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Vice President, International Development

Sheila O’Dougherty is a health policy, systems, financing and management expert and project director with more than 25 years of experience in the health field and 19 years of international health experience. Specific areas of expertise include health financing, health system strengthening, program and project management, institutional development and converting vision to concrete step-by-step implementation strategies and plans. 

A resident of Central Asia for 17 years (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), O’Dougherty was chief of party for four USAID-funded health systems strengthening projects, including the three “Zdrav” projects. With an innovative conceptual model and operational implementation approach, these projects’ significant results have been recognized throughout the region and contributed to international best practice in health financing reform and primary health care development.

Since repatriating in 2012, O’Dougherty has worked on health financing and its relationship to universal health coverage, TB financing, health systems strengthening and governance in a variety of countries. Abt projects on which she has worked include the DFID-funded PATHS2 project in Nigeria and USAID/Health Finance and Governance (HFG) project. In addition to Central Asia, she has worked in Armenia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Ukraine and Vietnam.      
Prior to coming to Abt Associates in 1994, O'Dougherty was a social science research analyst for the Office of Research and Demonstrations of the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). She was also a professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, detailed there from HCFA to work on health care reform after President Clinton's Health Reform Bill was submitted to Congress.

A champion athlete recently inducted into the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, O’Dougherty was a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Team for eight years — two of them as No. 1 player — and she participated in the World Championships, Pan-American Games, World University Games and a multitude of other international and national competitions. She was National College Champion in table tennis from 1976 to 1978. O’Dougherty was treasurer of the U.S. Table Tennis Association and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors for eight years, and has served in numerous other sports-governance capacities.


  • Health system strengthening
  • Health policy
  • Health financing
  • Relationship between health financing and service delivery
  • Health management
  • Information and operating systems
  • Implementation sequencing
  • Governance, including institutional development
  • Project and program management

Key Projects

  • Partnership for Transforming Health Systems 2, DFID
  • Health Finance and Governance, USAID
  • Zdrav Projects (ZdravReform, ZdravPlus, and ZdravPlus II), USAID

Selected Publications

  • Edited by John Langenbrunner, Cheryl Cashin, Sheila O’Dougherty. 2009. Designing and Implementing Health Care Provider Payment Systems How-To Manuals. World Bank and U.S Agency for International Development.
  • Edited by Joseph Kutzin, Cheryl Cashin Melitta Jakab, chapter contributions Sheila O’Dougherty.  2010. Implementing Health Financing Reform: Lessons from Countries in Transition. The World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe.      
  • Kutzin, Joseph; Ibraimova, Ainura; Jakab, Melitta and O'Dougherty, Sheila. Bismarck meets Beveridge on the Silk Road: Coordinating Funding Sources to Create a Universal Health Financing System in Kyrgyzstan. World Health Organization Bulletin (online). 2009, vol.87, n.7 pp. 549-554
  • O’Dougherty, S., Cotterill, P., Phillips, S., Richter E., Delew N., Wynn B., Ault. T.  Medicare Prospective Payment Without Separate Urban and Rural Rates.  Health Care Financing Review, Winter 1992
  • Hundreds of presentations, policy papers, position papers and technical reports presented throughout Central Asia, in other countries and at international conferences.  
Sheila O'Dougherty