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).
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 support Fellows in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Staff from the HI Ethiopia Country Office support Fellows in Ethiopia. Both offices 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
Mercy has four years of experience conducting research on mental health and disability issues in the nonprofit sector. In her current role as a program manager, Mercy coordinates all of HI’s activities for the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement.
Before joining HI, Mercy worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Human Development at Aga Khan University, a nonprofit institution and an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. In this role, Mercy helped plan and coordinate the implementation of qualitative and quantitative survey studies and ensured that the data collected were of high quality. During her time at the Institute, Mercy also took the lead on the implementation of questionnaires to assess mental health problems among women in informal settlements in Kenya.
Mercy is particularly skilled in conducing in-depth qualitative interviews and focus groups, which are important tools for program evaluation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education studies from Kenyatta University. She 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 Mercy Opiche 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.
Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (MEAL) Manager
HI Ethiopia Country Office
PFP Program Liaison for Ethiopia
Anteneh Darsema is the MEAL Manager at Humanity & Inclusion (HI) – Ethiopia Office, overseeing the Ethiopia-Somalia Program’s (EthioSom) monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning (MEAL) efforts. EthioSom is currently implementing 15 projects across sectors such as Inclusive Humanitarian Action, Mental Health, Protection, Rehabilitation, Livelihood, Education, Emergency Shelter, among other sectors.
During Anteneh’s seven years at HI, he has advanced from junior to senior management roles. With a sociology background and 15 years of diverse involvement in both local and international humanitarian organizations, Anteneh brings extensive expertise. In addition to his MEAL Manager role, Anteneh serves as the program liaison for Ethiopia in the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement. Anteneh is 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.