Alumni Network

The Alumni Network connects more than 1,400 foundation alumni to our current work, our staff, and each other. Our alumni go on to do extraordinary things!

Our alums are everywhere

With members checking in from nearly every continent, our alumni span the globe.

Alumni Network Advisory Board

Members of our Alumni Network Advisory Board reflect the diversity of career paths our alumni have taken since their time at the foundation (dates listed in parentheses). See their most recent role at the foundation and where they are now.

Karoline Vass (2014-present)

Now: Interim Deputy Director, Executive & Employee Communications, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Karoline joined the foundation in 2014 as a senior communications officer in the Communications Division and currently serves as interim deputy director for executive and employee communications in the office of the CEO. Before joining the foundation, she served as managing director of the Seattle branch of the American Institute of Architects and as the marketing and business development lead for several built-environment firms in the Seattle area. She also spent eight years as a trip director, travel writer, and translator for Rick Steves’ Europe. Across all her roles, Karoline’s focus has been on communications, with an emphasis on leadership voice, strategic planning, and business development. She has an MBA (technology management) and M.M. (music) from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in international relations from Harvard Extension School. Karoline was born and raised in Germany and has lived and worked in France and Switzerland. She speaks fluent German and bad French.

 

Josh Jarrett (2006–2013)

Then: Deputy Director, Postsecondary Success, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Executive Chair, SkillUp Coalition

Josh is the executive chair of the SkillUp Coalition, which is dedicated to helping workers affected by COVID-19 find work in high-growth industries. Earlier, he co-founded and served as the chief university officer for InStride, where he oversaw the company’s educational product offering and the consortium of InStride university partners. Earlier, he co-founded and served as chief product officer for Koru, where he developed industry-leading predictive hiring solutions for Fortune 500 clients, including Citigroup, Oracle, and Barclays. Earlier in his career, Josh served as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, product manager at Enkata Technologies, and consultant for the National Park Service.

 

Stefanie Sanford (2002-2013)

Then: Director of Policy and Advocacy, US Programs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Chief of Global Policy and External Relations, The College Board

Stefanie oversees the College Board’s Communications and Marketing, Policy, and Government Relations departments and its strategic funder relationships. Before joining the Gates Foundation, where she led the foundation's policy, advocacy, and government relations activities in North America, she held policy roles in both Republican and Democratic offices at the state level and was a White House Fellow in the Office of Cabinet Affairs. She serves on the board of America’s Promise Alliance and is a trustee of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. A native Texan, Stefanie holds a B.S. from Texas Christian University, an MPA from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. She is the author of Civic Life in the Information Age: Politics, Technology, and Generation X.

 

Rebecca Sears (1999-2003)

Then: Senior Networking Specialist, US Library Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Assistant Director, Technology and Social Change Group (TASCHA), University of Washington Information School

Rebecca provides leadership and subject expertise at TASCHA on issues ranging from digital development to global libraries, information polity, and digital ethics. Earlier, she led consumer protection public outreach and education for the Washington State Office of the Attorney General and provided management consulting for a professional services firm. She holds an MPA from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance.

 

Sema K. Sgaier, PhD (2008-2015)

Then: Senior Program Officer, Avahan (HIV prevention in India); Initiative Lead and Senior Program Officer, Global Male Circumcision Initiative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Co-Founder & Executive Director, Surgo Ventures

Sema co-founded and leads Surgo Ventures, a nonprofit that applies behavioral science, data science, and artificial intelligence to solve health and social problems. She is also an adjunct assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Before joining the Gates Foundation, she was a scholar at Harvard Medical School and a fellow at the Centre for Global Health Research. Sema has led several large-scale programs and research and evaluation projects and has worked with governments in India and Africa on public health policy and large-scale delivery. She received a Ph.D. in genetics from New York University, an M.A. in neuroscience from Brown University, and a B.Sc. in molecular biology and genetics from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey. She is passionate about cross-fertilizing approaches and lessons between disciplines to solve global health problems.

Amy Adelberger (2006-2012)

Then: Program Officer, Tuberculosis, Global Health
Now: Founder and CEO, Global Impact Advisors

Amy founded and leads Global Impact Advisors, a boutique strategy and evaluation advisory firm through which she has advised foundations, nonprofits, and universities on achieving their program outcomes and enhancing their impact. In addition to leading all aspects of the consulting business, she has extensive experience in implementing multi-stakeholder partnerships in which donors, government agencies, and implementing organizations collaborate to achieve desired outcomes. She also works with organizations to evaluate their strategies and enhance their organizational effectiveness. She is passionate about health and the environment, and she enjoys exploring the Bay Area with her husband and three young kids.

 

Liane Fernyhough (2007-2012)

Then: Program Assistant, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Family Nurse Practitioner, ZOOM+Care

Liane is a passionate and caring primary care provider on the front lines of health care. She works as a family nurse practitioner at ZOOM+Care and was previously in the same role at a health clinic run by Valley Medical Center in Renton, Washington, where she provided care to a wide range of patients, including many refugees and underserved groups. Her focus on the Alumni Network Advisory Board is to help represent those who worked in operations and support roles at the foundation.

 

Murad Habibi (2011-2015)

Then: Business Analyst, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Digital Product Manager, Unify Consulting

 

Murad is energized by intellectually independent people and by environments with a bias toward action. His most recent work has been as a senior product owner at Costco Travel and as a consultant at Revel, a human-centered design business management consulting firm in Seattle. Before joining the foundation, he worked as a user experience consultant at Accenture. His interests include reading, traveling, design, and technology.

 

Annemarie Hou (2000-2003)

Then: Global Health Communications Manager, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Executive Office of the Secretary-General, United Nations

Annemarie is the acting executive director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships and the senior communications adviser in the UN’s Office of the Secretary-General, where she focuses on advocacy and strategic communications for sustainable development. Previously, she served as chief of staff and director of the executive office of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), where she was responsible for positioning HIV and development issues in the global landscape and advancing UNAIDS’ vision and strategies. Before joining UNAIDS, Annemarie worked in the philanthropic field. She was the communications director at Casey Family Programs, a foundation dedicated to child welfare issues. Annemarie started her career as a television journalist.

 

Julie Jensen (2013-2017)

Then: Director Human Resources, Business Partner Team, Bill & Melinda Dates Foundation
Now: Independent consultant focusing on leadership and team effectiveness

Since retiring from full-time work, Julie has used her passion for helping individuals and teams work at their highest potential in her consulting practice. With more than 25 years of experience in a variety of strategic HR roles, her practice focuses on aligning an organization’s strategy and objectives with its organizational structure, governance processes, and people practices. Julie’s expertise includes organizational design, leadership development and coaching, team effectiveness, conflict resolution, and diversity and inclusion. Julie has an MBA and a B.A. in economics, both from the University of California, Davis.

 

Tjada D'Oyen McKenna (2006-2010)

Then: Senior Program Officer, Agricultural Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Corps

Before joining Mercy Corps as its CEO, Tjada was the COO of CARE, where she oversaw CARE's operations in more than 90 countries and worked hand-in-hand with CEO Michelle Nunn and others to scale CARE’s fight against poverty and social injustice. Earlier, Tjada spent three years at another Atlanta-based global nonprofit, Habitat for Humanity. In 2010, she joined the Obama Administration, where she oversaw the U.S. government’s signature food security initiative, Feed the Future. Tjada has a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She and her husband, Joe, have two young sons and live in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Jaime Najarro (2017 Summer Intern)

Then: MBA intern, Washington State team, U.S. Programs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Consultant, The Bridgespan Group

Born and raised in Honduras, Jaime moved to San Francisco to pursue higher education. After attending community college, he transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, to study political economy. Post-college, Jaime worked as an educator while volunteering at a college access nonprofit. He then moved on to Oakland Unified School District to work on the implementation of a professional development system for teachers and principals. Jaime is pursuing an MBA in operations and management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MPA at Princeton University. Passionate about education and workforce development, Jaime interned for the Washington State team at the Gates Foundation in 2017. He also consulted for an education technology company based in Mexico City that focuses on closing the skills gap through blended learning.

 

Nisha Patel (2008-2011)

Then: Program Officer, US Special Initiatives & Postsecondary Success, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Independent consultant; Senior Fellow, Social Policy Institute, Washington University in St. Louis

Based in Washington, D.C., Nisha is an independent consultant and frequent public speaker with more than two decades of cross-sector experience leading and implementing initiatives to build community-centered economic opportunity in the U.S. She is also a senior fellow at the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis and serves on the Fannie Mae Sustainable Communities Initiative Advisory Board. Before launching her consulting practice, Nisha held senior leadership positions as a managing director at Robin Hood, executive director of the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty at the Urban Institute, director of the Office of Family Assistance during the Obama Administration, and deputy director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and holds an MSW from Washington University in St. Louis.

 

Kanwarjit Singh, M.D. (2007-2010)

Then: Senior Program Officer, Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Head, Global Medical Affairs, Immuno-Oncology, Sanofi Genzyme

KJ, a physician and biopharmaceutical executive, has a keen interest in paradigm-changing innovations in immuno-oncology and their impact on cancer drug development and patient outcomes. He is currently the head of global medical affairs, immuno-oncology, at Sanofi Genzyme in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Earlier, he was with Pfizer Oncology in New York (oncology medical affairs lead), Johnson & Johnson (VP, medical affairs, Asia Pacific), and ASP in California (CMO). He also led commercial and medical teams at Amgen and Bayer and worked as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company. KJ is a native of the Punjab, India, and an alumnus of Columbia University (M.D.), MIT (MBA), Oxford (M.Phil. economics, B.A. philosophy, politics, and economics), and St. Stephen’s College, Delhi (B.S., physics).

 

Zander Woollcombe (2012-2016)

Then: Senior Program Officer, Global Policy and Advocacy, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Now: Zander Woollcombe Consulting

Growing up, Zander moved 32 times in eight years across the U.S., USSR, Central America, and Europe with his parents’ musical, Peace Child (more here). He rebelled against this by working for the Conservative Party in the European Union, when that was a thing Brits did. He is passionate about bringing together unusual partnerships that use creativity and politics to create change.