Our Team

Mark Fritzler head shot

Mark Fritzler, Director


Mark has led The TOPS Program since its inception in 2010. He joined Save the Children in July 2003 as Country Director in Iraq. Subsequently, he served as Save the Children's Country Director in Mozambique and Indonesia. In 2007-08 Mark was Chief of Party for the global Save the Children tsunami response in Aceh, Indonesia. During his career in international development and emergency response, Mark has worked in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He also worked with JHPIEGO, CARE International, and on several projects with international development consulting firms. Mark has a BA in Political Science from the University of Oregon. He is based at Save the Children.

Adam Keehn, Deputy Director


As the Deputy Director at TOPS, Adam focuses on planning, reporting, and the small grants program. His previous experience with Save the Children includes roles in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia, and more recently in South Africa and Liberia. He has held a variety of management and human resources roles in Save the Children's US headquarters, and has lived and worked in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East leading both development and humanitarian programs. He has a BA in English and French from Beloit College and an MPS from Cornell University. He is based at Save the Children.

Technical Staff

Joan Jennings, Nutrition and Food Technology Senior Specialist

Joan has been leading the Nutrition and Food Technology activities within The TOPS Program since its inception in 2010. She has extensive experience working with nutrition protection and behavior change strategies for improved infant and young child feeding practices. Her skill set also includes quantitative and qualitative evaluation, formative investigation, proposal development and strategic planning. Joan has worked in over 20 countries throughout all development programming regions. In between periods of consulting, she was the team leader for children’s health with CARE USA. She initiated her work in development as a Health and Nutrition Manager for Save the Children in Nicaragua. She possesses an MPH from Tulane University and received an internship with the United Nations ACC/Sub-Committee on Nutrition, where she edited a review of the elements of success among large-scale nutrition programs in 10 countries. Joan is based at Save the Children.

Andrea Mottram, Agriculture Senior Specialist

Andrea leads the Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (ANRM) component of the TOPS Program, working with the implementing community to identify, modify, and develop tools and best practices, strengthen technical skills, and support knowledge sharing mechanisms. With 20 years of experience in agricultural development, Andrea has worked for Mercy Corps in a number of management, agriculture and economic development field positions throughout Africa and Asia, as well as global technical support. She previously worked in agricultural research and training for the Centre for Arid Zone studies, a UK-based research and development organization. She has a PhD from the University of Wales, Bangor, UK in Sorghum and Millet Production and an MSc in Rural Resource Management. Andrea is based at Mercy Corps.

Birendra Kumar "BK" De, Commodity Management Senior Specialist


BK is responsible for Commodity Management capacity building and for developing tools that benefit the entire ommunity of Commodity Management practitioners. During a career spanning three decades and three continents, he has gained extensive experience at all levels of operation of emergency and development programs in both field and headquarters contexts. His expertise includes commodity management, logistics, warehousing, and distribution. He has worked in India, Ethiopia, Russia, Tanzania, Iraq, Albania, and Kosovo and led projects in India, Malawi, and Sudan. In Darfur, Sudan, BK managed a commodity logistics project focused on meeting the needs of 1.2 million internally displaced people. At CARE USA, BK played a key role in setting up the Supply Chain Management Unit to improve the organization’s global supply chain capability. BK has an MSc in International Logistics from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is based at Save the Children.

Virginia VaughnTraining Senior Specialist, Commodity Management


Virginia uses her expertise in the design, production and delivery of a comprehensive variety of training methodologies and materials to meet the needs of Commodity Management practitioners. As a Peace Corps volunteer three decades ago, she recognized first-hand the need for ‘results-oriented’ training to successfully implement any program. Her subsequent postings with CARE in Africa sharpened her NGO project design and management skills and enhanced her passion for guiding adults through a learning process. After four years as a senior manager for humanitarian response with CARE International, Virginia completed a graduate degree in Adult and Distance Learning at Open University, England. In doing so, she turned her passion for training in complex situations into a full-time endeavor. For the past 15 years, she has worked as an Instructional Design Consultant with a broad range of international organizations. Virginia is based at Save the Children. 

Edith Mutalya, Monitoring and Evaluation Senior Specialist

Edith leads the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) activities of The TOPS Program, including tracking TOPS PMP data and working with the implementing community develop tools, strengthen skills and share best practices. Edith has more than 20 years of international development experience in the areas of food security, natural resource management, HIV/AIDS, and orphan and vulnerable children programming. She also has experience in project management, strategic planning, and program design and implementation. Previously Edith served as Program Management Officer in charge of M&E at World Vision US, M&E Specialist with Chemonics International in Uganda, and M&E Specialist with World Vision Uganda Livelihoods project. She has a BSc in Agricultural Economics from Makerere University, a MPS in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University, and a MPH from George Washington University. Edith is based at TANGO International.

Karyn Fox, Senior Research Specialist


Karyn supports The TOPS Program’s initiatives on resilience and monitoring and evaluation. Her recent work focuses on resilience programming and analysis, climate change adaptation, and social and gender analysis of agricultural-based livelihood systems. Previously, Karyn worked as member of the core team and instructor with the University of Arizona Masters in Development Practice program. She received her PhD in Sociocultural and Ecological Anthropology from the University of Arizona and a MS in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis. Her primary research interests include adaptation and governance of social and agro-ecological systems, household food and livelihood security, and participatory development research and practice. Karyn is based at TANGO International.

Eric Carlberg, Regional Agriculture Specialist

Eric is the Regional Agriculture Specialist on The TOPS Program, based in Kampala, Uganda and focusing on East and Southern Africa. In this role, he works with the Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (ANRM) team to build knowledge and capacity around agriculture, natural resource management and market systems through local and regional networks. Recently, Eric led the development of the Permagarden method – a sustainable home garden method – and helped develop a Resilience Design for Smallholder Systems Approach.  Previously, he worked as a Research Associate on the USAID Global Climate Change Monitoring and Evaluation Task Order for Development and Training Services, Inc (dTS). He has a BS from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Business Administration and a MS from the University of Georgia in Agriculture and Applied Economics. Eric is based at Mercy Corps.

Kristi Tabaj Photo
Kristi Tabaj
, Gender Senior Specialist

Kristi is the Gender Senior Specialist on the TOPS Program. In this role, she facilitates knowledge sharing of gender integration strategies and practices in food security
programming. Prior to TOPS, she provided technical assistance for program design and implementation with Save the Children.  She has supported agriculture and food security programming in Afghanistan, Latin America, and the U.S., including time as a Peace Corps volunteer. She has a BA from Lawrence University in Anthropology and an MS from the University of California, Davis in International Agricultural Development. Kristi is based at Save the Children.

Mary DeCoster Head shot
Mary DeCoster, Social and Behavioral Change Senior Specialist

Since 2011, Mary leads and provides technical support to the Social and Behavioral Change (SBC) activities within the TOPS Program. She works to identify knowledge and skills needs among practitioners, involving them in producing, field testing and delivering reliable, high-quality SBC information in user-friendly formats and venues. Previously, Mary has managed behavior change programs for communicable disease prevention and maternal/child health and backstopped child survival projects.  She has a Masters degree from the University of North Carolina (UNC –Chapel Hill) in Public Health and a Masters degree from UNC in Information and Library Science. Mary is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She is based at Food for the Hungry.

Shelia Jackson head shot
Shelia Jackson, Knowledge Management Senior Specialist

In her role as Knowledge Management Senior Specialist, Shelia develops and organizes learning events that maximize engagement, learning, and knowledge transfer through participatory learning techniques. She fosters knowledge sharing and collaboration in the food security community by chairing the FSN Network’s Knowledge Management Task Force. Previously, Shelia was the Knowledge Management Team Lead for the KSC Project at USAID. She has experience in envisioning and cultivating knowledge sharing programs that focus on the role knowledge management plays in helping people to efficiently accomplish daily tasks while adding to the institutional knowledge of their organization, proposing ideas for customized knowledge management solutions to address information sharing gaps and implementing training programs for social media tools. She earned an MS in Library and Information Science from Florida State University. Shelia is based at CORE Group.

Yemisi Songo-Williams
Yemisi Songo-Williams, Knowledge Management Specialist


Yemisi designs and executes knowledge management activities and processes to strengthen and expand the TOPS FSN Network. She works to improve food security and nutrition practice by providing support to the TOPS technical leads in leveraging new technologies and practices for engaging online communities in knowledge exchange and capacity strengthening. She has experience in developing strategies and forums to facilitate knowledge sharing through meetings, conferences, field exchange visits, social media and other online collaboration forums. In her previous role as a Knowledge Management and Learning Officer with CRS, Yemisi led the creation and management of a web-based platform for knowledge collection and dissemination. She also developed synergistic relationships with partner organizations to improve learning and collaboration, and capture critical knowledge, innovations and best practices. Yemisi holds an MSc in Social Research Methods from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is based at CORE Group.

Abby Love, Agriculture Officer

Abby supports all Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (ANRM) activities for TOPS, with an emphasis on facilitating ANRM events in the US and on refining information resources, tools, and remote learning opportunities. Abby has worked in various roles in agricultural development, including research, project implementation, and program support in the US and Africa. She has an MS in Agricultural and Applied Economics and a BSES in Environmental Economics and Management. Abby is based at Mercy Corps.

Laurie StarrMonitoring and Evaluation and Gender Senior Specialist

Laurie is an applied researcher with extensive experience in food security, livelihoods, gender issues, resilience, and monitoring and evaluation. The geographic range of her experience encompasses 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Latin American and Caribbean region. Laurie has 10 years of experience conducting mixed-methods evaluations in resource-limited settings in collaboration with NGOs, government organizations, donors, and multi-lateral agencies. She has provided strategic support to NGOs and donors seeking to design gender sensitive resilience and food security programs, including the design of indices to measure gender equality. Laurie facilitates theory of change workshops around the world, assisting NGO staff to bring a systems-thinking perspective to problem analysis, and program design, implementation, and monitoring. Laurie has an MA in International Development Practice from Prescott College for the Environment and Social Justice and a BA in Latin American Studies from the University of Arizona. She is based at TANGO International. 

Claire Boswell, Social and Behavioral Change Specialist

Claire works with the Social and Behavioral Change (SBC) Senior Specialist to support the overall SBC efforts at The TOPS Program. She has worked on maternal and child health programming in a variety of capacities over the past 17 years, including program management and technical support. Her particular interests are developing and applying simple, practical tools to build field capacity in behavior change and monitoring and evaluation. Claire has an MHS from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a BA in Spanish from Samford University. She is based at Food for the Hungry.

Kim Buttonow, Social and Behavioral Change Specialist

Kim works with the Social and Behavioral Change (SBC) Senior Specialist to support the overall SBC effort, an area she has worked in for more than 13 years. Previously Kim managed behavior change focused HIV prevention, care, and support programs. Most recently, she was responsible for the design, production, training, and dissemination of Food for the Hungry's core development toolkit on a global scale. Kim holds an MPH in International Public Health from Tulane University and a BA in Cultural Anthropology. Kim is based at Food for the Hungry.

Programmatic Staff

Adrienne Todela, Knowledge Management Officer


Adrienne is responsible for supporting both the CORE Group and TOPS teams with online content creation and management, events planning, and overall community engagement through the FSN Network and Community Health Networks. She has gained experience in content creation, media outreach, and events management from her work with varied non-profit, non-governmental organizations such as Accion International, The African Foundation for Development, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Adrienne received her BA in International Relations and BS in Journalism from Boston University in 2015. Passionate for advocacy work, she holds knowledge sharing and public information essential to effective capacity building in the international development arena. She enjoys traveling domestically and internationally, trying different types of cuisines, reading poetry and prose, exercising at Gold’s Gym, and spending quality time with family and friends. Adrienne is based at CORE Group.

Dasha Kosmynina
, Associate Director, Grants and Finance

Dasha provides sound financial and administrative management of The TOPS Program. Prior to TOPS, Dasha was the Deputy Director of Save the Children’s YouthSave Project, responsible for project administration at headquarters and in four implementation countries. She joined Save the Children as the Associate Director for Portfolio Management and Support of the Livelihoods Department. Before Save the Children, Dasha worked for The Urban Institute in several capacities including Project Coordinator, Research Associate, and Resident Advisor positions in Washington, DC and Tbilisi, Georgia. Dasha has a BA in Political Science from Emory University and an MA in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. She is based at Save the Children.

Julia Crowley head shot
Julia Crowley, Program Specialist


Julia is a Program Specialist, providing award management, financial, and technical support across various sectors of The TOPS Program, with a focus on nutrition. She has previously worked on both international and domestic health issues, including providing programmatic and backstopping support to Family Health International projects in Africa and the Middle East. Julia has lived and worked in South Africa, where she helped the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s South Africa’s Monitoring and Evaluation team with their PEPFAR reporting. Julia has a Masters degree in Global Health and Population from Harvard School of Public Health. She is based at Save the Children.

Lauren Jessup
, Program Associate

Lauren provides daily program, logistical, and administrative/management support to The TOPS Program. Previously, she was an Agribusiness Peace Corps volunteer in Buea, Cameroon, where she worked on a variety of health and food security related projects. Lauren has a BSc in Science-Business from the University of Notre Dame. Lauren studied abroad in France and China, speaks conversational French, and participated in a summer service learning program in South Africa. She is based at Save the Children.

Rana Olwan, Director, DHL Finance and Portfolio Management

In this role, Rana is responsible for the sound financial and administrative management of The TOPS Program Associate Awards. Furthermore, she provides indirect support to The TOPS Program by assuring financial policies are implemented in coordination with Save the Children’s Finance and Grants and Contracts policies and procedures. Previously, Rana was the Associate Director, Grants Management for The TOPS Program. She also held several positions with Save the Children including Finance and Administration Manager in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt) and Finance and Administration Director in Basra, Iraq. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and a Certified General Accountant (CGA). Rana holds a BA in Accounting from Yarmouk University in Irbid-Jordan and she is a currently pursuing MBA degree at Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada. Rana is fluent in Arabic. She is based at Save the Children.

Amialya "Mia" Durairaj, Documentation Specialist 

Mia supports The TOPS Program documentation efforts, including designing, writing, and editing promotional and informational materials. She has more than 10 years of experience in a range of technical writing and communications roles for organizations such as AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Arlington County Office of Community Health, and UnitedHealth Group. Most recently, Mia worked as a Knowledge Management Specialist for Save the Children’s Department of Global Health. Mia earned her MSc in Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University, where she was awarded a Provost’s Office summer research fellowship for her original, mixed-methods study examining the intersections between gender inequalities, dietary diversity, and food security status in two villages in central Uganda. Mia is based at Save the Children.

Sophie HollingsworthCommodity Management Senior Operations Coordinator 

Sophie provides logistical and programmatic support for the TOPS Program’s Commodity Management (CM) Technical Team. This includes aiding in the coordination of the Food Assistance Commodity Management (FACM) Workshop series. Sophie comes to the TOPS Program from the International Conservation Caucus Foundation where she was a Programs Officer focusing on wildlife crime and anti-poaching efforts in east and southern Africa. Previously Sophie was based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with the 2Seeds Network, an NGO working with smallholder farmers in Tanzania. Sophie holds an MA Honours in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Sophie is based at Save the Children.

Joel Mercado Blanco
, Social and Behavioral Change Coordinator 


Joel supports the overall Social and Behavioral Change (SBC) effort at The TOPS Program. He has worked for more than 12 years at Food for the Hungry, impacting Title II projects in Bolivia and making global contributions to child development interventions, and project design and implementation.  Joel has an MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Health Behavior with a concentration in Monitoring and Evaluation. Joel is based at Food for the Hungry. 

Holly Collins
, Communications Associate


Holly uses her writing and digital communication skills to effectively communicate food security and global health information across multiple platforms for the TOPS Program and CORE Group. Holly has experience in social media, marketing, media production, and both domestic and international journalism. Her vision for communication is to share stories and information in order to move others to action in vulnerable communities. She has worked for multiple nonprofit organizations focusing on children and education in various contexts. Holly earned a BA in professional writing and journalism from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In her free time, Holly enjoys traveling and exploring new cities, cooking, reading, and spending time with loved ones. Holly is based at CORE Group.

Laura Zillmer, Small Grants Management Coordinator

Laura is responsible for ensuring timely and accurate coordination of the Small Grants Program activities. Prior to working for The TOPS Program, Laura served as an English instructor at a vocational training institute in northern Tanzania and worked as a Business Development Fellow for Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in South Africa where she supported bid and program development in Southern and East Africa. Laura has a BA in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame. She is based at Save the Children.

Maja Persson, Communications and Documentation Specialist


Maja supports The TOPS Program's communications efforts by producing and disseminating promotional and informational materials for internal and external audiences about TOPS program activities and initiatives. Maja has a wealth of experience managing and directing communications for a variety of organizations, including Save the Children International, the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. She has worked and lived in Stockholm, Managua, and Panama and speaks fluent Spanish. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Economics from the University of Stockholm, Sweden.