About Us

 

Meet the CEDARS Team!

 

CEDARS is an initiative of the International Health and Development (IHD) Division of ICF. We aim to be a learning and practice network focused on advancing sustainability and impact in development practice. We aim to focus our work on three strongly overlapping areas of interest:


track 1 Sustainability in community health and health systems - Improving sustainability design, implementation and evaluation in community health
track 2 Global challenges to sustainable health and human development - From food security, to building community resilience and adaptive capacity, to climate change
track 3 Applying complex systems analysis to our understanding of sustainable human development - Improving evaluation and study designs on the functioning of complex adaptive systems (community and civil society, health systems, donor systems) and their impact on sustainable human development.


We bring together partners, consultants and practitioners from a number of organizations. This community of practice is at the heart of our work. Click here to learn more about the CEDARS Community of Practice. The ICF team members are introduced below - don't hesitate to contact any of us:


Name Biography

Eric Sarriot, MD, PhD


If CEDARS had a director,
he might be it.

Eric likes to say that he "used to be a doctor", having graduated from the Paris VI Necker School of Medicine in 1989. After some balancing of his time between clinical practice, surveillance of infectious diseases and communications projects, he trained in Tropical Medicine then got a Masters in Public Health and Social Urban Development. That took him to do participatory qualitative research and to work for World Vision in Mauritania. Reportedly this is when he started banging his head against the walls about the sustainability question. He obtained his PhD from Johns Hopkins while working with the Child Survival Technical Support project and the CORE Group to conduct a research which led to the development of the Sustainability Framework. He rejoined ICF Macro while living in Palestine/Israel. He is currently the Community Health and Civil Society Engagement team lead on USAID's Maternal and Child Survival Program.

Navigating between practice, technical assistance, evaluation and implementation research on concepts as charged as sustainability (which he claims in indissociable from the focus on "scale up"), he continues to be challenged by the complexity of sustainable social progress and the many ways in which we try or fail to address it.

Quote: "Is it sustainable" is a question for theologians, not development professionals. "How sustainable is it?" is the question we should care about, at least when it matters.

Sharon Arscott-Mills


Fellow / International Health

Sharon is a Fellow in International Health at ICF. Her exposure to the challenge of global health issues began as a child since her father was a doctor who established hospitals and nurses training institutions in rural Zambia and Angola. Several years ago, when she joined USAID as a Senior Technical Advisor for the Child Survival and Health Grants program she had the opportunity to explore and further her interest in solutions that have lasting impact on health through supporting the development of the Sustainability Framework within the PVO grants program. She has been a member of SHOUT since its inception. Her interest in CEDARS stems from a desire to explore some very fundamental questions about how we "do" development with colleagues who are asking similar questions Recent opportunities within ICF have enabled exploration of how to define and measure capacity and performance particularly within health system domains; and how to apply complex adaptive systems theory and social network theory to public health and development.

Sharon's work experience includes clinical intensive care nursing; computer software design; participatory community development; designing and implementing an injury surveillance program within the Ministry of Health in Jamaica, designing, monitoring and ensuring the quality of maternal child health, nutrition, family planning and HIV/AIDS programs within USAID in Washington and Nepal; and Clinical Services Team Leader for IntraHealth International. Sharon is a graduate of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, College of Nursing and Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.

Benita J. O'Colmain


CEDARS Fellow / International Health & Food Security

Benita is a statistician and epidemiologist who brings to the CEDARS team more than 25 years of experience in the design of evaluation and survey research studies, domestically and internationally. She rigorously applies her strong methodological background and statistical expertise to her work in the international food security and agricultural development arenas, with a focus on the inclusions of systems for measurable and sustainable project outcomes.


Over the past few years she has worked as the Senior Survey Specialist on the USAID Title II development food aid program baseline studies in Burundi, Guatemala, Haiti, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Niger, Uganda and Zimbabwe, leading the survey design and analytic components for these large-scale population-based household surveys; and as the Senior Evaluation Specialist for the USAID Haiti Baseline Study - a multi-sectoral study of post-earthquake Haiti. Benita has significant experience in the design of impact evaluations for development projects that aim to sustainably increase food access and availability for vulnerable populations globally, including recent work for the Feed the Future Yaajende agricultural project in Senegal, the food voucher component of the Title II program implemented by CARE in Haiti, and ex-ante impact evaluation designs for agricultural development projects in Yemen, Egypt and Sudaan funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Reeti Desai Hobson, MPH


CEDARS Team Coordinator

Reeti is a Senior Associate at ICF, where she works on projects and issues relating to sustainability and transition, health systems strengthening, systems thinking, and measurement of capacity and performance. Ongoing and recent projects include a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) project to develop and visualize subnational capacity metrics in Uganda and Mozambique, and develop and implement a transition monitoring strategy to assess, measure, and manage high quality of services and data at facility, district, provincial, and national levels for HIV program service delivery in Mozambique; a World Health Organization (WHO) project to develop transition roadmaps to sustain improvements in iCCM for child health in Niger, Nigeria, DRC, Malawi, and Mozambique at project end; and a USAID-funded MEASURE Tanzania activity to monitor sustainable approaches while implementing to foster long-term sustainability. She also recently worked on a strategic plan to transition DoD's PEPFAR program to country ownership in Tanzania, worked to develop a sustainment index looking at post-project sustainability for child and maternal health indicators across 20 countries, and developed tools and strategies for the USAID-funded Maternal and Child Survival Program's (MCSP) community health and civil society engagement team to assess MCSP countries' community health portfolios to move them to an integrated, viable community health platform.


Some of her past experiences include work with the joint UNDP/UNAIDS Global Commission on HIV and the Law; coordination of water, sanitation and hygiene programs in Africa funded by The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation; the development of a communication strategy for the Global Water Challenge's Women for Water initiative; and the coordination of global pharmaceutical clinical trials in oncology and influenza. She has also spent several months in Kenya to develop a pilot program for sex workers in Mombasa. Having grown up in Singapore, India and the United States, Reeti has been fortunate to see much of the extremes of the world which formed the impetus for her pursuit of international development as a career. Reeti has an MPH in Community and International Health from New York University and a B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, San Diego.

Quote: "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now." - African proverb

Ramu Bishwakarma, PhD


CEDARS Fellow / Social Policy and Community Systems

Ramu is a social development specialist with over nine years of experience in project administration, coordination, performance assessment, and research focusing on international development across several organizations (International Finance Corporation, World Bank, Consulting Firm, and Nepal based NGOs). He believes in the notion of "putting people first" in every development work we do, and considers it as the bottom-line for sustainable development. He advances this cause by sharing expertise and knowledge on a) Social Impact Assessment and Evaluation, b) Institutional and Capacity Analysis, C) Policy Analysis, and d) Program and policy interventions, across various sectors such as social development, health and nutrition, education, environment and infrastructure development. Before joining ICF, he was with Cardno Emerging Markets where he developed and managed technical assistance and research programs particularly in the area of environment and social development working directly with clients like the World Bank, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and other private corporations. Ramu has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Maryland College Park and an MBA from Nepal.

Jerri A. Husch, PhD


CEDARS Fellow / Social Policy and Community Systems

Jerri Husch holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and is a specialist in complex social systems, socio-cultural analysis and qualitative social science methods. She is co-developer of "Action Intelligence" an integrative data management and visual analytic process that offers practical insights and evidence about social contexts to inform solutions to complex social challenges. An expert in socio-cultural methods and the implementation of evidence based policy and management practice, Dr. Husch has worked in WHO, UNDP, UNICEF and the UN Secretariat facilitating cross-sector partnerships and networks, strengthening participatory decision making and emphasizing the need for cross-cultural data and evidence for policy, program design and project monitoring. Her technical expertise is in impact assessments, monitoring/evaluation, risk assessment, climate change adaptation and community resilience, food security, global health policy, gender and livelihoods.


Dr. Husch has contributed to numerous complex UN inter-agency analyses including evaluations of global food standards setting and Codex Alimentarious; tracking linkages between UNHQ, Regional and country offices in poverty reduction efforts; strengthening partnerships between WHO programs and countries in HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, and monitoring the links between ministries involved with cross-sector national climate change adaptation efforts. Dr. Husch has extensive international experience in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe and has trained cross-ministerial national research teams to use cutting edge assessment and research tools.


In addition to her policy work, Jerri teaches research methods, social theory, sociology of law, social change, urban sociology, international drug policy, public health and global food policy. Most recently at the University of Warwick, Conventry, UK and the University of Geneva, she has also taught at Brown, Tufts, Yale, University of Massachusetts/Amherst and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). A trained chef and "urban agriculturalist," Jerri explores markets, collects seeds and invents new recipes for risk taking friends.


Quote: "Imagination is more important than knowledge". Albert Einstein

Anne Siegle


CEDARS Fellow / Food Security & Nutrition

Anne's international work began over 25 years ago as a volunteer public health nurse in a rural village of former Zaire. As she operated a mud hut clinic, maternity and hospital, worked with local healers and provided corresponding preventative outreach services to nearby villages, she witnessed first-hand the dramatic difference basic primary nutrition and health services and education can make in the lives of vulnerable populations. Anne went on to get a MPH in International Health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health focusing on primary health care and health systems strengthening. Building from her community-based experience, Anne was led into the design, management and evaluation of relief, transition and development efforts that has taken her to over 30 countries (including countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe). She served with World Vision International for 15 years at the district, provincial, national, regional and global levels focusing on nutrition and health initiatives within the context of integrated multi-sectoral community development. She has taught nutrition, livelihood security and primary health care courses at both Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Tulane University. In her current role at ICF as an International Nutrition and Public Health Technical Advisor, she provides leadership for the design of nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions that contribute to sustainable livelihoods and improved nutrition outcomes among the most vulnerable segments of the population with a focus on the first 1000 day period. She currently serves as the Nutrition Technical Advisor for the Title II Baseline Survey Teams in Uganda, Guatemala, Niger, Haiti, and Zimbabwe. Anne also contributes to the Maternal Child Survival Project with a focus on evidence and learning for scaling up integrated Community Health.

Quote: "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." (Henry Ford)

Jennifer Yourkavitch


CEDARS Fellow / International Health

Jennifer is a Senior Technical Specialist at ICF who currently works on multi-level systemic challenges to data quality in community health programs. In her spare time, she works toward a PhD in Epidemiology at UNC, where her research focuses on the effects of social and structural factors, like gender bias, on maternal health and lactation.For more than 15 years Jennifer has worked with NGOs to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate community health projects, focusing on maternal and child health broadly, and breastfeeding, HIV/AIDS, and malaria, specifically. Her focus on sustainable health outcomes sharpened when she managed a child survival project in northern Zambia, and then continued through a decade of support to USAID's Child Survival and Health Program and CORE Group, along with support to PEPFAR's country ownership and transition planning. She was a founding member of SHOUT, co-founded CEDARS, and co-authored the sustainability planning guide featured here.

Quotes: "Peace, non-violence, human rights and the environment - if only everybody saw these as the seamless whole that they are." Jonathon Porritt (2012) and "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Will Story, PhD, MPH


CEDARS Fellow / Social Policy and Community Systems

Will has over 12 years of experience in global public health focused on program design, program evaluation, and operations research related to maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS and malaria in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to his work with CEDARS, Will is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the University of Iowa's College of Public Health where he studies household- and community-level factors that are critical to the improvement of maternal and child health in resource-poor countries and translates that research into effective interventions and policies. His research has been published in a variety of journals (BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, Global Public Health, Health & Place, Qualitative Health Research, and Social Science & Medicine) and covers topics related to male involvement during pregnancy and childbirth, the effect of social relationships on maternal and child health care utilization, and mechanisms through which maternal and child health outcomes are sustained in community-based health programs around the world. Will completed his PhD in Health Services Organization and Policy (2013) and his MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education (2004) from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.

 

Leo Ryan is a Vice President in ICF Macro's International Health and Development Division, and manages a portfolio of programs that provide support to USAID, CDC, and NGOs in the areas of monitoring and evaluation, sustainability planning, information technology applications, and organizational development for improved maternal and child health services. Leo oversees the initiatives and development of CEDARS.

 

Alumni and Friends

 

Robb Davis, PhD, MPH

Robb has over 20 years of experience in international development in the field of maternal and child health. Robb's research and work have focused on community-based, participatory learning methods and how social capital is created and mobilized to shield people against risk. The proximity of concepts between social capital and community capacity, often referenced in sustainability discussions; and the linkages between risk mitigation / management and resiliency, bring exciting perspectives to our work on sustainability. On the occasion of ICF's special session on Climate Change, Food Security and Household Health at the 2010 Global Health Council, he led the writing of the Discussion Paper (see our first discussion forum) which stresses the salient role of social capital as a central and oft forgotten requirement of effective and sustainable adaptation strategy.

Robb is an accredited trainer with Global Learning Partners, and has extensive experience designing and leading dialogue-based trainings throughout Africa and Asia at both field-staff and trainer levels. Robb was the Executive Director of the Mennonite Central Committee, chairperson of the Child Survival Collaborations and Resources (CORE) Group and is adjunct faculty at Eastern Mennonite University's Summer Peace-building Institute and Eastern University's School of Leadership and Development.

Quote: ...today everything has become "means". There are no more "ends". We no longer know towards what we are heading... We have enormous means and we put into place prodigious machines in order to arrive nowhere. (Jacques Ellul)

 

Ilona Varallyay

Ilona has a MSc in Public Health with several years overseas experience implementing global health projects in HIV prevention and care, health systems strengthening, organizational capacity building, nutrition and school feeding and community health education in Ecuador, Guinea, Kenya, and Uganda. In Gulu, northern Uganda, she worked with the American Refugee Committee and AVSI-Uganda on HIV/AIDS projects and organizational capacity building for local NGOs/CBOs, where she conducted organizational capacity assessments with local community-based organizations and NGOs. She also has experience in health systems strengthening programs at the District level, focusing on service delivery, pharmaceutical and logistics management, and human resources management. While at ICF, Ilona worked on projects for Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to plan and monitor a sustainable transition of responsibilities to local institutions. Ilona specializes in the development and design of assessment tools for organizational capacity as well as health system performance, and is currently pursuing a PhD at Johns Hopkins University.

 

Sudhir Wanmali

Sudhir has worked in International Development for the last four decades within the broad thematic area of agriculture-driven rural development and planning in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and has held senior positions at Sheladia Associates, Inc., Rockville, Maryland and the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC overseeing applied research projects in South Asia, throughout Africa, and in China. He has published extensively in peer reviewed international journals in development, geography, and management, and has authored more than 60 publications, including books, articles in books, journal articles, and reports to organizations, governments , communities, and multi-lateral, and bilateral, donor agencies. Most recently, while at ICF, Sudhir worked on factors and issues that influence food security at the level of smallholder agriculture, with particular emphasis on rural infrastructure, rural marketing, rural livelihoods, decentralized rural development, and their implications for local economic development. His expertise helped to link these issues with CEDARS work in health and human development.

Quote: "If one does not know who is going to use the findings of one's research before conducting such research, particularly in the countries of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, then one does not have the luxury of engaging in such research. It would be a sheer waste of time, money, and energy that could be better used in other pursuits".