our team

The Aquaya team delivers research excellence, practical experience, and local knowledge.

Afua Ampomah

Afua Ampomah

Program Officer

Afua leads activities in Ghana for the Hilton Africa Water Quality Testing program. She is responsible for executing all related program activities in Ghana. This includes overseeing water quality data collection and collaborating with the University of Ghana to develop a new Water Quality Testing Fellowship program that will train and support experienced water quality testing practitioners. She engages with key stakeholders, such as national and local government representatives.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Afua worked as an associate engineer at Desolenator BV in the Netherlands, where she developed environmental monitoring protocols, supported scientific papers, and prepared research and development reports to promote knowledge building among the team. She led all water quality, transport, and distribution tasks to ensure the best possible produced water quality. In addition, she led the certifications and compliance processes for the company.

Afua holds an MSc in urban water and sanitation with a specialization in water supply engineering from IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Delft-Netherlands, and a BSc in environmental engineering from the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, Ghana.

Allan Mutegeki

Allan Mutegeki

SENIOR PROGRAM ASSISTANT

Allan oversees implementation of the Monitoring for Safe Water II program activities in Kabarole District, Uganda. Allan coordinates fieldwork and data collection, which supports Aquaya’s research aimed at improving the financial health of rural water systems. This involves evaluating Village Savings and Loans Associations as a mechanism for pooling and managing community funds to support water safety management.

Prior to joining Aquaya in 2020, Allan worked as a loans officer at Hofokam Limited, a Ugandan microfinance institution, where he focused on group lending. There, he established and supported village banks in managing loans and operating micro-credit schemes.

Allan holds a BS in quantitative economics from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, as well as a certificate in data management and statistical analysis from Uganda’s Center for Action and Applied Research for Development.

Amanda Yahaya

Amanda Yahaya

PROGRAM OFFICER

Based in Ghana, Amanda oversees field research, program implementation, and stakeholder engagement for the USAID Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water) water safety plan evaluation as well as a targeted subsidy project in partnership with the Hilton Foundation and Safe Water Network. She similarly supports expansion of the water quality testing assurance fund program sponsored by USAID, the Hilton Foundation, and the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Amanda worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Rwanda. There, she supported government and development partners in planning and implementing environment and natural resources, disaster risk management, climate change, and green growth programs. She is a fellow of the inaugural cohort of the African Union Commission and UNDP African Young Women Leaders Fellowship Program. Amanda has studied natural and human influences on water resources in European and African settings. Her master’s thesis assessed how water quality in sand dams and small surface reservoirs is affected by land use, human activities, and catchment characteristics in rural Mozambique.

Amanda holds an MSc in environmental science, specializing in water quality management, from IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands and a BSc in biochemistry from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana.

Anna Murray

Anna Murray

Deputy Director of Research

Anna manages the Hilton Africa Water Quality Testing Program, which aims to: 1) establish water quality monitoring programs in focal districts in Ghana, Uganda, and Ethiopia; and 2) develop student fellowship programs with local universities to train and support experienced water quality testing practitioners.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Anna was a senior monitoring and evaluation manager at charity: water, which funds more than 40 WASH programs across more than 20 countries. There, she established and implemented a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework for all grantees. Her doctoral research focused on evaluation and regulation of household water treatment technologies, including field evaluations, laboratory studies, and policy work. Anna has coordinated research and trained data collection teams across sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Earlier in her career, she worked as a mechanical engineer, designing rural water supply systems in Nicaragua and working in the building services industry in the US.

Anna holds a PhD in environmental engineering from Tufts University, and MEng and BS degrees in mechanical engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Antony Mbithi

Research Manager

Antony oversees research planning and implementation activities in Kenya under the Urban Resilience by Building Partnerships and Applying New Evidence in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (URBAN WASH) program, which is supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by Tetra Tech. The program seeks to generate evidence and promote influential, sustainable, equitable, and climate-resilient WASH policy and programming in urban and peri-urban areas. He is responsible for partner and stakeholder engagement and research implementation on water safety among small-scale water suppliers in Nairobi. 

Antony has extensive experience in impact evaluation and WASH-related policy research. Before joining Aquaya, he worked in the development sector at the World Bank (Nairobi), Education Sub Saharan Africa (UK), Science for RE-designing Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (Tokyo),  Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, and Thousand Cities Strategic Algorithms (Shenzhen). In addition, Antony has engaged in humanitarian work in South Africa and Eswatini.

Antony holds a PhD in development economics from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Japan, an MDP from the Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management, and a BA in international studies from the University of Nairobi.

Bashiru Yachori

Bashiru Yachori

SENIOR PROGRAM OFFICER

Bashiru coordinates Aquaya’s research programs on expanding safe, equitable, and sustainable water access in rural Ghana, and develops research protocols and data collection tools. Under the REAL-Water project sponsored by USAID, he leads expansion of the Water Quality Assurance Fund program, which provides a financial mechanism for existing water quality laboratories to process samples from smaller water systems. He also provides advice on the program’s introduction in East Africa. Under the Monitoring for Safe Water project, he coordinates evaluation of innovative chlorination technologies to improve water quality in rural communities. 

Bashiru has seven years of experience in water, sanitation, and nutrition, collaborating with development partners and local government agencies in Ghana. Prior to joining Aquaya, he was a WASH development planning officer. His expertise includes monitoring and evaluation, statistics, planning, and management. 

Bashiru holds an MPhil degree in development planning and management and a BA in integrated community development from the University for Development Studies, Ghana.

Bessy Ewoenam Odame-Boafo

PROGRAM OFFICER

Bessy provides high-level support for the Enhancing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (En-WASH) research program activities. Sponsored by USAID, this work aims to increase access to sustainable WASH services in districts across six regions of Ghana. It includes a baseline evaluation using a mixed-methods approach, wherein Bessy oversees qualitative and quantitative data collection while conducting quality control checks. Similarly, she supports stakeholder engagement, field research, and program implementation for an URBAN WASH study supporting the USAID Ghana Mission, the USAID Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water) program, and a REAL-Water study for the Ghana Mission dealing with on-premises service connections.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Bessy worked as a WASH advisor and consultant for the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV). Working on a sustainable sanitation and hygiene program, she led the Nandom District to become the first to attain open-defecation -free status. Bessy also served as an independent consultant for IMC Worldwide (UK), Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), UNICEF, and HOPin Academy, where she led work on WASH governance and behavior change to ensure scalable and sustainable sanitation and hygiene service delivery. She led and supported baseline, midline, and endline surveys as well as other evaluations.

Bessy holds an MSc in water and environmental management from the Water, Engineering, and Development Centre (WEDC) at Loughborough University (UK). She also holds a BSc in natural resources management from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana, with a specialization in water and fisheries management.

Caroline Delaire

Caroline Delaire

Director of Research and Programs

Caroline leads the growing research & programs team at Aquaya, composed of about ten staff members based in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and the United States. She is responsible for ensuring the quality of research deliverables across the organization and for overseeing staffing, timelines, and budgets. She joined Aquaya in 2016, working for two years from the Nairobi, Kenya, office before returning to Europe.

Caroline has experience conducting applied research in the water and sanitation sector in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Haiti. Her doctoral research focused on a low-cost technology to remediate arsenic and microbiological contamination from groundwater. It also analyzed drivers of water consumption behaviors in arsenic-affected communities of West Bengal, India. She has published 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts in a range of disciplines including engineering, data science, social sciences, and economics.

Caroline has a PhD and MS in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and an engineering diploma (BS and MS level) from the Ecole Polytechnique in France. She is a native French speaker. 

Chloé Poulin

Chloé Poulin

Senior Research and Program Manager

Chloé focuses on building Aquaya’s research programs related to water quality modeling and data science. She has expertise in surface and groundwater resources management, as well as water quality under different environmental contexts, including arid, semi-arid, and tropical regions. Based in Kenya, Chloé has been leading projects to develop groundwater microbial quality predictive models in Uganda and an AI-based model to predict poor households’ eligibility to receive water subsidies in rural Ghana.

For her doctoral research, Chloé worked on modeling surface and groundwater fluxes in the Chad Basin using different geochemical tools. She also assessed historical and current groundwater recharge and the impact of climate change on water resources.

Chloé has a PhD in environmental sciences from Aix-Marseille University, a master’s degree in hydrogeology, and a bachelor’s degree in geosciences from the University of Montpellier, France. She is a native French speaker.

Daniel Kwaah

Daniel Kwaah

SENIOR PROGRAM ASSISTANT

Daniel oversees and supports the implementation of the Monitoring for Safe Water II program activities and the Hilton Africa Water Quality Testing program in Asutifi North District, Ghana. He coordinates logistics, fieldwork, data collection, and laboratory activities that support Aquaya’s research aimed at improving WASH and developing a new Water Quality Testing Fellowship program at the district level and for the country at large.

Prior to joining Aquaya in 2020, Daniel served in roles such as health, safety, and environment officer and site supervisor/engineer at various construction and mining sites. His areas of expertise include research, the built environment, environmental monitoring, auditing and reporting, environmental management, water and wastewater treatment, and infrastructure.

Daniel holds an MSc in environmental engineering management from the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani-Ghana, a Ghana Minerals Commission Competency Certificate in Health, Safety and Environment, and a BTech in Building Technology and BSc in Petroleum Engineering, both from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.

Dayna Hansberger

Dayna Hansberger

Senior Program and Operations Manager, REAL-Water

Dayna manages the administration and activities under the Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water) project, including field research in Ghana, India, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. REAL-Water strives to improve the evidence base for policies and interventions that increase access to safe, affordable, and sustainable rural water services in low- and middle-income countries. It is supported by a 5-year, $19 million USAID grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Prior to Aquaya, Dayna served as the project manager for a USAID project focused on improving organizational development, professional development, knowledge management, and communications across the USAID Development, Democracy, and Innovation Bureau. She brings extensive project management expertise from contract management for the USAID Bureau for Global Health’s Global Health Professional & Organizational Development Project, as well as  managing operations and global programming for a gray water technology startup company. Dayna’s areas of technical experience and global health research include COVID-19 testing and vaccine access, human-centered design for sustainable development, and improving access to water, sanitation, and hygiene in East Africa and South America.

Dayna holds an MPH from the George Washington University, an MA in Global Studies from the University of Oregon, and BAs in International Development and Economics from American University.

Diane Kabanyana

Research Officer

Diane coordinates the development and implementation of various research projects at Aquaya. She focuses on Village Savings and Loan Association research, exploring innovative approaches to enhance the financial viability of rural water points in Uganda.

As an Aquaya intern, Diane previously contributed to the USAID Urban Resilience by Building Partnerships and Applying New Evidence in WASH (URBAN WASH) project, examining targeted subsidies for improving water and sanitation access among the urban poor in Ghana. Before joining Aquaya, she gained experience in quantitative financial analysis at Haynes and Company. Her master’s thesis focused on evaluating the impact and sustainability of passive in-line chlorination using Venturi Dosers in Kenyan healthcare facilities. She also analyzed go-to-market strategies for the Venturi devices in other community settings in Kenya.

Diane holds an MS in development engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS in business and economics from Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, USA.

Duncan Penfold-Brown

Senior Data Scientist and Project Manager

Duncan leads the development and implementation of Project W, Aquaya’s drive to harness the power of the data revolution for the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector. He aims to develop Project W into a leading resource for global WASH data, expanding to include representation of wide-ranging contextual data, publications, projects, organizations, and technologies.

Duncan brings experience from several years of research, consulting, and employment in the commodities industry. Prior to joining Aquaya, he applied his software engineering and data science background to several domains. Duncan began working in computational astrophysics with organizations such as the Canadian Advanced Network for Astronomical Research, Canada’s particle accelerator center (TRIUMF), and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). He then joined New York University’s research community, working first in computational biology on protein folding and genomic analysis, and then supporting applied psychological research using social media data with the Center for Social Media and Politics.

Duncan holds a BSc in computer science with a minor in Chinese language studies from the University of Victoria in Canada.

Emily Worsham

OPERATIONS OFFICER

Emily supports Aquaya’s human resources, legal, governance, technology, safety, and other operational activities from the United States.

She brings a wealth of experience, having worked extensively with international and domestic nonprofit organizations. Her expertise lies in administration, operations, and finance. Prior to joining Aquaya, Emily served as the finance and operations manager at A Way Home America, a nonprofit dedicated to policy and legislative initiatives for homeless youth and young adults. In this capacity, she oversaw the organization’s day-to-day operations, managed budgetary matters, and administered grants.

Emily holds a BSc from the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago in the United States.

Faith Chepngeno

Faith Chepngeno

PROGRAM ASSOCIATE

Faith supports Aquaya’s programs with a focus on collecting, organizing, and analyzing international water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) data, mapping, and literature reviews. She contributes to development of the Project W data platform, while devising data enhancement methods.

Prior to joining Aquaya in 2021, Faith worked as a research assistant with the Jassa Centre. She took part in numerous research initiatives in the fields of education, WASH, healthcare, and mental health. Her areas of expertise include report writing, literature reviews, and data collection and analysis.

Faith holds a BS in statistics and programming and a certificate in leadership from Kenyatta University.

Gilbert Kiprop

Senior Accountant

Gilbert manages billing for Aquaya’s projects. He assists in maintaining financial records and reports, performing account reconciliations, assisting with budget and close-out processes, and maintaining accounts payable documentation.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Gilbert was a finance lead at Access Afya, a social enterprise delivering affordable and effective primary healthcare to low-income markets in Kenya. He was responsible for managing company finance and accounting operations, including budgeting, financial reporting, and statutory compliance. Previously, he worked at GEMS Cambridge International School in Nairobi and Kenya’s Bridge International Academies, where he supported finance and accounting operations.

Gilbert holds a BCom in accounting from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. He is a certified public accountant and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya.

Gloria Magut

Research Assistant

Gloria focuses on field research, data analysis, and report writing for the Water Quality Assurance Fund study in Kenya, sponsored by the USAID Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water) program, Hilton Foundation, and Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Prior to working at Aquaya, Gloria interned with the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC), American Institutes for Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and Voluntary Service Overseas. While a fellow at Eawag (the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology), she took part in the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens program, the United Nations Geneva Graduate Study Programme, and the Local Pathways Fellowship through the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. This involved implementing community projects focused on school-aged childhood education on water quality, proper hand washing, menstrual hygiene, and environmental conservation.

Gloria is pursuing an MSc in public health from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology KEMRI Graduate School and holds a BSc in environmental health from Moi University in Kenya.

Haleemah Qureshi

Haleemah Qureshi

Senior Research Manager

Based in Kenya, Haleemah manages Aquaya’s research for USAID’s Urban Resilience by Building partnerships and Applying New evidence in WASH (URBAN WASH) program. Led by Tetra Tech, URBAN WASH focuses on sustainable and equitable WASH policy and programming in urban and peri-urban areas. Her work includes case evaluations and pilot intervention studies with local partner organizations, particularly around pro-poor WASH subsidies and improvements to water safety among small-scale providers. 

Haleemah’s prior work spanned the public and private sectors. She has managed the design and delivery of infrastructure projects and evaluated systems that create enabling environments for improvements to water and sanitation access. Prior to joining Aquaya, Haleemah managed water and sewer capital planning improvements for a city government in the US. Her master’s thesis investigated the crisis of water affordability in Baltimore, Maryland, through a financial and operational analysis of the city’s public utility and an evaluation of resulting policies that excluded or harmed residents who were unable to pay.  

Haleemah holds a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a BSc in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Hellen Wangari Ndung’u

SENIOR ACCOUNTANT

Hellen supports all accounting activities in Aquaya’s Nairobi, Kenya, office, including preparation, entry, and management of bills, checks, invoices, and advances. She also assists in ensuring timely preparation of financial reports.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Hellen was the audit manager for Davella LLP, a firm of accountants and business consultants. She was involved in project, financial, and operational audits. She also worked as a project accountant for Kurrent Technologies, a consulting company specializing in the energy sector. There, she provided accounting services for multiple projects.

Hellen holds a BComm (specialized in finance) from Kenyatta University in Nairobi and is a certified public accountant and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya.

Irene Atieno

Irene Atieno

PROGRAM ASSOCIATE

Irene supports multiple Aquaya research programs. She contributes to Project W by collecting, organizing, and analyzing international water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) data. She performs data collection and literature management for large rural and urban WASH projects, and conducts field work for targeted low-income area mapping in Kenya.

Before joining Aquaya in 2021, Irene volunteered with the Kenya Red Cross Society, a humanitarian agency that focuses on alleviating human suffering and saving lives. There, she focused on empowering and sensitizing communities in urban slums in Nairobi. She participated in projects on community-led total sanitation, WASH beneficiary data entry, community education, outreach training, and blood drive coordination.

Irene holds a BS in population health and a certificate in leadership and project management from Kenyatta University.

Jeff Albert

Jeff Albert

Deputy Project Director, REAL-Water

Jeff co-leads the Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water) program, a 5-year, $19 million grant to Aquaya from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). REAL-Water strives to improve the evidence base for policies and interventions that will increase access to safe, affordable, and sustainable rural water services across the developing world. He previously led efforts on the USAID-funded Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships for Learning and Sustainability (WASHPaLS) project, overseeing the design and execution of Aquaya’s research outputs and coordination with partners. 

Jeff has extensive research experience spanning water, sanitation, and hygiene service delivery and water resources management. Prior to co-founding Aquaya with Ranjiv Khush in 2005, he was a science and technology policy fellow (sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science) at the United States Environmental Protection Agency. He held joint appointments as a lecturer in the Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies departments at Brown University between 2002 and 2004.

Jeff holds PhD and MS degrees from Yale University and a BA from Brown University.

Jessica Tribbe

Jessica Tribbe

Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships and Programs

Jessica manages Aquaya’s implementation research activities, with a focus on rural sanitation and behavior change. She manages Aquaya’s activities under USAID’s Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water) project and previously managed activities under USAID’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships for Learning and Sustainability (WASHPaLS) project. Under WASHPaLS, she led a qualitative study on the sustainability of community-led total sanitation programs in Cambodia and Ghana, and a qualitative analysis of sanitation in Kenya’s pastoralist communities. Jessica also manages development of the Sanitation Planning (SanPlan) Tool. This web application supports sanitation practitioners in designing and executing sanitation programs by exploring highly localized, contextual spatial data.

Jessica brings extensive experience in research and evaluation, technology innovation for low-resource settings, and project design and management. Prior to Aquaya, she served as WASH Innovation Specialist for UNICEF, where she managed a portfolio of emerging technologies, including products to improve water quality monitoring and emergency sanitation for people with disabilities. Jessica has also worked on national political campaigns in the United States, women’s rights in urban India, mobile healthcare in rural India, and systems strengthening for Malawi’s agriculture sector.

Jessica has an MPA from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) and a BA in diplomacy and foreign affairs from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

John Orapa

John Orapa

SENIOR FINANCE MANAGER

John manages all of Aquaya’s finances, encompassing budgeting, accounting, financial reporting, financial analysis, and compliance.

Prior to joining Aquaya, John was a Financial Trainer with Africa (YES) Young Entrepreneurs Support, training social entrepreneurs in setting up sound financial systems. He has worked as a finance professional in various organizations in different roles and has also worked as a Consultant with several donor-funded projects including USAID and DSW. John contributes articles to The Accountant Journal of Kenya on corporate governance and other emerging issues in the financial sector.

John is a Certified Public Accountant of Kenya and a member of The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya. He holds a Bachelor of Science in International Business Administration from the United States International University (Africa).

Julia Borovinskiy

Julia Borovinskiy

Grant Accountant

Julia manages the financial grant reporting compliance and monitoring of subrecipients for the Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water) project funded by USAID. 

Prior to working for Aquaya, Julia was a financial analyst at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Minnesota. She was responsible for US Office of Management and Budget Uniform Guidance and grant reporting compliance, subrecipient monitoring of grant contracts, and audits. She also prepared and distributed financial reports for several sponsors. 

Julia has a BBA in finance from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is a native Russian speaker.

Kara Stuart

Kara Stuart

Senior Technical Manager

Kara supports Aquaya’s projects by managing research programs, leading quantitative data analysis activities, and developing interactive data visualizations and web applications. Based in Kenya, she aids decision-makers in designing and planning sanitation programs. Her work includes cost-benefit modeling, technology evaluation, and poverty mapping.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Kara was a projects and membership manager with the Coalition for Urban Rural Environmental Stewardship and the Central Coast Groundwater Coalition. She worked on various projects to monitor and improve drinking water quality on irrigated lands in California and to facilitate growers’ compliance with the requirements of the California Regional Water Quality Control Boards. Her master’s research dealt with high-solids anaerobic digestion and life-cycle analysis of an innovative system for ammonium recovery from urine.

Kara holds an MS in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Davis and a BA in earth science and environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Karen Setty

Karen Setty

Senior Manager, Research Translation

Karen works with Aquaya researchers and diverse partners to bolster the practical applications of evidence produced by Aquaya. She oversees development of varied project outputs as well as the data-into-use component of Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water). In addition, she supports internal capacity development on writing, engagement, equity, and impact evaluation.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Karen’s professional experience included consulting for US federal environmental health agencies. She worked for several years as a science writer for the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Her doctoral research evaluated drinking water safety plans (a risk management approach) among European water suppliers, while her master’s project advanced water management practices in a peri-urban community in southern Mexico. She volunteered with Engineers Without Borders in rural Peru and has authored more than 15 peer-reviewed publications.

Karen holds a PhD from the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a MESM specializing in water resources management from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a BS in environmental biology from the University of Dayton.

Katherine Marshall

Katherine Marshall

Research and Program Manager

Katherine manages Aquaya’s water safety management research programs in Uganda. She supports development and implementation of action-research projects, with a focus on innovative approaches to achieve universal, safe, sustainable water supply coverage. Her ongoing research projects evaluate 1) novel chlorination technologies to improve water safety and 2) innovative approaches to improve the financial viability of rural water points.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Katherine worked on water supply projects focused on groundwater development and point source infrastructure. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she helped to assess and improve water supply access in urban and rural communities of northern Uganda.

Katherine has an MS in engineering science (concentrated on environmental engineering) from the University of South Florida and a BS in geology from the College of Charleston.

Lisa Appovou

Lisa Appavou

SENIOR PROGRAM OFFICER

Lisa oversees water quality data collection, coordinates fieldwork logistics, and conducts data analysis for several Aquaya projects. Under the REAL-Water project funded by USAID, she works on strengthening water quality monitoring and water treatment protocols in rural areas of East Africa by expanding Assurance Funds, a financial tool allowing existing water quality laboratories to analyze water samples from small water systems. Under the URBAN WASH program funded by USAID, she implements research to progress sustainable, equitable, and climate-resilient water, sanitation, hygiene, and water resources management in urban and peri-urban areas.

Previously, Lisa served as an intern at Aquaya, working on a new chlorination technology to improve drinking water safety in rural Uganda. She later completed her master’s thesis on the same topic, evaluating the performance of several low-tech passive chlorinators in rural Kenya with the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag).

Lisa holds an MSc and BSc in environmental sciences and engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne. She is a native Italian speaker and also speaks English, French, and German.

Lucia Nadal

Lucía Nadal

Research Manager

Lucía supports research implementation across multiple programs, including study design, fieldwork management, protocol development, data analysis, and results dissemination. Based in Kenya, one of her focal points is supporting USAID’s Urban Resilience by Building partnerships and Applying New evidence in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (URBAN WASH) program.

Lucía’s interest in WASH stems from her background in evolutionary biology, human adaptation, and data science. Her doctoral thesis focused on building and applying AI-based models to reevaluate key data gaps in the East Africa’s hominin fossil record. Prior to joining Aquaya, Lucía worked with the Turkana Basin Institute as a resident academic director for the Origins Field School in Kenya. Previously, she co-founded and served as the research and development lead for Tamalli, a nutrition project in Nairobi that explored street food as a market-based solution to urban stunting. 

Lucía holds a PhD in biological anthropology from the University of Cambridge, an MSc in biological anthropology from the University of Barcelona, and a BSc in biology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Meseret-Dessalegne

Meseret Dessalegne

Senior Program Officer

Meseret leads activities in Ethiopia for the Hilton Africa Water Quality Testing program. She is responsible for overseeing water quality data collection and collaborating with Bahir Dar University to develop a new Water Quality Testing Fellowship program.

Meseret has experience in university-level teaching and water-related research projects. Her doctoral work focused on synthesis, characterization, and testing of aluminum-based adsorbents for fluoride removal from drinking water. Part of this research took place at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), where she served as a Partnership Program for Developing Countries (EPP) fellow. She also served as a post-doctoral researcher on a collaborative research project entitled Water Infrastructure for Schistosomiasis-Endemic Regions (WISER) funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Meseret holds a PhD in water and health specializing in water and wastewater treatment from Addis Ababa University, as well as an MS in environmental science. She has her BSc in applied chemistry from University of Gondar.

Miles Schelling

Miles Schelling

Research Officer

Miles coordinates  development and implementation of research projects at Aquaya. Based in Ghana, his research for USAID’s Urban Resilience by Building Partnerships and Applying New Evidence in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (URBAN WASH) program examines targeted subsidies for improving water and sanitation access among the urban poor.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Miles worked on rural water quality in South India as an InterExchange Foundation Christianson Fellow. His master’s thesis focused on designing and implementing a water filtration system called “induced bank filtration” in a rural village in Karnataka. This system relies on locally available resources to remove contaminants from drinking water using natural processes.

Miles holds an MS in environmental and earth sciences from the University of Rhode Island and a BS in mathematics from Bates College in Maine, USA.

Monicah Ngima

OPERATIONS ASSOCIATE

Monicah supports operational activities for the Aquaya team. She combines her operational, projects, and information technology (IT) experience to provide staff support, focusing on IT, data security, program support, and organizational policies.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Monicah worked in the private, government, and humanitarian sectors in Kenya, focusing on IT, project and process implementation, and customer experience support. Her most recent assignment was at American International Group (AIG) Kenya Insurance Company Limited, where she served as a program coordinator handling systems and IT project implementation as well as contact center management.

Monicah holds a BSc in business and information technology from Strathmore University in Nairobi. She is undertaking an MSc in monitoring and evaluation at Daystar University.

Peace Musonge

Peace Liz Sasha Musonge

Program Manager

Peace manages REAL-Water projects in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. She has international experience working at the water, science, and technology nexus in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America, especially with freshwater ecosystems. She worked on research biomonitoring projects in the Mekong River in Vietnam, the Nile River in Uganda, and the Guayas River basin in Ecuador.

During her doctoral research, Peace examined the ecological status of major rivers of the Rwenzori Mountains. This led to development of the first Ugandan biotic index for evaluating nutrient enrichment in Rwenzori rivers, using an economic metric called the Rwenzori Score. She has published ten peer-reviewed articles.

Peace holds a PhD in bioscience engineering from Ghent University, an MS in technology for integrated water management from Antwerp University, and a BS in food science and technology from Makerere University.

Peter Ongalo

Peter Ongalo

Senior Communications Assistant

Peter supports communication and dissemination efforts that make Aquaya’s research more accessible. He helps to share Aquaya’s high-level outputs with international stakeholders and enhance analyses by developing user-friendly visuals. Peter supports Aquaya’s brand awareness through social media management, playing a key role in maintaining Aquaya’s online presence.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Peter specialized in digital communications, with experience in both the private and public sectors. His previous work included marketing and communication efforts for corporate organizations, social enterprises, research programs, parastatals, and government entities. Most recently, he was a social media executive at Securex Agencies (Kenya) Limited, leading digital marketing strategies while enforcing communications policies. He also served as a team leader for a practical skills project during his studies, which showcased how the Kisumu Water and Sanitation Company has adopted different models and approaches to improving water, sanitation, and hygiene in low-income settlements in Kisumu County, Kenya.

Peter has a BA in communication and media technology with information technology from Maseno University, Kenya, where he specialized in public relations.

Rabby Rono

Accounting Clerk

Rabby supports accounting activities at Aquaya, including bills, cash advance requests, payments, and receipts. She works to reconcile staff accounts and prepare monthly reports, ensuring compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and assisting with monthly closeout processes.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Rabby worked for Kenya Airways and UN-Habitat.

Rabby holds a BCom in finance from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. She is a certified financial modeling and valuation analyst and is enrolled in a Certified Public Accountant certification course.

Rachel Peletz

Rachel Peletz

Executive Director

Rachel oversees Aquaya’s strategic direction, sustainable growth, and execution of its mission to build the evidence base for water, sanitation, and hygiene development. She joined Aquaya in 2012 and led the team in Nairobi, Kenya, for five years before returning to the United States. She has extensive water and sanitation experience, having collaborated with partners from more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Rachel was a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an international technical advisor for the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology in Canada. Her doctoral research included a randomized, controlled trial of a safe water intervention to evaluate health impacts on young children born to HIV-positive mothers in Zambia. With more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, she brings an interdisciplinary research approach that combines engineering, public health, nutrition, microbiology, and economics.

Rachel holds a PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, an MEng from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a BS in environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Rachel Sklar

SENIOR RESEARCH MANAGER

Rachel leads research across a variety of projects at Aquaya, including the Water Quality Assurance Fund research in Africa sponsored by USAID (REAL-Water), the Hilton Foundation, and the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Rachel has expertise in environmental health and epidemiology and has conducted water, sanitation, and hygiene research in Nicaragua, Haiti, and across Africa. Her doctoral work focused on occupational health risks for sanitation workers in cities lacking sewers. Rachel also founded and ran a water, sanitation, and hygiene social enterprise called Pit Vidura in Rwanda, which has fully transitioned to a local leadership team. Her postdoctoral work focused on the effects of climate change and wildfire smoke exposure on vulnerable Californians, including incarcerated populations and pregnant women.

Rachel holds a PhD and MPH in environmental health sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS in neuroscience and behavior from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Ranjiv Khush

Ranjiv Khush

Project Director, REAL-Water

Ranjiv is the Project Director of the Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water) program. REAL-Water strives to improve the evidence base for policies and interventions that increase access to safe, affordable, and sustainable rural water services across the developing world. It is supported by a 5-year, $19 million grant to Aquaya from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). REAL-Water partners from the United States, Africa, India, and Europe will conduct field research in Ghana, India, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. 

Ranjiv co-founded Aquaya in 2005 following a fellowship with the Office of the Science and Technology Advisor to the United States Secretary of State. He served as Aquaya’s Executive Director from 2009–2021. Previously, he worked as a research scientist at Stanford University in California and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, France. 

Ranjiv holds a PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MS and BS from the University of California, Davis.

Rawlings Akamanya

SENIOR PROGRAM OFFICER

Rawlings leads activities associated with the Hilton Water Quality Testing Fellowship Program in Uganda to inform better decision-making for drinking water supply. As a program officer, his duties include: overseeing water quality data collection and analysis, ensuring that data quality is assured and controlled, working with Makerere University to develop local capacity in water quality testing, and engaging local governments and ministries on dissemination of results. 

Prior to joining Aquaya, Rawlings worked as an engineer and program support lead at Acts for Water, a Canadian water, sanitation, and hygiene implementing organization in southwestern Uganda. His scope of work ranged from designing gravity flow schemes to serving on the senior leadership team to offering strategic direction, program design, and management, including monitoring and evaluation. 

Rawlings is currently pursuing an MSc in water management for development at the Water Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC), Loughborough University, UK. He holds a master’s degree in project management for international development and humanitarian aid from the Social Change School in Spain and a BSc in Civil Engineering from Makerere University, Uganda.

Ryann Johnson

Ryann Johnson

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

Ryann supervises operations activities that benefit the entire Aquaya team around the globe. These include human resources, technology, immigration, transit, and compliance activities. She combines her nonprofit operations and legal experience to develop organizational policies while supporting individual research and program staff members. 

Prior to joining Aquaya, Ryann spent more than a decade working in operations and compliance for a financial company that serves American nonprofit organizations.

Ryann holds JD and MBA degrees from Campbell University in North Carolina and a BS in business from Virginia Tech.

Sam Butterworth

Senior Research Officer

Sam supports the Enhancing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (EnWASH) research program, a 5-year USAID-funded project designed to increase the use of sustainable, equitable, and high-quality WASH services in both rural communities and healthcare facilities. Based in Ghana, he works primarily on developing lifecycle costing data analysis and management protocols for rural water supply systems.

Sam has a background in engineering for sustainability. Prior to joining Aquaya, he worked with Whave Solutions on rural water supply infrastructure projects in Uganda. Sam was responsible for supervising local mechanics who performed rehabilitation and preventive maintenance of handpumps with the aim of improving functionality and minimizing breakdowns. He implemented life-cycle analysis of handpump hardware and developed technical recommendations to increase component lifespans and reduce pump downtime.     

Sam holds an MSc in water and sanitation for development from Cranfield University and an MEng in civil engineering with sustainability from the University of Warwick.

Seyram Ama Asimah

Program Manager

Seyram manages implementation of the USAID Ghana Mission’s Urban Resilience by Building partnerships and Applying New evidence in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (URBAN WASH) buy-in project. The project aims to pilot interventions to improve water supply quality, equity, and non-revenue water, as well as the overall reliability of water services, in the cities of Kumasi and Tamale.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Seyram worked with the Training Research and Networking for Development (TREND) Group and WaterAid Ghana, where she managed various water, sanitation, and hygiene projects and programs. She has an extensive understanding of WASH issues as well as research and infrastructure project implementation phases. She was one of nine young professionals selected as Young Scientific Program Committee members to support the 2019 Stockholm International Water Institute’s World Water Week seminar series.

Seyram holds an MSc in water and environmental management from Loughborough University’s Water Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) and a BSc in civil engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Stanley Sam

Stanley Sam

RESEARCH MANAGER

Stanley manages research on the USAID Enhancing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (EnWASH) project in Ghana, with a primary focus on market-based sanitation and open-defecation-free sustainability. He develops research protocols, oversees data collection, conducts qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and collaborates with partner organizations. Stanley also supports implementing partners in translating research findings into practical solutions.

Stanley has experience in water and wastewater treatment as well as conducting water and sanitation research. His doctoral studies focused on understanding the governing mechanisms of fecal sludge dewatering for improved global sanitation. His work also evaluated the factors that influence solid-liquid separation of fecal sludge to develop high-throughput, low-footprint treatment technologies.

Stanley is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Environmental Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He also holds an MSc in environmental biotechnology from Istanbul Technical University and a BSc in biochemistry and biotechnology from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.

Tari Lewis

Tari Lewis

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Tari oversees financial plans, policies, and reporting, as well as human resources and treasury management.

Prior to working for Aquaya, Tari was the chief financial officer of the National Police Foundation in Washington, DC. She also worked for a top accounting firm, consulting with for-profit and nonprofit organizations on tax research, reporting, and transaction planning. There, she led numerous training sessions in the area of nonprofit taxation, as well as publications such as tax newsletters, articles, and IRS private letter rulings. Her interests include disruptive and innovative technologies for finance, enterprise, and social use cases.

Tari is a certified public accountant and has a BS degree from The Ohio State University.

Valerie Bauza

Valerie Bauza

Deputy Director of Research

Valerie manages the Enhancing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (E-WASH) baseline project and the water safety plan evaluation research study for REAL-Water. Both projects are funded by USAID and being conducted in partnership with other organizations in rural Ghana. She also contributes to study design and research activities on other projects.

Valerie has experience working on water and sanitation projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and the United States. Prior to joining Aquaya, she was a researcher at the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a postdoctoral fellow in environmental health at Emory University, and a water/wastewater engineer at AECOM. Her research has spanned a wide range of WASH topics, including water quality, child-focused sanitation, WASH and health, fecal contamination exposure and transmission pathways, solid waste management, and sustainable service delivery for WASH in low- and middle-income countries.

Valerie earned a PhD in environmental engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an MS in environmental engineering from Stanford University, and a BS in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Vanessa Guenther

Vanessa Guenther

COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Vanessa leads communication and dissemination efforts to make Aquaya’s research more accessible. She shares Aquaya’s high-level outputs with international stakeholders and enhances analyses by developing user-friendly visuals. Vanessa builds Aquaya’s brand awareness through website and social media management and search engine optimization. For the Rural Evidence and Learning for Water (REAL-Water) project, she coordinates communication outputs between consortium members and USAID. Vanessa also supports Aquaya’s data initiative, Project W, overseeing data categorization and design of the online platform.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Vanessa was a Duke University Global Policy Fellow with international work experience (e.g., Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland). Her marketing experience ranges from American professional soccer clubs to small startup businesses. Vanessa’s master’s project analyzed the impacts of air quality on diabetes risk in California.

Vanessa has a MESM from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a BA in strategic communication from the Hubbard School of Journalism at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Vanessa is a native German speaker.

Tom Mahin

Tom Mahin | Affiliated Expert

WATER, SANITATION AND HYGIENE CONSULTANT

Working with Aquaya and the World Health Organization, Tom has led an evaluation of national drinking water regulatory programs in Bhutan and Indonesia. Tom has also supported Aquaya’s work in evaluating chlorination systems in rural Ghana and completed lab assessments in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. 

Tom worked for many years as an environmental engineer at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, including as regional drinking water section chief. In addition to drinking water, water pollution, and solid waste projects, his experience includes:

  • Emergency WASH responses in Haiti, Nepal, and Zimbabwe (with Oxfam); 
  • Arsenic filter research in Bangladesh and Cambodia (with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology); 
  • HIV/WASH training in Zambia, Ethiopia, and Nepal (with the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology); 
  • Evaluation of a USAID-funded multi-year private-public project in Mozambique (with Catholic Relief Services); and 
  • Supervision of UNICEF-funded rural drinking water system construction in Nepal. 

Tom holds a BS in environmental engineering/engineering science from the University of Texas at Austin and a graduate certificate in global nutrition programming from Tufts University.


Our board of directors

Ian E. Warburg, Chair

Independent Consultant

Ian Warburg is an experienced executive, investor, advisor, and board director with broad ranging experience in a variety of industries including retail, hospitality, sales promotion & loyalty marketing, real estate, and more. Ian currently advises individuals, companies, and not-for-profit organizations including GS America, Inc, RMZ Development, Jump Start Revolution, and The Aquaya Institute. Ian’s community endeavors include more than two decades of dedication to the Hole in The Wall Gang Camp, more than seven years as a board director with The Aquaya Institute, and nearly a decade of service with the American Friends of the Hebrew University, where he was co-founder and chairman of the President’s Council. Ian holds a Masters of Science in Organizational Development from American University and a Bachelor of Arts from New York University in International Politics and Economics.

Dr. Len Finocchio, Vice Chair

Senior Advisor, Manatt Health

Len Finocchio is a senior advisor with Manatt Health, an interdisciplinary policy and business advisory division of Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips, LLP, where he provides research, analysis and advisory services on health policy for public and private sector clients. Len worked as a principal health care consultant for a public policy and economics consulting firm, specializing in strategic and analytical services for public, not-for-profit and private sector clients. His projects included examining the organization and delivery of health care in California; evaluating the Medi-Cal geographic managed care model; and leading pilot development and integration of a Medi-Cal managed care and county specialty mental health care system, focusing on care models, financing approach and communication strategy. A respected thought leader on health care policy and management, Len has extensive experience in Medicaid program administration, health services research and evaluation, and philanthropy. He also served as the associate director of the California Medicaid program as an appointee of Governor Jerry Brown.

Mike Freedman

President at MAF Management, LTD

Mike is a seasoned entrepreneur, having successfully founded, grown and exited from 10 companies in Asia, the United States and Europe over the past 25 years. Mike started his career as an investment banker, initially with the First Boston Corporation in New York and Tokyo, and latterly with Wasserstein Perella & Co.

Mike is a 1983 cum laude graduate of Harvard College in East Asian Studies, and is fluent in Japanese. In addition to his Harvard degree, Mike spent one year studying as an exchange student at Doshisha University in Kyoto Japan, and is a graduate of Middlebury College’s renowned summer Japanese language institute.

In addition to Aquaya, Mike currently sits on the Board of Directors of Edifice Managed Access, Ltd, a real estate commercialization company based in London; New York Collaborates for Autism (NYCA), one of the longest serving organizations in the country which develops innovative programs for the autism community; and Cheshire Academy, the sixth oldest college preparatory school in the United States.

Zorba Lieberman, Treasurer

Multi-organization investor, advisor, and board member

Zorba Lieberman is an investor, advisor, and board member with various information-based companies serving the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Mr. Lieberman was founder and CEO of Citeline Inc., the leading provider of global clinical trial intelligence to the pharmaceutical industry. In the mid-1990’s, he cofounded and built Citizen 1 Software, which pioneered the effort to organize and mine business-relevant information from the Internet. Previously, Mr. Lieberman was in strategic and new product planning at both Genentech and Eli Lilly, and was a management consultant at The Wilkerson Group. Mr. Lieberman holds BA and MBA degrees from Cornell University, as well as a Masters in international finance from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium.

Stephanie Hastings, Secretary

Shareholder, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Stephanie Hastings has played a leading role in several of California’s most complex and precedent-setting water matters. With 20 years of specialized expertise in water law, Stephanie brings a wealth of experience to the acquisition, maintenance, protection and management of water resources and water rights. Her practice spans every aspect of California and national water law. She represents the interests of all water users—wholesale and retail water providers, public and private corporations, government enterprises, investment funds and banks, large landowners, land developers and home builders, ski resorts and golf courses, traditional and renewable energy developers, high tech industries, agriculture and vineyards — in both transactional and litigation matters. Stephanie is also the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the California H2O Women Conference.

Dr. Robert Herdt

Emeritus Board Member, Adjunct International Professor of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University

Bob is currently Adjunct International Professor of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. For 17 years, he was on the staff of the Rockefeller Foundation in New York as Program Director in charge of the Foundation’s work on Agriculture and most recently as Vice President responsible for the Foundation’s budget and for oversight of its agricultural, health, and overseas programs. He earlier served as Scientific Advisor to the CGIAR Secretariat at the World Bank in Washington from 1983-1986 and for 10 years before that was Economist at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Philippines. Bob sits on the Boards of two other non-profits dedicated to improving well-being in the developing world: The Asia Rice Foundation, USA, and Market Matters, Inc. He received his PhD at the University of Minnesota in Agricultural Economics after obtaining his Undergraduate and Master’s degrees at Cornell. Bob is a “solar geek” having invested in solar PV and solar hot water, and enjoys hiking, gardening and other outdoor activities like cutting and hauling firewood to feed his woodstove.

Anona Dutton

Vice President, EKI Environment & Water, Inc.

Anona Dutton is Vice President and Director of Water Resources and Engineering at EKI Environment & Water, Inc., where she also serves on the Board of Directors. She has more than 20 years of technical and policy experience across all aspects of water resources development and management. She is a recognized leader in implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which is transforming how groundwater and inter-connected surface water resources are managed in the face of climate change and continued development pressure. She provides strategic and policy development support to cities, water agencies, tribes, NGOs, and private sector clients on water-related matters, litigation support, and regulatory requirements. Other areas of technical expertise include the conjunctive use of water resources, water transfer implementation, data management and visualizations, numerical modeling, water quality, water conservation, urban water management planning, basin adjudication proceedings, and development of potable and non-potable supplies (e.g., recycled water). Anona is a graduate of Stanford University, a Professional Geologist, and a Certified Hydrogeologist.

Dr. Charisma Acey

Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Principal, Outreach by Design

Dr. Charisma Acey is an associate professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. She also currently serves as the Faculty Director of the Berkeley Food Institute and the Research Director of the Institute for Urban and Regional Development. She is the founder and principal of Outreach by Design. Charisma has over two decades of experience working to advance environmental justice and community development in West Africa, southern Africa, Central, and South America, and the U.S. Her background includes international work as a senior manager for relief and development NGOs and research projects that focus on community-based participatory research in urban agroecology, access to healthy food, wildfire vulnerability, air quality, and increasing access to clean water, safe sanitation, household clean energy, and women’s empowerment. Charisma was also a US State Department Fellow in Malawi, an American Marshall Memorial Fellow in Europe, and a member of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center’s (SESYNC) External Advisory Board. She is a Fellow of the UW-Madison and University of Maryland Health Equity Leadership Institute, certified in diversity leadership. She holds a Ph.D. in urban planning and a Master’s in public policy from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Dr. Christina Babbitt

Program Manager, Global Supply Chain Innovation and Sustainability, Starbucks

Christina Babbitt manages the California Groundwater Program at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) where she is working to advance successful implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, California’s landmark new groundwater management law. In this role, Christina is leading efforts to improve water trading policy in California and scale replicable groundwater sustainability projects across California’s Central Valley. Prior to joining EDF, Christina held positions with the National Ocean. Christina is working with the Starbucks team to build a planet positive supply chain of the future. In her role, Christina leads supply chain sustainability strategy, works to influence and compel change through research and innovation, and supports the Global Supply Chain sustainability portfolio of programs and projects. Previously, Christina was a Director, Climate Resilient Water Systems at Environmental Defense Fund, where she worked at the intersection of water, agriculture, and climate, with a focus on supporting the successful implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, California’s landmark groundwater management law. Christina’s past research has focused on water resources governance in stressed watersheds across western U.S., Europe, and eastern Africa and she currently sits on the Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy advisory committee. Christina holds a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and is currently a University of California, Berkeley Haas Executive MBA candidate. 

David Rich

Executive Director, Supportive Housing WORKS

David has twenty years experience creating and building market-based solutions to alleviating poverty in North & Central America, Africa and Asia. David grew up in the Middle East and South Asia and received degrees from Yale, Southern Connecticut State University and the Kellogg School of Management. David is the former Country Director of IDE in India where he was responsible for developing and marketing low-cost appropriate technologies to over 250, 000 rural households throughout the country.

Desmond FitzGerald

Chairman of the Board, North American Properties Group

Desmond is a Graduate of Harvard College and has an M.A, from Columbia University. He is Chairman of the Board of North American Properties Group and US Guaranteed Finance Corporation, Board Director of Hilliard Farber & Co, Williams Capital Management and Holland Balanced Fund Inc, Advisory Director of Putnam Trust Company, Trustee of the Children’s Aid Society, and a Member of Harvard University Art Museums Visiting Committee.

Rachel Peletz

ex officio, Executive Director

Rachel oversees Aquaya’s strategic direction, sustainable growth, and execution of its mission to build the evidence base for water, sanitation, and hygiene development. She joined Aquaya in 2012 and led the team in Nairobi, Kenya, for five years before returning to the United States. She has extensive water and sanitation experience, having collaborated with partners from more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Prior to joining Aquaya, Rachel was a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an international technical advisor for the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology in Canada. Her doctoral research included a randomized, controlled trial of a safe water intervention to evaluate health impacts on young children born to HIV-positive mothers in Zambia. With more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, she brings an interdisciplinary research approach that combines engineering, public health, nutrition, microbiology, and economics.

Rachel holds a PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, an MEng from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a BS in environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.


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