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 leads Touch’s strategy development and program implementation. Prior to joining Touch, Massimiliano was a Senior Manager at McKinsey & Co., where he spent four years serving major clients in the private health sector and in government and regulatory authorities across Europe, America and the Middle East. Massimiliano 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.


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Valerio Parisi

Program Director

Valerio joined Touch in 2013 and is responsible for the implementation 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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Linda Deng

Director of Lake Zone Programs & Operations

Linda rejoined Touch in 2019 after spending two years as a Program Manager in Mwanza, Tanzania from 2015 – 2016. In her current role, Linda is responsible for the implementation of Touch programs in the Lake Zone as well as operations across Tanzania.

Prior to joining Touch, Linda worked for ten years in strategy and operations consulting at A.T. Kearney, Deloitte, and Right Lane Consulting. Linda graduated from the University of Melbourne (Australia), where she majored in Finance, Management and Psychology.

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Saleh Rasool

Program Manager

Saleh joined Touch in 2018 as a Program Manager and is based in Dar Es Salaam. Saleh is responsible for developing and implementing Touch programs working alongside USAID in Tanzania. His work at Touch involves collaborating and creating effective relationships with the Tanzanian Government responsible for healthcare in the country.

Previously, Saleh worked as a Manager at AstraZeneca and Assistant Manager at Deloitte. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales and received his Bachelors in Economics from Royal Holloway University of London.

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Project Manager

Eraste joined Touch Foundation in 2018 as a Project Manager in Mwanza, Tanzania. He is responsible for the M-Mama Program. He has more than 10 years of experience in managing, implementing and supporting donor-funded global health and development projects in the U.S. and in sub-Saharan Africa. He received his MSc in Healthcare Administration from the University of Maryland University College and a B.A. in Political Science from North Carolina State University. He is fluent in French, English, Kirundi and Kinyarwanda with possible communication in Kiswahili.

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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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Abdul-Ahad Akbari

Project Manager

Abdul-Ahad joined Touch Foundation in 2019 as a Project Manager based in Dar Es Salaam. Abdul-Ahad is responsible for managing the WISN+POA project. Prior to joining Touch, Abdul-Ahad worked as a Senior Project Manager at Capita and Project Manager at Network Rail. He also worked for Moby Group, based in Afghanistan and served as a President at University College London Union. He has a BSc from Royal Holloway and an MSc in International Public Policy from University College London (UCL). Abdul-Ahad holds an Associate’s for Project Management (APMP) qualification awarded in 2016. He is fluent in Pashto and has an intermediate understanding of the Farsi dialect.

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Bianka Patsalos-Fox

Senior 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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Lilly Nichols

Program Analyst

Lilly joined Touch Foundation in July 2019 in Mwanza, Tanzania. She works as a Program Analyst as part of the 2019 Davidson Impact Fellowship program. Lilly received her B.A. in Political Science from Davidson College.

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 2018, based in the New York office. She previously worked as a Business Development Coordinator at Morrison & Foerster LLP, and served as a public engagement intern in USAID’s Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs in Washington, DC. Taylor graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Public Health and Public Relations.

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Alison Brundrett

Development Associate

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.

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Rosemary Kokuhilwa

Development Advisor

Rosemary Kokuhilwa started out in the Fashion industry as a fashion model, then transitioned to creative consultant and events organizer/coordinator. She has organized and produced events including the UN Summit African First Ladies Luncheon in partnership with TET Foundation, Boston Fashion Expose, Global Fashion New York Inc fashion show, and Fashion exhibitions at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in DC, just to mention a few. She has also worked as a partner at Obelix Market, an independent investment management firm that provides targeted global investment management services to institutional investors, where she aligned investors with projects and partners in emerging markets with a focus in Africa by hosting private business round tables with potential investors. She recently joined Touch Foundation as a Development Advisor.

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.

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Shabani Ally Mbaraka

Operations Analyst

Shabani Ally joined Touch in Mwanza in 2013 and is currently working as an Operations Analyst. He provides office management, finance and operations support to staff. Shabani is a graduate of Open University of Tanzania and received an Advanced Diploma in Computer Sciences in 2016.