Panelist Bios

Ritu Agarwal
Robert H. Smith Dean’s Chair of Information Systems & Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Research

Ritu AgarwalRitu Agarwal is the senior associate dean for faculty and research and the Robert H. Smith Dean’s Chair of Information Systems at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is also the founder and director of the Smith School’s Center for Health Information and Decision Systems. Agarwal has published over 100 papers on health informatics and information technology management topics in journals, such as Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, Management Science, Communications of the ACM, Journal of Management Information Systems, Health Affairs, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, and IEEE Transactions, and has made presentations at numerous national and international conferences.

Her current research is focused on the use of IT in healthcare settings, health analytics, technology-enabled strategic transformations in various industrial sectors, and consumer behavior in technology-mediated settings.

Agarwal has worked extensively with Fortune 500 companies on research and consulting engagements, and has made several presentations to groups of senior IT and business executives. She has testified before the National Committee on Health and Vital Statistics and the U.S. Department of Health, based on her research on IT and healthcare. Her research has been sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Society for Information Management, U.S. Department of Labor, NSF, and DARPA, and featured in several media outlets, including The Washington Post, National Public Radio, and The Baltimore Sun.

Agarwal was the editor-in-chief of Information Systems Research from 2011 to 2016. She previously served three-year terms as senior editor at MIS Quarterly and associate editor for Management Science. She was a member of the INFORMS board as vice president for Subdivisions from 2004 to 2006, and served as a vice president in the Association for Information Systems from 2002 to 2005. She served as a standing member of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s expert review panel on Healthcare Effectiveness and Outcomes Research from 2010 to 2012. Agarwal was the NSF ADVANCE Professor for 2012-2013 for the Smith School. In 2011, she became a fellow of the Association for Information Systems and received the University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award. In 2013, she received the title of Distinguished Fellow from the Information Systems Society of INFORMS.

She has held leadership positions in a number of major professional conferences, including program chair for the International Conference on Information Systems. She became the conference co-chair for the International Conference on Information Systems in 2017. She is a member of ACM, AIS, INFORMS and the Academy of Management.

In 2010, Agarwal initiated and chaired the Conference on Health IT and Analytics (CHITA) (previously called the Workshop on Health Information Technology and Economics). CHITA is a multidisciplinary research conference to engage the research, policy and practice communities in understanding the role of digital technologies in healthcare transformation. CHITA is an annual event sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Academy Health, the preeminent professional organization in health services research.

Kimberly Brown
Founder and CEO, Amethyst Technologies

Kimberly BrownKimberly Brown, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Amethyst Technologies LLC. The company works to develop quality programs for global health, clinical trials, drug manufacturing and FDA compliance in emerging infectious disease research. It also works to develop and operate laboratories in Africa, and to strengthen global health systems, quality assurance and compliance assessments. The Maryland-based firm provides technical assistance, equipment calibration and validation, as well as standard operating procedure development, independent verification and validation. And it works to train healthcare and laboratory personnel. Amethyst has international offices in Tanzania and Ghana, and projects in Kenya, Senegal and Iraq.

Brown began working in the biotechnology compliance industry in 1998 as an intern for Cell Systems Inc. (CSI). She bought the government contract rights from CSI in 2007. Amethyst has added more than 25 new clients since 2007, including nine U.S. Army divisions, USAID, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of State, the Government of Kenya, the University of Maryland College Park, as well as numerous biotechnology companies and food/beverage manufacturers. Amethyst’s services have supported critical initiatives related to HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, Ebola, the Dengue virus, cancer, global health security, emergency preparedness, and healthcare service delivery. Currently, Amethyst employs 40 people in the U.S. and Africa.

Brown was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the President’s Advisory Council for Doing Business in Africa in 2016. She also currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and is a member of the External Advisory Board of UMCP’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department. In 2015, Brown was awarded the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s Glenn L. Martin Medal for her company’s commitment to global health.

Brown obtained a PhD and a master of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her dissertation, “An Analysis of a New Approach to Sol-gel Synthesis: The Reaction of Formic Acid with TEOS,” focused on the thermodynamics and kinetics of nanosystems. This research led to significant advances in the characterization of the morphology of gels. She earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. As an undergraduate student, she received accolades for her research, including GTE Fellowship’s Award of Highest Distinction and Rohm and Haas’ Most Outstanding African American in Undergraduate Research (finalist).

Tom Coogan
Regional Director, Anglophone Region, U.S. African Development Foundation

Tom Coogan

Tom Coogan has led project development and implementation at the U.S. African Development Foundation for over 15 years. He currently serves as the USADF Regional Director of Anglophone Region. Coogan helped establish USADF’s Power Africa program, which has awarded more than 75 grants to off-grid energy enterprises.

Coogan was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Yale School of Management, he has extensive experience in the private and nonprofit sectors, including as vice president of finance at Rite Aid Corporation and as head of finance and administration at Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade organization. He also served in the Peace Corps as a small business adviser in the Gambia in West Africa.

Brionne Dawson
Director, East and Southern Africa, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Brionne DawsonBrionne Dawson is a results-driven global public policy practitioner in Washington, D.C. with nearly two decades of experience in program management, sustainable development and government affairs. As director of East and Southern Africa at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Dawson is responsible for advising multinational companies operating there on navigating political, regulatory and operational risks in emerging and frontier markets. Dawson served in the federal government at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and in leadership capacities at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Washington, D.C. and South Africa.

At USAID, Dawson developed and executed legislative and stakeholder outreach strategies to advance Agency priorities, earning recognition for outstanding achievement and building bipartisan support on a wide-ranging portfolio of sustainable development efforts. As acting director of NDI's regional office in South Africa, Dawson implemented donor-funded programs to provide political leaders with skills to fight HIV/AIDS throughout Southern Africa resulting in enactment of a model law. Dawson managed DFID, USAID & NED-funded development programs in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia. She also led efforts to improve accountability in the management of revenues from natural resources in East Africa, stemming from multi-country research on transparency and accountability in Africa's extractive industries.

Other professional assignments include the United Nations Development Programme, the Center for International Policy and consulting. Dawson is a founding board member of Grassroots Reconciliation Group and former principal at Full Circle, a social enterprise dedicated to expanding markets for women's cooperatives in Rwanda.

Dawson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, a Master of Arts degree in international business from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a certification in French proficiency.

Uduak Essien
Managing Director, Project Finance Division, Export-Import Bank of the US

Uduak EssienUduak Essien is the managing director for power in the Project Finance Division at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, an independent agency of the U.S. government.

Essien has more than 20 years of experience in commercial banking. She began her career in structuring mezzanine debt and equity in large real estate developments in the United States, and currently structures debt for transactions in mining, technology, manufacturing, power and other industries.

Her work at Ex-Im Bank takes her to geographic regions across the globe, including Sub-Saharan Africa. Early in her career, she worked for a microfinance institution in Uganda.

Essien is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and has an MBA from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Eric V. Guichard
Founder & CEO, Homestrings, Inc.

Eric V. GuichardEric V. Guichard is the founder and CEO of Homestrings Inc., an investment platform that caters exclusively to Frontier and Emerging Market investors, including the global diaspora. Homestrings showcases promising emerging market companies on the verge of disrupting the industries and markets in which they operate.

Prior to founding Homestrings, Guichard served as chairman of GRAVITAS Capital, an institutional asset management company he founded in 1996. He had previously worked as a portfolio manager at the World Bank, where he also served as technical adviser to sovereign and multilateral institutions worldwide.

Guichard is a graduate of the University of Dakar, Senegal; of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and of the Harvard Business School, where he earned his MBA as a World Bank Scholar and Harvard Fellowship award winner.

He currently serves on several nonprofit boards, including the University of Maryland's Center for Financial Policy. He has also served on the boards of Capital Partners for Education, an inner-city mentorship program; and OIC International, which encourages economic self-reliance in Africa.

Guichard received a 2009 Risk Innovator Award for Finance from Risk & Insurance Magazine for innovative work at GRAVITAS. In 2013 he received "Entrepreneur of the Year Award" from London-based African Diaspora Awards for successfully launching Homestrings.com. In 2014, Homestrings received the "African Financier of the Year" award from the Association of African-Owned Enterprises.

Jeffrey Krilla
Vice President for Global Policy and Government Affairs, Kosmos Energy

Jeffrey Krilla

Jeffrey (“Jeff”) Krilla joined Kosmos Energy in May 2015 as Vice President for Global Public Policy and Government Affairs, bringing a wealth of global experience in international business, management, and diplomacy. At Kosmos Energy, a premier international oil and gas exploration and production company, Krilla leverages his decades of expertise and extensive high-level relationships to advance the company’s mission to find the right balance in relationships with government and countries, to work to transform natural resources into national resources, and to enhance lives. At the end of 2016, Krilla was instrumental in engineering the agreement between the governments of Senegal and Mauritania leading to the $1 billion partnership between Kosmos and BP.

Krilla previously chaired the Africa and Corporate Social Responsibility Practices at Dentons, LLP leading 300 lawyers and professionals in 21 countries in Africa that made Dentons the leading international law firm on the continent. He was seconded to Bloomberg Philanthropies to help design the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a key part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first summit of its kind, and the largest event that any U.S. president has convened with African heads of state. Krilla was named a "Legal Rebel" by the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal, for "finding new ways to practice law, represent their clients, adjudicate cases and train the next generation of lawyers" and "remaking their corner of the profession."

Prior to this work, Krilla worked in the public sector for over two decades. From 2006-2009, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, where he led U.S. delegations on five continents promoting socially responsible partnerships between private and public stakeholders. Before joining the State Department, Krilla was the Africa Director at the International Republican Institute and spent a decade as a senior aide for Congressman Mike Pappas (N.J.) and Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Bill Thomas (Calif.), and as Majority Counsel for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Krilla is a Lifetime Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Atlantic Council, and the United States Trade Representative’s Trade Advisory Committee on Africa. He sits on the Board of Directors of Africare and served on the Refugees International Board from 2009-2015 as well as the Georgetown University Athletics Department’s “Hoya Hoop Club.”

He is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (1991) and has master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (1996) and the U.S. Naval War College (2014) and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center (1998). He is a Naval Attaché in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

Krilla is a songwriter whose achievements include writing and producing the 2016 Christmas hit “Elf Love,” recorded by Nashville’s-own Belle Rive.

Krilla lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two daughters.

Kevin Tanzola
Vice President of Financial Operations, Middle East & Africa Region, Marriott International

Kevin TanzolaKevin Tanzola has spent 22 years working with Marriott International in its finance discipline.

Over those years, he has lived on five continents, in nine cities and has worked in every theater of the world Marriott International has to offer. He now resides in Dubai. He moved there three years ago to oversee finance operations for the hospitality giant’s 300 hotels across the Middle-East and Africa.

Throughout his Marriott journey, Tanzola has learned that keeping an open mind and challenging how business is done are important keys to success.

In his free time, he enjoys competitive running, working out, reading, and exploring different countries and cultures.