Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Program Advocacy and Communications Team

February 23, 2017

They’re activists, adventurers, policy wonks, and problem solvers. Together, they’re focused on helping the foundation and our grantees effectively build partnerships, secure resources, and shape policy to make sure more vaccines get to more children in the world’s poorest countries. Please check out the profiles below to learn a little bit about our team.

Nima Abbaszadeh, Program Officer

Nima is new to the Foundation—having just joined in September 2016—and he specializes in advocacy and communications for both the vaccine delivery and polio teams. Before landing in Seattle, he spent seven years in a variety of roles at the US State Department. He is still incredulous that he now works at an institution that provides free coffee. When he’s not downing java at his desk, he likes to pretend he’s the same outdoorsy guy he was from summers past—camping next to glaciers and tramping through Alaskan wilderness. In reality, most of his outdoor activities now consist of leading his two-year old around the block to push buttons on parking meters and ATMs.

Julie Bernstein, Deputy Director

From journalism student to women’s rights activist to Peace Corps volunteer, Julie’s career has been mission driven and health focused—“always fighting for the underdog” as she puts it. Though she’s had a diverse career since, she counts her Peace Corps service as the most formative in sparking a curiosity and commitment to global health and development. She and her husband designed the first HIV curriculum for high school teachers in Papua New Guinea and taught sex education in secret at the school where she volunteered. A fun fact about Julie: She spent the summer after college hiking and camping in 14 national parks in the US, with Utah parks being her favorite.

Julie Butters, Program Assistant

Julie (“JB”) is the newest member of the team, having recently joined the foundation in January. With a background in international education and interest in global health, she is excited to be a part of the PAC strategy revamp and eager to dive into her new role. Julie ranks her experience raising funds and constructing homes with Habitat for Humanity as one of the most formative of her career. A native Wisconsinite, she relocated to the Emerald City after falling in love with it over a weekend visit. She has since made the most of the move—backpacking the Pacific Northwest and summiting Mount St. Helen’s twice. 

KC Ficken, Program Assistant

KC is the go-to person on the Program Advocacy and Communications Team when things need to get done. As the team’s Program Assistant, she prides herself on helping keep the ‘train on the tracks’ with team-wide coordination, project management, event planning and scheduling support. Her diverse seven-year career at the Foundation has spanned the Global Health, Finance, Central Communications Team, and currently the Program Advocacy and Communications teams. As for the most formative project of her tenure, KC was honored to staff the Foundation’s delegation at the 2016 Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen. She and her husband are looking forward welcoming their first child—a baby boy—in March. (KC is on parental leave through March 2018)

Jillian Foote, Associate Program Officer

With the foundation since 2011, Jillian has spent the past five years working across issues ranging from maternal, newborn and child health to most recently integrated delivery and vaccine delivery. She counts her work with grantees to develop a low-cost, innovative labor ward model—which was featured at this year’s Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen and is now piloting in a few countries—as one of the most exciting of her tenure at the foundation. Outside of work, the born-and-bred Seattleite loves to hike, snowboard and support her hometown Seahawks. Fun fact: Jillian attends at least one Seahawks away game in a new city each season. This year’s destination: New Orleans.

Josh Lozman, Deputy Director

With one master’s degree in public health and another in business administration, Josh spent earlier parts of his career as chief of staff for the National Economic Council in the Obama administration and earlier for the global advocacy organization ONE. He’s a fierce advocate for global engagement and multilateralism. He considers his most impactful and rewarding efforts at the foundation to be leading the expansion of his team’s policy and advocacy work and funding into hundreds of subnational units as governments decentralize their health decision making. One thing you might not know about him—he is actually a former competitive skier who admits to having a hard time letting go of his “ski bum” tendencies, especially on powder days.

Sue Park, Program Coordinator

While her official title is program coordinator, Sue wears many hats. She’s a problem solver, a task master, and a master sleuth. In her time at the foundation, she’s been fortunate to work on several interesting projects, one of her favorites being a new initiative to increase the capacity of civil society organizations in Africa to advocate for immunization. A fun fact about Sue is that although she wasn’t allowed to have pets as a child, she has since become an animal enthusiast. She adopted two baby elephants—Ngilai and Ndotto—at Kenya’s David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and she currently has a fascination with Scottish Fold cats.

Magdalena Robert, Senior Program Officer

As a Senior Program Officer, Magda brings an MBA and 20 years of experience in the development, conflict and humanitarian space at the country, regional and global level. She has a hard time identifying her most exciting development project, but not for lack of options. She considers it a close race between the development and endorsement of the Global Vaccine Action Plan and being an adviser in the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (a key component in the development of the Sustainable Development Goals). Most people do not know that she has Mexican-Dutch nationalities and that Seattle marks the 15th city she's lived in.

Diane Scott, Senior Communications Officer

Diane’s career is a lesson in how quitting your job and going on a vacation can change your life and take you to places you never imagined. It all started when she left Orcas Island, WA and embarked on a two month adventure to Jordan—which stretched into seven years and a new career in development communication. A senior communications officer at the foundation, Diane ranks the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge as her most formative project due to the fundamental nature of giving people a decent, humane, and safe place to go to the bathroom. And as for that beginning on Orcas—you might not know that she enjoyed the island life by living in a 1974 VW pop-top camper van. (note: Diane is in the back row, far right).

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