About US

Our Staff

Touch employs a team of highly skilled professionals who are committed to improving the health of the Tanzanian people. Our team brings a wide-range of expertise, with private and public sector backgrounds spanning from management consulting, clinical medicine, public health, and non-profit organizational management. Together, we address the multi-faceted challenges facing Tanzania’s health system.


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Kira Elbert

Chief Development Officer

Kira joined Touch in 2014, working initially in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania before relocating to the U.S., where she leads the organization’s development and communication efforts. Prior to joining Touch Foundation, Kira held a variety of fundraising and communications roles at SeriousFun Children’s Network. Kira is a graduate of Fordham University, where she majored in international political economics and Spanish.

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Steve Justus

Chief Medical Officer

Steve has been working with Touch since 2008, based both in Mwanza, Tanzania and in the U.S. Steve’s extensive background in emergency medicine and global health informs his work with Touch, which is focused on programmatic development and partner engagement. Prior to joining Touch, Steve, a board certified emergency physician, served for 12 years as the CEO of a multi-specialty physician group in Charlotte, NC. A graduate of the UNC School of Medicine, Steve also holds a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the London School. Steve received his undergraduate education at Davidson College.

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Noah Leff

Chief Operating Officer

Noah joined Touch in 2012 and is responsible for the oversight and direction of all financial functions. Prior to Touch, Noah was an independent financial management consultant for non-profit and government clients in the New York City area as well as in New Orleans. Noah received his B.A. in international affairs at Wesleyan University and later earned his Master of Public Administration at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs

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Massimiliano Pezzoli

Chief Program Officer

Massi joined Touch in 2012 and is based in Mwanza, Tanzania, where he leads Touch’s in-country programs and operations. Prior to joining Touch, Massi served as a Senior Manager at McKinsey & Company, where he focused his work on serving clients from both public and private health institutions. Massi holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, an Executive MSc in Health Economics, Policy and Management from the London School of Economics, and an MSc in Aerospace Engineering from the Polytechnic of Milan, Italy.


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Valerio Parisi

Program Director

Valerio joined Touch in 2013 in Mwanza, Tanzania. Valerio manages the implementation and operations of Touch programs. Previously Valerio served as a management consultant at A.T. Kearney and as a Systems Engineer at Alenia North America. Valerio received his Laurea (equivalent to Masters of Science) at the Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’ in Rome, Italy; a master’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology; and an M.B.A. degree from the Australian Graduate School of Management

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Renae Stafford

Senior Technical Advisor for Academic and Clinical Services

Renae joined the team in 2012 in Mwanza, Tanzania. She is responsible for the development, management, and implementation of programs and partnerships. Renae is a trained surgeon with extensive experience in the U.S. and in Africa. Prior to joining Touch, Renae served as a member of the UNC School of Medicine faculty. Renae earned her M.D. at Emory University, a master’s in healthcare quality and patient safety from Northwestern University, and a Master of Public Health from the University of Minnesota. She received her undergraduate education at Case Western Reserve University.

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Lucas Hille

Project Manager

Lucas joined Touch Foundation in 2018 in Mwanza, Tanzania. He manages the Healthcare Technology Management Project, focused around the effective provision, utilization and management of Biomedical Equipment at Bugando Medical Centre, and in the surrounding Lake Zone. Prior to joining Touch, Lucas ran his own Personal Impact business, and worked as an Operations Consultant/Chief of Staff at PwC in London. He holds a degree in Economics from the University of Manchester, with a sub-focus on Social and Business Anthropology.

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Bianka Patsalos-Fox

Program Associate

Bianka joined Touch in New York in 2015. Initially based in New York, Bianka transferred to Touch’s office in Mwanza, Tanzania in 2018 focusing on program and communications. Bianka graduated from Colby College, where she majored in French studies.

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Monty Karmakharm

Program Analyst

Monty joined Touch in 2018 in Mwanza, Tanzania. Monty previously worked for Education and Employers, an independent charity based in the UK. He was responsible for managing the Career Footsteps, a national campaign. He also currently serves as a trustee to the Alec Dickson Trust. Monty holds a Msc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He also holds a BA (Hons) In Economics for Business from Leeds Beckett University.

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Shabani Ally Mbaraka

Program Assistant

Shabani Ally joined Touch in Mwanza in 2013 and is currently working as a Program Assistant. He provides operations and logistical support to the Finance and Program Teams. Shabani is a graduate of Open University of Tanzania and received an Advanced Diploma in Computer Sciences in 2016.

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Jessie Cohen

Program Analyst

Jessie joined Touch in 2018 as a Program Analyst in the Mwanza office. In this role she supports the implementation of several programs. She graduated from Davidson College with a B.A. in History and concentrated in Africana Studies.

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Elizabeth Anne Jones

Clinical Educator

Elizabeth Anne Jones joined Touch in Shinyanga, Tanzania May 2018, as a clinical educator working with nurse preceptors and nurse students at Shinyanga Regional Referral Hospital. Anne is a Registered Nurse, with 25 years of experience in the US, and two years as a clinical educator in Rwanda. Anne earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at University of South Alabama, Mobile, and is a PNCB Certified Pediatric Nurse.

Development & Communications

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Liz Pavlovich

Business Development Manager

Liz rejoined Touch in 2016 after having volunteered with Touch starting in 2004 and working as a Program Officer based in New York and Tanzania from 2008 to 2010. Currently based in the New York office, her role focuses on partnership and program development. Liz was previously the Senior Program Manager at Amref Health Africa in the USA. Liz holds an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College.

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Taylor Birnbaum

Development Associate

Taylor joined Touch in New York in 2018. Taylor’s background includes working as a Business Development Coordinator at Morrison & Foerster LLP. She also interned at the Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs at USAID and at the Office of Protocol & The First Lady, NJ Governor’s Internship Program. Taylor graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science, Summa Cum Laude.

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Alison Brundrett

Development Analyst

Alison joined Touch in 2016, based in the New York office. Alison comprehensively supports development and сommunications work at Touch. Prior to Touch, she held roles at the United States Foreign Policy Institute and Oxford Analytica. She graduated from Bard College with a B.A. in Political Studies and concentration in Global Public Health.

Finance & HR

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Sharlene Frank

Director of HR & Administration

Sharlene joined Touch Foundation in 2016 as the Director of Human Resources and Administration. Prior to Touch, Sharlene worked in the for profit and non-profit/NGO fields. A global HR leader, Sharlene is responsible for leading our talent management, organizational development and change management strategies and initiatives. As a member of SHRM and HRCI, Sharlene is a certified SHRM-SCP, SPHR and GPHR member. Sharlene holds an Executive MPA from NYU and an MBA from Bernard M. Baruch College, CUNY. Sharlene graduated with honors with a B.S. in Human Resource Management from the CUNY B.A. Program.

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Jill Brehm

Senior Program Manager, Finance

Jill joined Touch in 2011, initially based in Mwanza, Tanzania, where she managed program finances and procurement activities in collaboration with our partner organizations. Since 2014, Jill has been supporting the development, implementation, and oversight of our financial, accounting, and procurement systems from New York. Jill holds an M.B.A. and a B.B.A., both in Accounting, from Niagara University.

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Bonaventure Aluta Mlay

Finance and Procurement Manager

Bonaventure joined Touch in Mwanza in 2016 as the Finance and Procurement Manager. His role is to manage the daily financial operations and ensure compliance in our financial and procurement activities. Before joining Touch, Bonnie worked in finance and accounting for a variety of global NGO’s such as Abt Associates, Helen Keller International and World Vision. Bonnie also worked for Africare Tanzania. Bonnie graduated from St. Augustine’s University in Tanzania with a BBA degree in Accounting and also holds a Post-graduate Diploma in Business Administration – Finance from St. John’s University in Tanzania.