Data Driven Strategies

BRINGING TOGETHER EVIDENCE AND EXCELLENCE IN ANALYTIC THINKING IN PUBLIC HEALTH

 

How we work

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

We focus on increasing effectiveness, maximizing impact, and driving the intersection between strategy, policy and advocacy to improve public health outcomes.​

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

 

 

What we do

Strategy  development

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

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Research
for action

We synthesize the latest available data so that evidence is an integral part of strategy, policy, advocacy and programming. 

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Policy analysis and program design

We review
the extent to which programs, partnerships
and policies are fit for purpose.

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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. 

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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.

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COVID-19 response

Spark Street 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 Conversation, the Lancet, Atlantic Magazine and the British Medical Journal.  We have been interviewed by NPR, CNN, Stat News, the Financial Times, the Economist, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, Axios news, Devex, and New York's Our Town. 

 

Selected projects

​We support organizations working in health and global development that aspire to significantly impact the systems in which they operate.​
Not for profit and intergovernmental organizations
Product developers
Private foundations
Academia 

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 establishing USAID's COVID-19 Vaccine Access and Delivery Initiative and serving as its first director. She was 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. Nina 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

Susanna is global health specialist, focusing on results-based program development, strategic planning, and analysis. She has worked with UNICEF at headquarters in New York as well as in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine where she developed programs on maternal, child and adolescent health and wellbeing. She has a clinical background in maternal, child and school health in Finland and in India. Susanna holds an MA in Public Health and a BA in Social Sciences from Tampere University, Finland, and an MA in Russian and Eurasian Studies from European University in St. Petersburg, Russia. 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

Elizabeth Gardiner

Senior Researcher | Washington, D.C.

Elliot is a senior researcher, focusing on pandemic response and global governance. He has spent a decade-plus as a foreign correspondent, reporting 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. and a staff writer Slate magazine. He has a BA in Political Science from Emory University and studied International Relations and Affairs at the University of Cape Town.

Elizabeth Gardiner is a global health specialist with expertise in product access and scale-up of coverage. She has worked with over 50 countries and formed multidisciplinary partnerships with pharmaceutical and NGO partners on issues ranging from HIV prevention to tuberculosis to reproductive health. Leading strategy and operations, Elizabeth has experience with product distribution in public and private markets. A Russian speaker, Elizabeth has degrees from Harvard University and the London Business School.

Prakash Durairaj

Graphic Lead | Chennai, India

Prakash started his career in finance before becoming a designer. He has worked for a Fortune 500 company as a Visualizer and enjoys exploring how to use innovative tools to visualize creative concepts.

He has over 10 years of experience in the fields of design and user experience and holds a Bachelor's of Computer Application. 
 

 

Selected peer reviewed 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