The GESS Team

Click on their Names or photos to view BIOS

Akuja Mading de Garang
Akuja is a conflict management, humanitarian and development expert with project management experience in fragile states. She has lived/worked in Khartoum, Cairo, Bristol, London, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Nairobi, Rumbek and Juba.

Born in South Sudan, Akuja de Garang was just eight years old when the war forced her family, like many others, to flee South Sudan. Her family’s exodus ultimately took Akuja to Khartoum, Cairo and the UK.

Akuja returned to South Sudan in 2004, with a yearning to help support the rebuilding of her country of and worked for, among others, UNICEF and with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, working on issues such as child protection, human rights, youth participation, governance, gender, health, peace bundling and conflict management, livelihoods, public sector reform and education.

In 2014 Akuja joined the Girls’ Education South Sudan programme where she now leads a team of about 300 national and international professionals working nationwide to remove barriers to girls’ education in the country and help change the future of a generation of children in South Sudan. She has oversight over programme funding of 60 million Britsh Pounds.

In her off time, Akuja works to research , document, promote and preserve South Sudanese cultural heritage and has set up a local NGO, PACH toward that objective. She also volunteers and supports a number of initiatives including the Juba Orphanage and Confident Children out of Conflict

She’s fluent in Dinka (admits her Nuer needs some work) Juba Arabic, English; basic Kiswahili and currently studying French.

Akuja has a BA in African Studies and holds a MSc in Violence, Conflict & Development both from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

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Akuja Mading de Garang

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Akuja is a conflict management, humanitarian and development expert with project management experience in fragile states. She has lived/worked in Khartoum, Cairo, Bristol, London, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Nairobi, Rumbek and Juba.

Born in South Sudan, Akuja de Garang was just eight years old when the war forced her family, like many others, to flee South Sudan. Her family's exodus ultimately took Akuja to Khartoum, Cairo and the UK.

Akuja returned to South Sudan in 2004, with a yearning to help support the rebuilding of her country of and worked for, among others, UNICEF and with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, working on issues such as child protection, human rights, youth participation, governance, gender, health, peace bundling and conflict management, livelihoods, public sector reform and education.

In 2014 Akuja joined the Girls' Education South Sudan programme where she now leads a team of about 300 national and international professionals working nationwide to remove barriers to girls’ education in the country and help change the future of a generation of children in South Sudan. She has oversight over programme funding of 60 million Britsh Pounds.

In her off time, Akuja works to research , document, promote and preserve South Sudanese cultural heritage and has set up a local NGO, PACH toward that objective. She also volunteers and supports a number of initiatives including the Juba Orphanage and Confident Children out of Conflict

She's fluent in Dinka (admits her Nuer needs some work) Juba Arabic, English; basic Kiswahili and currently studying French.

Akuja has a BA in African Studies and holds a MSc in Violence, Conflict & Development both from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

 Wim Groenendijk

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Wim Groenendijk

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Wim Groenendijk is the GESS Deputy Team-leader and also monitors and the programme's relations with State Anchors – GESS’s implementing NGOs in the States and Counties.

He travels to all States and Counties in South Sudan to monitor the efforts, progress and enthusiasm of the school communities (parents, pupils, teachers, and school management committees) then disseminates that through the GESS programme. In this work, Wim like few others focuses especially on the implementation of GESS in the conflict affected States; Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity.

Wim has been working in South Sudan for more that 16 years in various rehabilitation and community development programmes with a number of different NGOs such as ZOA Refugee Care.

Wim says "To see parents re-build their own schools after conflict", like he observed in the Malakal PoC, "motivates me to continue this work with GESS".

Wim hold a M.Sc degree in Sociology of Rural Development from Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

 Larry Duffee

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Larry Duffee

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Larry Duffee has been working in South Sudan since May, 2010 when he began service as a missionary to the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan in Juba. Larry worked for the ECSSS for three years helping the Church on issues of finance and administration and strengthening relations with its partners around the world. Through his work with the ECSSS, Larry traveled extensively around South Sudan getting to know many parts of the country.

In 2013 Larry moved to IMA World Health as Director of Finance, helping IMA to implement a World Bank funded project providing primary health care to Jonglei and Upper Nile States. Larry also managed the finances and operations/logistics for USAID, Global Fund, and UNFPA funded projects.

Larry has taught classes at Bishop Gwynne College in Juba and is especially excited to be working with GESS to strengthen educational systems and increase opportunities for education to all children in South Sudan.

Prior to coming to South Sudan, Larry worked for a number of private and public organizations in the United States, including fifteen years as owner of his own business in his home state of Virginia.

 Daniel Gesaka

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Daniel Gesaka

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Daniel is a highly motivated grants manager with a decade of experience in implementing process improvement, business planning, analysis and the management of a range of projects at both a local and international level.

As Grants Manager for the GESS programme, Daniel provides oversight of the programme's Cash Transfers and Capitations Grants initiatives.

Prior to joining the Girls' Education team, Daniel worked with Norwegian Peoples's Aid for nine years in South Sudan, the Horn of Africa and Nairobi.managing grants from multi-lateral donors and a range of development agencies, dealing effectively with multimillion dollar budgets.

Daniel is a CPA and member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya

His undergraduate work and Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, Accounting and Finance is from Kenya Methodist University and he holds a MSc in Project Management from the University of Liverpool.

Daniel is also an active supporter of Children's Education and Human Rights causes.

 Agnieszka Mikulska

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Agnieszka Mikulska

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Coming from Cambridge Education, Agnieszka is one of the original GESS Team having joined GESS in 2013 and is the Quality Education Adviser where she leads the quality education component of the programme. Her work on the program includes improving effectiveness of school governance, building capacity of school supervisors, designing teacher training and learning materials from locally available resources, and liaising with a partner organisation (Winrock International) on implementation of the mentoring programme for girls.

Prior to joining the GESS programme, Agnieszka has designed training materials and training programmes for School Supervisors; School Management Committees and Boards of Governors; Head teachers and Teachers. In South Sudan, she co-designed research and analysed data on teachers' skills and the effectiveness of teacher training institutes in Iraq.

Agnieszka has worked as a Special Education Support Teacher; Therapist for children with Autism; Trainer for Electoral Staff; Global Education Trainer; Teaching Materials Developer; Project Manager and Communication Officer.

Her heart and passion is in pre-school and early grades education and a holistic approach to early grades, integrated learning and integration of local cultures in all aspects of education design.

Agnieszka holds a MA in Educational Planning and Economics and a BA in Early Grades Pedagogy and Teaching and is now studying for Early Grades Reading Certificate. She worked in South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Iraq, Nepal, Poland and United Kingdom.

John Rubaihayo

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John Rubaihayo

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John works as a Education Consultant and Trainer for GESS in Juba and has been with the programme since 2015

Prior to joining the GESS Team, John worked as the Social Inclusion and Secure Livelihood Adviser with Voluntary Service Overseas – in Kigali, Rwanda and as Education Adviser, with VSO - South Sudan and worked as Inclusive Education Adviser, with VSO-International Namibia-Windhoek.

John was also project coordinator for an Icelandic International Development Agency project in Namibia and worked as Head of Department, Teacher and Coordinated special education projects at Women's Organization for Special Education in Kampla.

 Andabati Awongo

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Andibati Awongo

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Andabati comes to GESS as a Consultant/Trainer. He has over six years experience in Project Planning, implementation, Monitoring & Evaluation, Teacher training, Financial Management and people management in a conflict/post-conflict environment. Andabati has worked as an English Language Tutor in Kuajok - Warap State, as State Project Manager for Windle Trust International in Unity State and as State Project Coordinator for WTI in Lakes State. Andabati has also worked with a number of other International NGOs and as a research assistant on various research projects in Uganda and South Sudan and is experienced with USAID, UKAID, BSF, MDTF, WUSC and UNICEF reporting requirements. Andabati holds a BA in Social Sciences Gender and Development Studies from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

Majak Malak

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Majak Malak Adhil

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Majak joined Girls’ Education South Sudan in 2015 as a Survey and Analytics Support Officer were his work provides support to the Quality Education Team in the GESS Secretariat by analysing monitoring data on GESS progress from the South Sudan School Attendance and Monitoring System (SSSAMS) and other sources. He also provides support to the Grants Accountability and Finance Director in data analysis related to [programme’s Capitation Grants and Cash Transfers to Girls initiatives.

Prior to his work with GESS Majak worked with the South Sudan National Bureau of Statistics as a Statistician, assigned as the Resources Person for Northern Bahr El Ghazal State during the 5TH Sudan Population and Housing Census Of 2008. He later served as the Manager for South Sudan Welfare Monitoring Survey funded by the government of Norway and as the Coordinator for UNFPA/NIDI survey on Financial Flows for population and AIDS activities in South Sudan.

Majak has first-hand knowledge of the South Sudan education system as he was born in Yirol, South Sudan and graduated from Rumbek Senior Secondary School in Lakes State. He also graduated from Eastern Africa Statistical Training Centre (EASTC) in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania with a Diploma in Statistics. Majak received his BA in Statistics at the School of Statistics and Planning from Makerere University where he also completed his Master of Statistics Degree.

Robert Roba

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Robert Roba

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As a professional teacher, Robert’s role at the GESS Secretariat in Juba is that of programme liaison on GESS activities between consortium partners and government officials at the national and state levels. Prior to joining the GESS Team, Robert worked on Civil Society and Education development programmes in Scotland, Uganda and South Sudan with the UN and International NGOs. Robert received his Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Governance from the East African School of Diplomacy, Governance and International Studies, Uganda Martyrs University, Kampala, Uganda.

 Christina MacLellan

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Christina MacLellan

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Christina is an education specialist with a strong track record in systems implementation in sub-Saharan Africa. She has worked in the Sudans for more than a decade, in Education and Health sector programmes.

Prior to her current role at the GESS Secretariat Christina led the Girls’ Education South Sudan, Knowledge, Evidence and Research output for the programme, overseeing the coordination, design and implementation of baseline research including five national scale studies.

Among her other work in South Sudan, Christine also coordinated support to the South Sudan Ministry of Health toward improving health workers’ pay and implementing a health worker Human Resource Management System and Donor Relations Manager for Yei Teacher Training College in South Sudan.

As trained teacher, she has worked worldwide, including in South Sudan, Sudan, Kenya, Japan and the UK, often working with vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups.

Christina holds a Master of Research in Human Rights and International Politics from Glasgow University, a BA with honors in Mathematics, and a Postgraduate Certificate of Education.

Christina joined Charlie Goldsmith Associate, one of the GESS consortium, implementing partners, in 2014.

 Tim Monybuny

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Tim Monybuny

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 Ellie Caine

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Ellie Caine

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Ellie is a development professional with a background in communications and a particular interest in girls’ education in fragile and post-conflict contexts. She works on the Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) programme developing promotional materials and dissemination pieces as part of the, Knowledge, Evidence and Research component. Ellie also conducts qualitative and quantitative research in schools across South Sudan and trains local partner organisations in mobile data collection in the Greater Upper Nile region and Lake State.

Ellie began her career in public relations and spent two years delivering lobbying and communications campaigns for the City of Westminster in London.

Ellie holds a degree in English from the University of Cambridge, is an experienced singer and leads the musical activity at Confident Children out of Conflict, a Juba-based NGO.

Ellie joined Charlie Goldsmith Associates, last year as one of six Development Fellows. CGA is on of the GESS Programme implementing partners.

 Gamal Batwel Nyaragi

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Gamal Batwel Nyaragi

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Gamal is a South Sudanese educationalist and management specialist working for Charlie Goldsmith Associates with over 25 years’ experience in South Sudan’s education sector. He is Regional Adviser on the Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) project, supporting the implementation of attendance monitoring, capitation grants and cash transfers.

Gamal has worked for CGA since 2013. Prior to that, Gamal served for a long period as Deputy Country Representative and Education Project Manager for Caritas Switzerland/Luxembourg in South Sudan. He has also held positions in organisations including International Aid Sweden, Jesuit Refugee Service and American Institute of Research.

In addition to South Sudan, Gamal has also worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Gamal received a M.Ed. in Science Education from Manchester University, UK, in 1999. He also holds a Bachelor’s of Education in Science (mathematics and physics) from Juba University, South Sudan.

 Paul Gitonga

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Paul Gitonga

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Paul is a public policy adviser at Charlie Goldsmith Associates, and a Certified Public Accountant with more than ten years’ professional experience in the private, voluntary and public sectors. He is leading the implementation of the GESS national capitation grants and cash transfers programmes, and has played a key role in bringing together GRSS and partners towards the introduction of Mobile Money in South Sudan.

Prior to joining Charlie Goldsmith Associates in 2013, Paul spent five years working for Deloitte LLP in South Sudan as a Treasury Adviser in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP). Paul has worked in South Sudan since 2007, and has also worked in Kenya for USAID, EU and DFID funded organisations in the area of Financial Management.

Paul is currently working towards an MBA specialising in Strategic Management from the Edinburgh Business School, Herriot Watt University. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Management) from Kenyatta University, and a Certification in Public Accounting from Strathmore University, Kenya, and is a Member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya.

 Anna Tomson

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Anna Tomson

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Anna joined Charlie Goldsmith Associates (CGA) in 2015 as one of six Development Fellows. Anna's is a young professional with a background in peace-building and gender and development and education in fragile environments.

Anna's work with GESS primarily focuses on the knowledge, evidence and research component of the programme which includes conducting both qualitative and quantitative research in primary and secondary schools across the country, as well as capacity building and training on research methods with local partner organisations.

Prior to joining us Anna worked on community mediation projects in Northern Ireland and running drama and music workshops with young people.

Anna holds a BA in International Development from the University of East Anglia and an MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

 Tiondi Michael Lagu

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Tiondi Michael Lagu

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Michael is an experienced trainer and software developer, and is a Regional Adviser on the Girls’ Education South Sudan programme, providing roving support and training on the South Sudan Schools' Attendance Monitoring System to NGO staff, state and county education officials. He has conducted training both for data entry staff and the CGA field support team, as well as providing rigorous testing of the GESS database and online systems.

Michael joined the GESS programme in 2013, working as a Data Entry Supervisor, before progressing to his current role.

Prior to joiningt the GESS team, Michael worked as a software developer for Realtech Systems, and as a data analyst for Makerere University’s Faculty of Computing. In 2009, as an intern with the Ministry of the Interior, South Sudan, Michael developed software packages and carried out training activities for South Sudanese civil servants.

Michael has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Makerere University, Uganda and works for Charlie Goldsmith Associates, one of the consortium implementing partners of the Girls' Education South Sudan programme.

 Imke van der Honing

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Imke van der Honing

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Imke specialises in designing and implementing pragmatic and effective government systems, in particular for sub-national and local government and is the South Sudan Country Coordinator for Charlie Goldsmith Associates.

Imke coordinates CGA’s work on Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS), having led the national roll-out of the South Sudan Schools Attendance Monitoring System (SSSAMS), and oversees the implementation of the cash transfer and capitation grant programmes. He is also supporting the monitoring of Primary School Leadership Programme and the roll out of HRIS systems for both Education and Health (under HPF).

Imke has lived and worked in South Sudan since 2007, and has also worked in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Prior to joining CGA, he led the public sector development programmes of SNV Netherlands in South Sudan, and worked with SNV in a variety of senior roles across Africa.

He holds an MSc in Development Planning and a BSc in Economics, both from Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

Emma van der Meulen

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Emma van der Meulen

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Emma is an experienced Social Development Advisor who specialises in monitoring and evaluation and one of the GESS programme early team members.

Emma was the Deputy Team Leader at the GESS Secretariat in Juba from 2014 until January 2016. As part of the GESS management team, she supported the overall planning, delivery and management of the programme.

Currently Emma works out of the Mott MacDonald headquarters in the Netherlands as an M&E Advisor, and remains fully engaged with the GESS programme, frequently traveling to Juba to provide support to the team on a range of programme initiatives.

Prior to her role in South Sudan she has worked on several Social Development and Education Programmes in Somaliland, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Having completed her undergraduate studies in, History, Political Science, International Relations, Anthropology and a BA with Honours at the University College Utrecht; Emma received her Master’s Degree in International History and Politics from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

Stella Moriku

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Stella Moriku

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Stella recently joined Girls’ Educations South Sudan as the programme Administrative Assistant Born in South Sudan, she’s worked in administrative roles for and number of Donor organizations, NGOs, private sector and community based organizations.

Prior to joining the GESS Team, Stella took on the general administration, travel arrangements, budgeting and expenditure record keeping events management and computerized data management for organizations such as the European Union Delegation to South Sudan.

Stella also was hired by UAP Insurance as an Executive Assistant and she contributed to the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Association of Media Women in South Sudan as Finance/ Administrative assistant. She brings a high level; of integrity and keen sense of compliance with donor procedures and policies. In the short time Stella has been with the GESS programme, she shows her value as a consummate team player and works with minimum supervision striving to help the team meet the programme goals and objectives.

Stella received her Bachelor of Arts Social Science form Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. She also received a Certificate in Advance level of Education from Moyo Senior Secondary School and a Uganda Certificate of Education from Biyaya Senior Secondary School after leaving Primary Education.

Stephen Rusk

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Stephen Rusk

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Stephen came to South Sudan in 2016 joining BBC Media Action as Senior Projects Manager and advisor to the GESS programme.

Prior to coming to South Sudan he worked with Oxfam in the Philippines, and has worked across Asia for the past 10 years.

Stephen says “joining the GESS programme and BBC Media Action in Juba gave me a welcome chance to return to Africa”. Stephen holds a LLM in Public International Law, from Queen Mary’s in London and when not in South Sudan, lives with his family in Oxford.

Samuel Akecha Komakech

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Samuel Akecha Komakech

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Samuel is the National Community Mobilisation Coordinator working for the GESS implementing partner BBC Media Action. With 8 years experience working among South Sudanese communities Samuel is the key point of contact for GESS State Anchors in the delivery of community mobilisation and outreach activities.

His role is to provide technical support to the GESS State Anchors to implement community mobilisation and outreach activities according to the programme community mobilisation strategy.

Samuel also monitors the progress and troubleshoots on the delivery of community mobilisation and outreach activities.

Samuel joined BBC Media Action in 2014 after having worked both on development and humanitarian projects in the Republic of South Sudan.

Prior to joining the GESS Team, he worked as a project monitor and project specialist on Good Governance, Civic Engagement, Peacebuilding and Democracy and Governance projects for Catholic Relief Service, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and the Winrock International.

Additionally, Samuel has participated in several short training programs in the areas of community mobilisation and outreach, financial management, planning and budgeting, conflict management and transformation and access to Justice.

Samuel received his BA in Social Science and Diploma in Philosophy from Consolata Institute of Philosophy Affiliate of Pontifical Urbaniana University Rome in 2007.

Yolanda Ille

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Yolanda Ille

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With 10 years of work experience in South Sudan, Yolanda has a keen knowledge of the country’s education system. She’s worked in different capacities from teacher, trainer manager of education activities to her position today as an Education/Gender Advisor on the GESS programme.

Having grown up in South Sudan, Yolanda is now a strong role model and inspiration for girls and women in her homeland because she challenged and beat the odds to become the woman she is today

Always a positive person, Yolanda believes the challenges in South Sudan today will be met and solved through educating the approximately 3 million school aged children across the country.

When not mentoring your girls, Yolanda likes to watch football, her favorite team – of course “The Gunners”.

Hannah Rollings

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Yolanda Ille

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Hannah joined the Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) Secretariat in 2016 as the Communications Officer. Her background is in Communications and Sustainable Development and she is the main point of contact for GESS internal and external communications and is working to build on the visibility and outreach of the programme through multiple channels, including both web-based and print materials

Prior to joining the GESS Team, she worked on programmes in the UK, Kenya and Ethiopia for the Danish Refugee Council, International Livestock Research Institute and UNICEF.

Hannah’s a keen writer and traveller and her work has allowed her to travel throughout the wider Horn of Africa region. In her spare time she maintains her own travel blog.

Hannah holds a BSc in Marketing from the University of Manchester and an MSc in Sustainable Development & Corporate Social Responsibility from Queen’s University Belfast.