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.
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.
Here’s our capabilities statement, learn more about our team members and projects.
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 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 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.Read More
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 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.
David Tobis is the former Executive Director of the Fund for Social Change, which he founded in 2002. The Fund administers collaborations between governments, service providers, communities and foundations. For the past three decades, he has worked to reform child welfare in New York and the United States. 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.Read More
More recently he has worked with UNICEF and various foundations to strengthen child protection systems in countries 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 book, From Pariahs to Partners: How Parents and Their Allies Changed New York City’s Child Welfare System, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. He was a Revson Fellow at Columbia University, awarded for work that improves the conditions of 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.
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.Read More
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.
Kelley is an international child protection and social welfare consultant. Kelley has more than twenty 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.Read More
Her most recent work has been in Moldova, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia where she has consulted with UNICEF, USAID and civil society organizations to strengthen the child protection system, identify and promote linkages between child protection and programing for children and families affected by HIV and AIDS, 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 and Global Health Promise. She is fluent in Spanish and Romanian. Ms. Bunkers currently resides in Nairobi.
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.Read More
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.
Isabel de Bruin Cardoso is a human rights advocate with over ten years experience working on child protection, care and support for children and families in the context of HIV, and systems strengthening for vulnerable children. A creative and pragmatic thinker, she has led the development of results based strategic and operational plans, facilitated the design and implementation of evidence-based policies and programs, and influenced the design of national and program monitoring frameworks. She is an experienced and dynamic team player with solid communication skills, having worked alongside government, international organisations, donors, private foundations, faith-based groups, civil society, networks, academia and beneficiaries in different countries and cultures in Africa and Latin America.Read More
Her recent work has focused on violence against children and alternative care for children outside of parental care, including conducting research on violence and different care settings in Africa, leading the development of a multi-year program to combat violence against children in Catholic sponsored schools and communities in Kenya, providing quality assurance and capacity building support to a government regulated and Catholic run temporary rescue home for survivors of sexual abuse in Kenya, and identifying promising practices on referral mechanisms for vulnerable children and youth in Mozambique. Isabel has a Master’s in International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University and a Bachelor Degree in International Relations from Universiteit Utrecht. A Dutch national, she can communicate fluently in English and Portuguese, and has a working knowledge of French. She currently resides in Nairobi, Kenya.
Mary Eming Young, MD, DrPH, received her B.S. (1975) and M.D (1979) from the University of Wisconsin and her DrPH (1985) from the Johns Hopkins University. She completed her pediatrics residency and preventive medicine residency training from the University of Texas, University of California Davis and Johns Hopkins Hospital. She is double board certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Preventive Medicine and Public Health.Read More
For the past three decades, she worked at the World Bank, guiding efforts in international public health and child health and development. Her project management experience extends to operations in all regions and spans from China beginning in 1982 with the World Bank’s first China health sector study and rural health reforms to maternal and child health and public health projects completed in 2008, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (led Poland’s first health system reform), Middle East and North Africa, and LAC. Over the past fifteen years, as World Bank lead child development specialist and primary advocate for young children, she led global efforts to inform world leaders about Early Child Development (ECD). This put ECD on the World Bank’s map and the World Bank on the global ECD map. Her publications include four major works on ECD: Investing in Young Children, Early Child Development: Investing in Our Children’s Future, From Early Child Development to Human Development (also in Portuguese, Chinese and Arabic), and Early Child Development: From Measurement to Action (also in Portuguese). She was an author in the 2007 series on child development published by The Lancet. In addition, she has published numerous articles on the Chinese health care system, focusing on child health and maternal health. She has served as the U.S. Regional Editor of the Health Policy Journal, as a Board member of the Johnson and Johnson Pediatric Institute, as a Scientific Advisor of the Mediterranean Child Institute, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the U.S. National Institute for Early Education Research and the International Step by Step Association. She speaks Chinese, Portuguese, English and Spanish (listening comprehension).
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].Read More
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.
Beth Bradford is an international child protection consultant with over twenty years of experience. She is the Senior Technical Advisor for Family Strengthening with 4Children. Her work with both government and non-government partners has focused on systems development and includes case management, social work practice, deinstitutionalization and alternative care for children outside of parental care, and development of prevention / family strengthening programs. Beth has experience in qualitative research and evaluation, and program/project design, utilizing participatory approaches.
Examples of her most recent work include analysis of funding streams for children’s care with Elevate Children Funders Group, development of a case management package for reintegration of children from residential care to family care in Uganda, development of the Faith to Action manual on transitioning children’s care, working with the Maestral team on development of Guidelines for Foster Care, Kinship Care and Supported Independent Living in Liberia, 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. Bradford worked as the family support program director for an American community-based organization for twelve years prior to joining Maestral. She brings this practical experience to her consultancies. In addition, to consulting she advises global practice students in the graduate school of social work at Boston College. 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.
Anna Nordenmark Severinsson has international professional experience from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Africa and South Asia, out of which 15 years in project and program management positions. The focus of her work is on reforms of welfare and social protection sectors towards better fulfillment of child rights and improved child protection. She is currently the team leader for an EU technical assistance project to the government of Mauritius where she has undertaken a situation analysis on child protection, carried out a functional audit of the country’s child protection authority and developed a national child protection strategy and action plan. She is also currently the team leader for a USAID/DCOF child care reform evaluation. During her career she has provided technical assistance to a number of countries in the development of child protection legislation, policies, system reform strategies and action plans. A Swedish national, Anna has working proficiency in French and English.Read More
In other recent work, Anna has been regularly mapping, assessing relevance of program interventions and carrying out consultations and interviews with government officials, civil society, parents and children. Anna has significant experience from consultations, mapping exercises, operational research and analysis on children’s rights. Prior to joining Maestral, she worked 13 years with UNICEF in various child protection- and social policy positions.
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.Read More
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.
Gillian has spent more than 20 years working in the fields of children’s rights, child development and protection, humanitarian assistance and conflict management. She has worked on programs and policies to effect real change for the world’s most vulnerable children, often bringing together diverse constituents in order to do so. Her earlier field-based work has greatly influenced her policy and advocacy work with the U.S. government and the United Nations. Prior to joining Maestral, Gillian was asked to establish the U.S. office of J.K. Rowling’s international child rights organization, Lumos, which she did from 2014-2015. Before that, Gillian served as the Senior Child Development and Protection Technical Advisor with USAID’s Center for Children in Adversity, where she worked with a team responsible for coordinating all forms of U.S. Government assistance to highly vulnerable children in developing countries. In that role, she facilitated an international evidence summit on protecting children outside of family care and coordinated the development of the U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity, the U.S. government’s first-ever strategic guidance for international assistance to children.Read More
Earlier professional experiences include work with the United Nations as well as with NGOs and academic institutions in six countries in Africa, the former Soviet Union, Western Europe and the United States. Gillian worked as a UN humanitarian affairs officer in Angola during the last three years of the civil war and has designed conflict resolution and child rights programs with Search for Common Ground and Save the Children. Gillian has taught courses in assistance for children in emergency settings (George Washington University), field research, and cross-cultural communication (World Learning’s School for International Training in Russia) and has been involved in a working group on psychosocial support in crisis settings. Gillian has a BA from Bard College and an MA from the University of Amsterdam. She has received additional training in emergency response, humanitarian coordination, mediation and negotiation. She received the 2009 Brimstone Award with Laura Simms from the National Storytelling Network for her work using story telling with children in conflict and crisis settings.
Tessa, a Dutch national currently residing in Yangon, Myanmar, is a qualified social worker with a specialty in child protection policies and systems. She has over 20 years of experience with 14 in Asia. Tessa was retained as the lead advisor on a UNICEF Myanmar alternative care project in 2013 and 2014, and was involved with Maestral in developing the country’s first case management system (with a focus on child protection). As the International Social Work Advisor for Friends International, Tessa developed child protection policies and social work training manuals. She has trained local governments and NGOs on case management and social work in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Myanmar. She has also developed case management systems, led social work trainings and facilitated the strengthening of child protection policies, and has managed and implemented several child protection projects in Nepal, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia.Read More
Recently Tessa established the first medical social work department at Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia, which now employs 15 social workers and functions as a national training institute. She has worked for UNICEF, OXFAM, Terre des Hommes and Friends International, as well as many others. Aside of her work in child protection, Tessa runs a philanthropic advisory company, advising family foundations, companies and schools on their giving. She speaks English, Dutch, German and French.
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.Read More
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.
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.Read More
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.
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.Read More
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 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 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.
“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.