Alliance News

Building Bridges, Uniting for Impact: 2024 Annual Meeting

May 21, 2024

RECORDING AND KEY TAKEAWAYS TO COME.

The Bay Area Global Health Alliance’s Annual Meeting brought together members to discuss pressing global health issues, including: innovations and investments for women’s health equity, overcoming barriers in multi-sector global health partnerships, and putting health at the heart of global climate change action. Speakers included leaders from Wellcome Trust, Accenture Development Partnerships, Africa Health Business, Americares, Cross-Border Impact Ventures, Gilead Sciences, Google, Merck for Mothers, PATH, Roche Diagnostics, and more. Each of these timely conversations concluded with considerations, recommendations and advice on how our multi-sector members can take action. This annual event was a prime opportunity for members of the Alliance to connect, reflect on our achievements, and strategize for the future.

Our women’s health panel addressed the unique challenges and opportunities to advance women’s health in low-resource settings and emerging markets, and explored effective strategies for closing the women’s health gap, building on the recent groundswell of attention and evidence on this neglected issue and anchored by insights from McKinsey’s recent “Closing the Women’s Health Gap” and NIH and the Gates Foundation’s “Women’s Health R&D Opportunity Map” reports. Panelists included: Margot Fahnestock, Vice President of Strategic Development at Medicines360; Joanna Sickler, Vice President, Health Policy & External Affairs at Roche Diagnostics; Annie Theriault, Managing Partner at Cross-Border Impact Ventures; and Esther Ruiter, Project Manager at Africa Health Business. The panel was moderated by Neha Agarwal, Alliance board vice chair and Global Diagnostics Program Co-Director at PATH.

Wellcome Trust’s Alan Dangour, Director of Climate and Health, engaged in conversation with Alexandra Destler, Senior Director, Western Region at Americares for a fireside chat on planetary health / climate change and health. The Wellcome Trust funds research and initiatives to understand and mitigate the health impacts of climate change, focusing on innovative solutions, policy advocacy, and public engagement.

Building on the Alliance’s 2023 convenings and research on the intersection of implementation science and health equity, Alliance partnership experts shared insights on what they look for in partnerships, examples of successful collaborations, barriers they’ve faced, and initial ideas for developing an operational framework for optimizing equitable collaborations. Panelists included: Megan Ryskamp, Alliance board member and Social Impact Partnerships Lead at Google; Thu Do, Director, Medical Affairs, Global Patient Solutions, Gilead Sciences; and Mark Allen, Alliance board member and Director of Strategic Partnerships and Global Programs at Merck for Mothers. The panel was moderated by Krista Donaldson, Alliance board member and Director of Innovation to Impact at Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign.

The meeting was also a venue for networking, allowing members to establish new connections and learn about the latest developments within the Alliance’s extensive network of over 85 multi-sector members dedicated to advancing global health equity and innovation. Attendance was exclusive to Alliance members.

To learn more about becoming a member, click here.

 

About our Speakers 

Bridging the Gap: Innovations, Investments and Collaborations for Women’s Health Equity:

Margot Fahnestock, Vice President of Strategic Development, Medicines360. Margot leads mission-based program development, impact measurement, and resource mobilization. As a philanthropy and policy expert in family planning and reproductive health, Margot formerly served as a Program Officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, responsible for making grants to reduce unintended pregnancies and improve reproductive health and rights in sub-Saharan Africa. She was a founding member and catalyst for the Ouagadougou Partnership, which has mobilized more than $250 million in additional funding for family planning in Francophone West Africa. Prior to Hewlett, Margot was a policy analyst and project manager at Futures Group, providing technical and managerial oversight for family planning, HIV/AIDS, and malaria policy programs. Margot served two years as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer teaching English at a secondary school in Mali, West Africa. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Los Angeles and master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago.

 

Joanna Sickler, Vice President, Health Policy & External Affairs, Roche Diagnostics. Joanna’s background spans diagnostic, pharmaceutical and non-governmental organizations with a focus on public health, implementation science and policy to optimize medical value. She has a passion for improving people’s lives through access to healthcare innovations. Previously, at Roche Diagnostics, Joanna was Senior Director, Medical Affairs, where she was responsible for developing and executing the point-of-care molecular global medical strategy and leading clinical impact studies across the molecular infectious disease portfolio. This included a heavy emphasis on respiratory tests and a focus on pandemic response to COVID-19. Previously, at Zyomyx, she led market access strategy, policy and the post-approval clinical study programme to support the launch of the company’s first product, a point-of-care CD4 test for use in limited-resource settings. As part of the Access Program’s leadership team at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), she developed models and led advocacy for global procurement interventions to ensure the sustainability of the children’s HIV drug market. She collaborated with ministries of health throughout Africa to support the HIV Guidelines revision process and assess the cost impact of changes. Joanna holds a Master’s in Public Health and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University.

 

Annie Theriault, Managing Partner, Cross-Border Impact Ventures. Annie has been immersed in impact investing, venture capital, royalty financing, and capital markets throughout her career. As a venture capital investor and venture advisor, she worked with high impact companies to mobilize more than $100 million in non-dilutive capital. Annie was previously a director on the boards of several North American venture-backed companies, is an advisor to crowdfunding fintech company FrontFundr, and, prior to the launch of CBIV, was Chief Investment Officer at Grand Challenges Canada. Annie obtained her PhD in Management from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, is a CFA Charterholder, and holds the ICD.D designation. She also has a master’s degree in Business Economics from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Chemistry from Mount Allison University.

 

Esther Ruiter, Project Manager, Africa Health Business. Esther is a fully qualified and registered midwife in Belgium and Kenya. She has over ten years of experience ranging from clinical midwifery, training, and management roles, in both private and public healthcare settings. Esther’s experience in different contexts, and her motivation to be part of a much-needed, effective and sustainable change within the different healthcare sectors to improve access and quality of care for all, drive her towards achieving this. To enable her skills and to be able to be part of this change, Esther graduated with a Master’s in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2021. With a huge interest and admiration for what AHB does, she has now taken on the role of Project Manager to further grow and pursue her desire to play an active role in improving equitable health care and reducing health disparity.

 

Neha Agarwal, Global Diagnostics Program Co-Director at PATH. Neha is a passionate advocate for global health equity and approaches her work with a strong vision for sustainability, respectful collaborations, innovation, and analytical rigor. She has over 15 years of experience in global health and the life sciences. Neha is currently the Global Diagnostics Program Co-Director for PATH where she leads a team responsible for improving and ensuring equitable access to essential diagnostic products in resource-limited settings. She held previous global health roles at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and Applied Strategies. In her various roles, Neha has focused on bridging partnerships between industry, governments, and the non-profit sector. Prior to her transition to global health, Neha’s career focused innovative product development at companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Verinata Health (now Illumina), earning her several patents for lab-on-chip and drug delivery technologies. Neha is passionate about utilizing the talent, scientific rigor, and innovative energy of the Bay Area to achieve health equity around the globe. Ms. Agarwal has several publications, holds 4 patents, and received her MS in biomedical engineering from Columbia University and her BS in bioengineering from University of California, Berkeley.

 

Forging Ahead Together: Overcoming Barriers in Multi-Sector Global Health Partnerships:

Krista Donaldson, Director of Innovation to Impact at Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign. As Director of Innovation to Impact at Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, Krista’s work focuses on ensuring that design tools and processes are broadly applicable across global markets. She is also part of the team establishing the East Africa Biodesign Program, which kicked off in early 2023. Stanford’s Biodesign program advances health outcomes and equity through innovation education, translation, and policy. As the former CEO of Equalize Health (formerly D-Rev), Krista led the design and scaling of disruptive medical devices to address global health inequities. To date, nearly 1M people – mostly children and young people – have been treated by one of Equalize Health’s products in 70+ countries. Peter Singer of the Effective Altruism movement called Equalize Health “one of the world’s best charities” because of its cost effectiveness and exemplary end-to-end processes.

 

Megan Ryskamp, Alliance board member; Social Impact Partnerships Lead, Google. Megan has worked at the intersection of technology, partnerships, and social impact for more than twenty years and currently leads Google’s global Social Impact Partnerships team. She connects nonprofit organizations, governments, intergovernmental groups and other social impact-aligned partners with Google products to advance the mission of organizing the world’s information in important social impact areas such as health, economic opportunity, crisis response, climate, education and arts & culture, among others. These partnerships have been focused on bringing important information to users around the globe, helping them find access to healthcare, identify critical services, get help in a crisis, navigate changes in climate, engage in learning, and explore the arts. Prior to Google, Megan worked on Adobe’s emerging markets strategy and developed partnerships with governments and schools to enable Cisco’s technology education program in more than 50 countries. Megan holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

 

Thu Do, Director, Medical Affairs, Global Patient Solutions, Gilead Sciences. Thu is a Director on Gilead’s Global Patient Solutions Medical Affairs Team. She has worked on global health policy, advocacy, and partnerships at the intersection of the public and private sectors. She’s focused on increasing access to essential commodities for health in LMICS, including family planning, WASH, infectious disease, and NCDs. She’s worked across the public and private sectors at USAID, Results for Development, Novartis, and Malaria No More. She received her bachelor’s degree in Ethics, Politics and Economics and her MPH in Health Management at Yale College and School of Public Health.

 

Mark Allen, Alliance board member; Director of Strategic Partnerships and Global Programs, Merck for Mothers. Mark has had over 20 years of professional experience in both the private and international development sector. Currently Merck for Mothers’ Director of Strategic Partnerships and Global Programs, Mark is responsible for managing strategic partners across the program portfolio as well as oversight on the initiative’s global programming including Merck for Mothers’ digital portfolio. Prior to Merck for Mothers, Mark was the Managing Director for Africa Programs with Malaria No More managing the organization’s investments across six countries. Mark started his professional career in international development at the Touch Foundation — a McKinsey and Co.-founded organization focused on building human resource capacity in the health sector in Tanzania. Prior to the Touch Foundation, Mark lived in rural Kenya as a Peace Corps Volunteer focusing on micro-enterprise development with farmers which inspired his shift from an earlier career in management consulting. Mark holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University.

Short Fireside Chat: Putting Health at the Heart of Global Climate Change Action:

Alan Dangour, Director of Climate and Health, Wellcome. Alan leads the Climate and Health team in the delivery of Wellcome’s strategy in this new challenge area. He joined Wellcome in January 2022 to lead an ambitious new Climate and Health strategy that seeks to put health at the heart of global climate change action.For the past 20 years, Alan worked at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) where he was Professor of Food and Nutrition for Global Health. At LSHTM, Alan led an interdisciplinary team working on the interconnections between environmental change, food systems and health and was the Director of the Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health. Alan has substantial experience working internationally and with government partners – he was a Senior Research Fellow for the UK Department for International Development and an Expert Advisor for the Environmental Audit Office of the UK Parliament.

 

Alexandra Destler, Senior Director, Western Region, Americares. For over two decades, Alexandra has worked to spark swift change in our public health system. Her aim? To promote global environmental sustainability – not in theory but in practice. Rather than preaching to the converted, she brings together public and private organizations, champions and naysayers, leading healthcare, non-profit and Fortune 500 companies, to drive change. Alexandra currently serves as Americares Senior Managing Director where she leads all aspects of growth across domestic western regions, including scaling strategic partnerships with foundations, corporations, individuals, academic and health institutions. She also designs and leads thought leadership opportunities focused on climate, health and health equity. Previously, she launched the Public Health Institute’s Center for Climate Change and the American Hospital Association’s environmental stewardship initiative; co-developed The Greenfield Path, a communications project driving Ford Motor Company’s move to a more sustainable business. Finally, distressed by the lack of easily accessible health information about toxic chemicals that is consumer focused and actionable for all pregnant women and new families, particularly women of color, she founded and passionately leads a start-up called SafetyNEST. Alexandra serves as an advisor to NIEHS Center on Health and Environment Across the Life Span @ Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine. She holds degrees from Harvard, Cornell and the Sorbonne.