Staff

Paul Emerson, PhD, Program Director

Dr. Paul Emerson is ITI’s Director, responsible for the overall success of ITI’s trachoma elimination efforts with program partner Pfizer to achieve the global elimination of blinding trachoma by 2020. Dr. Emerson has decades of experience working in Africa to eliminate trachoma and other Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), including Guinea worm and lymphatic filariasis. He makes strong use of data to plan and focus program delivery, and emphasizes operational research with academic partners to overcome barriers to scale-up and service delivery. He has supported partner Ministries of Health and NGOs in strategy, program development, training, implementation, monitoring, and impact assessment. He has worked with partners including Pfizer, ITI, SightSavers, WHO, DfID, RTI/USAID, HKI, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Lions Clubs International Foundation.

Prior to joining ITI, Dr. Emerson worked at The Carter Center where he was director of the Trachoma Control Program in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, South Sudan, Sudan, and Ethiopia. He also was co-director for The Carter Center’s malaria program. Dr. Emerson integrated trachoma program delivery with malaria control in Ethiopia, with Guinea worm eradication in South Sudan, and with lymphatic filariasis in Nigeria. The Carter Center is the first NGO to support the distribution of 100 million doses of Zithromax® donated by Pfizer in Ethiopia. (Since 1998, through ITI, Pfizer has distributed 340 million treatments of donated Zithromax® to treat and prevent blinding trachoma in 28 countries in Africa and Asia.)

Dr. Emerson was chair of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC) for two years, and vice chair for four years. Prior to joining The Carter Center, Dr. Emerson worked in a number of other positions including Research Fellow and Lecturer of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, at the University of Durham where he was the grant holder and Principal Investigator leading a small team on multi-country evaluations of trachoma control programs assisted by HKI and World Vision. He has worked for the Medical Research Council Laboratories in The Gambia, the Ministry of Education in Botswana, and the Ministry of Education in Kenya.

Dr. Emerson is Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, and authored several letters, editorials and manuals in the areas of Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial Cleanliness, Environmental improvement, innovation, integration, and surveys and surveillance in the fields of trachoma and malaria control.

Dr. Emerson holds a doctorate in Biological and Biomedical Sciences from the University of Durham and an MSc in Applied Parasitology and Medical Entomology from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

In 2012, Dr. Emerson received the Trachoma Gold Medal: For ‘Les service exceptionnels rendus dans la lutte contre le Trachome’ [Exceptional services bestowed in the battle against trachoma] awarded by the International Organization Against Trachoma and the French League Against Trachoma.

 

PJ Hooper, MA, Deputy Director

As Deputy Director, PJ provides strategic leadership and technical direction for ITI, serving as the main liaison to all collaborating partners, including Pfizer, ministries of health, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. She is responsible for overall management, technical development, implementation, personnel, budget and financial oversight of the program.

PJ comes to ITI from another program at The Task Force for Global Health, the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center (NTD-SC), where she served as Senior Associate Director with a focus on partnership development and trachoma research. She previously worked at ITI from 2009-2012, where she managed an operational research grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and oversaw external relations for the program. Prior to that, PJ worked with the Mectizan Donation Program, the Lymphatic Filariasis Support Center, and the Global Alliance to Eliminate LF.

PJ holds a Master of Arts in Political Science specializing in International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Science degree in International Affairs and French from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She has a Graduate Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.

 

Teshome Gebre, PhD, Regional Director for Africa

Teshome

Teshome Gebre, PhD, is ITI’s Regional Representative for Africa, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As a senior ITI representative, he liaises with governments of trachoma endemic countries and other stakeholders, planning comprehensive programs, ensuring epidemiologic justification for the drug donation, and assessing adequacy of resources for program implementation. He also provides technical support for the development, implementation and evaluation of sustainable trachoma elimination programs, often in collaboration with integrated Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) initiatives. 

Before joining ITI, Dr. Teshome was Country Representative for The Carter Center’s health programs in Ethiopia for 16 years. He established such health programs as Guinea Worm Eradication, and prevention and control of lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, trachoma and malaria. The innovative design of the “MalTra Week” approach to treat millions of people for trachoma and malaria opened a new chapter in advancing public health to greater heights in Ethiopia and has become source of renewed hope and optimism to achieving WHO’s goal of eliminating blinding trachoma worldwide by 2020.

Dr. Teshome has authored and co-authored more than 25 scientific papers published in peer-reviewed international journals, and has contributed three scientific articles on neglected tropical diseases to published book chapters. He earned his masters degree and PhD in health care management from the American Century University, New Mexico.

Dr. Teshome has received numerous awards and certificates of appreciation nationally and internationally. Most notably, he received the Outstanding Leadership Medal from the Lions Clubs International President, 2010-11. In 2011, the FMOH/Ethiopia honored him with “Certificate of Distinction and Gold Medal” for his outstanding contribution in Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Control in Ethiopia. He also received a letter of appreciation for his years of dedicated service to The Carter Center and the Ethiopian people from the former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

 

Joanna Pritchard, MA, Program Manager

As Program Manager for the International Trachoma Initiative, Joanna Pritchard provides leadership and guidance to the program team by establishing priorities, translating new policy into practice, and leading the annual Zithromax® forecasting and application processes. She also serves as a key resource to management and to external partners. In addition, she provides program support to countries implementing the SAFE strategy, including the development of national Trachoma Action Plans that aim to eliminate trachoma as a source of blindness.

Prior to joining The Task Force, Ms. Pritchard worked in Haiti as program manager in community development, earthquake response and cholera response activities with the International Organization for Migration. Before this, Ms. Pritchard worked for over a decade in community development, injury prevention and health promotion in under-served communities in the southeastern United States. Ms. Pritchard has an economics degree from the University of Glasgow, Scotland and a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Florida. She speaks Spanish, French and Haitian Creole and is a native of the United Kingdom.

 

Birgit Bolton, MPH, Senior Program Associate

As a Senior Program Associate for the International Trachoma Initiative, Birgit Bolton provides program support and technical assistance to English speaking countries implementing the SAFE strategy.  She also assists with the preparation of annual forecasts and drug applications, as well as the development of national Trachoma Action Plans that aim to eliminate trachoma as a source of blindness.

Birgit was a contract Project Coordinator with CDC's National Center for Environmental Health from 2007–2012 where she was the principal investigator for health studies assessing risk factors for environmental contaminants in selected populations.  Prior to CDC, Ms. Bolton worked eight years for the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization.  As the programs coordinator, she initiated, organized and coordinated a variety of public health, conservation and sustainability programs to help improve water quality and quantity for metro Atlanta. Her public health background includes a 2010 Global Field Experience with CARE Rwanda as a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) evaluator where she conducted an assessment of a microfinance, gender equality and behavior change strategy for a community-based WASH program for marginalized populations. She also studied Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) as a graduate assistant with The Carter Center’s International Health Programs in 2011. Ms. Bolton has a Master’s in Public Health in prevention sciences from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

 

Girija Sankar, Senior Program Associate

Girija Sankar

Girija Sankar has worked in global public health and development since 2002, when she began her career researching and evaluating HIV/AIDS prevention services in Southern India. This initial exposure to the world of international aid and humanitarian work propelled her to graduate work in Economics and Sociology. 

Most recently, she was with Global Health Action, an Atlanta-based NGO supporting health and community development through grassroots partners in Haiti and China. As Associate Director at GHA, Ms. Sankar was responsible for program design, evaluation, partnerships, fundraising, grant writing, and overall program growth. In previous roles at GHA, she developed project management training curricula and provided technical assistance to grassroots NGO partners in Africa and China. 

As Senior Program Associate with the International Trachoma Initiative at the Task Force, Ms. Sankar will provide program and technical support to partners in several African countries. In addition to assisting national trachoma control programs in preparing annual plans for SAFE implementation, she will also support forecasting meetings and strengthen partner relationships.

Ms. Sankar speaks four languages and is learning her fifth.

 
Carla S. Johnson, MBA, Supply Chain Manager

Carla Johnson is Supply Chain Manager at the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) and sets the global strategic direction for the supply chain of Zithromax®. The International Trachoma Initiative manages the generous donation made by Pfizer Inc and coordinates country applications and forecasts to ensure good resource stewardship. In her role, Ms. Johnson provides oversight of day-to-day management of the $1.6 billion Zithromax® supply chain and is responsible for supporting the mission of ITI by providing technical expertise in supply chain systems, inventory management, and product management.

She brings to her position sixteen years of experience in supply chain management; including materials requirements planning, inventory management, import/export, warehousing, transportation & logistics, and distribution. Before joining The Task Force, Ms. Johnson worked as Senior Technical Advisor – Inventory Management at CARE USA, where she guided and directed global inventory operations for long-term development programs and humanitarian relief efforts, ensuring that much-needed food commodities, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and construction materials were delivered to the right place at the right time.

Ms. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial & Systems Engineering along with certificates in Health & Humanitarian Logistics and Organizational Psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She recently completed Executive MBA studies at Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business. 

 

Martine Muffon, Logistics Coordinator

Martine Muffon

Martine Muffon is ITI’s Logistics Coordinator for French-speaking countries. A native of France, she relocated to Atlanta after 19 years with Digital Equipment Corporation at its European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Coming from the corporate world, she set out to explore the American small business ways in a number of different settings. After 5 years she took a position with Melita International Corporation in the international department and subsequently joined NICE Systems as a Global Account Project Manager. In 2003 she made accounting her full-time occupation and worked as a free-lance consultant for 7 years until joining the Task Force in 2010. As ITI’s Logistics Coordinator for francophone countries, she is responsible for assisting in all matters related to the coordination of shipments of Zithromax® to recipient countries, analysis and reporting, and liaising with recipient countries and Pfizer. Ms. Muffon considers herself a citizen of the world. Joining an organization that is dedicated to improving health and human development globally has been the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

 

Yen Kim, Logistics Coordinator

Yen Kim

Yen Kim is a Logistics Coordinator for ITI. She is responsible for coordinating Zithromax® shipments to English speaking recipient countries, updating the ITI database,  analyzing data, and executing and preparing reports to assist the program in effective decision making. Prior to joining ITI, Ms. Kim was a Logistics Engineer at The Home Depot. She managed and implemented large capital projects for distribution centers nationwide. After several years in her support role, she ventured into the non-profit sector and served as a housing counselor for local Atlanta residents. There she built a passion to make an impact in the lives of others. She joined ITI to utilize her engineering skills to make a difference on a global scale. Ms. Kim has also worked for U.S. Census, Ryder Systems and Shaw Industries. 

Ms. Kim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and a Certificate in Operations Management from Georgia Institute of Technology.

 

Ana Bakhtiari, Data Manager

As Data Manager for ITI, Ana is responsible for the development and management of ITI’s database, which includes data for the entire global program for the elimination of blinding trachoma. In this role, Ana supports program planning by collecting and analyzing field data and ensuring the quality of data presented in annual applications for drug donations. She also supports the trachoma impact assessment data system and serves as project lead for the development of the new Global Atlas of Trachoma. She previously served as Assistant Program Coordinator in which she aided in the development and implementation of program initiatives.
 
Ana holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Georgia, and she is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Analytics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In addition to her analytical skills, Ana brings five years’ experience in project management as well as French language skills gained through her studies at The Sorbonne in Paris.
 

 

Genevieve Lacon, Senior Program Associate

As a Senior Program Associate for the International Trachoma Initiative, Genevieve will provide program support and technical assistance to French speaking countries implementing the SAFE strategy. She will also assist with the preparation of annual forecasts and drug applications, as well as the development of national Trachoma Action Plans that aim to eliminate trachoma as a source of blindness.

Before joining ITI, Genevieve worked as a surveillance epidemiologist at CDC, where she supported a variety of projects including research on WASH in health care facilities in Mali and Cameroon. Prior to CDC she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the West region of Cameroon from 2013-2015, where her main projects included malaria prevention, waterborne disease education and engaging men in maternal health and family planning. Her previous work experience also includes studying bednet efficacy within the Entomology branch at CDC, tracking the expansion of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the Peruvian Amazon and researching West Nile Virus transmission in Atlanta.

Genevieve holds a Masters of Public Health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of New Hampshire.