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June 30, 2011

Center for Communication Programs Hosts Global Meeting

The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) is known worldwide for its work in advancing the science and art of strategic communication to improve health and save lives. This week, over 50 CCP employees stationed around the globe have joined their colleagues in Baltimore to meet and share project experiences and best practices.

“It’s terrific having the global CCP family together. There’s just wonderful energy, creativity and passion about the work we do to empower families and communities to live healthier lives. Just as importantly, we’re using this time together to ask ourselves what more we can do,” said Susan Krenn, director of CCP. “Coming together like this is an important opportunity for us all. It’s a chance build on our collective experiences working with many partner agencies and governments in so many different countries.”

CCP was established over 20 years ago in recognition of the pivotal role communication plays in the way people think and behave about health and development issues. The Center is part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and sits within the Department of Health, Behavior and Society. CCP has active programs in more than 30 countries as well as in the U.S. Since 1988, its programs have reached more than 1 billion people.

Meet the Global Staff

Uttara Bharath Kumar

Senior Program Officer, Communication Advisor (India)

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Uttara Bharath Kumar came to CCP as a student-intern nearly two decades ago. Prior to her internship, she was convinced that the care-seeking and preventative health were being ignored with so much emphasis on medical treatment. At CCP, Uttara found, “an office full of people who were working to find newer, more creative and measurable ways to affect change.” Uttara has worked in CCP’s Baltimore and Zambia offices on many successful projects and campaigns. In 2009, she served as the Deputy Chief of Party for the Health Communication Partnership in Zambia, which saw the creation of the 'One Love Kwasila!' campaign, Rhythm of Life music and arts festival for health, national campaigns for malaria and family planning and the re-launch of the new and improved HEART campaign for young people. Dr. Reuben Mbewe, Deputy Director of Public Health and Research in the Zambian Ministry of Health, described Uttara as “passionate, focused and a team player who works hard to see a task to its logical or successful completion.” Brian Chengala Shakarongo, a musician with whom Uttara worked in Zambia, said, “After working with Uttara, one feels that their mind has been stretched beyond the limits of its elasticity." Uttara believes that quality and passion best define CCP’s role in the world of health communication.

Rula Dajani

Deputy Chief of Party, Jordan Health Communication Partnership (Jordan)

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Rula Dajani has served as the Deputy Chief of Party for the Jordan Health Communication Partnership (JHCP) since February 2009. During her short time with CCP, Rula has built critical partnerships in the private and public sectors, introducing non-traditional partners such as the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology that have enabled JHCP to implement its different program interventions across the 12 Governorates in Jordan. She has also contributed creatively, developing a musical signature “jingle” to accompany all mass media communication interventions to improve recognition of the “Hayati Ahla” National Family Planning Campaign. Rula believes that as an Arab-American living in Jordan and representing the Bloomberg School of Public Health that she has a unique opportunity to influence communication of health issues in Jordan.

Ron Hess

Chief of Party, Communication for Health Living (Egypt)

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Ron Hess  joined CCP and 1990 and most recently served as Chief of Party of the Communication for Healthy Living Project (CHL) in Egypt, from 2003 to 2010. Ron believes in the value of health communication and its ability to empower people to act without coercing behavior. His early years as an ornithologist gave him a special interest in tracking the emergence of avian influenza, helping CCP to “recognize the threat that Egypt faced before it appeared and mobilize local partners to prepare ahead of time for the inevitable outbreak.” As a result, the CHL Campaigns for Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and H1N1 Influenza were launched on the day that the first case of avian flu was confirmed in February 2006. These campaigns offered an early response to the outbreaks and applied risk communication strategies that contributed directly to the lowest HPAI case fatality rate in Egypt, the lowest in the world.

Fayyaz Ahmad Khan

Country Director, CCP-Pakistan (Pakistan)

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Fayyaz Ahmad Khan calls himself a living example of CCP’s vision—strategic communication improves lives. Once an attendee of the Advances in Health Communication and Advocacy Workshop in 2000 (now the redesigned and renamed Leadership in Strategic Health Communication Workshop), Fayyaz has worked for CCP ever since, as a consultant (2001-2004), BCC Team Leader for the PAIMAN Project (2004-2008) and CCP’s Country Representative in Pakistan (2008-2010). He currently serves as Country Director for CCP-Pakistan, an independent Pakistani NGO that works on the same issues as CCP. “Communication is an exciting field as you get immediate feedback and response to your efforts. But working for CCP is even more exciting because here innovations are encouraged, challenges accepted and in the process new knowledge is created,” explained Fayyaz. In Pakistan, Fayyaz worked with religious scholars on a commercial feature film—an unprecedented achievement. The PAIMAN final evaluation results demonstrated that the CCP communication strategy was among the most effective components of the project.

Cheryl Lettenmaier

Chief of Party, Health Communication Partnership in Uganda; Regional Representative (Uganda)

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Perhaps no one has worn more hats at CCP than Cheryl Lettenmaier who has not only served in a multitude of positions, but sometimes in multiple positions simultaneously. Cheryl has been with CCP since its inception and is currently Chief of Party for the Health Communication Partnership in Uganda and the Regional Representative in Uganda where she supports the Afford Project, Stop Malaria Project, Health Initiatives for the Private Sector, ROADS II Project, Advance Family Planning, the Longterm Methods Project and the Behavior Change and Social Marketing Project in Rwanda. “What struck me about her is this bundle of energy that is Cheryl [...] I did not know what multi-tasking meant until I saw her at work. She has the capacity to do several things at the same time and can see things from several dimensions at the same time,” said Anne Gamurorwa, Executive Director for Communication for Development Foundation Uganda. Cheryl believes that the only way to improve health is by helping people live healthy lifestyles and adopt healthy practices, and that this can be best achieved through well-designed communication programs.

Deo Ng’wanansabi

Chief of Party, Strategic Radio Communication for Development (STRADCOM) (Tanzania)

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For Deo Ng’wanansabi, a five-year veteran of CCP and current Chief of Party of the Strategic Radio Communication for Development (STRADCOM) project in Tanzania, the challenge and excitement of his work comes from managing the diverse partnerships that are necessary to achieve his project’s goals. Deo brings quiet, respectful leadership to his work and firmly believes that CCP has contributed to saving lives through its innovative communication campaigns, whether it be an HIV/AIDS Communication Campaign for Youth or the “Fataki” Cross-generational Sex Campaign. It is the process of creating these campaigns, of managing expectations and negotiating skills, creating buzz and thus transforming behavior that gets Deo excited about his work, an excitement that spills beyond the borders of the workday. As described by Bennett Fimbo, Health Education and Health Promotion Specialist in Tanzania, “Deo can easily sacrifice his lunch and dinner for his CCP work. He will tell you, you know I was still in office when telephoned me at 10pm last week end putting things together.”

Elizabeth Serlemitsos

Senior Technical Advisor-Capacity Building, Tanzania Capacity and Communication Project (Tanzania)

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During her 15 years at CCP, Elizabeth Thompson Serlemitsos has worked on a diverse range of projects, but the consistent theme throughout her work is helping create a new generation of African health communication professionals. Elizabeth built the capacity of individuals through the "by the youth for the youth" HEART campaign, which launched more than 10 years ago in Zambia but remains a part of the vocabulary of Zambian youth today. She also mentored Zambian youth through the entire run of Trendsetters, the initiation of the Youth Activists Organisattion football camps and the launching of the Bauze Youth Centre, by African Directions—now operating three youth centers in the country. Currently, as Senior Technical Advisor- Capacity Building for the Tanzania Capacity and Communication Project (TCCP), Elizabeth is taking capacity building to a new level. In only six months, TCCP has managed to launch a mentoring program, begun working with Muhimbili University to create a Master’s degree in health communication, is designing a radio distance learning program for community volunteers and is rolling out a Tanzanian adaptation of the Leadership in Strategic Health Communication course to regional and district health managers across the country. Colleagues describe Elizabeth as determined, creative and committed – they are united in their belief that the field of health communications and the many beneficiaries of JHU?CCP’s work are better off because of Elizabeth’s dedication.

Claudia Vondrasek

Director, Voices for a Malaria-free Future (Mali)

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“Come hell or high water,” states Bremen Leak, Program Officer for the Voices for a Malaria-free Future project, “that woman gets things done—and always with a great sense of humor.” The woman in question is Claudia Vondrasek-Cherif, a CCP veteran since 1993. For nearly twenty years with CCP, Claudia has spent time overseas in a variety of roles, from Program Officer to Chief of Party to her current role as Director for the Voices for a Malaria-free Future project. Whether it be the Gold Circle Quality Services Promotion and Recognition Campaign in West African countries Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Togo, and Cote d’Ivoire; the Malaria Safe Playbook for private sector companies in Africa or the Super Go (Girl) Campaign in Cote d’Ivoire, Claudia firmly believes that communication can affect change and no one does it better than CCP.