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Initiatives Mourns the Loss of Jennifer Huddart

Initiatives is deeply saddened to announce the death of Jennifer Huddart (Vice President) on June 27, 2008. Jenny is survived by her sister, Sue Sumner, and her nephew Ian Sumner and niece Rebecca Sumner.

Jennifer HuddartJenny joined Initiatives in its infancy more than 20 years ago; the loss of her leadership, friendship, and humor is profoundly felt by our entire staff, international colleagues, and her many friends around the globe.

Jenny, who was the kindest person many of us will ever know, was also our best friend, sister, mentor, colleague and intellectual leader. Her commitment to improving health care in countries throughout the world was matched only by her support for colleagues who were fortunate enough to learn from her unparalleled ability to simplify and explain complex concepts.

—Joyce Lyons, President, Initiatives Inc.

With more than 25 years of international health experience, Jenny specialized in assisting governments and NGOs in the developing world to strengthen the management of their public health programs, with a particular focus on human resource management, health systems management, supervision, and performance improvement. She helped design and implement projects in dozens of countries and provided expert technical assistance to improve the quality and sustainability of planning, supervision, and human resources management. She was a skilled trainer and curriculum developer for national and local cadres of health workers and managers who was widely recognized for the quality and innovation of the management tools, training curricula and case studies she developed.

Jennifer HuddartJenny co-authored books on HIV/AIDS and family planning issues and published books and articles on human resource issues of health care systems in the developing world. She added AfDB, DfID, SIDA, USAID and World Bank contracts to Initiatives’ client list, and all along she quietly mentored many of her colleagues.

Although Jenny never revealed her achievements in a public way, she was extraordinarily accomplished and respected in the field of human resources management, specifically the concerns in large health systems about planning, recruitment, management and retention of health workforce. Her work is frequently referenced in professional papers and her guidance was sought by many international agencies including WHO, The World Bank, SIDA and USAID.

Jenny’s work and friendship was highly valued by her colleagues at Initiatives Inc. and beyond. As a tribute to Jenny, some thoughts shared by friends and colleagues upon hearing of Jenny’s passing are excerpted below.

She was rare gem.

—Steve Mwanza, Initiatives/SHARe, Zambia

She was an extraordinary person who touched everyone she met and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from her. Jenny taught me the meaning of loving what you do and always meeting adversity with optimism.

—Veronika Knierim, former Administrative Coordinator, Initiatives Inc.

I knew Jenny as a friend rather than as a co-worker. Now as she rests in peace, I just want to remember our common talks, interests, conversations, family visits, friendship and her laughing when I incorrectly translate something wrong to her.

—Osama Samawi, Initiatives/HSS, Jordan

I learned more from watching Jenny interact with people, listen, ask questions and gently nudge people into understanding a better approach, than I could have learned in a hundred years of school. Jenny had a subtle, but very effective, way of critiquing.  She could make light bulbs go off without ever uttering a command, instruction or pedantic phrase.

—Rebecca Furth, Senior Technical Advisor, Initiatives Inc., India

Jenny was such a wonderful friend, colleague, and sister. I have never seen someone so dedicated to help others and try to make them happy as much as she could. She had a positive spirit and soul.

—Safa Halaseh, Jordan

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