Speakers & Panelists


The Global Water Alliance is a Philadelphia-USA based non-government 501c3 organization. We are comprised of professionals and students from many disciplines, who apply an integrated water management perspective in the pursuit of its goals, targeting specifically drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenges with special attention to the global equity issues.

Keynote Speakers

Dominic O’Neill, Sanitation & Hygiene Fund Executive Director

Dominic O’Neill is the Executive Director of the new Sanitation and Hygiene Fund, a UNOPS Fund based in Geneva. This new Fund is intended to deal with the financing gap which is holding back progress on SDG6.2. 

Dominic has a long-standing career in international development throughout which he has had a long-standing commitment to promoting sanitation and hygiene. In his early career he worked for the Ministry of Health in Namibia as an Environmental Health adviser. Dominic then joined the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in 2002 as their Environmental Health policy adviser. In 2003 he was he established DFID’s first bilateral development programme in Yemen and over the next seven years was based in Iraq, Sierra Leone and Nepal as DFID’s Country Director. In 2013 he became the UK’s Executive Director on the Board of the African Development Bank representing the Governments of the Netherlands, the UK and Italy. 

Prior to joining UNOPS, Dominic worked for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF International) from 2017 as their Chief Operating Officer. Dominic graduated in Environmental Health and later completed an MSc in Water and has since taken further qualifications in Management Accounting. 

Dominic plans to use his experience of development finance, combined with first hand experience working around the world to ensure the SHF is able to accelerate achievement of SGD6.2.

Cheryl Hicks, Founding Partner & Chair of the Board, ASE INFRA Partners

Cheryl is a career sustainable business and investment strategist, champion of entrepreneurship and driven to maximise lasting impact. She has more than 20 years of experience driving transformational change programmes and coalitions that address the Sustainable Development Goals with a multiplier effect across business and society. Cheryl is currently a senior advisor to the United Nations Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate as a specialist in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); a founding partner and chair of the board at ASE-INFRA Partners, investing in sanitation economy infrastructure; and board member and chair of the impact committee at Quadia Impact Finance. From 2015-2020 Cheryl has been the inaugural Executive Director and CEO of the Toilet Board Coalition (TBC), a business-led coalition supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the sanitation sector. While at the TBC Cheryl initiated the Toilet Accelerator Programme and established the vision and innovation pathways of the Sanitation Economy. Cheryl holds an Bachelor of Arts Degree (Hon) in International Relations and Environmental Science from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) in Canada; and a Certificate in Business and Finance Leadership from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland. Cheryl is Canadian and is currently based in Zurich, Switzerland.

Closing Speaker

David Parker, Deputy Director, WASH, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

David Parker joined the foundation in 2009 and currently leads the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene team’s strategy, planning, and business operations and as well as its gender-focused work. Previously, he served as the senior portfolio officer on the Financial Services for the Poor team, where he was responsible for overall business operations and annual planning as well as advancing efforts related to measurement, learning, and strategy development.

David’s first role at the foundation was on the K-12 Education team in the U.S. Program. His roles included formulating strategies for geographic scaling and charter school growth, developing grants to increase the use of data-driven decision-making in the field, and serving on the Measures of Effective Teaching research project team.

Earlier, David spent 16 years at Microsoft in increasingly senior positions in global finance, operations, and sales and marketing. He has a B.S. in economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Opening Speakers

Christiaan Morssink, Global Water Alliance President

Christiaan Morssink, Ph.D., M.P.H. holds Candidandus and Doctorandus degrees in cultural anthropology and non-Western sociology, respectively, from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, an M.P.H. from The Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in Health Policy and Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.

Dr. Morssink has 30+ years of practice and teaching experience in public health and related fields in the Netherlands, the U.S., as well as in the Republic of Suriname, where he was head of the Department of Planning and Project Management in the Ministry of Health.

In addition to his Presidency at the Global Water Alliance, Dr. Morssink is involved in several community-based organizations. Dr. Morssink is the immediate past Executive Director of the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia and Secretary of the Global Philadelphia Association.

His interests are many and flow from the understanding of public health as an action-oriented domain of the world’s political economy; they include the effects of the built environment on health, elimination of health disparities, hunger, and urban farming, and the campaign to ban and clear landmines and cluster bombs in communities around the world.

Dr. Lauri Romanzi, Thomas Jefferson University Consultant

Dr. Lauri Romanzi, MD, MScPH, FACOG, FPMRS is a global health Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Urogynecologist, and Consultant to Jefferson University Global Affairs team. She is a Lecturer in the Dept of Global Health and Social Medicine, and Faculty at the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change at Harvard Medical School. Within the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), Lauri is a member of the working group that collaborates with the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).

Over decades working with innovative colleagues in across sub-Saharan African and South Asian countries, Lauri has worked as an itinerant fistula surgeon, maternal health quality of care specialist and advocate for global health equity. Underpinning this trajectory is her work as an advocate and strategist for WASH in healthcare facilities, without which surgical safety and fistula prevention cannot be realized.

Dr. Romanzi is an advisor to national and international organizations dedicated to health quality, equity and human rights for United States women in underserved communities and for women in low- and middle-income countries across the world.

Moderators & Panelists

Catarina Fonseca, IRC WASH Finance Specialist

Catarina Fonseca is trained as an economist and has a doctoral degree in water sciences. She has over 20 years of experience in development cooperation in the water and sanitation sector. Carrying out institutional and financial assessments at international, national and local level for delivering WASH services is at the core of her work. Catarina advises a range of clients from governments, to multilateral and bilateral agencies, foundations, development banks and other international organisations.

Lauren Alcorn, One Drop Foundation Director of Strategic Partnerships

Lauren Alcorn was recently appointed as the Director of Strategic Partnerships at One Drop. Previously a Director of  International Programs, she managed projects and partnerships for last 10 years. Lauren began working in the WASH sector 15 years ago, having established a youth movement on water as a human right. At One Drop, she is responsible for fostering partnerships with sector and business/industry actors working to accelerate the progress of SDG6. Lauren is spokesperson for the organization’s WASH in Health Care Facility initiatives, and she is a proponent of indigenous rights, gender equality and inclusion. Lauren has an MSSc in Development and International Relations from Aalborg University, Denmark and a BA from Dalhousie University.

Jessica Jacobson, Water.org Senior Manager for Financial Institutions

Jessica Jacobson is the Senior Manager for Financial Institutions at Water.org.  The financial institutions team works with financial institutions, regional and global networks and fintechs to provide the tools, materials, and technical assistance needed to develop and scale a water and sanitation loan product. Ms. Jacobson has twenty years experience in international development, with a focus on increasing access to financial services for low- and mid-income households. She served as Deputy Director of the EBRD Micro and Small Finance Facility in Kyrgyzstan, working with seven local banks to develop credit products for low-and-mid income households. She has also worked with non-profit microfinance institutions in Africa and Asia and with ProCredit Banks in Latin America.  She has managed complex multi-million dollar small loan portfolios and has provided technical training to bank executives, credit managers and loan officers.  She has studied nine languages and has work experience in 26 countries.

Dr. William T. Muhairwe, Executive Director, Global Water Leaders Group & 2ML Consulting Limited Senior Team Leader & Founder

Dr. William is the Senior Team Leader/ Founder of 2ML Consulting Limited, a Management and Leadership Consulting firm that offers responsive technical solutions to utilities and organizations across the globe and also the Executive Director of the Global Water Leaders’ Group – UK.

He holds outstanding international experience of over 30 years, coordinating multidisciplinary teams in both public and private sectors. He has focused on the management of water sector companies and organizations around Africa. His areas of expertise as a team leader within the water utility sector include; Change Management; Performance Improvement Programs (PIP); Concept and Business development; Development of system manuals (policies, operational procedures; loss reduction, human resources, etc.); Conducting Tariff Studies and Performance analysis.

Dr. William has been managing water industry reform projects for almost 21 years since 1998. He is responsible for one of the African water industry’s great success stories – the turnaround of Uganda’s National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC). During his first meeting, he declared that he would resign if he did not turn the Corporation around within 100 days. The surgery, which involved development and implementation of performance improvement programs was successful and over the next 13 years, NWSC grew to become one of the most innovative, successful and profitable water and wastewater utilities in Africa. Since then, Dr William has been involved in over 25 projects of similar characteristics mostly around Africa, but also in the Caribbean and Middle East.

Dr. William has worked for reforming water utility companies in Nigeria, Jordan, Sierra Leone, Zambia, South Sudan, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. He has also provided Utility Management Expertise to the Arab Water Academy (AWA).

His International associations memberships include; Honorary Member of Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers, Past Governing Board Member – International Water Association (IWA), The Hague Netherlands and award winner for the Outstanding Contribution to Management and Science, (2010) International Water association (IWA). He has earned International Professorship Awards (for expanded knowledge in the global arena of academia and leadership) from the United Graduate College & Seminary – Jonesborough Tennessee, USA and Makerere University Kampala – Uganda.

Josh Jones, Grow Your Stake Co-Founder & Stake Pool Operator

Josh is an experienced startup entrepreneur for the last 25 years, specializing in building marketing teams and crafting strategy to go to scale.  Discontent with existing monetary systems drives his passion for the crypto and blockchain industry.

He is co-founder and stake pool operator of Grow Your Stake [GYS], a mission-driven, #cleanwaterforall, Cardano stake pool. He is also half of the Cardano based YouTube podcast Cardano Chats.

Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue Senior Editor & Chief Correspondent

Since reporting on the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in 1979, Keith Schneider developed one of the signal careers in environmental journalism and advocacy of his generation. His work as a freelance investigative reporter in the 1980s compelled chemical manufacturers to withdraw more than 100 dangerous pesticides from the market and changed how the EPA licenses farm chemicals.

As a national correspondent for the New York Times in the 1990s he disclosed unsafe conditions at nuclear arms factories. The government closed plants and launched an environmental cleanup program, now more than 30 years old.

He founded and directed a land use research and advocacy group in Michigan in 1995 that helped turn smart growth into the design standard for rebuilding cities and suburbs across the country.

In the 2000s, Keith’s has explored the international dimensions of the fierce contest for water, energy, and food in the era of climate change. Keith’s articles from the Yellow River Basin helped compel China to better understand the consequences to its economy from climate change and severe water scarcity. Keith’s reporting for Circle of Blue and several Chinese news organizations influenced the 2014 U.S.-China climate agreement, the diplomatic breakthrough that led to the successful 2015 UN Paris Climate Accord.

He’s reported from 35 countries on six continents for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, NPR, ProPublica, and Circle of Blue. Along with American outlets, his articles have been translated into five languages and published by leading news organizations in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America.

Among his honors are two George Polk awards for environmental and national reporting, among the most prestigious in American journalism.

Keith has lived in rural northern Michigan since 1992. He is married and the father of four stepchildren


Robert Hornsby, Jobomax / American Homebuilders of West Africa Co-Founder & CFO

Robert Hornsby is CFO of Jobomax Global (jobomax.com), which he co-founded in 2014 with Mamady Doumbouya (1940-2018) and Jonathan Halloran.  Jobomax provides high quality affordable housing and housing finance platforms to members of the West Africa diaspora and to the regional West African market.  Robert has more than two decades of experience in West Africa, where he served in the Peace Corps as a public health volunteer (1993-95), and later managed an import business focused on fair trade products from the region. Robert has led Jobomax’s financial strategy since 2014, securing over $1.5M in seed financing in 2015, guiding the company to cash flow positivity in 2 years, and breaching the $1M in revenue threshold within 3, achieving 100% annual revenue growth since its inception. He contributes to the firm a blend of entrepreneurial experience, financial and strategic planning acumen, and knowledge of the macroeconomic and cultural landscape in West Africa. Robert holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and an MA in African Studies and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He received a BA in Economics at Davidson College, with a focus on Economic Development. Robert lives in Philadelphia with his wife, two daughters, and two very friendly dogs.

Chris Harnish, Thomas Jefferson University Associate Professor, Technology, Social Design, Healthcare Design

Prof. Chris Harnish is an Associate Professor of Architecture in the Thomas Jefferson University College of Architecture and the Built Environment. As the Director of the Health and Design Collaborative, and Jefferson Consortium of African Partnerships, his research and practice examines architecture in the public interest, including health and education infrastructure, and humanitarian engagements. The praxis emphasizes human-centered and evidence-based design, informed by medical research and qualitative community-engagement methodologies. His research informs designs that are engaging to humans, empowering to communities, and resilient in fragile environments. In the past decade, his work with Malawi health infrastructure includes: the development of a health centre prototype for the Malawi Ministry of Health; master planning for the Kamuzu Central Hospital, schematic design for a new psychiatric hospital at KCH, the design of a midwifery teaching ward for the Kamuzu College of Nursing, and numerous planning and architectural projects for the Malamulo Adventist Hospital. In 2016, Professor Harnish was awarded a Fulbright Teaching Scholar Fellowship for his proposal, “Equity, Sustainability and Resilience: Architecture as a Social Force in Humanitarian Development”. The fellowship sponsored his teaching at the University of Malawi Polytechnic in 2017 where he brought this work to Malawian architecture students. His research has been published in Traditional Settlements Review (2011), the Journal of Architectural Education (2013), the Public Interest Design Practice Guidebook (2015), Public Interest Design Education Guidebook (2017) and Sustainable Urban Development and Globalization (2018).

Deepak Khadka, iDE Vice President of Asia

Deepak Khadka brings over twenty years of leadership, management and technical  experience in designing and implementing projects in South Asia, including Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Bhutan focused on private sector market development, financial inclusion, WASH and a wide variety of agriculture value chain strengthening initiatives. As the Vice President for Asia at iDE, Deepak currently supports the leadership teams in Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam and Bangladesh implement their largest and most innovative programs, expanding iDE’s work in WASH, nutrition, and gender-based programming.  Prior to this role – he worked as the iDE Country Director in Bangladesh for 8 years.  Prior to joining iDE, he worked in Nepal as the co-founder and CEO of a not-for-profit organisation focused on improving the livelihoods of people living in the rural and remote hill areas through financial inclusion.  He has led initiatives in public health sector and social marketing with PSI, livelihoods engagement in post-conflict and emergency affected markets in Nepal through Practical Action. He has an MBA in Marketing from Kathmandu University, School of Management and currently lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh with his family. 

Miguel Vargas-Ramirez, World Bank Group Lead Water and Sanitation Specialist

Miguel Vargas-Ramirez is a Colombian civil engineer who graduated from the Universidad de los Andes (1994) in Bogotá. He also earned a Masters of Hydrologic Sciences at the University of California, Davis (1996), and a Master’s in Public Administration at Northeastern University in Boston (2001).

His professional career spans over 22 years and has been devoted to water and sanitation issues. He has worked for a wide range of different institutions, from NGOs such as Oxfam America, consultant firms, and international water private operators, such as Ondeo, where his work focused on the provision of services for poor households in low-income communities.

Mr. Vargas-Ramirez’s has worked at The World Bank for over 17 years. He worked with the Water and Sanitation Program while based initially in Bolivia and later in Panama, on projects dedicated to expanding sewerage services for the urban poor using alternative technologies. His extensive experience in Africa comprises work in Nigeria, Cameroon, and FCV countries such as Burkina Faso and Chad, with a focus on national and state governments and water utilities. He also previously lived and was based in Durban, South Africa, where he worked with a PPP pilot initiative to extend services to previously underserved areas in the eThekwini metropolitan area. In most recent years, he worked in Latin America on the provision of water and sanitation services in afro-descendant and indigenous areas