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 Global Institute of 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.

Danette O’Connell, MBA
Director of Finance and Administration


Andrew Thompson
Director of Program Development


Andy comes to HealthRight from EngenderHealth, where he served as deputy director for external relations and was responsible for managing key internal and external relationships, leading proposal development and overseeing a portfolio of high-potential donors. Previously, he worked at ICAP, Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, where he managed the design and scale-up of Pepfar-funded HIV prevention, care and treatment programs in Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania. His earlier work – at the OECD, Harvard School of Public Health and FHI360 – focused on operations research and economic analysis of health programs in lower and middle-income countries. He has lived in Brazil, France and Kenya, worked in over 30 countries and is a dual citizen of the USA and Ireland.

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.

Karin Johnson, MSW
Program Associate – Human Rights Clinic



Talia Markowitz, MPH
Program Associate – Human Rights Clinic


Talia completed her Masters in Public Health in Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University. Before graduate school, she worked for a number of years as an immigration paralegal in Boston, where she assisted hundreds of asylum seekers and other survivors of trauma in their immigration applications. Prior to joining HealthRight, Talia conducted research in Colombia with a mental health program serving internally displaced women, and, most recently, she worked as a research consultant in El Salvador on an evaluation assessing the child protection system and violence affecting children and adolescents.  She is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.

Natalie Browne, MPH
Staff Associate


Alexandra Bragg
Program Officer



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.