We bet (or at least we hope) that at some point you thought to yourself, "I wonder who's behind all the fun at DefeatDD."
Here, we take an opportunity to introduce ourselves. Read our profiles below to get to know the people behind the scenes (and blogs and tweets).
We may tease Eileen for color-coding her emails and calendar appointments, but we can’t really blame her. As the director of the mischievous (and fun) diarrheal disease communications and advocacy team and mom of two funny and clever teenage boys, it’s no wonder that organization is a priority – and no surprise that her mediation skills are consistently put to good use. This word nerd’s impressive career history in media and communications, along with her rotating office cube exhibit of original magnetic poetry, points to her penchant for puns, punctuation, and parsing. In her 27 minutes of free time, you can find her avoiding the kitchen, watching the latest “Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and perfecting her fake British accent.
Deborah (Phillips) Kidd
For years, this perceptive pixie has been using her wit, precision and uncanny people skills as a force for good. A former magazine editor turned global health communicator, Deb leads the defeatDD team’s social media strategy, provides crack communications for a range of media and outreach efforts, and is our crew’s ace-in-the-hole for translating science into, well, something the rest of us understand (Read: She’s the smart one). Don’t think her whimsy and talent are confined to the office, though. Outside the cube you’re equally likely to find her slinging her skillz as a semi-professional hip hop karaoke artist, dissecting the latest Duke basketball game, creating a Halloween costume, heading to yoga, or mulling over unicorn hats.
Aslhey is always up for a challenge: She's an energetic and passionate advocate for child health and the best (who are we kidding: the only) athlete on our team. One might even say that Ashley puts the "A" in team. She spent four years as a star basketball player at the University of Rochester, wakes up at 6am daily to hit the gym, and shows up to the office ready to kick diarrhea’s butt. As an active member of the Health/WASH Network for nearly two years, Ashley has proven herself to be impressively resourceful, facilitating both local and global partnerships to get the job done. We would expect nothing less from this globetrotter who, among other adventures, has visited every country in Central America. And even though we didn’t bring her on board so we could become beneficiaries of her new recipe experiments, we’d be lying if we said it isn’t a major bonus.
Allison is the kind of person who drives small-minded people batty. She possesses talent in spades in two of the human race’s seemingly competing qualities: organizational skills and a rocking sense of humor. Combine these with her many years of experience in communicating about women’s issues and new health technologies, and Allison is well placed to carry the defeatDD team’s load (pun intended) in communicating about PATH’s rotavirus, enterotoxigenic E. coli, Shigella vaccine work to the world. (As if those words aren’t hard enough, it’s been said before that Allison is also conversant in adjuvants and assays.) As the mom to future rockstars + geniuses Nate and Zach, Allison has an everyday reminder about the little lives her work is helping to improve around the world.
Hope might try to tell you to “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” (The Wizard of Oz) because one of her many talents is quoting movie lines—and entire chunks of dialogue. But better to pay no attention if she tries that line, because she’s the “man” behind this website, managing it, as well as the blog, several of our social media channels, plus tons of other work too. Hope joined the team on April Fools’ Day, 2009, hailing from Erie, PA, where one of her claims to fame was winning the Erie Times News Spelling Bee. She thinks the workday starts way too early, that sunshine is suspect, and food is mandatory at Happy Hour. Our only quibble is that with Hope around, we never get a chance to say, "What we've got here is...a failure to communicate." (Cool Hand Luke).
Don’t let this fanciful Francophile fool you: Laura is serious about science. Her eagle eye for inaccuracy steers our messages about vaccine data, but it was the poop joke in her thank-you message after her interview that convinced us she passed muster for the DefeatDD team. Her science savvy is matched only by her enthusiasm and energy for raising awareness about diarrheal disease, a trade which we know makes her father, a gastroenterologist, proud. With her scientific precision, passionate advocacy, and lovely singing voice, Laura is our resident Renaissance woman.
California girl Lauren Newhouse brings the sunshine to Seattle’s cloudy skyline and a breath of fresh (healthy) air to our communications about childhood pneumonia. This fair-haired, tough-skinned globetrotter has indeed defied inclement situations worldwide—braving an evacuating flood on her Vietnamese honeymoon only to watch her luggage silently, slowly float away in an errant canoe; or proudly sporting a shiner after a run-in with a pesky parking pillar in Israel. But no matter where her wandering spirit takes her, Lauren has always been a preeminent communications professional, whether spearheading organization-wide communications at international NGOs, consulting independently on economic and health projects, or advocating for women’s rights in the developing world. We’re fortunate she’s cooled her heels and planted her roots… for now… in the Emerald City.
Between 2007 and 2009, if you were a journalist covering polio in the districts of Western Uttar Pradesh (India), chances are you ran into Sushmita, who helped reporters tackle that story on behalf of UNICEF. And if by chance your coverage contained inaccuracies, then Sushmita would camp at your desk until you had your facts straight. She brings the same tireless persistence to her work with PATH in our New Delhi office, liaising with journalists covering rotavirus and diarrheal disease. She comes by her newsroom savvy from many positions with newspapers in India, including her stint as Deputy Chief Copy Editor for the Hindustan Times in Bhopal. Best of all, she has a “wicked” sense of humor and is always game to go gallivanting when her colleagues visit the office in Delhi.
Elena’s easy-going attitude might make you think she’s one to “go with the flow,” but make no mistake, she’s one of diarrhea’s most fearsome foes. Originally from Belarus, Elena has lived all over the world, including Little Rock, Arkansas, Paris and now San Francisco, California. She brings years of experience in international relations and diplomacy (not to mention two advanced degrees!) to bear on communicating the work of PATH’s Drug Development program. As if that weren’t enough, this smarty is also putting the rest of us to shame with fluency in 4 languages—French, Belarusian, Russian, and English. When she’s not working to defeat diarrhea, Elena enjoys spending time with her husband and dog Kaiya seeing the sights in San Francisco and traveling (preferably by train) to see family.
Erika is a California native who’s still finding it hard to leave the state after a lifetime of living in the San Francisco Bay Area (it’s hard to get bored with these surroundings!). Since joining PATH in 2012, Erika has a whole new appreciation for toilets, soap, water, and every other amenity that keeps poo from being a public health crisis in the US. Her experience in health communications and nonprofits and a penchant for word games (Scrabble, anyone?) make her a natural at running the Drug Development program’s blog and social media channels. In case you need her, Erika is either at the office, trying to find Scrabble partners, or pondering whether Netflix is the best or worst thing to happen to her (leaning toward best).
Having just completed her Masters in International Relations, along with an impressive list of internships with the State Department and Eurasia Foundation, we wondered if Elayna would be too fancy for our ragtag group, but this articulate communicator, with her dash of sass, fit right in. Whether it is processing travel requests or picking up after our grammatical messes, her attention to detail is put to daily use; she may live to regret the day that she told us she enjoyed proofreading. She also enjoys tennis, trying new vegetarian crockpot recipes, and reading Russian literature. If you need her, look for the cubicle papered with St. Petersburg photos.
Of course, we're not the only folks at PATH working to defeat diarrheal disease. While we're raising awareness about disease burden, other colleagues are implementing lifesaving research and public health programs. To learn more about our great colleagues working in several related disciplines--including vaccines, nutrition, safe water, and more--please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emeritus Team Members
“Iron” Janie Hayes is a lean, (but not at all) mean partnering machine. From Lilongwe to London, people see her coming and know they are in for a provocative, thoughtful, and always memorable chat about poop. (We’re not sure, however, if it was a topic of choice when she hung out with Flava Flav.) Diarrhea is not the easiest point to raise, but as a world-class triathlete, Janie knows first-hand the challenges of an uphill climb—plus creative problem-solving when it’s not so simple to find a place and time to “go.” We’ll spare you the details of how she’s overcome that, but we’ll expound to no end about the local and global coalitions she’s forged by bridging water and health issues. Among her many achievements on the track and in the office, the Health/WASH network counts her among its founders. And in 2010, Janie led a diverse group that refreshed Kenya’s DD programming and is saving lives already. Ask her for a commemorative t-shirt.
Turi holds down the proverbial fort for PATH’s defeatDD team in Nairobi, Kenya. From day to day, you might find her corralling journalists to cover the issue, visiting slums or rural areas to check in on projects, or helping to organize events – like the world’s largest handwash – but you’ll always recognize her infectious laugh and endless enthusiasm. In her spare time, you can find Turi on the rugby field, at church, or lazing at home. She is also the proud mom to four children.