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Webinar : Migration & HIV in the context of COVID-19

8 April 2021 - 2:00-4:00 pm CET

Biographies of Speakers & Presenters



Sandy Thurman

Chief Strategy Officer, Office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, US Department of State (Washington, DC, USA)

Sandy serves as the Chief Strategy Officer in the United States Department of State’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy. In this role, she works closely with Ambassador-at-Large Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Representative of Global Health Diplomacy, to coordinate all of the U.S. government’s global HIV/AIDS activities to achieve an AIDS-free generation, ensuring transparency, accountability, and impact.

Throughout her career, Ms. Thurman has held important leadership positions, including leading the Office of National AIDS Policy under President Bill Clinton; Presidential Envoy on HIV/AIDS; Senior Advisor for Strategy and Development at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and as Director of both the Interfaith Health Program and the Joseph W. Blount Center for Health and Human Rights at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She also served as Director of Advocacy Programs for the Task Force for Child Survival and Development at the Carter Center and Executive Director of AID Atlanta, the oldest and largest AIDS service organization in the South. She also serves on the faculty at the Rollins School of Public Health and on numerous nonprofit boards and committees. Ms. Thurman has an M.A. in Community Pastoral Care and HIV/AIDS from St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya and a B.S. from Mercer University.

Opening Session


Migrants Health Assistance Programme Coordinator, Migration Health Division 

Overview of migration - situation and challenges - in accessing health services in the context of COVID-19; as well as in accessing COVID-19 mitigation information/tools and care.



Fr. Richard W. Bauer

MM, BCC, LCSW, Director of Spiritual and Psychosocial Care, EDARP Kenya

Welcoming the Stranger: A Response of Faith and Theology

Fr. Rick Bauer is a Roman Catholic priest with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and has been involved in support for people affected by HIV since 1982. In 1997, he came to Africa serving in Catholic care and treatment programs for people with HIV first in Tanzania, later in Namibia, and now in Kenya.

As both a priest and clinical social worker, Fr Bauer has a wide range of experience with treatment, care and support activities for holistic, comprehensive patient assessment and care and staff support. He has developed programs to integrate positive spirituality and mental health interventions into program service delivery. He serves on the Leader’s Council of the Global Network on Spirituality and Health at George Washington University and is an assistant editor for the Journal of HIV and Social Work.

Fr. Rick is currently serving as the Director of Spiritual and Psychosocial support Eastern Deanery AIDS Relief Program (EDARP) in Nairobi with over 420 staff members and 28,000 clients.

Session 1 - Celebrating and accompanying migrants


Paul Jeffrey

Life On Earth Pictures

A Journey through images – the contribution of faith to address migration challenges and in accompanying migrants

Paul Jeffrey is a United Methodist pastor, photojournalist, and founding 
member of Life on Earth Pictures. He lives in the United States.

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Gary Jones

Senior Adviser, Security, Humanitarian and Fragile States

The Road-Map on Migration and HIV and the role of faith


Session 2 - Best Practices & Lessons Learned Session: HIV & COVID-19

Alyna C. Smith.jpg

Ms. Alyna C. Smith

Senior Advocacy Officer, Health, Justice and Legal Strategies, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants

Undocumented migrants and the realities of their access to health care in Europe, including in the context of COVID-19


Prof Mohamed Karama

Islamic Relief

Best practices and lessons learned on addressing GBV and stigma and discrimination in the context of COVID-19


Session 3 - The way forward

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Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo

Secretary General, International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC); Health Attaché, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See at the United Nations and other International Organizations (Geneva), Switzerland

The way forward

Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo completed graduate studies in theology, clinical social work, and management. He is a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey  (USA). He served in Catholic Church-related charitable agencies at diocesan, national, and global levels. Between 2005 and 2016, he coordinated the Caritas Internationalis Delegation to the UN in Geneva and served as its Special Advisor on Health.


In June 2016, he was appointed to serve as the Secretary General of the International Catholic Migration Commission, a global network of Catholic Bishops Conferences engaged in responses to people on the move. ICMC also provides protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants in emergency situations, with 500 staff in 40 countries of the world, and convenes civil society in several major global, migration-related advocacy networks.


In addition to his leadership of ICMC, Msgr. Vitillo serves as an Attaché for the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva.


He has served as an advisor/consultant and has authored books and articles related to child protection, humanitarian assistance, global health issues, migration and refugee movements, global pandemics including Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis, spirituality and health, and Christian-Muslim dialogue.


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