Peter Navario, PhD, MPH
Executive Director


Peter Navario is Executive Director at HealthRight International and Director of Global Health Strategy, Research Scientist, and Associate Research Professor at the College of Global Public Health at New York University. He was previously technical advisor at the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and a Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Navario has extensive field experience, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where he has worked on health system capacity building initiatives in more than 15 countries. He holds a PhD in Health Economics from the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town, and an MPH in Global Health from the School of Public Health at Yale University.

danetteDanette O’Connell, MBA
Director of Finance and Administration


Danette O’Connell is the Director of Finance and Administration for HealthRight International, a global health NGO dedicated to empowering marginalized communities to live healthier lives. She oversees the organization’s finance, budgeting, operations, human resources, administration, and information technology.

Prior to joining HealthRight, Ms. O’Connell worked as the Director of Finance and Operations at the Rodel Foundation of Delaware. In this role, Danette worked with a number of nonprofits the Rodel Foundation funded to help them start, grow, and become more efficient by increasing each organization’s revenue and operational efficiency, improving budgeting, and creating processes and procedures for compliance. Before the Rodel Foundation, Ms. O’Connell led a start-up technology company, Grok Technology, where she oversaw the creation of a nationwide wireless network and managed a team of 20 employees. Ms. O’Connell brings more than twenty years of experience leading nonprofit and for-profit organizations through successful launches and rapid growth, including eight years of experience overseeing finance and administration for nonprofit organizations.

Ms. O’Connell holds a Master of Business Administration in International Business, a Bachelor of Business Administration, and an Associate’s Degree in Computer Information Management.  In addition to her work, she organizes regular Nonprofit Executive Director Roundtable meetings in New York and volunteers as a fundraiser for international, educational, and humanitarian programs.


Castillo_photo (2)Theresa Castillo, EDD MA CHES
Program Director – Women and Children’s Health


Theresa P. Castillo has been working globally in the fields of gender, social justice, and health equity for nearly 20 years. Her expertise includes cultural rights, adolescent health, sexual & reproductive health, violence prevention, and community development among vulnerable populations. Working throughout Asia, Africa, and North America, she has collaborated with various non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, and Ministries of Health to build local capacity and to strengthen public health systems. Her career has focused on immigrant, refugee, and indigenous women and girls’ health issues. Dr. Castillo has served on several health equity committees, peer-review journals, and presented globally, with publications on gender integration and health disparities. Early in her career, she served as a Maternal Health Specialist in Turkmenistan, Morocco, and Mali with the US Peace Corps. She holds a master’s and doctoral degree in Public Health Education from Columbia University.

LP headshotLauren Pesso, LMSW, MPA
Program Director – Human Rights Clinic


Lauren Pesso has worked for over a decade to address the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad. She is the Director of HealthRight International’s Human Rights Clinic, which provides forensic and case management services to immigrants in the U.S. fleeing torture and other severe human rights abuses. Directly prior to this post, she developed and oversaw the expansion of an anti-human trafficking program in New York, and has coordinated gender-based violence research studies and a variety of maternal and reproductive healthcare programs in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. She holds a Masters of Social Work (MSW) and a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from Columbia University.


Sally Guttmacher, PHD
Senior Technical Advisor for Women and Children’s Health


Dr. Sally Guttmacher is a Professor of Public Health at NYU and a Senior Technical Advisor for HealthRight International.  Her primary research focus is on the rights of migrants and on reproductive health rights. She has been working in Cape Town, South Africa for about 20 year


karinKarin Johnson, LMSW
Program Associate – Human Rights Clinic


Karin Johnson works with the Human Rights Clinic and coordinates evaluations in our sites across the country outside New York and supervises the ASSIST case management program. Karin started her career in refugee resettlement and has stayed committed to immigration, education, and community development issues. She has worked in adult training, higher education, microfinance, and mental health advocacy in both the U.S. and abroad, primarily in South Asia. Karin holds a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from Columbia University and received her BA at the College of Wooster. She is a certified field instructor for MSW interns that are hosted at HealthRight.


Talia Markowitz, MPH
Program Associate – Human Rights Clinic


Talia coordinates Human Rights Clinic operations in the New York metro area, the program’s largest site. She cemented her passion for serving vulnerable migrant populations while working for several years as an immigration paralegal, where she assisted hundreds of asylum seekers and other survivors of trauma in their immigration applications. She has conducted research in multiple Latin American countries, including with a psychosocial program for internally displaced women in Colombia, and, most recently, with a nationwide child protection initiative in El Salvador. Talia obtained her BA in Government from Skidmore College and her MPH in Forced Migration and Health from Columbia University. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. 

alex-bragg-headshotAlex Bragg
Program Officer


Alex Bragg joined HealthRight International in 2015 as the Intern Coordinator for the Last Mile Populations Lab and later transitioned to Program Officer in 2016. She works closely with the Program Director of Women and Children’s Health to develop grant proposals and support programs focused on the health of four priority populations: LGBTI, women and children, at-­risk adolescents, and migrants.Previously, she was a research assistant at Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity and New York University Langone Medical Center in the Department of Population Health, where her research focused on obesity and health disparities. Alex holds a BS in Community Health from the University of North Florida, where she played on the varsity NCAA Division I soccer team. She will receive her MPH in Global Health at the College of Global Public Health at New York University in May 2017.

natalie-browneNatalie Browne, MPH
Staff Associate


Natalie Browne is the new Staff Associate at HealthRight International. Prior to joining the HealthRight team, she worked as the Operations and Strategy Manager  at Emerging Leaders in Technology and Engineering (ELiTE), an NYC- based nonprofit that provides STEM and computer science education to underserved communities. In this role, she supported the development and fundraising initiatives for the organization and provided oversight to the organization’s team of college volunteers. Natalie is also a recent graduate of the College of Global Public Health at NYU where she received an MPH in Community and International Health and holds a BA in Psychology with a minor in Biology and Public Health from Boston University. 


Field Leadership

photo K'OumaDr. K’Ouma Thomas Matete, MD
Project Director – Kenya


Dr. K’Ouma Thomas Odhiambo Matete received his medical degree from University of Nairobi in 2004. Before joining HealthRight, Dr. Matete gained 9 years of experience implementing health programs for marginalized populations in Kenya and Sudan. He has held previous senior management positions with the Millenium Villages Project Kenya and the Malaria Consortium South Sudan. Dr. Matete has been working as Kenya’s Project Director since 2013 implementing maternal and child health programs.

Halyna Skipalska PortraitHalyna Skipalska, MA
Country Director – Ukraine


Halyna Skipalska is HealthRight Country Director for Ukraine and the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Foundation for Public Health. She has 13 years of experience working in non-governmental organizations in Ukraine, with a focus on prevention of HIV/AIDS and provision of care for vulnerable women and girls. Prior to assuming the role of Country Director in 2009, she coordinated HealthRight’s USAID-funded MAMA+ Project, preventing abandonment of children born to HIV-positive women. Ms. Skipalska graduated with honors from the Lviv National State University named for Ivan Franko, and completed post-graduate work at the Lviv State Institute of Information Infrastructure, teaching at the Lviv Polytechnica National University. Ms Skipalska held fellowships with the Austrian and Swedish governments, and with UNESCO at the Technical Institute in Bielsko-Biala, Poland.


Hari Rana, MPH
Country Coordinator, Nepal


Hari Rana is HealthRight Country Coordinator for HealthRight Nepal.  He has a Master in Public Health (MPH) from Adventist University of Philippines, Silang, Cavite, Philippines and has worked in public health programs since 1996, developing, managing, and evaluating projects in different district of Nepal. Mr. Rana worked with Save the Children for twelve years in several management positions.  Under HealthRight’s Partnership for Maternal and Newborn Health, he provided technical assistance to HealthRights’ partner NGO MIRA in operations research for the health facility management strengthening and maternal and newborn care quality improvement programs. Mr. Rana currently leads HealthRight’s World Health Organization-supported neonatal near miss review project in Arghakhanchi, Nepal.