Adrianne Marinkovich

Adrianne Marinkovich has spent her career championing women’s and girls’ rights with an ever-present learning mindset. Believing that the work is never done and there is always a new and better way to inspire progress, Adrianne is an advocate of putting those we wish to impact at the heart of our work and providing time and space for reflection and failing forward. She began her professional journey as a nurse in the homeless shelters of Omaha and has since managed and developed programs in more than 25 countries globally working with the largest private donor of sexual and reproductive rights as well as the Founding Country Director of Willows International Tanzania.  Currently, the CEO of Ubuntu Strategies, a social impact consulting firm, she works to inspire solutions that drive sustainable change for governments, foundations, international non-governmental agencies, and social enterprises.

Adrianne has trained in Design Thinking at the Stanford University Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, has a Master’s degree in Public Health Policy and Administration from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Creighton University.

Dr. Placide Tapsoba

Placide Tapsoba, MD, MPH, lately served the Susan T. Buffett Foundation as the Regional Advisor for Francophone and West Africa. Prior to that he was the Country Director for the Population Council in Ghana and a Senior Associate for their Reproductive Health Program. Dr. Tapsoba is a Medical Doctor with public health training who has amassed considerable experience in Sub-Saharan Africa working with policy decision-makers, traditional and religious leaders, and communities in addressing sensitive public health issues including sexual and reproductive health and rights.



Dr. Karima Ladhani

Dr. Karima Ladhani is the Founder & CEO of Barakat Bundle, a non-profit that creates life-saving bundles for mothers and newborns in South Asia, and Giving Cradle, a social enterprise that creates safe, sustainable newborn products that give back. She is also the Assistant Director of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program, where she works with government ministers to support transformational human development. She currently serves on the board of Eco.Logic, a non-profit that inspires people to join the environmental movement. Karima followed a non-traditional path to her current roles, completing Bachelors degrees in Math and Business Administration from the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, followed by Master of Public Health and Doctor of Science degrees from Harvard University. She is committed to giving every mother and newborn an equal chance and is particularly passionate about human-centered design and ethical interventions for populations in need.

Lindsey Simmonds

Lindsey Simmonds has nearly 20 years of experience in international development focused on women’s issues, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. While living in Jordan, Simmonds focused on advancing women’s issues during her time working for the largest social development agency in the country. Later, she served as the Academic Director for an American study abroad program in Jordan and Syria. Most recently, Simmonds enjoyed 15 years working in philanthropy at the Buffett Foundation, where she oversaw tens of millions of dollars annually and designed programming for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programs in Africa. In addition to service delivery programs, Simmonds also created and led leadership and innovation programs for the global advancement of SRHR.

In 2020, Simmonds’ entrepreneurial spirit led her to transform her love of jigsaw puzzles from a hobby into an international business. Simmonds also established Intrepid Entrepreneurs with her co-founder. After nearly two decades in global development and SRHR, Simmonds is certain the talent to advance SRHR, equality, and employment exists among the youth and women of Africa.

Senam Beheton

With an education in law, political science, international development and instructional technology, Senam has a unique gift for proposing common sense solutions to positively transform communities, businesses and individuals. He is helping a generation of young African entrepreneurs build valuable and lasting businesses through programs addressing critical issues such skills gaps, funding, mentoring and networking. As an entrepreneur, he has founded or invested in over 35 companies/organizations in the past 20 years, most of them in the technology sector.

Senam is also Co-Founder of Noru Capital, a venture fund, Co-Founder of TEKXL, a startup studio that launched several companies with some successful exits, and the Founder of EtriLabs, an innovation lab with operations in Benin and 8 other African countries.

Senam graduated Summa Cum Laude with BAs in Political Science and French from the University of the District of Columbia. He holds a Master of Arts in International Development from American University and a Master of Education in Instructional Technology (Phi Kappa Phi Honors) from the University of Maryland University College.

Awa Sarr

With over 15 years of experience, Awa has extensive experience in Project Management and Process Improvement gained notably in world-leading financial institutions like RBC, Investors Group, Dexia, BNP Paribas, Société Générale or HSBC. She can also be credited with contributions to non-profit organizations supporting female entrepreneurs in Canada and economic development in Africa.

She is excellent at supporting small businesses and individuals, taking into account their personalities, their capacities, and the ecosystem in which they operate. The combination of her technical skills with her creativity and her sense of analysis is her gift.

Awa holds a Master of Arts with Honors in Sociology from the University of Paris North and a Master of Arts in Economy with specialization in International Development from the University Pierre Mendes France. She is also Green Belt Lean Six Sigma Certified from the Mc Gill University in Canada.

Sam Fandohan

Finance & Accounting Professional with over 15 years of experience (including ~ 10 years with Fortune 500 Companies), Sam has worked or led teams in over 15 countries (Across Africa, Europe, North & South America, Asia Pacific and India). He is a seasoned Finance and Compliance Leader with extensive experience in Controllership & Decision Support, Growth Strategy Development, Performance Measurement, Global Compliance & Risk Management, Resource Management, and Development.

Sam is a Talent Developer and Angel investor. He trains and supports startups on various financial aspects (Financial Planning, Startup Valuation & Equity Allocation, KPI’s establishment, Measurement, Operational Management, etc.) to help them get investment-ready.

Marie Ba

Since 2020, Marie Ba has served as the Director of the Ouagadougou Partnership (OP)  Coordination Unit and as a leading advocate and actor for women and families in the region. As  Director, Marie leads collaboration and coordination among the OP’s stakeholders, including the  Ministries of Health in the OP’s nine member countries, civil society organizations and other  implementing partners, and major international donors for reproductive health, which  collectively contribute over $150 million per year to advance reproductive health options and  outcomes in the region. Marie leads dialogue, advocacy, and activities between partners at the  global, regional, and country levels, and helps to align support to countries’ reproductive health  priorities defined by the Ministries of Health. Marie and her team are also especially passionate  advocates for youth involvement and leadership in countries’ and partners’ decision-making,  including on reproductive health policies and programs, and have provided training, employment,  and direct support for youth leaders in reproductive health. 

Marie Ba has worked in health and development in West and Central Africa for fifteen years  managing programs and projects for leading global philanthropies and international NGOs. She  has based her work from Washington, D.C. and from Senegal, focusing her attention first on  providing technical assistance to projects in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali,  Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, and more recently on efforts to improve lives of women and families  in the nine member countries of the Ouagadougou Partnership. Throughout her work, Marie has  concentrated on building partnerships between government, civil society, and philanthropic  actors, and has led development and implementation of crucial aspects of successful health  partnerships, including communications and advocacy strategies, financial planning and  management, and grants and contracts compliance, on top of field-leading program  management. 

Marie Ba holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social & Behavioral Sciences from the University of  Maryland-College Park and a Master’s Degree in International Development and Peace / Conflict  Resolution from the American University in Washington, D.C.

Medea Cesar Degbe

Médéa is the co-founder and a partner at Noru Capital. He also leads the Benin Business Angel Network, the first authorized seed investment organization in Benin, established in 2019 and focused on raising seed investments, ranging from $20,000 to $100,000, for startups. In recent years, in addition to its investment projects, Médéa has been involved in several leading startups in the country through strategic consulting, mentoring, and coaching.

Médéa has more than 15 years of experience in the telecommunications and media sectors. From 2015 to 2018, he managed the company Benin Telecom Services, a subsidiary of the historic telecommunications company of Benin. Before this experience, Médéa managed complex operations and projects at significant telecommunications and media companies in Canada.

Médéa is a graduate of École Polytechnique de Montréal, where he obtained a Bachelor’s and a Master of Science (M. Sc.) in Electrical Engineering. He also received a Master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Concordia University in Montreal.

Nènè Fofana-Cissé

Néné Fofana-Cissé is a professional, innovator, and passionate about public health and sustainable development. She is experienced in fundraising, strategy design, implementation, and evaluation of reproductive health programs. She is currently the head of the consulting and strategy firm Africa Forward and President of the Foundation ( of the same name intended to finance African civil society organizations dedicated to providing solutions to development problems with an emphasis on female leadership. She has worked in several regions of the world, notably in East Africa, Southern Africa, and Asia. Before her current position, she served as Regional Advisor for West Africa and Program Director. She has also served as Technical Officer at Population Services International, and Community Health Worker at Lead Safe DC, among other roles.

She defines herself as an activist for women’s health and rights and a strong supporter of “integrated programming in the service of women.” She holds a master’s degree in public health from George Washington University. She is fluent in Bambara, French, and English.