Group of women and children standing in a village in Kenya
Jonathan Hyams / Save the Children
8:00am - 10:00am ET

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In this session, Amy Tohill-Stull, Deputy Assistant to the Administrator, USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance shared a keynote address on the imperative of HDP coherence.

The keynote was followed by a rich discussion among panelists which highlighted ongoing crises such as the war in Ukraine, drought in the Horn of Africa, and escalating armed conflict in the Sahel – all compounded by the severe effects of climate change and COVID-19. Panelists  examined the main obstacles in programming for HDP coherence and identified promising practices. Finally, panelists sought a joint definition of success when it comes to HDP coherent programming – laying out what changes at household, community, and systems level. 

The panel was moderated by Dr. Merry Fitzpatrick, Research Assistant Professor with the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University. Panelists include: 

  • Mamadou Diallo, Deputy Head of Program, Mali, Catholic Relief Services
  • Thomas Lay, East and Southern Africa Regional Humanitarian Director, Save the Children
  • Rebecca Richards, Chief, Emergencies & Transitions and Head of the Global Network Against Food Crises, World Food Programme
  • Melaku Yirga, Country Director, Ethiopia, Mercy Corps

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Resources shared from panelists include:

Speaker Bios

Woman portrait in front of a flagAmy Tohill-Stull is the Deputy Assistant to the Administrator of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), the U.S. Government lead for international disaster response. Ms. Tohill-Stull has served USAID for 25 years, most recently as the Deputy Assistant Administrator within USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.  She has also served in Nepal, Afghanistan, Jordan, Zimbabwe, and Kazakhstan where she oversaw strategic planning, budgeting, project design, donor coordination, performance management, and cross-cutting programs related to gender, multi-donor trust funds, government capacity building, and monitoring and evaluation. Ms. Tohill-Stull received a Master’s degree in International Development from American University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Purdue University.

Mamadou Diallo, portrait of man wearing yellow sitting in an office chairMamadou Diallo is the Deputy Head of Program, Mali, for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and is the Technical Expert of Global Agriculture, Food Security, and the HDP Cohesion Nexus. Mr. Diallo led the food security group within the Mali International Organizations Forum, and is a member of the working and reflection group on the HDP nexus. He has more than 17 years of experience with international NGOs including more than 12 years with CRS in technical and management positions. Mr. Diallo holds a master’s degree in Sustainable Agricultural Development, Agricultural Economics, and Food Security from the University of Paris XI. 

Dr. Merry Fitzpatrick, portrait of woman with brown hair in front of a mapDr. Merry Fitzpatrick is the Research Assistant Professor for the Feinstein International Center, at Tufts University. Dr. Fitzpatrick has 20 years of experience implementing humanitarian response, working with multiple humanitarian agencies, including the International Rescue Committee, GOAL Ireland, Food for the Hungry, and World Concern, primarily working on livelihoods and food security in both conflict and natural disasters. In addition to livelihoods, food security, and the HDP nexus, she has been studying community drivers of stunting and the etiology of kwashiorkor malnutrition in order to design preventive interventions in extremely low resource settings. Dr. Fitzpatrick holds a B.S. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an M.B.A. with a concentration in international development from Hope International University, and a Ph.D. in Nutrition from the Friedman School at Tufts University.

Thomas Lay, portrait of man sitting outside wearing a hatThomas Lay is the Regional Humanitarian Director for East and Southern Africa for Save the Children. Mr. Lay has been in this role for the last four years and based in the East Africa region for the last 10 years. During this time he has led responses for INGOs at the outbreak of South Sudan's civil war in 2013, Ethiopia's drought in 2015/16, and Somalia's successful famine prevention response in 2017. Prior to this he was based in the UK responding to rapid onset emergencies in more than 20 countries around the world.

Melaku's HeadshotMelaku Yirga is the Country Director for Mercy Corps in Ethiopia. Mr. Yirga has over 18 years experience in East, Southern and West Africa. Prior to this he has led multiple country portfolios as the Deputy Regional Director for Africa; and managed multimillion dollar complex programs including COP roles for flagship programs. Mr. Yirga brings a wealth of strategic leadership experience and expertise in private sector development, financial services, market systems development, conflict management and resilience building. He is a trained professional in Agriculture (BSc), Development Studies (MSc) and more recently completed MSc degree in International Business Administration from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Profile photo of Rebecca Richards, woman with brown hair and a colorful scarf looking into the cameraRebecca Richards currently leads the World Food Programme’s Global Network Against Food Crises, which seeks to bring lasting solutions to fragile and conflict countries with high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. Rebecca brings twenty-two years of progressive experience in political affairs, humanitarian and transition planning and response. Specializing in strategic planning, emergency coordination, and policy development, Rebecca’s experience includes the 2000 Afghanistan Crisis, Pakistan Earthquake and Floods, Cyclone Nargis Response in Myanmar, and the Somalia Crisis. Prior to her current designation, Rebecca served five years as the Head of Sub Regional Office of the Middle East and North Africa Bureau during WFP’s rapid scale-up in its response to the Syria crisis. A UK national, Rebecca holds Bachelor’s (Classics & Literature) and Master’s (International Peace & Security) degrees from King’s College London.