Building a brighter future.

Healthy Learners is building a future where schools can support the overall health of children. Our model serves as a framework for how Ministries of Health and Education throughout the developing world can improve the health of students, reduce illness-related school absenteeism, and promote learning. This results in a healthier, better educated generation of young people and future leaders.


Change from within

In 2013, Lonnie met fellow co-founder Ignicious Bulongo, then director of the Ministry of Health Ng’ombe Health Facility. Connected by a common mission to address the catastrophic impact of preventable and treatable illnesses on the health, learning and development of school-aged children, they worked together to develop the concept of training teachers as community health workers. This work eventually launched Healthy Learners.


From its inception, Healthy Learners has worked to partner with the government, integrating programs into existing structures of the Ministries of Health and Education, empowering local communities and leveraging data and technology to have the greatest possible impact on the health of the children they serve.

Our Team

Healthy Learners is 30+ staff members strong and works closely with our local government partners. 

Lonnie Hackett, MSc.

President & Cofounder

Prior to HL, Lonnie served as a Global Health Corps fellow with the Centre for Infectious Research in Zambia. Lonnie is a Truman Scholar, Rainer Arnhold Fellow and Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneur. Lonnie studied Biochemistry at Bowdoin College and International Health and Tropical Medicine from the University of Oxford.

Ignicious Bulongo

Director of Program Expansion & Cofounder

Ignicious spent the first 15 years of his career with the Zambian Ministry of Health, most recently as the director of the Ng’ombe Health Centre. Ignicious holds degrees in both hospital management and clinical medicine and  received an advanced diploma in Participatory Learning Methods in Japan through sponsorship by JICA.

Catherine Samiselo, MPH

Director of Partnerships

Catherine has more than 20 years of experience working in public health. Prior to joining HL, she served for five years as Deputy Chief of Party for the USAID funded Zambia Rising Project. Catherine holds an MPH from Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom.

Zita Zulu

Director of Administration

Zita was a 2014 Global Health Corps fellow with Afya Mzuri. She has a Bachelor of Accountancy degree from the Copperbelt University and an MBA from the University of Zambia. Zita is affiliated to the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) as a licentiate member.

Natalia Espejo, MPH

Technical Advisor

Natalia is an international development practitioner who has worked in Zambia for the past 7 years. Prior to joining HL, Natalia worked for Save the Children as Project Coordinator. She studied 

Political Science &International Studies at Macalester College and holds a MPH from the University of Minnesota.  

Nicholas Shiliya

Senior Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Lead

Nicholas  has 17 years of experience working in research and monitoring and evaluation. Prior to joining HL, Nicholas served as the Strategic Information Manager at Broad Reach Health Corporation. Nicholas holds an MPH from the University of Zambia.

Gabriel Lungu

Finance Manager

Gabriel has over 20 years in the Finance industry. Prior to joining HL, he worked as Project Accountant at Maryland Global Initiative, Finance Manager at Afya Mzuri and Accountant at Society for Family Health.

Our Board

Our board brings diverse expertise to the organization, including years of experience working for the betterment of health, education, and people around the globe. These varying perspectives give us the strong support we need to keep furthering our mission.

Lise Johnson, MD


Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Associate Director of the Brazelton Institute at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Deirdre Strachan, MPH, DSc

Vice Chair

Foundation executive and reproductive health specialist who has worked in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia with international non-profit health organizations.

Charlie Johnson, MBA


A retired financial executive with over thirty years’ experience in senior financial and information technology positions in multi-national companies.

Carol Walker Aten


A non-profit consultant specializing in organizational development, strategic planning, governance, and leadership coaching.

Wendy Batson

A development specialist with more than 30 years’ experience planning and managing programs in war-affected regions in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Balkans. 

Patrick Chella, MBA

Experienced co-founder of two innovative start-ups with a demonstrated history of working in sustainable development and finance in Africa and Europe. 

Stephanie Dodson Cornell, MBA

Managing Director at Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation with leadership of DRK portfolio organizations in the U.S., India, Colombia, and Africa.

Cara Endyke-Doran, MSN, MPH, RN

Advance practice nurse leading large integrated health projects focused on improving maternal, child, and adolescent health and strengthening HIV services in sub-Saharan Africa.

Jon Oxman, JD

An attorney and managing Partner of Linnell, Choate and Webber, LLP.

Chad Rathner, MSc

Chief Operating Officer, m2m and past Deputy Country Director at FHI 360 Zambia, as well as Chief of Party on USAID’s flagship HIV and AIDS Prevention program in Zambia.

Dr. Mary Ozerio Zulu, MD, MSc.

A retired Zambian medical practitioner and government official with expertise in health management, medical practice, education, and research.

Our Partners






Simple & effective


Our model has an annual cost of less than $2.50 per child, equal to just 1% of Zambia’s expenditure on education for primary school children.