I am a social marketer with expertise in service and experience architecture.
I have spent the last twenty years working in Africa on public health issues like HIV, malaria and birth control, bringing life-changing services to vulnerable folks like adolescents, sex workers, and men who have sex with men.
Working on sensitive health issues in hard contexts with marginalized people has made me an empathetic, creative and practical problem solver who can bring fresh eyes and a very different perspective to design challenges.
The proof is in the data, and I'm obsessed with the numbers. My work with clients and employers in more than 20 countries has delivered:
I lived and worked for 17 years in Sub-Saharan Africa, and recently moved back to the US to make a global difference. I care So. Damn. Much. About our team, about the people we serve, and about the change we can only bring about together. Do you believe change is possible? I'm curious, intrigued, and excited about it. Serious work can be a lot of fun. Together we're going to light fires!
"Manya is a magical combination of authenticity, vision, empathy and rigor. She's able to rally those around her towards an audacious North Star with a path for getting there together. She empowers those around her to succeed."
-Jessa Blades, Managing Director, IDEO.org
"We wanted to express our extreme gratitude for Manya’s leadership during the formative stages of Adolescents 360. Manya came to the program’s rescue, building a strong team, embracing ambiguity, and fearlessly advocating for A360 principles – and adolescent girls."
-Clarissa Lord-Brundage, Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
After leaving a swanky job as a health editor at Fitness Magazine in NYC years ago, I landed in West-Africa, found public health and social marketing, and never looked back. It's been a humbling journey.
Some things I'm really proud to have been a part of designing are:
Can you imagine a world where unwanted teen pregnancy is a thing of the past? I can!
Recently, I enjoyed leading a multi-country $30M investment to get contraceptives to teen girls in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. That project is super-ambitious, and visionary. It brought together human centered design, developmental neuroscience, public health, marketing, and anthropology to reimagine contraceptive services for young people. And more importantly—it’s WORKING. Tens of thousands of teenaged girls all over Africa from villages and slums in Nigera, to rural Ethiopia, to peri-urban Tanzania are enthusiastically deciding to commit to themselves and their dreams by using modern contraceptives. It’s a breakthrough! And there’s a pretty simple formula behind it that I believe can work with teenagers anywhere.
After years of implementing, I am going bigger and supporting global health organizations and leaders from the inside out. M*Power Internationan is a strategic partner to courageous leaders who are serious about driving inspired change. I can help you build a vision and strategy you are on fire to implement, navigate the practicalities of multi-disciplinary design, meaningfully involve customers in your programs, and gracefully navigate growth and change.
While I am passionate about this work, my first love is my family. Living heart-first in West and East African countries for 17 years, and raising an interracial Brady-Bunch blended family, has left me with phenomenal stories to tell and lots to share as a writer and speaker. I am currently working on a book about the ways the “sexiest women in the world” (including Senegalese and Swahili women!) wield erotic power.
The Adolescents 360 project, which Manya led through July 2017 is achieving unprecedented results in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania. Approximately 57% of tens of thousands of girls reached by A360’s activities adopt a contraceptive method, and more than 51% of users are selecting long acting contraceptive methods—IUDs and implants.
On World Contraception Day, advocates, including Manya, talked about how they are turning traditional public health models inside-out. Starting with her, getting out of boardrooms, going into her world, and engaging girls and women as partners.
Explore The Brighter Future, Jhpiego's first foray into working with young people on University campuses in Kenya.