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Development Team

Helping Three Rural Communities in Ecuador

Meet Our Project Team

The Development Team is the functional foundation of the Healthy Living Initiative. Team members are of interdisciplinary backgrounds in international studies, biomedical studies, communication studies and other majors. The diversity of the team members’ backgrounds and experience has made the initiative more comprehensive and efficient. Based on a weekly meeting, Team members meet each week to share their ideas and the tasks they have worked on. 


Dr. Mario J. Grijalva  is the Director and founder of the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute at Ohio University. Since 1992, he has continued his research of Chagas disease in Ecuador and created infrastructure and collaborations with local professionals. Despite the ample amount of information  generated from these years of investigation, the living conditions of the people affected by Chagas disease in these areas has changed little in the past decade. Due to the hard work and dedication of a group of Ecuadorian scientists, Dr. Grijalva has been able to convince the government organizations in the area to support this initiative. Its aims and purpose are recognized both nationally and internationally, which adds to the value of the project. 

Esteban Baus

Project coordinator for the Center for Infectious Disease Research at Catholic University of Ecuador. He supervises all of project activities in country and coordinates with the Development Team and project director at Ohio University.

Lori Lammert

Lori Lammert is the  Operations Director at ITDI. She received both her  Bachelors and Masters  degrees at Ohio University and moved on to supporting study abroad and off-campus programs in the Office of Global Opportunities. In her role, Lori facilitates and provides support for all the activities of ITDI and other OHIO units related to the Center for Research on Health in Latin America (CISeAL), PUCE and Ecuador. Additionally,she manages multiple activities, ranging from research and grant support, logistics, finances and supporting the collaborative work of teams at both OHIO and CISeAL.

Eric R Williams 

Eric is a professor in the J.W. McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies, and director of Scripps College MFA in Communication and Media Arts program. He specializes in documentary production and cinematic virtual reality. As a member of the ITDI team, Eric is the media production coordinator for ITDI. He is also a founding member of the Immersive Media Initiative which facilitates technology and active learning opportunities between students, faculty and external partners. 

Saumya Pant

Saumya is a professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies in the Scripps College of Communication and the interim Director of the Communication and Development Studies program. Dr. Pant is an activists, mother and woman who loves to teach and engage with students for social change, gender development and the use of technology and social media for community mobilization. Saumya Pant is involved in the design and implementation of HLI crowdfunding campaign and is eager to serve the communities of Ecuador by facilitating healthy and safe living conditions at the grassroots level. 

Neketa Abiola Elizabeth Forde

Neketa, from Guyana, is currently pursuing a MFA in Communications Media Arts at Ohio University. As a storytelling major, Neketa assists ITDI and CISeAL by creating mini- documentaries and other promotional materials that highlight the multidisciplinary nature of their efforts in Ecuador to combat Infectious Tropical Diseases. Additionally, Neketa supervises OU students in creating promotional materials that focus exclusively on the Healthy Living Initiative project. 

María José Carrasco

Majo is an architect from Quito, Ecuador. She received her bachelors degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador and graduated with a Masters in International studies from Ohio University.  For the last five years she has been working with the Research Center for Chronic and Infectious Diseases (now CISeAL), focused in the architecture component and working mainly in Loja province. She currently works as the HLI Assistant.

Ángela Méndez

Ángela María Méndez is from Bogotá, Colombia. She is currently a second year graduate student in the M.A Communications and Development Studies program at Ohio University.  she has previously worked with the United Nations Agency for Refugees - UNHCR  in Colombia, as Program Assistant, where she gathered strong experience in the formulation, execution and control of social projects aimed to Afro-descendant and indigenous population, victims of Colombian armed conflict.

Ana Carolina León

Ana is a Biologist from Quito, Ecuador. She did her undergraduate at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador and is a first year graduate student in International Development Studies at Ohio University. She has always been interested in environmental and social well-being; for this reason, she has worked with organizations whose objectives are primarily focused on the latter. She worked for about a year at the Center for Research on Health in Latin America which is the partner institution in Ecuador of the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute (ITDI), where she is currently working.

Anita G. Villacís Salazar

 Anita is a PhD candidate in the Molecular and Cellular Biology program at Ohio University under Dr. Grijalva’s mentorship.She has  been a part of the Medical Entomology Unit of the Center for Research on Health in Latin America (CISeAL) and Pontifical Catholic University in Quito since 2003. she received 2 bachelors degrees as well as a masters degree in Ecuador and her reserach focus is to investigate the behavior, ecology, phenotypic variability and genetic diversity of triatomines (insect that transmits Chagas Disease). She also works in prevention and community education campaigns related to Chagas Disease in Ecuador. 

Darwin Guerrero

He is the Health Living Initiative's technical facilitator and is stationed in Cariamanga, Ecuador. He is in charge of  implementation of activities in the terrain and the relations with the community and local partners.

Benjamin Bates 

Benjamin Bates is a professor of Communication Studies at Ohio University, with affiliate appointments in the Center for International Studies and the Department of Social Medicine. He received his bachelors degree from the University of Richmond and Masters and Doctoral degrees from the University of Georgia. For the past five years, Bates has been working with the HLI  to develop better messages to encourage community members to participate in the project and to better tell the stories of community members to external stakeholders. 

Laeeq Khan

Laeeq is a professor in the Scripps College of Communication. He is also the founding Director of the Social Media Analytics Research Team (SMART) lab at Ohio University. Laeeq has expertise in media effects, digital engagement and branding. As a member of the ITDI team, Dr. Khan ensures audience engagement with ITDI content through the use of strategic social media messaging for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube. He also contributes to research projects centered on Chagas awareness using data analytics techniques which are employed in monitoring and evaluating the success of ITDI campaigns. Laeeq Khan is also involved in the design, conceptualization and implementation of HLI crowdfunding campaigns.

Carolina Herrera

Carolina earned her bachelor's degree in Communication Studies from the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. She is currently working in Communications at the Center for Research on Health in Latin America (CISeAL). As part of her participation in the project, Carolina supports the implementation of the crowdfunding campaign in Ecuador, in collaboration with PUCE and other national actors.

Patricia Mora

 Patricia is from Loja-Ecuador. She is a PhD candidate studying Translational Biomedical Sciences at Ohio University. She recieved a BSc in Biology from the Catholic University in Ecuador and a MsC in Molecular Biology from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel from Belgium.  Her research focuses on the transmission of the Chagas parasite to humans, epidemiology of the vector and inclusion of the affected communities with a multidisciplinary approach. 

Luis Enrique Mendoza

Luis is a second year graduate student at Ohio University in the Latin American Studies program. He graduated in Law and in Philosophy from Pontifical University Catholic of Peru (PUCP). He has  experience in teaching, research and field work. His interests are centered on the rights of indigenous people of Latin America and has worked as a freelance journalist, cultural manager and as an editor for literature books. 

Andrea Padilla

Andrea was born in Quito, Ecuador and earned her bachelor's degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.  She is a first-year student of the Master’s Program in Latin American Studies. Before moving to Athens, Andrea worked as a Programs Assistant at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) in Quito, which gave her professional experience in the field of migration and humanitarianism. 

Frederica Jackson

Frederica is a first year Master in Public Health (MPH) student from Ghana. She completed her bachelors degree in Spanish and recieved an MA in International studies at OU.  She has 3 years of experience teaching languages. After particpating in a one-year study abroad in Seville, Spain, Frederica started her second graduate degree in Public Health and hopes to do more research in Spanish speaking countries specifically on Reproductive Health.

Tanveer Ahmed Khan

Tanveer is a graduate student in  Communications and Development Studies program  from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Mass Communication and Journalism and has worked with UK and US-based development organizations as a communication professional. He has expertise in health communication and advocacy strategy development. He has also worked with research organisations that conducts epidemiological studies focusing on both communicable and non-communicable diseases in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, University of British Columbia, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine among others. 

Alex Penrose

Alex is a senior Integrated Media undergraduate student within the Media Arts and Studies program at Ohio University. He has a PACE work study position on ITDI’s media team. His roles include archiving the library of previous ITDI media projects, developing the “Game Changers” series, and producing various media projects that reflect the work of the Institute. Media projects such as the Game Changers series seek to inform the public about the important work happening at the ITDI and raise public awareness for that work.

Past Members of the Development Team

Thanks for Your Contribution to the Project

Claudia Nieto

Claudia is a graduate of Ohio University's  Communication and Development Studies program and African Community Health.During her time at ITDI, She  coordinated the Development Team and supported community interventions in Ecuador. She also designed a research project on introducing "Healthy Houses" in the communities of Chaquizca, Bella Maria and Guara.  

Zachary Lawless

Zach completed his graduate studies  in Ohio University's International Development Studies Department. He worked on the Healthy Living Initiative developing grant proposals to fund the program's projects in Ecuador. 

Adesola Olulayo Ogundimu

Adesola is an alumni of the Information and Telecommunication Systems program at Ohio University. Her work with the Healthy Living Initiative's Development Team included transcribing the institute’s video documentation  as well as web content development for the Healthy Living Initiative Graduate Student Research Experience. 

Conor Tong

Cornor is a graduate of the International development studies program at Ohio University. 

Carolina Proaño Castro, M.A.  (2010 - 2011) graduated from Ohio University's Communication and Development Studies program. During her time at ITDI, she worked on the Healthy Living Initiative as a volunteer project coordinator.  

Josh Vetter  (2011 - 2012) completed hois graduate studies in International Development Studies program. At ITDI, he worked on proposal writing and data analysis. 

Hoang Nguyen  is an alumni of Communication and Development Studies program. Her work with the Healthy Living project involved social networking, developing website content and organizing fundraising events.

Carolina Novella  (2009 - 2011)

Liliana Acevedo Callejas  (2011) is a graduate of communication and development studies. She worked with the Healthy Living project on collecting stories from the community's elders, aiming to do participatory community mapping.

Chikondi Khangamwa

Chikondi graduated from Ohio University's Communication and Development Studies program. He has more than 10 years experience working for international nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).During his time at ITDI, Chikondi worked on branding and message development for the Healthy Living project. 

Santina Da Cruz

Satina is an alumni of OU's Communication and Development Studies program and African Community Health.Her work at ITDI was mostly focused on developing message briefs and organizing fund-raising activities. 

Leigh Oczkowski

Leigh completed her graduate studies in Latin American Studies at OU. During her time at ITDI, she worked as the Healthy Living Initiative's Latin American Studies representative and organized fundraising events for the program.

Gloria Dikun Taban Thomas 

Gloria is a alumni of Ohio university Center for International studies. She is an environmentalist with 5-years work experience with the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), South Sudan program. Gloria worked under Food Security and Livelihoods program, as Natural Resource Management/ Geographic Information Systems Officer with NPA South Sudan. 

Katie Schlaudt  is a graduate of the International development and African community health program. Her work with the Healthy Living project involved creating a website.

Luis Rejano M.A.  (2010 - 2011) graduated with a master's in international affairs at OU. During his time at ITDI, he worked on the Healthy Living Initiative coordinating the development team in Loja province, Ecuador.

Monica Thuney  (2011 - 2012) graduated with a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies. Her work with the Healthy Living project involved housing analysis and the Healthy Living Initiative Housing Report. This report was used in 2012 in building and improving houses in Chaquizca, Ecuador.

Mary Bumpus  (2010 - 2011)

Gonzalo Perez  (2009 - 2011)