Manish Kumar, Class 12 (2013-2015)
Twenty Blogs for 20 Years
Manish Kumar elected to pursue a Master of Public Health degree at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, focusing on researching and recommending appropriate health information architecture that could enable efficient and effective use of health data for patient care and policy decision-making. After graduation in 2013, he worked at the Carolina Population Center of UNC as a senior technical specialist and a Principal Investigator until February 2022 for a large global health systems project. Manish is now the Global Health Finance Data Team Lead at Guidehouse supporting PEPFAR and collaborates with colleagues working in the Defense & National Security, Public Health, Energy, Environment and Sustainability, Health Informatics and Digital domains.
If you ever thought of finding an opportunity that could bring together a global group of leaders committed to peacebuilding and conflict resolution, offer unlimited growth opportunities, create a life-long community bond, and enrich your personal and professional experiences, you could find nothing better than the Rotary Peace Fellowship. While there are numerous fellowships available globally, the Rotary Peace Fellowship is unique in terms of the engagement of local Rotary Clubs who identify and recommend potential fellowship applicants as well as the continuous involvement of local Rotarians who whole-heartedly support the well-being and success of Peace Fellows. I felt honored to be a chosen as a Peace Fellow and to be part of a noble initiative driven by the passion and commitment of millions of Rotarians around the world who believe in ‘Service Above Self’.
My passion for and commitment to global health initiatives brought me to the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center. The center was unique as it combined the best capabilities of the two of the top educational institutions. I was fortunate to receive support from the wonderful staff at the Peace Center, especially Samira, Amy, and, of course, Susan, which enabled me to navigate both universities’ vast offerings, choose appropriate courses, and connect with faculty, local Rotarians, students, and practitioners. My interactions, conversations, and relationships that I built not only with my own cohort but also with the Peace Fellows from other cohorts shaped my personal and professional journey. I continue to engage with Peace Fellows and students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to share my experiences and support their professional goals. A recent conversation with a Peace Fellow from Palestine is one such example. The Fellowship made it possible for me to investigate and apply a multidisciplinary perspective to global challenges through combined peacebuilding, confliction resolution, technology, and health-related capabilities.
My Professional Journey after Graduating
My fellowship experience prepared me well to work on complex development programs in different country contexts. Since my graduation in 2015, I have led and contributed to several global health initiatives in various roles and expanded my knowledge and network. In my role as a senior technical specialist for health systems strengthening with MEASURE Evaluation — a USAID-funded global health information systems project housed within UNC’s Carolina Population Center (2014-2020) – I provided technical and capacity-building support for the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief’s (PEPFAR) Data for Accountability, Transparency and Impact Monitoring System, which supports data-based program monitoring and management in more than 50 countries. I also had the opportunity to lead the following global health projects as the principal investigator a was able to contribute to Rotary’s broader goal of peace building:
- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded TB Data, Impact Assessment and Communications Hub (TB DIAH) project
- President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the USAID-funded PMI Measure Malaria project
- USAID – Digital Square initiative-funded DATIM Support and Maturity Model project
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Health Informatics Technical Assistance Platform Initiative
I continue to work with the PEPFAR program as the Global Health Finance Data Team Lead at Guidehouse. I am thoroughly enjoying my work leading the evaluation project focused on Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in a post-conflict country context.
In my experience, limited access to appropriate people and information often hampers growth and progress of international students and public health practitioners. Voluntary participation in several communities of practice such as the Digital Health and Interoperability Working Group, supporting local organizations, and offering mentorship support to international students as been an important part of my goals and a small way to contribute to Rotary’s philosophy of “Service Above Self”.
My journey as a Peace Fellow has been joyful, challenging, and satisfying. What I learned from my peers and colleagues’ life experiences was invaluable. If it was not for my friend and former Peace Fellow Anna Schurmann, Rajiv Tandon and PDG Manjit Sawhney from the Rotary Club Delhi South Metropolitan, and my host family, B.C. Dash and Asha Dash, I would have missed a lifetime opportunity called the Rotary Peace Fellowship.