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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 co-lead WHO's Research Network on COVID in educational institutions and is Commissioner for the Lancet on gender and health.

Susanna Lehtimaki

Director of Research | Lisbon, Portugal

Abdallah Bchir

Senior Advisor | Tunis, Tunisia

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, Susanna is fluent in English and Russian.

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.

Dante Licona

Social Media Strategist | Geneva, Switzerland

Prakash Durairaj

Visual Lead | Chennai, India

Dante is a social media strategist and international consultant with expertise in strategic communication. He has served in different roles with the Mexican government, WHO, and the Red Cross Red Crescent movement. In these roles, he has lead record-breaking global campaigns on TikTok, forged partnerships with tech companies, responded to emergencies around the world, trained hundreds of colleagues on the effective use of social media, and designed strategies for maximizing impact through digital channels. Dante is fluent in English, French and Spanish.

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.

Brian Wahl

Senior Advisor | Delhi, India

Brian Wahl, PhD, MPH is an experienced infectious disease epidemiologist specializing in pneumonia in children and immunization.  He holds a faculty position in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In addition to his research, he also has a background in public health policy and advocacy. Dr. Wahl has also studied the application of advanced analytic tools, including artificial intelligence, for the prevention, control, and treatment of diseases that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries. He earned his PhD and MPH with specializations in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and has been based in South Asia for more than a decade. In addition to English, he speaks German and Hindi. 

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