree from the University of Cape Town in International Relations and Affairs.


Selected publications

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of vaccines as public health and pandemic preparedness tools and amplified the importance of issues ranging from equitable distribution to reliable supply of quality, affordable vaccines. These issues however are not new. Delays in time from the first dose in a high-income country to introduction at scale in a low-income country can take years. These delays are driven by several challenges, some of which are unique to the vaccine development ecosystem. The patenting and overall intellectual property (IP) protection are complex, regulatory oversight is rigorous, manufacturing processes require technical support or know-how transfer from the innovator, and market dynamics create obstacles to delivering at scale. This paper provides an overview of the vaccine research and development process and where reform of the current system could increase access.


Ole KristianAars, Michael Clark, and Nina Schwalbe

Vaccine: X 2021