MEET OUR TEAM
Lonnie Hackett, MSc
President & co-Founder
Lonnie first traveled to Zambia in 2011 as an undergraduate research assistant. While working alongside local medical workers, teachers and students, he became aware of the magnitude of health issues negatively impacting the lives and education of school-aged children. In 2013, Lonnie met Ignicious Bulongo, then the director of the Ministry of Health Ng’ombe Health Centre, and they worked together to pilot the concept of training teachers as community health workers. This work eventually evolved into Healthy Learners.
Prior to HL, Lonnie served as a Global Health Corps fellow with the Centre for Infectious Research in Zambia, where he worked under Dr. Groesbeck Parham to develop market-based solutions for improving women’s access to cancer services. Lonnie is a Truman Scholar, a Rainer Arnhold Fellow and a Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneur. Lonnie graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in Biochemistry and received a Master’s in International Health and Tropical Medicine from the University of Oxford. Lonnie lives full-time in Lusaka.
Director of Programs & co-Founder
Ignicious Bulongo oversees the scale-up of our program, coordinates training activities and supports our local partnerships. Ignicious spent the first 15 years of his career with the Zambian Ministry of Health. Most recently, Ignicious served as the director of the Ng’ombe Health Centre. Under his leadership, Ng’ombe became Zambia’s first health facility to integrate HIV/AIDS services into outpatient care and the first facility to implement an electronic record keeping system. Ignicious holds degrees in both hospital management and clinical medicine, and he received an advanced diploma in Participatory Learning Methods in Japan through sponsorship by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Ignicious left the MOH to join HL full-time in 2017
Catherine Samiselo, MPH
Director of Partnerships
Catherine Samiselo builds and manages our partnerships with the government, community based implementers and non-governmental organizations, She has more than 20 years of implementation and managerial experience in public health. Catherine has worked in areas ranging from gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and child development. Prior to joining HL, she served for five years as Deputy Chief of Party for the USAID funded Zambia Rising Project. Catherine served for five years as an advisor for World Vision. Catherine started her career with the Government of the Republic of Zambia, where she spent 16 years with the Ministry of Youth Sport and Child Development. Catherine received her undergraduate degree in Community Education with Huddersfield University and her Master’s in Public Health from Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom. Catherine joined HL in 2018.
Finance & Admin Manager
Zita leads HL’s financial management procedures and administrative department. Zita has a Bachelor of Accountancy degree from the Copperbelt University in Zambia and is affiliated to the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) as a licentiate member. Zita was a 2014 Global Health Corps fellow with Afya Mzuri where she worked as a member of their finance department. She joined HL in 2016.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Lead
Nicholas Shiliya manages our monitoring, evaluation and learning activities and is responsible for overseeing our digital diagnostic and data collection tools. 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, where he supported the implementation of the electronic health records (EHR) and supported the development and use of data visualization and data analytics platforms. Previously, Nicholas has served as a Senior Adviser for Save the Children, as well as, Head of Monitoring and Evaluation with the Society for Family. Nicholas has a degree in Demography from the University of Zambia and is currently pursuing his Masters in Public Health. Nicholas joined HL in May 2019.
Natalia Mari Espejo, MPH
Planning and Development Technical Advisor
Natalia is an international development practitioner who has worked and lived in Zambia for the past 7 years. Prior to joining Healthy Learners, Natalia worked for Save the Children as the Project Coordinator of the USAID-funded Zambia Rising Project. She has also worked as a Project Management consultant for Global Health Corps and a Fundraising Expert for Lifeline Childline Zambia and was a 2013 Global Health Corps Fellow with Afya Mzuri in Zambia. She received a BA in Political Science & International Studies from Macalester College and a MPH from the University of Minnesota.
Senior Program Officer
Serah Kalumbilo provides mentorship to our trained school health workers and oversees our school medical screenings, deworming campaigns and health trainings. Prior to joining HL, Serah served as a District Coordinator for IntraHealth International, where she delivered proper health services to vulnerable populations. Serah brings extensive experience in quality improvement and over 17 years of community health work to the HL team. She holds a bachelor's degree in Social Work and a diploma in Project Planning and Management from Mulungushi University.
Tissa oversees our program activities, supports our school health workers and manages logistics for our school-based medical screenings, dewormings and health trainings in the Chipata sub-district of Lusaka. Prior to joining HL, Tissa worked as Center Manager for the YWCA USAID-ZCHPP DREAMS Project in the Matero and Makeni communities of Lusaka, where she helped reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls through life skills trainings and service provision. Prior to that, she worked as a Gender Training Officer at the National Association of Women’s Organizations in Uganda (NAWOU). Tissa holds a degree in Development Studies with a minor in Economics from the University of Zambia and is currently pursuing a Masters in Project Management.
Vincent Lungu supports program activities, mentors our school health workers, and manages logistics for our school-based medical screenings, mass-drug administration campaigns and health trainings. Vincent is a dynamic and innovative community development agent with over 15 years of experience in community mobilization, project management and communication. Prior to joining HL, Vincent dedicated his skills and knowledge working with Community Home Based Care where he contributed to the empowerment and skills development of the youth in Kabanana, Chazanga and Ngwerere areas of Lusaka. He is also an accredited third level trainer in Education and Community Based Monitoring Systems (CBMS)
Norah Kumwenda is a Programme Assistant whose main role is to contribute towards the delivery of quality programmes, providing mentorship to our community partners, and monitoring program activities. Norah background includes promotion of women and adolescent girls’ rights. She has first-hand experience in advocacy, sexual and reproductive health and youth empowerment. Prior to joining HL, Norah worked as a team leader on the International Citizen Service (ICS) Project implemented by Restless Development Zambia. She later ascended to the position of Assistant Programme Coordinator and went on to serve in the same capacity on the Zambian Girls 2030 Project.
Norah holds Diploma in Social Work from Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Development Studies at Mulungushi University.
Tatila Tatila has a Bachelor’s of Education in Environmental Education from the University of Zambia. He is a qualified trainer of trainers with experience in both community and school led total sanitation, training of village water sanitation hygiene education committees, community mobilization. Prior to HL, Tatila worked with Innovations for Poverty Action as a Senior Field Manager, where he provided logistical and administrative support, coordinated field teams and conducted monitoring and evaluation of the studies. He also served as a Project Intern at DAPP/ZAMFAM, a USAID funded Project working with orphans and vulnerable children. Tatila joined HL to provide supervision, mentorship and technical support to our trained School Health Teachers.
Taonga helps to manage our organizational operations and administrative activities. Prior to joining HL, she worked as an Admin and Finance Officer for Afya Mzuri and in Marketing and Corporate Relations at Barclays Bank Zambia.
Development and Communications Officer
Praise Phiri serves as the Finance Assistant for HL. He has a dual degree in Accounting and Financial Economics with a Minor in Business Administration from Methodist University in North Carolina, USA. In his previous roles, Praise worked as a Financial Clerk in the Methodist University Financial Aid Office, Residential Counselor at Duke University and a Wealth Consultant at Prudential Life Insurance. Praise oversees organizational communication, supports development and helps develop innovative solutions to our operational needs. Praise has a genuine passion for children’s well-being and would do anything to see a child flourish with as few challenges as possible.
Mavis Mayondi Makunka
Mavis Mayondi Makunka is our Operations Assistant. Mavis graduated from the University of Zambia with a B.Sc. in Library and Information Science and Development Studies and also holds a certificate in Journalism from Evelyn Hone College. Prior to joining HL, Mavis worked for Afya Mzuri as a Knowledge Management Assistant and then as the Resource Centre Officer, where she managed a resource center that provided study and library space for local students. She was also a Project Assistant on a Millennium Challenge Account Project that worked on improving menstrual hygiene management for women working in Lusaka’s city markets. Mavis is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Economic Policy Management at the University of Zambia.
Musonda Phiri oversees venue logistics and catering of events and workshops at Healthy Learners. Prior to joining HL, Musonda has worked as an Admin and Logistic Officer at Nangoma Consult Ltd. She has a Double Major Degree in Library and Information Studies and Public Administration from the University of Zambia.
Community Outreach Assistant
Clement Chambenenge a trained Community Health Worker with more than 17 years of experience working on health programs in Lusaka. Clement believes in the power of community outreach for improving children’s health. He is founder of the Intambi Arts and Theatre Group, a Zambian grassroots organization using music and dance to educate children on health topics. Clements brings his creative spirit and breadth of field experience to our team, where he is responsible for developing school and community outreach activities.
Monitoring and Evaluation Fellow
Joanna Bascom supports the monitoring, evaluation, and research activities at Healthy Learners as the Princeton in Africa fellow. Prior to joining HL, she worked as a Research Specialist at the Center for Social Research where she was involved in data analytics, GIS mapping, and community listening sessions. She also interned with Inclusive Performance Strategies and contributed to their equity education and cultural competency materials and evaluations. Joanna graduated with honors in Economics from Calvin University.
Royd Ntoka is a driver and logistics assistant with more than 7 years of experience. Prior to HL, Royd worked as a driver for the Swedish Embassy, the Honorable Sarah Sayfwanda and the Oriental Quarries.
Aladon is a driver and logistics assistant with more than 20 years of experience. Prior to HL, Aladon worked as a driver for Sight Savers and I Way Africa International.