Program Partners and Staff
The Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement is a joint project of the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Humanity & Inclusion (HI) with funding support from the US Department of State. The ICI and HI share a history of Fellowship programming, having served as project partners on two previous efforts led by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD): the ADA International Fellowship Program and the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Disability Employment (PFP-IDE). An ICI/HI project team will implement this new professional program.
About the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI)
The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) is a center within the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Founded in 1963, the ICI’s mission is to promote inclusion and equity for people with disabilities in all aspects of society: education, employment, health care, and community life. Toward this mission, the ICI provides research and program evaluation, training and consultation, policy analysis, and direct employment services in partnership with local, state, national, and international agencies; legislators; schools; institutes of higher education; employers; community and multicultural organizations; and people with disabilities and their family members.
The ICI is a member of a (US) national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). UCEDDs are federally designated university centers for advanced research, education, and service for and with people with disabilities. The centers provide essential advocacy, capacity-building, and systems-change efforts for people with disabilities in the states and territories where they are located. UCEDDs work closely with government and community partners to educate officials on disability policy.
About Humanity & Inclusion (HI)
Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is an independent and impartial international non-governmental organization, founded in 1982, that works in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict, and disaster. HI’s mission is to work alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, taking action and bearing witness to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions, and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights. HI has more than 30 years of experience, is a joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, winner of the Nansen Refugee Award from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize.
Today HI supports people with disabilities and vulnerable populations in around 60 countries globally, including Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia, the target countries of this Fellowship Program. In East Africa, HI has notably been working toward increasing participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of life, including civic life by implementing a range of interventions aimed at building the capacity of local organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) and disability-serving non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Staff from the HI East Africa Region (EAR) Office will support Fellows in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Staff from the HI Ethiopia Country Office will support Fellows in Ethiopia. Both offices will work closely with their ICI colleagues on this Fellowship Program.
Heike Boeltzig-Brown, PhD
Senior Manager for International Partnerships, Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI)
Program Director, Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement
Heike is an expert and thought leader in disability-focused international exchange programming. She manages teams of project staff, partners, and consultants based in multiple countries and regions and representing diverse disciplines and stakeholders.
In 2011, Heike helped establish the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at UMass Boston. Between 2012 and 2020, Heike worked remotely for the ICI from Tokyo, Japan, creating partnerships and collaborations that expanded ICI’s international programs. At the same time, she co-directed two US Department of State-funded programs: 1) the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) International Fellowship Program, working with organizations and Fellows in Brazil, Peru, Kenya, and Tanzania; and 2) the Professional Fellows Program (PFP) on Inclusive Disability Employment, working with organizations and Fellows in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Heike currently directs the PFP on Inclusive Civic Engagement in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia, while continuing to build disability leadership capacity in Japan.
Program Coordinator, Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement
Christa coordinates all ICI US-based Fellowship Program activities in partnership with Humanity & Inclusion. Before joining the ICI, Christa worked with EmbraceKulture, an organization focused on building capacity of organizations that serve children and youth with developmental and cognitive disabilities in Uganda and across East Africa. At EmbraceKulture, Christa managed multi-country, multi-disciplinary working teams composed of academic experts from local and international non-profit organizations and individuals directly impacted by the work. Christa is recognized as an Ashoka Changemaker. Her program innovations have been featured by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is currently based in Boston, Massachusetts.
Program Manager, HI East Africa Region (EAR) Office
Peris has four years of experience in development work in the non-profit sector. In her current role as a program manager, Peris coordinates all of HI’s activities for the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement. Previously, she served as a project officer for the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Disability Employment (PFP-IDE), supporting and engaging Fellows during and after their virtual Fellowship. Prior to her involvement with Fellowship programming, Peris was a project officer coordinating HI’s humanitarian work in the Kakuma Refugee Camps. In that role, she helped facilitate economic empowerment of youth with and without disabilities through livelihood interventions, including business development.
Before joining HI, Peris worked as a team leader on the International Citizen Service (ICS) Program with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) Kenya, promoting and facilitating inclusive employment of youth in Nandi County through volunteerism. She was key to building disability inclusion capacity of diverse cohorts of volunteers. Peris is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Project Officer, HI East Africa Region (EAR) Office
Andrew has two years of experience working on disability inclusion in the private and non-profit sectors. In his current role as project officer for the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement, Andrew supports the program manager Peris Mwangi with the coordination and implementation of project activities in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Previously, Andrew served as a project volunteer for the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Disability Employment (PFP-IDE).
Before rejoining HI, Andrew worked as an inclusion officer at Zalego Academy Ltd, an industrial, skill-based Information Communication Technology (ICT) training center. In this role, Andrew assessed job seekers with disabilities with respect to their support needs and provided advice and consultation on appropriate accommodations and supports. He also helped raise awareness about gender and disability inclusion issues in the workplace.
As a Deaf person, Andrew’s first-hand experience with disability informs his programming work and disability leadership efforts.
Andrew is a 2021 graduate of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) East Africa online civic leadership program. He is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Senior Disability Inclusion Advisor, HI Ethiopia Country Office
Program Liaison for Ethiopia, Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement
Abraham is a senior disability inclusion advisor for HI’s Ethiopia/Somaliland/Somalia Program and serves as a program liaison for Ethiopia for the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement. Abraham has more than 15 years of experience in fields spanning inclusive education, disability and children’s rights, and international development. He is a social activist and advocate with a passion for humanity, integrity, and professionalism.
Abraham has successfully designed, planned, and implemented staff development and training workshops and programs for teachers, parents, police officers, government officials, community leaders, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on issues relating to inclusive education, guidance and counseling, children’s rights, and child protection. He has worked and engaged with all types and levels of stakeholders, including grassroots and non-governmental organizations (such as human rights organizations, organizations for internally displaced people and refugees, and organizations of people with disabilities or OPDs), government, and development agencies. Abraham is currently based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Regional Director, HI East Africa Region (EAR) Office
Program Liaison for Uganda, Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement
Ryan has been the regional director for HI’s East African Region in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda since August 2020. Previously, Ryan served as country manager for Uganda from 2017-2020, and as operational coordinator for HI Kenya from 2014-2017. Ryan has 18 years of experience in the humanitarian and development sectors in Cambodia, Thailand, Kenya, and Uganda. Before HI, he worked for The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Ryan is currently based in Kampala, Uganda.
Program Advisory Board
Abayneh Gujo Desta
Federation of Ethiopian Associations of Persons with Disabilities
Abayneh Gujo Desta has been the Executive Director of the Federation of Ethiopian Associations of Persons with Disabilities (FEAPD) since 2017. Abayneh has 20 years of experience in leadership positions in the non-profit sector. He has served on the Board of the Authority of Civil Society Organizations (ACSO) and the Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations Forum (ECSF). Abayneh is also the president of the Ethiopian Wheelchair Basketball Association.
Asalifew Amedin Kabeto
Director of Disability Affairs
Ministry of Women and Social Affairs
Asalifew Amedin Kabeto is the Director of Disability Affairs in the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs. He has 21 years of experience in the government sector, mostly serving in a leadership capacity. Asalifew has a master’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in business administration. He is also a doctoral candidate in public management.
Anthony Kimathi Ngari
Director for Special Programs
Public Participation, Civic Education, and Social Development, Meru County Government
Anthony Kimathi Ngari is a Disability Inclusion Specialist with over 9 years of experience successfully managing inclusion projects in complex humanitarian contexts. He currently works with the Meru County Government as the Director for Special Programs, Public Participation, Civic Education, and Social Development. Additionally, Anthony serves as the Treasurer to the Board of Humanity & Inclusion, Kenya.
Kevin Infanta Mpaka
Senior Legal Officer
National Gender and Equality Commission
Kevin Infanta Mpaka is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya with 30 years of experience practicing law. She currently works as a Senior Legal Officer at the National Gender and Equality Commission. Prior to that, she worked as a Program Officer in the Disability and Elderly Division of the same institution. Kevin participated in the review of the Persons with Disabilities Act, the Mental Health Act, and the Social Assistance Act, and in the ratification process of the Protocols to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and on the Rights of Older Persons and People with Disabilities in Africa.
Anna Aloys Henga
Legal and Human Rights Centre
Anna Aloys Henga has been a human rights activist for more than 15 years. She is a lawyer and an advocate of the High Court of Tanzania. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) in Tanzania. Her major areas of expertise are human rights law, policy analysis, gender and practice for non-governmental organizations, and theology. Anna is an awardee of the International Women of Courage in 2019, the Women in Management Tanzania in 2019, and the African Woman Leader in 2020.
Tanzania Federation of Disabled People’s Organization
Jonas Lubago is a disability rights advocate and defender, currently serving as the Secretary-General of the Tanzania Federation of Disabled People’s Organizations (SHIVYAWATA). Before joining the federation, Jonas served as Deputy Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Tanzania League of the Blind (TLB). Professionally Jonas is a teacher, holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Dar es Salaam.
Chief Executive Officer
National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda
Esther Kyozira has worked with the disability movement since 2000. She currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU). Previously, Esther worked as the Country Programme Officer for the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) and chaired the Uganda National Council for Persons with Disability (NCD). She has been behind the enactment of several laws and policies for persons with disabilities in Uganda, including the Persons with Disabilities Act 2020, the Mental Health Act 2019, and the Amendment Act of the National Council for Disability.
Byonanebye Muhumuza Prosper
Disability and Elderly Commissioner
Ministry of Gender, Labour & Social Development
Byonanebye Muhumuza Prosper is a Disability and Elder Commissioner in the Ministry of Gender, Labour & Social Development. He has 19 years of progressive expertise in guiding social protection interventions for vulnerable groups, policy influencing, and community systems. He is a seasoned management specialist, well grounded in policy formulation, and an advocate for a human rights-based approach in programming. Prosper has supported programme designs at the national and global levels.
Beth A. Haller, PhD
Mass Communication Towson University
Dr. Haller’s research specializes in the representation of disability in news, entertainment, and online media. Beth is an adjunct faculty in the City University of New York’s Disability Studies programs, the Disability Studies minor at the University of Texas-Arlington, and the graduate Critical Disability Studies program at York University in Toronto, Canada. She is the co-founder and co-director of the Global Alliance for Disability in Media and Entertainment, which promotes the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mass media worldwide. Beth also serves on the Advisory Board of the National Center on Disability and Journalism (NCDJ).
Director of Advocacy Initiatives
Harvard Law School Project on Disability
Hezzy Smith is a trilingual attorney, a proud sibling, and Director of Advocacy Initiatives at Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD). Hezzy has worked closely with self-advocacy and disabled peoples' organizations both in the United States and abroad to advocate, research, and produce awareness-raising materials. His Spanish, English, and Bangla language materials have shaped disability rights strategic litigation and important decisions by national and regional courts, and his disability rights scholarship has appeared in both US and international law reviews.
Senior Global Inclusion Advisor
International Foundation for Electoral Systems
Virginia Atkinson has 15 years of international advocacy and capacity building experience focused on empowerment of traditionally marginalized groups. As Senior Global Inclusion Advisor of at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), she is responsible for providing strategic leadership to IFES’ inclusion portfolio and technical assistance and training to civil society organizations and government stakeholders on inclusive democracy, human rights, and governance. She spearheads IFES’ intersectional approach to program design to advance the human rights of people who identify with multiple social identities.
United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK)
Esther Mkamori is a Program Manager at United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK). She has more than eight years of experience in developing and implementing programs in the disability sector in Kenya. Esther is an alumna of the BRIDGE CRPD-SDGs, a capacity-building program by the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC). She has expertise in supporting disability rights advocates and organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) to develop, incorporate, and sustain an inclusive (all persons with disabilities) and comprehensive (all human rights) CRPD perspective into their development efforts. Esther has presented on disability issues at the United Nations General Assembly and at the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD (COSP13, COSP14, COSP15).