Who We Are

Maestral International is a team of leading global experts supporting the development, strengthening and coordination of child protection and social welfare systems that meet the needs of children in adversity. We work to strengthen community-based and nationally-owned systems for preventing and responding to harm and supporting children at risk.

Our Mission

Maestral provides cutting-edge, relevant and effective technical expertise that helps communities and nations to protect children from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, while ensuring that all of their children are cared for in safe and appropriate family or alternative care settings.

Capabilities Statement

Here’s our capabilities statement, learn more about our team members and projects.

Maestral Capabilities Statement and Past Projects

Our Partners

Maestral has collaborated closely with an array of organizations, including ASD Group, Better Care Network, Boston College School of Social Work, The Columbia Group for Children in Adversity, Cornerstone Economic Research, Catholic Relief Services, Family for Every Child, Global Alliance for Children, IATT, IntraHealth International, Inc., MANNET, REPSSI, Save the Children, UNICEF, US-Aid and World Bank Group.

Our Team

Our advisors possess a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds drawn from every region of the world. They are trusted advisors to governments, development agencies, donors, community leaders and non-governmental organizations. Each member of Maestral’s team is driven by our organizational mission to secure a better life for children—bringing experience, passion and integrity to the work of our clients with a laser focus on results.

Philip Goldman

Philip Goldman

Founder and President

Philip is Founder and President of Maestral International, a team of leading global experts supporting the development, strengthening and coordination of child welfare and protection systems that meet the needs of children in adversity. A passionate advocate for children, Philip has decades of experience in designing, negotiating and implementing comprehensive human development programs for the World Bank, UNICEF and global foundations, and covering the social and child welfare, health and education sectors.

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He frequently speaks on these issues at global, regional and national conferences and before government agencies. Philip was a member of the Publications Committee for the U.S. Evidence Summit on Children Outside of Family Care, and in 2013 he facilitated the preparation of a Joint Interagency Statement on Child Protection Systems Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa that was endorsed by a wide range of multilateral and non-governmental organizations. Philip managed development and completion of a comprehensive global toolkit for mapping and assessing child protection systems, and has been supporting related programming in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. He most recently assisted the Government of Myanmar and its development partners to prepare the country’s first national Social Protection Strategy which launched late 2014. Philip has extensive current and past board and philanthropic experience, including Mayo Clinic, the Global Alliance for Children, the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas, the Better Way Foundation, Court Appointed Special Advocates (D.C.), the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, the Advisory Board of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Progress Valley, the Sieben Foundation and the International Leadership Institute.

Kelley McCreery Bunkers

Kelley McCreery Bunkers

Senior Partner

Kelley is an international child protection and social welfare consultant. Kelley has more than twenty-five years of experience working and living in East Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. She has worked with a wide range of actors including international organizations, private foundations, government ministries, USAID and UNICEF. Her work is focused on systems strengthening and child protection, with particular emphasis on supporting the expansion of the social welfare workforce, developing child-rights based policy frameworks and strategies and strengthening alternative care programming for children outside of family care.

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Her most recent work has been supporting the 4Children- a five-year global Orphans and Vulnerable Children project as the Technical Director for Child Protection and Social Welfare Systems. She also continues to consult with a variety of institutions and organizations to strengthen the child protection system, identify and promote linkages between child protection HIV, expand the social service workforce and document and support child care reform. She has a Master’s degree in Child Rights and is a regular contributor to articles and books covering intercountry adoption and international child welfare. Kelley is an advisor for the Better Care Network, Faith to Action Initiative and Global Health Promise. She is fluent in Spanish and Romanian. Ms. Bunkers currently resides in Nairobi.

Cassie Landers

Cassie Landers Ed.D., MPH

Senior Partner

Since 1985, Cassie has worked with UNICEF and other international agencies to promote policies and programs in support of young children and their families. Over the past 20 years, she has provided technical assistance and support to child development programs in over 60 countries throughout Southern Africa, South Asia, East Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. A primary focus of her work has been the design and evaluation of programs to support parents and families in their role as primary caregivers.

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Cassie has been involved in the design and evaluation of several multi-country school readiness initiatives for high risk children and families. In collaboration with the Open Society Foundations, Dr. Landers has designed a Master degree program in Early Childhood Development, BRAC University, Bangladesh and is a visiting professor at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Studies. Additional international activities include the development of educational strategies for children in emergencies and a tool for mapping and assessment child protection systems. An early literacy initiative in collaboration with Head Start National Literacy Center brings her international expertise to at risk children and families throughout the United States. Cassie has a Doctorate in Education, as well as a Master’s in Public Health, both from Harvard University. She is currently on the faculty of the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University and teaches courses in global child development.

David Tobis

David Tobis Ph.D.

Senior Partner

David Tobis is the former Executive Director of the Fund for Social Change, which he founded in 2002. The Fund administered collaborations between governments, service providers, communities and foundations. Beginning in 1991, he worked as a consultant to UNICEF and the World Bank to prevent children, the disabled and the elderly from being placed in long-term residential institutions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. His monograph, published by the World Bank, Moving from Residential Institutions to Community-Based Services in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union became the basis for the World Bank’s strategy in the area.

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More recently he worked with UNICEF to develop the child protection Toolkit; with the state government of Tabasco, Mexico to develop the first government-run foster care program in that country; in Lebanon with the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNICEF to develop the country’s four-year plan for protecting women and children, and with various foundations to strengthen child protection systems throughout the world. David was one of the national leaders of the Family Preservation movement to prevent unnecessary out-of-home placement in the child welfare and juvenile justice fields. He was previously Director of Human Services for New York City Council President Carol Bellamy and led that office’s successful efforts to reform New York’s foster care system. He was a Fulbright scholar to Guatemala and co-edited a book, Guatemala: And So Victory is Born, Even in the Bitterest Hour. David’s recent book, From Pariahs to Partners: How Parents and Their Allies Changed New York City’s Child Welfare System (Oxford University Press, 2013) is being used to promote parent participation in several countries. He was a Revson Fellow at Columbia University, awarded for work that improves life in New York City. David graduated from Williams College and received a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University. David is fluent in Spanish. He will be teaching a course at the University of Central Lancashire in the fall of 2018 on Reforming Child Protection Systems Internationally.

Carlos Alviar

Carlos Alviar

Senior Associate

Carlos Alviar has more than 20 years of experience working directly with development country governments on poverty reduction and social protection programming, research, and policy. He was Cash Transfer and Social Protection Specialist for UNICEF in Kenya and Ghana for 7 years. For the last six years, he has been consultant on health, social protection, emergency cash transfers, and social welfare for the Latin American and African Regions, the Eastern Caribbean Area, Mexico, Panama, Kenya and Haiti, working with UNICEF, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and FAO. He has extensive experience as team leader, manager and advisor for the implementation of high scale demand, supply, human capital and community-based interventions in 14 Latin American, Caribbean, Asian and African countries, ensuring adequate dialogue between stakeholders and partners and guaranteeing the development of policies, interventions and evaluations, according with their design and scheduled plans.

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As a consultant and an international organization staff member, Mr. Alviar has led the design, operationalization and implementation of a wide range of innovative social protection interventions, especially cash transfer programs to promote household investment in human capital and the protection of its members, livelihoods and assets. He has undertaken complex capacity needs assessments and developed business and costed action plans to improve: i) the effectiveness of the operational and institutional arrangements; ii) the quantity and quality of the human resources; and iii) the financial and fiduciary systems and budgets supporting government structures working on poverty reduction and social protection. He has managed program expansions (from pilot phase to full national scale), assessments and evaluations in various countries with different and complex institutional capacities and contexts, including during emergencies and crisis. He has extensive experience designing monitoring and evaluation systems and in the supervision of teams conducting quantitative and qualitative evaluations and research schemes for national scale interventions. Mr. Alviar is fluent in Spanish, English and French. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Los Andes in Bogota and an M.A. in Applied Political Studies from the Fundación Iberoamericana de Gobierno y Políticas Publicas in Madrid. Carlos is co-author of various international publications and research papers.

Beth Bradford

Beth Bradford

Senior Associate & Technical Director for Changing the Way We Care

Beth Bradford is an international child protection consultant with twenty-five years of experience. She is currently the Technical Director for Changing the Way We Care. Her work with both government and non-government partners has focused on child protection and care systems development. More specifically, Beth’s work has focused on integrated case management, social work practice, deinstitutionalization and alternative care, holistic early childhood development, and family strengthening. Beth has experience in qualitative evaluation, program design and management, designing standards and guidance, and curriculum development and training.

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Examples of her most recent work include: work with our team on development of cross-sectoral case management systems in the Sultanate of Oman, supporting review of the social service workforce in Jordan, leading a team reviewing parenting programs across East Asia and the Pacific, analysis of funding streams for children’s care in and development of a case management package for reintegration of children from residential care to family care, both in Uganda, development of the Faith to Action manual on transitioning children’s care, and drafting of the working paper on the role of social service workforce development in care reform for Better Care Network and the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance. Past work has included child protection, care reform and work force development in the CEE/CIS Region and Sub-Saharan Africa, and most recently in the Middle East and East Asia. Prior to joining Maestral, Beth combined international consulting with work as the family support program director for an American community-based organization. She brings this practical experience to her consultancies. She has a graduate degree in Sustainable Development / Management from SIT and an undergraduate degree in child development. Bradford is a native English speaker and is fluent in Romanian.

Severine Chevrel

Severine Chevrel

Senior Associate

Severine works in the field of child protection, care and support and systems strengthening in emergency, early recovery, refugee and development settings. Her policy and programming work at country and global levels includes child protection and welfare systems strengthening; case management; family tracing and reunification and other child protection programs for unaccompanied, separated children and other vulnerable children in emergency and refugee settings; alternative care; prevention and response against violence against children; and monitoring, reporting and responding to violations against children affected by armed conflict. Severine has worked closely with Governments, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations across Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Severine is currently seconded to the 4Children project as the Senior Technical Advisor in Child Protection and Welfare Systems where she provides technical assistance in strengthening child protection and welfare systems; case management. And prevention and response to violence against children.

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Severine previously led the Better Care Network, a network which facilitates active collaboration on the issue of children without adequate family care and advocates for technically sound policy and programmatic action on global, regional, and national levels. Severine was also with UNICEF Haiti, initially within the emergency response in the aftermath of the January 12th 2010 earthquake, and then supporting the Haitian Government on alternative care and birth registration. Previously, and under the guidance of UNICEF, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee’s Steering Committee, Severine oversaw the development, implementation and coordination of the Inter-Agency Child Protection Information Management System and related tools to support child protection programs in over 10 countries in particular for unaccompanied and separated children and other vulnerable children in emergency and refugee settings. Severine is French-American, bilingual in French and English and currently resides in New York, USA.

Janet du Preez

Janet du Preez

Senior Associate

Janet du Preez is a development consultant, a social worker by profession with +40 years’ experience, in direct service delivery to all vulnerable groups, specifically children.   Her experience is drawn from the many different roles performed as a development consultant, senior manager in government and civil society organizations, and as a child protection and mental health social worker, in South Africa, and more recently internationally, with Catholic Relief Services (CRS).  She is currently the Senior Technical Advisor on Case Management and systems strengthening for 4Children.  She has expertise in legislation development and interpretation for practice; policy development and implementation; strategic and operational planning and management, supportive supervision and leadership and coaching. She has vast experience in designing, implementing and building the capacity of social services practitioners at all levels as well as strengthening the governance and building the capacities of civil society organizations in program and project design and management, and resource mobilization.  Janet has a great interest and thus contributed to the growth of services and policy change in early childhood development and has a wealth of experience as a board member of philanthropic boards and Trusts with special focus on early childhood development and other community development issues.

Shar Kurtishi

Shar Kurtishi

Senior Associate

Shar Kurtishi is a public finance specialist with 13 years’ experience in the design, administration and management of PFM systems and within the last seven years, direct involvement in social protection and child protection strategies, policies and programs. Shar’s core expertise is in the analysis of human development and the interface with public financial management, budget preparation and medium term expenditure planning, and fiscal and administrative decentralization. He has worked extensively in Kosovo, UK, Slovenia, Albania and Nigeria. He has provided effective management to programs, policies and strategies on PFM, designed toolkits for education decision making, developed intergovernmental financing mechanism and written strategies for social protection for a variety of organizations including the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development, the European Commission [EC], USAID [US] and the United Nations Children Fund [UNICEF].

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Shar was contracted – as a directly contracted consultant – by UNICEF’s Kosovo (2012) where he was responsible for analysing and advising on the social scheme and relationship with the public financial management systems and the interface with social policy (education, health, social protection and child protection). He is currently involved as PFM consultant in Child Protection Mapping and Assessment for six states in Nigeria on a joint UNICEF/USAID co-founded project and UNICEF Nigeria on Economic Assessment on Unit Cost of Social Services for Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria. Furthermore Shar has strong IT experience in development, deployment and evaluation of Management information System. Shar is fluent in Albanian, English, Serbian and German.

Siân Long

Siân Long

Senior Associate

Siân Long has been a Senior Associate with Maestral International since 2010, and is the 4Children Senior Technical Advisor on Violence Against Children (VAC) supporting the project with 50% of her time through Maestral. Siân has worked on child protection and issues impacting children affected by HIV and AIDS for over 20 years,  and is an expert in policy and programming, child rights, national and global strategy design, child protection systems strengthening, and programme evaluation.  She has expertise in participatory research and assessment approaches with children, working with families and service providers and on developing strategy, policy and programming tools for use by a wide range of policy makers and practitioners.

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Siân has worked and written extensively on strengthening linkages between child protection and HIV programming, HIV sensitive child protection system strengthening, and referral mechanisms and case management for vulnerable children in eastern and southern Africa.  Siân lives in the UK and speaks Spanish, Portuguese and French.

Atieno Odenyo

Atieno Odenyo

Senior Associate

Atieno has extensive experience in international development both at country and regional levels. She has worked with direct service delivery focusing on gender-based violence against women and children, people with disabilities, the elderly, refugee rights and integration; as well as provided technical assistance to strategic planning for national and sub-national level ministries on issues around HIV, care and support for children in the context of HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights, child protection, human rights and sports and development. She has experience in results based strategic and operational planning, human rights based approaches, partnership development, organizational strengthening, programme and project design and management, and resource mobilization.

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She has worked with a range of partners, managed strategic partnerships, facilitated capacity development and technical assistance for and with UN agencies, multilateral and bilateral development partners, regional and country level civil society organizations, regional economic communities and parliamentary bodies. As a creative, she also strives to support to creative industry in East Africa. Atieno is currently based in Nairobi and speaks English, Swedish, Portuguese and has good working knowledge of Spanish and French. Atieno has a MSc in Social policy and planning in developing countries, with a focus on gender and on urban planning, from London School of Economics.

William (Bill) Philbrick

William (Bill) Philbrick

Senior Associate

Bill is a Child Protection, Global Health, and ICT Systems strategist and lawyer with over 22 years experiences in HIV and AIDS, child protection, systems strengthening and integrated programming to improve the well-being of children.  His global experience, which began in Rwanda and at CARE USA, first as manager of vulnerable children programmes, and later as Director of HIV and AIDS, includes working with diverse vulnerable populations, focusing on vulnerable children.

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His experience includes child protection case management in Eastern Africa, designing and managing integrated programming for vulnerable children, gender mainstreaming, the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence, systems strengthening, law and policy, and livelihoods/economic strengthening interventions. He has analysed how child-focused programmes are adapted for fragile state contexts. As a lawyer, he is familiar with, and understands how to analyse justice systems. Recent projects include strategising around the collection, management and use of quality data for informing policies and making programmatic decisions. His career also includes a focus on integrated early childhood development (ECD), and he served as co-lead for CARE USA in the interagency development of the ECD HIV Essential Package. He has worked on consultancies for UNICEF, the United Nations Foundation, CARE, UNHCR, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Save the Children.

Viktoria Perschler

Viktoria Perschler

Senior Associate

Viktoria Perschler is an international consultant with over 20 years of experience in child protection and almost 10 years in gender based violence. She is a strategic thinker who has demonstrated capability to work at national and community level to effectively design, monitor and evaluate programs and projects. Her experience includes working with governments and other stakeholders to create inclusive national child protection strategies. She is also an experienced trainer and has carried out numerous assessments, reviews and evaluations.

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Viktoria has been living and working in Southern, East and West Africa since 1994. In addition, she has worked in Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and Armenia especially in the areas of emergency preparedness, gender based violence and alternative care. Previously a staff member of UNICEF, she has been a consultant since 2007 for UNICEF, the World Bank, the Government of Angola, various international NGOs and consulting groups. An Austrian national, she communicates fluently in English, French and German and has a working knowledge of Portuguese and Spanish.

Mark Riley

Mark Riley

Senior Associate

Mark is a child protection and social welfare consultant. Mark has been living in East Africa for 7 years working on child welfare reforms. He has worked with a wide range of actors including international organizations, private foundations, foreign embassies and government ministries. His work is focused on systems strengthening and child protection, with particular emphasis on alternative care and alternative care related programming for children outside of family care and family strengthening. Mark authored the Uganda National Alternative Care Framework and undertook the 2012 study on institutional care in Uganda which prompted a significant emphasis and investment to address the high levels of children in institutional care in Uganda.

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Mark currently works with Maestral International on family strengthening programmes on the 4Children project across a number of countries and for Hope and Homes for Children on a Deinstitutionalisation project in Jharkhand state, India. Mark currently resides in Kampala. Before moving to Uganda in 2010 worked for over 15 years with the Welsh Assembly Government delivering both public and private consultancy and project management programmes.

Anna Nordenmark Severinsson

Anna Nordenmark Severinsson

Senior Associate & Changing the Way We Care MEAL Senior Advisor

Anna Nordenmark Severinsson is an international advisor on child protection policy and system reform with 20 years of international professional experience. She has been a team leader on different USAID, SIDA, EU, UN and civil society projects. The focus of Anna’s work has been on strengthening the policies and implementation of policies for better fulfilment of child protection rights and human rights, most often focusing on sectors such as the welfare and social protection and their coordination with health, education and justice sectors. One of Anna’s specialties is in child protection system governance and capacity building with a focus on whole sector reform. In the context of advising governments on such reforms, she has led and carried out several ministry-, and department functional assessments, capacity assessments, governance assessments and sector performance reviews and provided advice to governments to recommend optimal organization of services, the strengthening of core functions and competencies in child protection in order to improve the performance of protection systems.

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Anna has furthermore supported, facilitated and lead the articulation of many legislative reviews, sectorial reform strategies and ministerial and government action plans. Another focus of Anna’s work has been the use of monitoring and evaluation techniques to strengthen the protection sector and social policies more broadly. Over the years she has been involved in supervising large household surveys (MICS and DHS); she has facilitated and designed training programmes for government stakeholders and UNICEF-staff on results based management and human rights based approaches to programming, programme excellence, monitoring and evaluation; she has designed, led and overseen a number of qualitative and mixed methods multi-country studies and evaluations in the fields of juvenile justice, child welfare/care reform and violence against children and on the social inclusion of children with disabilities.

Anna is used to working with a large variety of stakeholders, including policy level stakeholders at national, regional and local levels, professionals involved in child protection, vulnerable families and children themselves, often the most vulnerable and at risk: children in prisons, living in residential care, and victims of violence. She has often been called on as a child protection expert in various international fora to support development of standards and programme excellence frameworks on child protection and welfare. A Swedish/Swiss national currently based in Switzerland, Anna has lived and operated from a number of countries and performed shorter and longer professional missions to close to 30 countries across the larger Europe, Africa and Asia.

Francesca Stuer

Francesca Stuer

Senior Associate

Francesca Stuer has sixteen years of international social and health development work providing a depth of experience, reaching across global, regional and country level policy, strategy and program development. Her specialist experience and expertise includes social welfare, child protection and alternative childcare. Other areas of expertise include vulnerability assessment and resilience building, women and girls empowerment, household economic strengthening, HIV/AIDS and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights with a particular focus on adolescents, and strategic behavioral communication. Francesca has worked at a senior level to support and build capacity of host governments, non-government organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs). Skilled in strategic analysis and planning, monitoring and evaluation, and capacity building, she always uses the best evidence available to inform her work.

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Across these areas, she brings her valuable strengths in leadership, coordination, partnership building and influencing to bring people together to address shared issues. An accomplished manager, she has led large multicultural teams to implement diversified programs with annual budgets of up to USD 13 million.

Joanna Wakia

Joanna Wakia

Senior Associate

Joanna has 13 years’ experience developing and leading monitoring, evaluation and research work focused on child protection, family reintegration and family strengthening. Joanna has been at the cutting edge of pioneering child-focused monitoring and evaluation (M&E) approaches which bring out children’s and caregivers’ experiences of family-child separation and reintegration. As the Monitoring and Research Advisor for Retrak, an international NGO working to see no child forced to live on the streets, she developed and managed M&E frameworks for reintegration and prevention of separation projects across eastern Africa. Joanna has led evaluations looking at the care of boys and girls living on the streets, the provision of temporary care and reintegration support to separated children, deinstitutionalisation and prevention of family-child separation in rural and peri-urban locations. She is passionate about approaches to M&E that are participatory and place the voice of children at the centre of evidence-building and learning, as well as being robust and accessible for agencies with limited resources to implement. She enjoys leading capacity building initiatives to help agencies working with children to launch and develop their M&E systems in a simple, learning-focused and child-friendly manner.

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At Retrak, Joanna undertook several research and learning projects to help the organisation’s understanding of key approaches, leading to the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) in family reintegration, street outreach and supported independent living. The family reintegration SOPs and the accompanying case management and monitoring toolkit have been used to inform several national protocols and international guidelines. In addition, Joanna has contributed to the development of research methodologies for estimating hard-to-reach populations, specifically children living and working on the streets. She has led two enumerations of street populations, in Malawi and Uganda, using the dual systems estimate approach.

Joanna is the author of several practice documents and research papers including: ‘An enumeration of children on the streets in 4 towns in Uganda’ (with R Mbugua, P Musitia & D Whitford, 2018 forthcoming); ‘Using child well-being assessments to track progress in family-based reintegration’ in the Journal of Global Social Welfare (with S Corcoran, 2016); ‘RISE Learning Network Monitoring and Evaluation of Reintegration Toolkit’ (editor, 2016) and ‘Retrak Family Reintegration Standard Operating Procedures’ (2013).

Joanna holds an MSc in Social Policy and Planning in Developing Countries from the London School of Economics and PG Certificate in Children and Young People’s Worlds: Frameworks in International Practice from the Open University. She is a British national, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Addishiwot Arega

Addishiwot Arega

Associate

Addishiwot is a consultant with over 13 years of experience in child protection, policy and programing, program evaluation and strategy development.  As an independent consultant, Addishiwot has been engaged in research, advocacy, health communication and education work. Her work with non-governmental development and civil society organizations focuses on promoting child rights and the welfare of children and the under privileged.  She managed the implementation of several HIV, OVC, education and health programs at Save the Children, Right to Play and Handicap International.  Addishiwot also has experience working with communities for the social welfare of vulnerable children.  She has experience building the capacities of civil society organizations in program implementation and management.

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In her recent work, Addishiwot supported the mapping and assessment of child protection systems and the development of child protection strategies and strengthening of community capacities in response to psychosocial support needs of the most vulnerable children in Nigeria.  She has lived and worked in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nigeria and is fluent in Amharic.  Addishiwot has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from National University of Rwanda and a B.A. in Sociology and Social Administration from Addis Ababa University.  Addishiwot currently lives in Abuja, Nigeria.

Nicole Williams

Nicole Williams

Operations Officer

Nicole Williams graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education.  Her teaching led her to develop a strong interest in working at the international level. Nicole took a position with an adventure travel organization and her experiences abroad inspired her to deepen her knowledge of children’s and human rights issues. She enrolled in the Heller School for Social Policy & Management, at Brandeis University where she earned her Master’s Degree in Sustainable International Development.  During her tenure at Brandeis, Nicole spent nine months in Moshi, Tanzania, undertaking a practicum for her thesis working with an organization supporting children at risk in the region. As a research assistant with the organization, Nicole conducted a school baseline study on truancy, drop-out rates, literacy and numeracy in Moshi and Arusha primary schools. Prior to joining Maestral, Nicole worked as an International Program Assistant with the American Refugee Committee.

Joanna Ison

Joanna Ison

Program Specialist

Joanna Ison has a Master of Science in Justice, Law and Society from the American University School of Public Affairs, along with a B.A. in Communication, Law, Economics and Government. She also received a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from University of Illinois in Chicago. After graduation, Joanna joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Barskoon, Kyrgzystan, where she taught English at a local school and completed several community development projects. Upon her return to the US, Joanna worked as a Program Officer for Projects and Partnerships at the American Library Association, where among other things she worked on public awareness campaigns, advocacy, and diversity efforts. Prior to joining the Maestral team, Joanna was a Grants Writer for Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota.

Marsha Wilder

Marsha Wilder

Administrative Assistant

Marsha received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. Her heart for hurting people has led her in many directions over the years. Before becoming a mother, she was the Office Manager of a Crisis Center. For many years she was a stay-at-home mom and homeschooled her three children, who are now all successful adults working to change the world for the better. For nearly twenty years she was the Worship Pastor at her church where she was responsible for recruiting, training, developing, and leading multiple teams of volunteer musicians and technicians. In 2007, Marsha started her own small business, Wilder Piano Studio, where she currently teaches 30+ piano students. Marsha also enjoys her role as the Administrative Assistant for Hope Station – a non-profit in Chengdu, China founded and directed by her daughter who is an advocate for orphans. Marsha and her husband enjoy visiting her in China. They also enjoy family activities, traveling, camping, biking and hosting international guests in their home.

“We are not the sources of problems; we are the resources that are needed to solve them. We are not expenses; we are investments.”

—Gabriela Azurduy Arrieta (age 13 from Bolivia)
and Audrey Cheynut (age 17 from Monaco).
Delivered to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children.