Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 08/15/2013

tayagJoe Araya Tayag, Class of 2010
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Abt Associates Inc.

The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship provided me with the opportunity to gain my Master’s in Healthcare Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, and my life has been an adventure ever since.

In the three years since graduating, I’ve worked in 12 different countries in Africa, Middle East, the Pacific and the Caribbean, designing and launching of innovative forms of health financing for marginalized communities. The core of these enterprises (rooted in both the private and public sector), is based on principles of entrepreneurship that I learned during the Reynolds Foundation Fellowship: (1) sustainability is the litmus test for vetting opportunities; (2) low-income consumer are a little understood, but powerful market segment; and (3) the future of the world rests on “the imaginations of unreasonable men” (to quote our fellowship mentor Billy Shore).

After Harvard, I served as a fellow for United Nations International Labour Organization in Tanzania. I led a multi-disciplinary team of managers, business process specialists, and local staff to administer a health microinsurance program with PharmAccess Foundation and the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union for over 300,000 coffee farmers and their families. This business model is frequently studied as a model for rural health insurance delivery.

I then left the UN to serve as a Microinsurance Expert for the Asian Development Bank in the Pacific Region. I conducted a national study to qualify demand for microinsurance in Fiji, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and Fijian government. My research and design led to the launch of three different microinsurance products that are frequently studied as a case for expanding financial services through innovative distribution channels. My quantitative and qualitative research instruments are now used to evaluate price sensitivity, product preference, and strategic communications throughout Pacific Region countries such as Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Vanuatu.

After working in the Pacific, I returned to the U.S. to join Abt Associates Inc., a research and consulting firm where I serve as the International Health Financing Advisor, implementing multimillion dollar aid projects for the United States Agency for International Development, the British Department for International Development, the World Bank, and other major aid investors. In this role, I lead the design and delivery of business planning, process improvement and actuarial support, as well as monitoring and evaluation process for low-income health insurance programs in Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania. I also deliver technical capacity to the Malawi Ministry of Health and the Catholic Health Association of Malawi, reforming service level agreements for over 80 private facilities that deliver more than 40 percent of all health care in Malawi.

My work has been a blessing and a privilege.

Before the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship and my studies at the Harvard School of Public Health, my imagination was limited to working in California. The fellowship and my graduate education, however, taught me that the world was out there and there was much, much more to contribute.

Here I am addressing Kilimanjaro cooperative members to discuss their new health insurance program (2011):


Working with ILO Microinsurance Innovation Facility, this family became the first policy-holders of the Imani health insurance program in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2010):


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