Partnership and collaboration have been key tenets for Children Without Worms (CWW) since our inception in 2006. Those tenets are best personified by our team of compassionate, committed staff members.
As CWW's director, Dr. Imtiaz provides leadership, technical expertise, and oversight for CWW’s work with partners to control soil-transmitted helminthiasis in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Dr. Imtiaz has 32 years of experience building and managing complex public health programs involving partners in the public and private sectors. Most recently, Dr. Imtiaz was associate director for the Division of Global HIV/AIDS & TB at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), responsible for program and management oversight of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programs in West/Central Africa. An internist by training, Dr. Imtiaz joined CDC in 1984 as the first Pakistani to be inducted into the Epidemic Intelligence Service. She later served as branch chief in CDC’s Global Health Office overseeing Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programs (FELTPs) in 26 countries and starting new FELTPs in Pakistan and India. Dr. Imtiaz also served as CDC director to India, led a task force on the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009-10, and served as associate chief for program integration for the International Laboratory Branch of the Division of Global HIV/AIDS. During her tenure at CDC, Dr. Imtiaz received a number of awards for her contributions including the Center for Global Health Director’s Medal of Excellence in Global Health award and the Medal of Achievement for H1N1 Pandemic Response.
In addition to her CDC experience, Dr. Imtiaz worked led the UNICEF immunization program in Nepal and for The Carter Center, she initiated Guinea worm eradication programs in Pakistan, Ghana, and Nigeria. Dr. Imtiaz has taught courses at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, the National Institute for Epidemiology, Chennai, Public Health Foundation of India, and the Institute for Public Health, Pakistan. She is a peer reviewer for several international conferences and public health journals and has published extensively in a number of top-tier journals.
As Deputy Director for CWW, Alex is responsible for program operations, technical development, implementation, human resources, and financial oversight. Alex has more than a decade of global health experience including seven years managing various aspects of The Carter Center – South Sudan’s support to that country’s trachoma control and Guinea worm eradication programs.
His tenure with The Carter Center – South Sudan includes roles as the deputy country representative and country representative. During the same period, he contributed to a greater than 80 percent reduction in new Guinea worm cases while designing, establishing, and managing technical, operational, and administrative structures supporting hundreds of staff and thousands of volunteers. In addition, Alex has worked as a consultant for various public health organizations including CDC where he worked with various ministries of health to build epidemiological capacity and develop management systems. Alex holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina and Master of Public Administration degree from the George Washington University.
Girija Sankar is CWW’s Associate Director for Partnerships and Communications. In this role, Girija serves as a liaison with partners and potential donors for CWW and the STH Coalition and facilitates and guides the day-to-day work of the STH Coalition. The STH Coalition brings members from a variety of sectors together to fight intestinal worms. They are committed to creating a world where children are free of intestinal worm infections so they can thrive.
Girija comes to CWW from the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), another program of the Task Force for Global Health, where she led their communication and knowledge management platforms and was responsible for strengthening partner relationships with groups such as the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC). Girija also managed ITI’s drug donation to a dozen countries in Africa, the Middle-East, Central America and Asia, working closely with partners from Ministries of Health, international NGOs and the World Health Organization to ensure that the right quantity of Zithromax®, an antibiotic donated by Pfizer to ITI, was delivered communities to fight blinding trachoma.
Prior to joining the Task Force, Girija led the maternal and child programming for a global health NGO in Haiti and was responsible for program development, partnerships, communications, fundraising and grants management.
Girija speaks four languages (but she asks that you not test her Hindi). When she is not preparing reports for work, she dabbles in creative writing and her work can be found on the web.
Girija holds graduate degrees in sociology and economics and moved to the United States from Chennai, India in 2003.
Sanjaya Dhakal is an Epidemiologist with experience in both the government and private sectors. He has worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for eight years in different capacities including a tour as an EIS Officer at the Food and Drug Administration. He has substantial experience in outbreak investigations, academic settings, insurance companies and global public health. His research domains include data science, epidemiologic methods, and public health program development, management, research and evaluation. Sanjaya holds a PhD in from the University of Pittsburgh, an MPhil from the University of Bergen, Norway, and MSc from Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Nepal. He lives in Atlanta but has lived in Bergen, Norway; Honolulu, Hawaii; Pittsburgh, PA; Rockville, MD in the past. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and driving during the weekend.
As a Senior Program Associate with The Task Force for Global Health’s Children Without Worms program, Michael focuses on technical initiatives, data analysis, and program implementation. Prior to joining CWW, Michael worked on the two most advanced ongoing global eradication initiatives, as a technical advisor supporting the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication program and with the CDC’s polio eradication African regional team. In those roles, Michael designed innovative data solutions in low resource environments, led field teams in on-going disease surveillance and outbreak investigations, and implemented global health programs in multiple complex environments. Michael earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Public Health in Global Epidemiology from Emory University.
As Senior Program Associate with CWW, Lauren Abrams supports the STH Coalition and CWW operations. For the STH Coalition, Lauren contributes to annual planning and manages the Coalition initiatives. Most recently Lauren has represented CWW and the STH Coalition in the Action Framework process, which is a platform that brings together NTD communities to develop a common knowledge base around NTD elimination goals, outcomes, and targets. She liaised with the STH community to channel feedback into the Action Framework development process. Lauren also contributes to CWW operations by drafting and managing contracts and financial reporting.
Prior to joining CWW, Lauren served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique. There, she worked in community health promotion, focusing on issues related to HIV/AIDS, orphans and vulnerable children, and environmental health and sanitation. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Management and a Master of Public Affairs degree in Sustainable Development from Indiana University. She is a fluent Portuguese speaker.
Cassandra works with Children Without Worms at The Task Force for Global Health as a Project Support Specialist. In this position, she provides supply chain support for donated medicines to prevent and treat neglected tropical diseases (NTD). Specifically, Cassandra supports GlaxoSmithKline’s albendazole donation for soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) and Lymphatic Filariasis and Johnson & Johnson’s Vermox™ donation for STH. She is also the coordinator of the NTD Supply Chain Forum, which includes representatives of pharmaceutical companies, NGO, freight forwarders, WHO and others, working together to assure needed medicines make it the many miles from their point of manufacture to the endemic countries and eventually to the communities who need them. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental health from East Tennessee State University and a Masters of Business Administration at Georgia State University.
As Program Associate with CWW, Jasmine Irish supports the STH Advisory Committee, as well as the CWW team with communications, logistics, and program administration. Prior to joining CWW, Jasmine worked in marketing communications for Porsche Cars North America and earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Politics from Oglethorpe University.