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Kelly Saldana Joins Abt Associates as Vice President- Systems Strengthening and Resilience

Abt Associates announced today that Kelly Saldana, a recognized leader in global health, has been named vice president, systems strengthening and resilience. She joins Abt from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where she has held increasingly senior roles in the agency’s health sector over the past two decades.

Saldana will lead technical solutions and approaches on international development projects and proposals, providing thought leadership on systems strengthening and resilience across Abt’s portfolio. She will focus on innovation and integration of all areas of Abt’s expertise. Saldana brings a systems lens to designing solutions that are scalable and responsive to client needs and ensures project-implementation quality.

As Director of USAID’s Office of Health Systems, Saldana advanced health systems globally by shifting the focus of efforts from inputs to outcomes and incorporating concepts of systems resilience into understanding of what makes systems strong. She articulated clear roles for and linkages between public, private, and non-profit sectors and communities and aligned these diverse parties toward common health systems outcome goals. She represented USAID on interagency and international advisory committees and expert groups related to health systems strengthening. Beginning in 2021, Saldana also served as the strategic programming lead for the agency’s COVID-19 response and supported the programming of more than $6 billion from American Rescue Plan funds to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.

She previously was deputy director of the Office of Health Infectious Diseases and Nutrition. In that role, she served as the lead for both the “Acting on the Call” initiative to End Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths as well as USAID’s response to Zika. Earlier roles included senior program manager, Office of Regional, Sustainable Development in the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. She also served as health sector representative for the Haiti Task Team backstopping U.S. government efforts in Haiti in wake of the January 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak.

Before joining USAID, Saldana worked for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Women and Children, Immunization Branch. She also served as a U.S. Peace Corps community development and health extension volunteer in Nicaragua.

“Throughout her career, Kelly has been tapped to lead high-profile assignments with urgent consequences for the health of millions of people, particularly women and children,” said Abt President and CEO Kathleen Flanagan.  “Her unique blend of expertise in disease and systems management, along with her broad knowledge of U.S. government response capabilities, enables her to offer incomparable insights to our clients.”

Saldana holds an MPIA in economic and social development from the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, an MPH in behavioral and community health sciences from the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health, and a B.A. in international affairs from The George Washington University.

About Abt Associates
Abt Associates is a global consulting and research firm that combines data and bold thinking to improve the quality of people's lives. We partner with clients and communities to advance equity and innovation—from creating scalable digital solutions and combatting infectious disease, to mitigating climate change and evaluating programs for measurable social impact.

Mary F. Maguire
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