R4D announces new leadership for the Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator

April 15, 2021   |   Africa (regional)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Results for Development (R4D) today announced new leadership for the USAID-funded Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator (the Accelerator), which R4D leads. Nathan Blanchet, ScD, was selected as the new project director and Maria Francisco, MHS, a program director at R4D, will serve as the technical director of the Accelerator.

“After a competitive recruitment process that we opened to internal and external applicants, I am delighted to announce that Nathan will become the new permanent project director for the Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator,” said Gina Lagomarsino, R4D’ president and CEO. “I am also so pleased to announce that Maria will assume the permanent role of technical director for the program. I am very much looking forward to working closely with Nathan, Maria, and the entire team as the Accelerator continues to grow its work and impact with partners in several countries.”

Nathan Blanchet
Dr. Blanchet has served as the technical lead of the Accelerator, since the program was launched in 2018, and is a senior program director for R4D’s health practice.

Dr. Blanchet said: “I’m excited to take on this new role alongside our great Accelerator team and partners. We believe system strengthening is vital to improve health outcomes around the world, and also that the ‘how’ of strengthening needs to evolve. Countries’ leaders and institutions need to be at the center, sourcing ideas from local and regional experts as much as possible, and adapting strategies based on incoming evidence as the rule rather than the exception. We’re eager to deepen the great relationships we’re formed based on those principles, and to make new ones.”

Dr. Blanchet played a key role in designing the Accelerator as a leader in the 2018 BAA co-creation process and was a very strong technical director for the Accelerator for the first two and a half years of the program. He has significant experience in health systems strengthening, and his expertise has been greatly appreciated by USAID and partners. Nathan is familiar with the program’s successes to date and upcoming opportunities, and how the Accelerator strategically fits within R4D’s broader strategy, which will enable him to hit the ground running and continue to grow the program.

Maria Francisco
Ms. Francisco leads R4D’s “Integration of Priority Programs in Health Systems” portfolio, which focuses on key areas such as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), maternal and child health, rehabilitation and mental health, some of which are currently a focus of Accelerator programs. In December, Maria stepped in as interim Accelerator Technical Director.

Ms. Francisco said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of building resilient and equitable health systems that can weather such shocks, while maintaining the previous health gains made in ensuring high-quality and affordable services are accessible to everyone, especially for the most marginalized and vulnerable groups. That’s why I’m thrilled to join the Accelerator to support our country partners in navigating and working through these health system challenges. I look forward to continue building on the milestones the team has accomplished so far.”

She brings considerable expertise in health service delivery and health systems strengthening, and significant knowledge of USAID mission programming given her many years as a senior technical advisor in the Bureau for Global Health leading USAID’s global flagship programs for child health and immunization, as a senior health systems advisor to Missions in Kenya and Vietnam, and as a former Chief of Party and senior advisor on various USAID-funded projects. These skills and experiences and the alignment between Maria’s portfolio and the Accelerator’s current and potential future programs make her a great fit for the Technical Director role.


About Results for Development
Results for Development (R4D) is a leading non-profit global development partner. We collaborate with change agents around the world — government officials, civil society leaders and social innovators — to create strong systems that support healthy, educated people. We help our partners move from knowing their goal to knowing how to reach it. We combine global expertise in health, education and nutrition with analytic rigor, practical support for decision-making and implementation and access to peer problem-solving networks. Together with our partners, we build self-sustaining systems that serve everyone and deliver lasting results. Then we share what we learn so others can achieve results for development, too. For more information, visit our website at: www.r4d.org.

About the Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator
The Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator (Accelerator) is a global health system strengthening initiative, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with co-funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that supports local partners as they find their own pathways to meaningful and lasting health systems change. The program focuses on helping countries apply a systems lens to individual health systems functions, and disease-specific initiatives, to design and implement more integrated activities that lead to high-performing health systems and improved health outcomes. For more information, visit the program’s website at: www.accelerateHSS.org.

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