Our Board and Advisory Team

Wendy Leonard, MD, AAHIVS

As the first physician to volunteer for the Clinton Foundation’s HIV clinical mentoring program in Rwanda, Dr. Leonard has firsthand knowledge of the struggles faced in a resource-limited health care setting. Since 2006, she has continued to work as an educator and consultant to the health care providers in Ruli, Rwanda. In the United States, she is dedicated to providing quality HIV care to those living with HIV in her community. As a certified HIV specialist, she works with HIV infected patients in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. She has been the Tuberculosis Controller for Santa Cruz County since September of 2007.


Jean de Dieu Ngirabega, MD, PhD, MPH

Dr. Ngirabega is the Director General of Clinical Services for the Rwandan Ministry of Health. Prior to this appointment, he worked as the Medical Director of Ruli District Hospital in Northern Rwanda since 1997. He has a Masters in Public Health, and is extremely dedicated to creating systems that improve the health of his community. He is particularly interested in addressing issues of malnutrition in children. He has conducted research to evaluate innovative approaches to better identify children who are suffering from malnutrition, and later implemented a community-based growth monitoring program from information obtained through this research.
In addition to his research and program implementation, Dr. Ngirabega is well respected by the Rwandan Ministry of Health. He has been appointed to the Board of Directors for CAMERWA (Centrale d’Achat de Medicaments Essentiels au Rwanda), a group established to evaluate essential medications that should be purchased for Rwanda. He is a visiting professor at the National University of Rwanda School of Public Health. He works closely with the Rwandan Ministry of Health’s Treatment and Research AIDS Center (TRAC), and Ruli Hospital was one of the first two Rwandan hospitals chosen to work with the Clinton Foundation on their HIV clinical mentoring program.
Dr. Ngirabega recently earned his PhD in Malnutrition and Biostatistics. Learn more about his thesis. He recently published a paper highlighting interventions to improve the utilization of Community Nutrition Workers for identification and treatment of malnutrition in rural Rwanda that can be viewed here.

Marie Kagaju Laugharn

Born and raised in Rwanda, Marie brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to the Ihangane Project. As the Political Affairs Officer for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), she played a major role in convincing 7 African countries to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty. She worked as a Program Specialist for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Mali for several years, as well as Program Officer for UNDP in Kenya, Central African Republic, and Rwanda. Since moving to California in 2008, Maria has remained actively involved in international development through her work with Malaria No More, Netherlands, Seeds of Empowerment, TeachAIDS, One World Children’s Fund, and Firelight Foundation. She believes strongly that providing opportunities for empowerment, especially for poor women, will lead to long lasting poverty alleviation.

Blakeley Lowry, MPH

Blakeley has been working as TIP’s pro bono Evaluation Consultant since 2010, after traveling to Rwanda from New York City to assist The Ihangane Project and Ruli District Hospital’s HIV Team develop a simple monitoring and evaluation system for the Nutrition for HIV-Exposed Infants (NHI) program. Through this work, the team collaborated on a tool that will used to screen infants on a monthly basis. The information gathered from this screening will be used to track specific indicators and to evaluate successes or weaknesses in the program. Blakeley is developing a logic model for the NHI program that will allow our team to monitor progress and adjust the program over time. In addition, she is developing an Evaluation Guide that will describe how other communities can replicate our process of program development.

Stephanie Blount, MPP


Stephanie recently earned her Master’s in Global Public Policy at University of Berkeley, California Goldman School of Public Policy. She is passionate about the empowerment of women, especially in the context of economic development. In 2011, she worked with TIP and the Ihangane Ruli Artisan Association to identify strategic approaches that gradually minimize dependency upon external assistance. They worked together to describe strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of their businesses. Through their work together, the artisans were able to obtain national recognition as an official artisan cooperative. As Country Director, Steph brings an empowering approach to leadership that fosters teamwork and respects local talent.

Heidi Lidtke, MPP, RD

Photo and Bio Coming Soon!

Emeritus Board Member:

Sharon Leonard

Sharon brings many years of experience in office management, financial investments, and community involvement to The Ihangane Project. She held the position of treasurer for BWB Investment Group for several years, and has served as a board member of the Senior Advisory Committee for the city of Morgan Hill, California. As a retired elementary school secretary, Sharon missed the interaction of children in her life and finds that working with The Ihangane Project is a very satisfying and fulfilling replacement. Sharon is very dedicated to her family, and has two children. Her oldest, Dr. Wendy Leonard, is also a founding board member of The Ihangane project. Her youngest, Joe Leonard, is married to his wife Cindy, and they have two children, Dylan and Kyle. She lives in Morgan Hill, California.

Advisory Team


Emery Chang, MD

Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCLA Clinical AIDS Research & Education Center

Dr. Chang provides invaluable clinical and program development assistance to The Ihangane Project. As a past HIV Clinical Mentor to Ruli District Hospital, he is closely connected to the community we work with. He is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLA CARE Center, as well as the Associate Program Director of the combined Internal Medicine & Pediatric Residency Program, the HIV Medical Director of the Catalyst Foundation & board certified in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics & by the American Academy of HIV Medicine. Dr. Chang’s special interests include adolescents and young adults, men’s health, and LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered) primary care.


Jacqueline Umubyeyi

As the Maintenance Director for Ruli District Hospital, Jacqueline is responsible for the daily functioning of the hospital, 7 health centers, and 2 health posts. She has played an essential role in our project to bring solar electricity to the health centers and posts that do not have access to the grid. In addition to her work, she is entering into her 5th year of a 6 year engineering program in Kigali. At home, Jacqueline and her husband care for their two children in addition to 4 orphaned nieces and nephews. She is an inspiration to all of us! The Ihangane Project is honored that Jacqueline will continue to act as an Advisor to our organization once the solar project has been completed.


MichellaMichella Otmar, MSN, MPH

As both a Labor & Delivery nurse and Tuberculosis Public Health nurse in Santa Cruz, California, Michella brings her diverse experience in both public health and clinical care to The Ihangane Project. She provided countless pro bono hours as TIP’s Assistant Director of Programming before returning to school at UCLA to obtain a dual master’s degree in Nursing and Public Health. She traveled to Ruli, Rwanda to work directly with the Ruli District Hospital HIV team to build upon the first year of the Nutrition for HIV-Exposed Infants Program. She conducted home visits with the women in our pilot project, and worked with the Ruli community to strengthen the Ihangane Project infrastructure in Rwanda. She is also a very quick learner of Kinyarwanda!

Hannah Graff

Hannah worked with The Ihangane Project as a Research & Policy Consultant to develop a Policies & Procedures manual for our NHI Program.

Anita Wray,BSc, MSc, BM, MRCGP, DFFP

Anita is a family physician from the United Kingdom. She has a MSc in Health Policy and has published articles in the areas of homelessness and health. In addition to raising a family of 4 children, Anita sits on the Ethics Committees of  Dominican and Natividad hospitals on the Central Coast of California, and is  studying for a MA in bioethics from the University of Wisconsin. Her main interests are in justice and equitable health care issues, environmental factors affecting health and sustainable global development. Anita has also worked as a physician in India, both in Calcutta and in Himal Pradesh.

Sean Morris, MPH 

Sean recently completed the Master’s of Public Health program at University of Michigan. As the TIP 2011 William Davidson Institute (WDI) fellow, he brought his passion for nutrition and sustainable agriculture to our nutrition program.  He was integral to the development of the Duteraninkunga Farming Association in Nyange, and provided objective recommendations that will guide TIP’s work with Ruli District Hospital’s Community Based Nutrition Program. We are excited to welcome him as our project lead in this work! In January of 2013, he travelled to Rwanda for 6 months to implement our community nutrition intervention.

Whitney Waldron, MSN

Whitney brings her extensive experience in HIV case management and home assessments to our growing team. In addition to her work with TIP, she currently works as a case manager for people living with HIV in Santa Cruz County and as a Health Services Specialist at Planned Parenthood. She has worked with mobile medical clinics in rural Honduras, and has first hand knowledge of the daily socioeconomic challenges that can derail health interventions. Whitney will work with both our US- and Rwandan-based teams to develop a standard household nutrition/food security assessment for Community Nutrition Workers to work with.  

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