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Executive Management Team
Kathy Spahn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Helen Keller International, is responsible for all operations, programs, finances, communications and public policy initiatives of HKI. Ms. Spahn works closely with the Board of Trustees, global leaders in public health, staff members throughout the agency, partner organizations, and HKI supporters in carrying out her responsibilities. Prior to joining HKI, Ms. Spahn was President and Executive Director of ORBIS, a global non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of blindness in the developing world. As President and Executive Director, she provided overall direction and management for this $30 million organization with four affiliates and five country programs, and a medical volunteer corps of 370. Prior to her work with ORBIS, she was Executive Director of God’s Love We Deliver, a New York-based AIDS service organization dedicated to combating malnutrition and hunger among people living with HIV/AIDS.
Ms. Spahn serves as Chair of the board of directors of InterAction. She is also a member of the boards of directors of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and The Bernadotte Foundation for Children’s Eyecare. She is a Founding Board member of both the North America chapter of IAPB and the Association of Nutrition Services Agencies (ANSA), and a founding partner of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease Control. She also serves on the Partnership Council of GAIN and on the 2020 and Strategic Advisory Council of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). She joined HKI in March 2005 and is located at headquarters in New York City.
Victoria Quinn, Senior Vice President of Programs, has oversight for all of HKI programs. She has more than 30 years of experience in Africa, Asia, and Latin America designing and managing complex and large-scale nutrition and maternal child health country and regional programs, including those involving agriculture and nutrition. Dr. Quinn’s areas of expertise include nutrition policy and surveillance, infant and young child feeding, micronutrients and women’s nutrition. She received her Bachelors and Masters in nutrition from U.C. Berkeley and Cornell University, respectively, and her Doctorate from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. From 1982-1991, she served as the Regional Coordinator of Cornell University’s collaborative program with UNICEF in Eastern and Southern Africa supporting country initiatives in nutritional surveillance and food and nutrition policy. Thereafter she worked as a consultant for UNICEF, WHO, WFP, the World Bank and the Dutch government on a variety of food and nutrition security issues related to Africa. From 1998 to 2006, Dr. Quinn served as the senior technical manager for the LINKAGES Project’s flagship infant and young child feeding programs in Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and the Horn of Africa. She also co-directed AED’s Center for Nutrition from 2001-2006. In 2007, Dr. Quinn was appointed Adjunct Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston. She is currently on the Technical Advisory Groups for Tufts’ Nutrition CRSP Program, Bread for the World, as well as serves as a member of the International Advisory Panel for GAIN’s Access to Nutrition Index study. Since 2007 she has chaired the Sub-working Group on ‘Integrating Breastfeeding with the Appropriate Marketing of Complementary Foods’ under the Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition Working Group. Dr. Quinn joined Helen Keller International in 2006 and is based in its Washington D.C. office.
Shawn Baker is the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa. Mr. Baker provides overall program leadership, grant development and supervision and is the principal contact with regional and sub-regional organizations. Regional Director since 1997, he has overseen the expansion from four to 13 country programs and a 60-fold increase in program funding and impact. He has led development of strategic regional relationships, particularly with the 15-nation West African Health Organization. HKI’s Africa headquarters were based in Niamey, Niger until 2001, and Mr. Baker served concurrently as Country Director for HKI-Niger until 2000. He oversaw relocation of the regional office to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in 2001 and then, following the outbreak of civil war in 2002, its transfer to Dakar, Senegal in December 2003. Prior to his role with HKI in Africa, Mr. Baker was Country Director for HKI-Bangladesh from 1994 to 1996.
Mr. Baker received a Master's of Public Health degree from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 1989 with concentrations in international health and nutritional epidemiology. Among his multiple global leadership roles he serves as chair of the Technical Review Panel for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis of which he has been a member since 2007. He is author or co-author on over 60 peer-reviewed articles and presentations at international scientific conferences. He joined HKI in April 1994 and is located at the Africa Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal.
Nancy Haselow, Vice President and Regional Director for Asia-Pacific, was previously HKI’s Director of Onchocerciasis Programs as well as Country Director for Cameroon. She has also served with HKI as Country Director in the Philippines, Niger and Cambodia, and Director of the Vitamin A Technical Assistance Program. Ms. Haselow has over twenty years of public health and international development experience, fifteen of which have focused on the development, implementation and evaluation of nutrition and eye health programs in Africa and Asia. Ms. Haselow has provided technical assistance to other organizations and national governments to carry out surveys, undertake program assessments and evaluations, and to find innovative strategies for vitamin A supplementation, onchocerciasis control and other eye health programs including pilot testing an international ChildSight® strategy in the Philippines and the integration of vitamin A supplementation into the community-directed treatment with ivermectin in Cameroon. She joined HKI in 1989, and is located in the Asia-Pacific Regional Offices in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Patricia Manyari, Chief Financial Officer, oversees all fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities of the organization. In her role, she ensures that HKI has strong financial and accounting systems in place in order to provide transparency, accountability and efficiency in all financial transactions of the organization. Ms. Manyari started at HKI in January 2012. She brings 23 years of experience in financial management of international non-profit organizations, implementing sound accounting practices and high financial standards, both in the field and at the headquarters level; and has extensive experience in compliance with various governmental regulations. She comes to HKI from the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) in Washington, D.C., where she served as Director of Finance for over six years, three of them in Bogota, Colombia. At PADF headquarters, Ms. Manyari managed the organization's annual budget of $55 million and monitored approximately forty projects in seven different countries in Latin America. Other prior experience includes serving as Deputy Chief Financial Officer at CHF International’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. for five years and as VP for Finance at PACT Inc.’s Washington headquarters for ten years, three of them in Peru.
Alix de Nicolay, Managing Director of Helen Keller International Europe, reopened the Paris office in 1998 with the two-fold mission of raising funds and increasing visibility. She is responsible for positioning, developing and managing the Helen Keller International brand in Europe, which includes: identifying individual, corporate and foundation donors; establishing corporate and institutional partnerships; and writing and submitting proposals. She also manages European-funded programs, establishes media relations, organizes special events and works closely with the Paris Board of Trustees. Mrs. de Nicolay was formerly in charge of development for the French-American Foundation in New York. She has previously worked for several French and American companies, UNICEF’s Special Events Section, and the Department of Information at the United Nations Secretariat in New York. She joined HKI in December 1998 and is located at the Paris, France office.
Nicholas Kourgialis, Vice President for Eye Health, provides administrative and programmatic direction and oversight for HKI’s eye health programs worldwide. HKI’s eye health programs seek to eliminate avoidable blindness and visual impairment due to cataract, refractive error, trachoma and onchocerciasis and also to support integrative education and rehabilitation efforts for visually impaired children. Eye health programs are currently conducted in over eighteen countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Mr. Kourgialis joined HKI in December of 2003. He brings over thirteen years of related experience to his work at HKI, having spent his career specializing in public health and social service interventions addressing the needs of disadvantaged children. He is based at headquarters in New York City.
Peggy O’Neill is the Vice President of Development and Communications, having joined HKI in June 2010. With 20 years of non-profit fund development, strategic communications and management experience, she has extensive skills in project management, major donor relations, event management, corporate and foundation relations, board development and media relations. In prior roles, she has overseen foundation and corporate relations programs, government and bilateral funding programs, and online and social media outreach activities. Throughout her career, she has successfully identified and solicited major donors; and stewarded relationships among major donors, direct mail and event donors, moving them up to increasing levels of support. She has also developed and launched Corporate Partners Programs and managed strategic alliances with leading corporations committed to CSR programs.
Ms. O’Neill has prior experience in two of HKI’s areas of work, blindness prevention and neglected tropical diseases -- as Director of Fund Development at the Institute for OneWorld Health, and previously as Director of Development at Seva Foundation. She was also Vice President of Development at the Arthritis Foundation. Before these roles, she worked in a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C. where she developed strategic issue advocacy coalitions and implemented multi-faceted public affairs campaigns for corporate, association and non-profit clients. As the Director of Corporate Relations and Special Events at the Brady Campaign in Washington, D.C., Ms. O’Neill was responsible for the overall management of all national fundraising events, in addition to launching and expanding the Corporate Partners Program. Ms. O’Neill has a BA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is located at headquarters in New York City.
Ric Plaisance, Vice President for Information and Operations Systems, has worked with Helen Keller International since 2004. He is responsible for the development and management of systems that support the work of headquarter operations and HKI's international network of field offices. Previously, Mr. Plaisance served for ten years as the Executive Director for Settlement Health where he managed the operations and services of this community health center providing primary health care to the East Harlem community. In addition Mr. Plaisance created and led the NinthBridge program of EngenderHealth, providing information system consultation services to the international NGO community.
Photography courtesy of Harold Levine.