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Jacaranda Health appoints Cynthia Kahumbura as Co-Executive Director

Cynthia Kahumbura giving a speech at the Kenya Quality Ecosystem County Cross-Learning in Makueni County.
Cynthia Kahumbura giving a speech at the Kenya Quality Ecosystem County Cross-Learning in Makueni County.
Cynthia Kahumbura giving a speech at the Kenya Quality Ecosystem County Cross-Learning in Makueni County.
Cynthia Kahumbura giving a speech at the Kenya Quality Ecosystem County Cross-Learning in Makueni County.

Jacaranda Health is delighted to announce the appointment of Cynthia Kahumbura as Co-Executive Director, alongside colleagues Nick Pearson and Sathy Rajasekharan. She steps up from her previous role of Country Director (2022-2024) at Jacaranda to lead the scale, sustainability and execution of our Kenya programs and operations. 

Cynthia joined Jacaranda as Director of Operations in March 2020, in the midst of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘The country went into lockdown in my first week.’ explains Cynthia. ‘I had the hard task of figuring out how to build meaningful relationships remotely.’ Although indisputably tough, the lockdown catalyzed an instant passion for the work. New innovations, like tele-triaging and digital learning for nurses, were emerging to cater for the growing crisis, innovations that would long outlive the COVID-19 period.

Over her four years at Jacaranda, Cynthia has played a pivotal role in advancing the organization’s scale trajectory – from 100+ facilities in five Kenyan counties in 2020, to 1,300+ facilities across 22 counties, and three countries in 2024. Cynthia’s promotion to Co-Executive Director closely dovetails with this expansion journey, reflecting our new strategic positioning as a global organization, while affirming a continued emphasis on scaling nationally in Kenya.

One of my big goals is to ensure every mum and baby receives quality care in Kenya and beyond. This means aligning with and driving forward the national Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda, and ensuring our programs are adopted within the wider health system – not just for today, but in years to come.’

Cynthia strongly advocates for the inclusion of women’s voices in health system improvements and the UHC agenda, not only in health leadership, but also by ensuring mothers have a say on the services they receive, and that their feedback translates to action at the county level. ‘We have the privilege at Jacaranda of giving people who wouldn’t otherwise have a voice in the health system a channel to influence decisions right at the top.’ she says. ‘It’s what drives me every day.’

Alongside deepening impact in Kenya, Cynthia will focus on putting the right people and processes in place to ensure the continued scale, sustainability and execution of Jacaranda’s Kenya operations and – critically –  responsible, effective solutions for mothers and babies. Her focus will be on maintaining an internal culture of innovation, integrity, and ‘working smarter, not harder’, while setting a standard for excellence in the processes and systems that underpin our projects and programs.

‘What’s special about Jacaranda is its culture.’ says Cynthia. ‘Everyone has a voice, and the right to have their ideas heard and tested. We’re proud of our local teams where people can grow, including myself.’ Since Cynthia joined, the team has grown from 45 to 100+, but maintained a true on-the-ground presence. 95% of Jacaranda’s staff are based in Kenya, with five new Ghanaian recruits to spearhead operations in Ghana. 70% of Jacaranda’s management team are women.

Amidst an increasingly busy schedule, in busy moments, Cynthia always comes back to her belief in the mission and the human stories that communicate our impact on the ground.

I get so energized hearing stories from our field team. Stories like a frontline nurse being trained on postpartum hemorrhage one week and then saving a life the next, or how a mother’s feedback via PROMPTS led to real-life improvements in a certain facility. It inspires me every day.’

Cynthia assumes the role of Co-Executive Director from this month.

Cynthia’s leadership and vision has taken us from strength to strength, building a team and systems capable of operating at national scale, increasing the reach of our programs by five-fold, and positioning Jacaranda as a trusted partner for dozens of county governments. Sathy and I are excited to formalize her executive leadership, as an equal partner and steward of Jacaranda’s ambitious mission to improve pregnancy journeys for all Kenyan mothers. – Nick Pearson, Founder & Co-Executive Director, Jacaranda Health

Over her time at Jacaranda, Cynthia has shown the dedication, innovative ideas, and remarkable skill set that has driven our scale and impact as an organization. We are excited for her to step into her new role, which will give her the flexibility to help shape the future, ambitious direction of  Jacaranda – as we seek to expand our support for mothers and babies across the continent.’ – Sathy Rajasekharan, Co-Executive Director, Jacaranda Health 

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