You moved JSI offices, from Washington to Boston. What is it like working in both places?
Even though I sit in Boston, I work entirely on JSI’s logistics projects, which are based out of the DC office. Boston is my home, and I’ve been back for five years, but the DC office will always be my office home away-from-home since it’s where I started at JSI and where my JSI roots are. I feel lucky to be virtually and physically sitting in two of JSI’s offices, since I get to benefit from being linked to JSI’s diverse network of staff and projects – interacting not only with the big centrally funded projects in DC, but with international and domestic work happening in Boston under JSI and World Education. You also learn pretty quickly about where to stock up on your favorite office supplies – for me, it’s highlighters in Boston and pens in DC!
What first brought you to JSI?
I received my Masters in International Relations at the Fletcher School at Tufts and met Joel while taking a class at the Harvard School of Public Health, so I got to learn a little bit about JSI. So when JSI had a Program Coordinator opening on the DELIVER Project, I applied and had one very nerve racking phone interview from Boston. That was in 2005.
Did you plan to stay at JSI this long?
Not at all! It happened completely by chance. I could never have imagined how passionately I could feel about supply chains for health – and getting life-saving health products to people at end of that chain.
“I could never have imagined how passionately I could feel about supply chains for health – and getting life-saving health products to people at end of that chain.”
And today you’re the Deputy Director of the Center for Health Logistics. What’s your favorite thing about your job?
I really enjoy working with so many different people within the organization – our core group of logisticians on DELIVER and SCMS are terrific—as well as the varied group of clients we have,
from UN agencies and ministries of health to the Global Fund and GAVI. I like those many different interactions. It keeps it interesting to understand the role they all play in the global supply chain and have the opportunity to support them and the many different components in the global supply chain.
Logistics is complex—how do you explain your work?
Our projects support governments to help make sure that health products (condoms, contraceptives, malaria treatments, etc.) are available for clients when they need them – even the most remote, rural health post. To complement JSI’s projects that physically ship a lot of the health products that are donated by the US government and Global Fund, many of the projects that I work with give advice to governments about how to manage those products once they arrive. We help them to strengthen all the systems needed to get health products to people, from the systems that capture logistics data to solutions to overcome transportation challenges, from building warehouses to building capacity by ensuring our in-country partners have the skills to manage the products and the systems.
You travel a lot, don’t you?
Well, not as much as some JSI staff, though I am about to get my third set of passport expansion pages since I last renewed my passport in 2008. I fly about once a month to Washington and make about three to four international trips a year. Last year alone I visited Geneva twice, once to Myanmar, and once to Addis Ababa, stopping in Israel on the way home to Boston.
Do you have a least favorite airport?
I rank my least favorite airports according to those that I’ve cried at — JFK, Mumbai, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At JFK I was making a connection to Liberia through Belgium. They literally closed the gate door in front of my face. I ended up spending the night in Queens (the hotel served cookies, so that was a benefit!), but ended up having to fly through Ghana, where I had to be personally escorted since I didn’t have the appropriate visa. I still have the pajamas I had to buy and they remind me of that awful trip to this day.
You travel so much, how do you relax?
Despite travelling so much, I am a huge homebody. To relax I really treasure being at home.