Panelists

Panel 1: Vaccine Equity Panel

Dr. Alyssa Sharkey | Moderator

Dr. Alyssa Sharkey is a Lecturer in the School of Policy and International Affairs and a Senior Health Specialist in UNICEF’s headquarters in New York. Her current focus areas are on equity and immunisation, implementation research to improve health programs, and gender-related barriers to health services.

 

Her previous roles with UNICEF have been Acting Regional Health Advisor (South Asia), Maternal and Child Health Specialist (South Asia), and Health Specialist in Monitoring and Evaluation, and Knowledge Management (New York). Over the past 25 years, Alyssa has worked as a health policy analyst, program officer, and policy researcher within a variety of academic, research and non-governmental settings both internationally and in the United States.

 

Dr. Sharkey has masters and PhD degrees from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and a masters degree from the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Ms. Lolem Ngong | Panelist

Ms. Lolem Ngong is a seasoned global public health professional, with more than 15 years of leadership in global health diplomacy and coordination of strategic partnerships to address threats to public health.

 

Ms. Ngong serves as Chief of Staff at Amref Health Africa.

 

An epidemiologist by training, Ms. Ngong has advised and led collaborations with governments, civil society organizations, academic institutions, multilateral organizations, and international donors.

Dr. Shakira Choonara | Panelist

Dr Shakira Choonara is an award-winning independent public health practitioner, bold activist, renowned public speaker and Operation Smile Ambassador for South Africa. She is a dynamic and budding social entrepreneur, the recent founder of a development consultancy firm.

 

From 2018-2020 she served on the inaugural African Union Youth Council and is presently the Amref Health Africa Commissioner for universal health coverage. This past year she has also served as the Guest Editor of the Feminist Journal, Agenda. Dr. Choonara has spearheaded a range of health projects in research and advocacy across the African continent and is currently working on linked to the United Nations, the World Health Organization, international and regional non-governmental organizations.

 

Outside of healthcare, she serves on the Board of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which focuses on deepening non-racialism in South Africa, and is passionate about strengthening community level work. 

Dr. Enow Awah Georges Stevens | Panelist

Dr. Enow Awah Georges Stevens is a Youth Frontline Health Worker, Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinician, and a skilled youth engagement consultant.

 

He has over five years of experience in research and advocacy on global health; HIV/AIDS; and sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (SRMNCAH). He also has extensive experience in emergency obstetric and neonatal care, family planning, post-abortion care, and clinical care for survivors of sexual violence.

 

In addition to serving as senior manager for reproductive health projects in emergency and post-conflict situations in Cameroon and Sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. Stevens is also the youth consultant for the Lancet & Financial Times Commission. He is a leader in advocating for meaningful youth engagement and the role of young people in sustainable development and decision-making.

Ms. Tito Ovia | Panelist

Tito’s childhood dream was to provide world-class care to as many people as she could across Africa. She has a degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Manchester. Today, Tito helps lead Helium Health, Africa’s largest health-tech provider, as it builds the technology and data infrastructure to make it easier for anyone, regardless of their social class or economic status, to access quality healthcare on the continent.

 

In her role as Head of Public Sector Growth at Helium Health, she is fostering public-private partnerships that accelerate Africa’s transition to a technology and data-driven healthcare system. Her work in African healthcare has helped make her a Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient and a winner of the Future Africa Award for Disruption.

 

When Tito is not working on fixing healthcare in Africa, she is occupied with Feminist Coalition, the women’s rights advocacy group she helped found that is promoting equality for women in the Nigerian society, with a core focus on education, financial freedom and representation in public office.

Panel 2: Entrepreneurship Panel

Mr. Jailany Thiaw | Moderator

Jailany Thiaw grew up in Mboro, Senegal and then Eugene, Oregon before starting his undergraduate career in Princeton's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. Now a junior, he has been a student leader for several organizations including the Black Men's Assoc. and the African Students Assoc. before he founded the Hip Hop Empowerment Conference in the fall of 2019. 

 

Beyond Princeton, Jailany has spent the past two summers as an analyst at McKinsey & Company working in high-tech as well as higher education. 

 

In addition to his experience as a community builder and consultant, Jailany is currently the Director of Portfolio for Prospect Student Ventures - Princeton's first student-run VC firm - and in the fall of 2020, joined Fifty Years VC's research committee on anti-racist ventures. Currently, Jailany is the CEO and co-founder of an early-stage ed-tech startup, UPskill, where he and his team aim to democratize access to upward mobility through peer-to-peer career preparation.

Mr. Martin Kariithi - iFunza | Panelist

Martin is a Williams College alum where he studied Mathematics and Economics. He has over thirteen years of Data Analytics experience in Financial Services and management consulting. He recently worked as a Credit Portfolio Strategist and Financial Economist at Fannie Mae in Washington DC.

 

Martin is the co-founder of iFunza a parent-teacher engagement platform that helps the key stakeholders in the education ecosystem collaborate to achieve better outcomes. Martin is also the busy parent of two young daughters, who were his inspiration for co-founding iFunza.

Mr. Fela Akinse - Salubata | Panelist

Having resigned as a business analyst, a social brand ambassador and an environmental scientist, Fela founded the company SALUBATA. He has helped the company gained significant traction within a space of 2 years.

 

Fela was recently nominated as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper 2020, as the 'Business Person of the Year' by The Entrepreneur Africa Awards 2019. He won the Africa 3535 young innovator in Africa Awards 2019, won the UK Government's Department for International Trade (DIT) Hackathon competition 2019, the British Council Entrepreneurship Award in 2019, the Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie Black Friday Pitch 2019, and the 100 Most Promising Startups in Africa by Africa Moves in 2019.

Panel 3: Youth Activism Panel

Dr. Halimat T. Somotan | Moderator

Dr. Halimat T. Somotan is a Postdoctoral Research Associate/Lecturer in the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities. In 2020, she earned her Ph.D. in African History from  Columbia University.

 

She is currently working on her first manuscript entitled, “The Decolonizing City: Lagos and the Making of Independent Nigeria, 1941-76,” which reinterprets Nigeria’s transition from a colony to an independent nation. The study analyzes the struggles of ordinary inhabitants of Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, to reform governmental policies concerning slum clearance, rent control, state land acquisition, and sanitation. At Princeton, Somotan co-teaches Critical African Studies (AF 450) with Dr. Chambi Chachage and co-organizes the African Urbanism (s) series with Dr. Devanne Brookins.

 

Born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria, Somotan enjoys reading fiction, hiking, and listening to juju music. 

Mr. Sanele Xaba | Panelist

Sanele Xaba (26) is an International Model, Change Activist, Actor, Influencer, Speaker and Founder of the Rolled Sleeves Outreach Program.

 

He has also done some work with UNESCO and partnered with several other NGOs with efforts to provide sunscreen and toys for abandoned children with Albinism in Tanzania

Ms. Vanessa Nakate | Panelist

Vanessa Nakate is a climate activist from Uganda and founder of the Africa-based Rise Up Movement. She began striking for the climate in her home town of Kampala in January 2019, after witnessing droughts and flooding devastating communities in Uganda.

 

She now campaigns internationally to highlight the impacts of climate change already playing out in Africa. She focuses particularly on how the climate crisis is exacerbating poverty, conflict and gender inequality, as well as promoting key climate solutions such as educating girls. Vanessa also runs a project to install solar panels and eco-friendly stoves in schools in rural communities. 

 

Vanessa has appeared at high-level events including the 2019 UN Climate summit in Madrid, and the 2020 World Economic Forum, where she was cropped out of a photo of white climate activists by the Associated Press, sparking international outrage. In 2020, she was named one of the BBC's 100 Women of the year, as well as one of the 100 most influential young Africans. She was named on the Time100 Next 2021 list.

Ms. ​Fadzayi Mahere | Panelist

Fadzayi Mahere is an advocate at the Harare Bar. Her main fields of practice include constitutional law, human rights law and administrative law. She holds a Masters in International Law from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Zimbabwe.

 

She is currently the National Spokesperson of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance.