Meet the Team
Get to know us
The Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator is made possible by a variety of contributors, including generous mentors, an advisory board comprised of key partners, and a small core team.
Executive Director, Raising Teenagers Uganda
Nankunda is a Teacher and Counselor by profession with 14 years experience working closely with students in schools and parents in communities. She is the founder and Executive Director – Raising Teenagers- Uganda working to create safe spaces for young people with strong emphasis on Menstrual Hygiene Management for the vulnerable girl child as well as Guidance and Counseling services for young people in schools. She has been celebrated as a change maker focusing on her program of Menstrual Hygiene Management for Vulnerable Girls in schools and communities. Nankunda is a member of Girls Not Brides Global Partnership to End Child Marriage and Coordinates the Central Region in Uganda under Girls Not Brides Uganda Alliance working to end child marriage in Uganda with over 90 Organizations located in different parts of the country. Her main objective is to empower the girl child through advocating for their right to education and good health. She is a member of East Africa Child Rights Network working to protect the rights of Children as a mother, a mentor, a trainer and Human rights activist. She has engaged in various global and regional processes including speaking at the United Nations Commission on the status of women- CSW62 and CSW63 as she promotes the agenda of Keeping Girls in school and Ending Child Marriage as well as campaigning for Gender Equality at all levels. She is a member of the Language, Gender and Leadership Network that aims at enhancing the economic development and welfare of women and girls supporting their careers and aspirations to become a successful generation of Leaders in businesses and politics in Africa and beyond. Her work focuses on addressing Sustainable development Goal 4 – Quality Education and Goal 5 – Gender Equality. Education is the only weapon we can use to change this world and make it a better place and it must be for both girls and boys.
Rachel Braun Scherl
Co-Founder & Managing Partner, SPARK Solutions for Growth
Rachel Braun Scherl is a champion for women’s sexual reproductive health and a pioneer in the space. As Managing Partner and Co-Founder of SPARK Solutions for Growth, a strategic and marketing consultancy, Rachel has built an international client list that includes Johnson & Johnson, Allergan, Pfizer, Bayer, and Church & Dwight, as well as venture-backed start-ups. As a Vagipreneur®, Rachel drives growth with businesses from menstruation through menopause. While President and co-founder of Semprae Laboratories, Rachel and her team built a company that developed and marketed sexual health and wellness products for women – creating a new category. Semprae attracted significant media attention and industry interest and was sold to Innovus Pharmaceuticals in 2013. Rachel’s career-long findings and learnings are at the heart of her best- selling book: Orgasmic Leadership: Profiting from the Coming Surge in Women’s Health and Wellness. In addition, Rachel is a sought-after keynote speaker, board member and strategic advisor.
Founder/Trustee, Inua Dada Foundation
Janet Mbugua is a Kenyan Media Personality and Gender Equality Advocate with a focus on Menstrual Equality. She is a TV Host with experience as a News Anchor, Reporter and Producer both in her country, Kenya and in South Africa. Her experience in Broadcast has seen her cover the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 2007 and 2013 Kenya elections and the 2012 U.S Elections. Janet started out in Radio at the age of 19 on Nairobi’s Capital FM. Years later at 23, she became the host of the popular travel show Out and About on KTN and later became a Prime Time News Anchor and Reporter, still on KTN. Janet was then headhunted for the position of News Anchor, Reporter and Producer by e TV in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2009. She then returned to Kenya in 2011, where she joined Citizen TV as a Prime Time News Anchor, Reporter and Producer until April 2017. In 2019 curated and hosted a TV Show called Here And Now on NTV, which focused on socio-economic and political issues affecting young people. Janet is the founder of the Inua Dada Foundation, an organization whose mission is to create a supportive and accessible environment for primary school girls in Kenya by conducting research to identify issues that hinder learning and working collaboratively with strategic partners to implement sustainable solutions. With a focus on Menstrual Health Management (MHM), the organization has empowered more than 12,000 girls over the last few years and held various media and advocacy events that have reached thousands of people. The organization is moving towards being largely advocacy based and will be releasing a publication in 2019 to influence policy change and de-stigmatize conversations around MHM and SRH. In July 2017 she began consulting for The Hive, a US Based organization seeking to amplify Gender Equality messaging in Kenya and other African countries. She is the Project Lead for #Better4Kenya, their first campaign in Kenya. Some of her achievements include: Being named as one of the top three best News Anchors in Kenya by the Media Council of Kenya Brand Ambassador for the Lifebuoy Help A Child Reach 5 campaign, representing Kenya globally Recipient of the Top 40 Under 40 Award by Business Daily Africa, 2015 Being named one of the Top 25 Women In Digital Media in Kenya, in 2018 MC/ Moderator for the opening and closing ceremony of the International Conference On Planning and Development (ICPD25) Summit 2019 In 2020, Janet released her first book, ‘My First Time’, a collection of short stories from women, girls and men on their first interaction with menstruation. The book is a tool for a much needed conversation around sexual and reproductive health and rights and a tool to influence policy change around Menstrual Hygiene and Management.
Director R&D, Social Innovation at Johnson & Johnson
Michael has 25+ years of experience with Johnson & Johnson Consumer in Research, Development & Engineering for consumer health products in North America and Germany. In his current role his main focus is on social innovation, finding and incubating health related startup companies in sub-Saharan Africa. Michael holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Stuttgart, Germany.
CEO, Brazen Inc.
Kirsten Karchmer is CEO/Founder of Brazen and an innovator in precision medicine and digital therapeutics. She focuses on the software intersection of personalized plant based medicine, lifestyle wellness and bio-behavioral interventions for women’s health. She is an Integrative medicine practitioner and researcher with extensive experience in biomedical sciences, functional medicine, nutrition and digital health, mechanisms of mind-body healing and evidence-based phytotherapies. Kirsten has spent her entire adult career in the service of women’s health and has helped over 10,000 women over the last 20 years to improve their health, cycles, and fertility . In 2013, Kirsten translated her successful clinical programs into technology enabled platforms that provide an affordable and scalable fertility solution. Conceivable was named one of the most innovative health tech startups from MedTech in 2015, Best Fertility App by Healthline in 2016 and has been featured in TechCrunch, Fox News, The New York Observer, PSFK, The Daily Dot, and Huffington Post. Kirsten has presented at SXSW, Health 2.0, Fertility PlanIt, and lectures internationally on infertility, PCOS, endometriosis, women’s health, the future of integrative medicine, and using technology to better serve patients, providers, and healthcare systems. Kirsten has been recognized as one of the top female start-up founders to watch, the recipient of the Texas Trailblazer award for innovation in health care, and is a contributor to Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, and Goop Magazine. Follow Kirsten on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. She is also author of the book Seeing Red. Austin, TX
Country Director, Days for Girls Uganda
Diana is the Country Director & Co Founder of Days for Girls Uganda. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in management and attended the American Express Leadership Academy at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She is passionate about gender issues, and being part of the Days for Girls team has given her the opportunity to reach many women and girls in Uganda. Diana is married and blessed with 2 boys.
Founder & Executive Director, GBA Studios
Christopher Shaw is a content and music producer currently based in Tokyo. After graduating from Duke in ’08, he established himself in the music and advertising industries in Los Angeles, producing global Apple ad campaigns at agency Media Arts Lab/Chiat Day from 2010-2013. He has also produced music for the ESPN 30for30 film When the Garden Was Eden, and for brands like Adidas, winning two Cannes Gold Lions in 2016 for best brand partnership and best original music. In 2017, Chris founded creative collective GBA Studios, through which he continues to help shape the cultural and visual language of brands like Champion and Beats by Dre. In addition to branded work, GBA has released the music project Good for the Soul, and seeks to advance racial equity through its Present Company initiative.
Content Policy Lead, Netflix
Bolin is the content policy lead at Netflix. She provides high-touch legal and policy diagnoses for some of your favorite shows, e.g. 13 Reasons Why, Sex Education, Stranger Things, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Prior to Netflix, Bolin worked at YouTube as a Trust & Safety counselor, helping international creators navigate YT’s terms of service and community guidelines. Bolin holds a BA from Beijing Normal University, a MA from Duke, a JD from the University of Arizona, and an LL.M from Cardozo Law School. Bolin currently lives in Hollywood with her chihuahua Boba and a huge succulents collection. In her free time, Bolin draws manga, plays electronic music, practices yoga and meditation.
Taylor Conger is Managing Director of the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator, which works to identify, assess, develop, and scale the impact of sustainable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing children and youth around the world. Housed at Duke I&E and the Social Sciences Research Institute and in partnership with UNICEF, the Accelerator helps social innovators acquire the knowledge, tools, and networks they need to achieve maximum impact.
Prior to joining I&E, Taylor supported and advised hundreds of social entrepreneurs across the globe through her work as an independent consultant and leadership coach, and previously as Deputy Director at Echoing Green, a premier global social impact accelerator based in New York City. During her tenure at Echoing Green, Taylor helped to select and evaluate five classes of Fellows, built and led capacity-building programs for Fellows and alumni, and planned large-scale, global social innovation conferences. Before her work at Echoing Green, Taylor designed and managed a domestic fellowship program at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, which develops promising global citizens into nonprofit leaders. She has previously worked with globally-minded, socially driven MBAs as a manager at the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University, and in refugee resettlement at the International Rescue Committee in Northern California.
Additionally, Taylor serves on the Advisory Committee as an industry leader for the Program on Social Entrepreneurship at the Stanford University Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. She holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Marist College, a Master’s in Public Health and Forced Migration from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and a Master’s of Science in Social Work and Social Enterprise Administration, also from Columbia University.
Leah is Program Coordinator for the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator team. Before joining the DUIA team, Leah received her Master’s in Higher Education from NC State University and an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is passionate about creating novel solutions for those in need and is excited to join the DUIA Team! Outside of DUIA, Leah enjoys yoga, painting, and is a Succession fanatic.
WASH Innovation Consultant
Christian has been working in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector for the past 13 years and is passionate about scaling market-based approaches as a way to leverage new capabilities and resources to accelerate progress towards achieving universal water, sanitation and hygiene for all.
Currently based in Panama, he has previously worked overseas in South and South-East Asia, the Middle East and East Africa, including directly leading over $40m of WASH programs. As an advisor and consultant, he has supported a range of programs across Africa including most recently as the Itad team leader for a UNICEF ESARO project. As a WASH and Markets consultant, he developed programs including markets-based sanitation, urban sanitation and set-up a country program for a social-enterprise start-up in India. He also developed a new mobile water treatment system for emergencies which continues to be sold commercially.
Additionally, Christian is the WASH technical advisor to the HARP-Facility in Myanmar. He holds an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and a Master’s in Environmental Health Engineering both from the University of Surrey and is completing a Master of Business Administration from Warwick Business School. His thesis is looking at the use of third-degree price discrimination in water and sanitation tariffs as a means to increase equitability, affordability and revenue. He is hoping that this will lead to a part-time PhD next year.
Michael Gnilo is a WASH Specialist based in NYHQ and responsible for supporting UNICEF’s Sanitation and Hygiene programmes globally. He is the UNICEF program focal point for the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator, provides strategic support to the partnership, and facilitates country and regional engagement.
Michael started his career as a medical doctor and public health practitioner. He has an extensive background in development work and emergency response with experience spanning across multi-lateral organizations, NGOs, government and academia. He started his career in UNICEF in 2010 as a Nutrition in Emergencies officer setting up 14 outpatient centers and 2 hospitals to manage acute malnutrition. He has been working with UNICEF for11 years across the areas of WASH, Health, Nutrition and Communication for Development with a specific focus on systems building, private sector engagement, community mobilization, behavior change and social norms.
Michael grew up in a Los Angeles suburb but lived and worked in the Philippines for 20 years where he worked as an outbound educator and scuba master. He currently lives in the Bronx with his wife and 2 sons with most weekends spent at the Bronx Zoo, New York Botanical Gardens, Orchard beach or the monkey bars at the neighborhood park.
Prof. Paul Bloom
Social marketing expert Paul Bloom joined the CASE team after 22 years at UNC Kenan-Flagler, where he was a Professor of Marketing. Prior to Kenan-Flagler, Paul held posts at the University of Maryland and the Marketing Science Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in marketing from the Kellogg School of Northwestern University, an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.S. degree from Lehigh University.
Paul has had a long career researching how the field of marketing can contribute to societal welfare. He has examined how marketing thinking can help to design better consumer protection and antitrust policies and has also done considerable research on social marketing, which involves developing strategies to encourage people to engage in more socially-beneficial behaviors (e.g., healthier living). Throughout his career, Paul has encouraged research by business scholars on social issues, chairing well-received conferences on the consumer movement, marketing and public policy, corporate social initiatives, and corporate responses to the obesity crisis. Paul is the author or co-author of more than 100 published articles, papers, book chapters, and books; including Scaling Your Social Venture: Becoming an Impact Entrepreneur (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
Program Manager, Experiential Programs & Social Innovation
Katherine is responsible for assisting in the planning and management of educational and co-curricular undergraduate and graduate student programs in social innovation and social entrepreneurship at Duke I&E, including the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator. This includes providing coaching and support to student organizations and social impact ventures, leading Duke’s participation in the Clinton Global Initiative University program, helping lead Duke’s participation in the Ashoka U Changemaker Campus Consortium, planning and running both large and small-scale events, sourcing and cultivating community partner relationships, as well as managing and co-leading the DukeEngage Detroit summer program, which she co-founded.
Prior to joining the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, Katherine’s post-undergraduate career has included a variety of experiences, including marketing and event planning with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund in New York City, photography and aesthetic design for Niemann Capital, LLC, and ski instructing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. She began at Duke as a Development Assistant in the Major Gifts Office where and then served as the Program Manager for the Enterprising Leadership Initiative (a branch of the Hart Leadership Program) at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. During that time, Katherine managed three ELI initiatives: the ELI Summer Internship Program, “DukeEngage Boston”, the ELI Project Incubator, and ELI alumni initiatives.
Katherine is a native of Durham, N.C. She graduated from Elon University in 2009 with a BA in Strategic Communications and minors in both Political Science and Art. Katherine was also a Periclean Scholar and competed the Isabella Cannon Leadership Program. She received her Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University in 2018.