Executive Director, Population Council Kenya
Beth Kangwana is a public health epidemiologist with over 15 years of experience in health-related research, management, and development. Since 2018, she has provided global and national technical leadership and support to a breadth of research initiatives in the Population Council’s Kenya office, including efforts related to sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV; and maternal, child, and adolescent health and well-being.
Kangwana co-leads the Population Council’s Mental Health Strategic Research Initiative, which has developed and is implementing a progressive strategy to amplify and strengthen the impact of the Council’s work in this area. As an Editorial Committee member of the Council’s global journal Studies in Family Planning, she contributes to the assessment of scholarly articles on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and informs both the editorial process and decisions related to topics of interest.
Since joining the Council, Kangwana has brought innovative ideas and provided intellectual and technical leadership in the design and implementation of research efforts in Kenya with a clear goal of ensuring the impact of the Council’s work. As a co-investigator on the Adolescent Girls Initiative–Kenya, a complex multisectoral program that tested layered packages of interventions designed to improve the health and well-being of adolescents in Kenya, Kangwana has focused her efforts on enabling the scale-up of this approach within county health programmes working closely with county executives. In the same vein, at the national level in Kenya, Kangwana has successfully nurtured relationships with strategic program partners, civil society groups, government representatives, and donors, with the aim of strengthening the Council’s partnerships and networks in the region. While much of her work has focused on addressing the complex challenges and underlying cultural barriers that adolescent girls in Kenya face, Kangwana has contributed to several resource mobilization efforts in Kenya on a range of topics including child marriage and sexual and gender-based violence.
Kangwana began her research career at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kenya—a world-renowned regional institution known for excellence in health research. She also worked at Population Services International, Kenya and Imperial College, London, UK. As an epidemiologist, she led the design and implementation of a cesarean section surgical site infection surveillance system at Butare Referral Hospital in Rwanda, where she built the capacity of medical staff to generate data to inform hospital practices. She also led the evaluation of approaches to improve access to effective and affordable malaria treatment in children under the age of five years, in collaboration with the National Malaria Control Program in Kenya.
In October 2021, Kangwana assumed the role of executive director of the Council’s Kenya office, bringing diverse leadership experiences and a commitment to creating a collaborative work culture that is fully inclusive of all employees no matter their ethnicity, age, or gender. She has a clear and ambitious vision for growing the Council in Kenya into a renowned center of excellence for research, providing realistic and scalable solutions that will improve the health and well-being of current and future generations.
Kangwana has a doctoral degree in public health epidemiology, a master’s degree in global health science from the University of Oxford, a certificate in advanced statistical methods in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the School of Pharmacy, University of London, UK.