WE ARE ADOLESCENT HEALTH CHAMPIONS

Our Story

We created Adolescent Health Champions because we believe in the promise and potential of youthWe built this organization as a platform to enable adolescents to take ownership of their own health, to re-shape the dialogue around gender inequality and its impacts on health in their schools and in their communities, and build healthier, more equitable futures for themselves and their peers. We are Adolescent Health Champions because all genders must be involved in our collective efforts towards a more just and equitable world.

This is a youth-led movement, built one Champion at a time. We first came up with the idea for Adolescent Health Champions in 2016. As we were piloting our model, we knew we were onto something when our Champions kept asking us if they could be assigned to teach difficult topics like mental health and contraception. Watching our Champions transform into leaders, mentors, and community health advocates inspires us to continue scaling the Adolescent Health Champions model worldwide.

Our work is driven by a few simple principles: we believe in doing things the right way; in an impactful, measurable way; and in a sustainable way. We believe in fostering deep ties to the communities we are fortunate to partner with.

We hope you’ll join us as we train the next generation of health leaders globally through Adolescent Health Champions

Our Champions

Our Champions are students in the 7th through 10th standards in India who are central to Adolescent Health Champions. These young people bring courage, confidence, and conviction to their role as health educators. Our team employs human-centered design to ensure that our curriculum and content mirror our adolescents’ needs and is co-developed with youth.  

Our Team

Priya Shankar MD, MPH

Co-Founder and Co-President (she/her/hers)

Priya is a physician with a passion for women and girls health. As a pediatrician, she has seen firsthand the important role that peer influence can play in a young person’s understanding of their own health and health outcomes, as well as the negative ways that gender roles are formed early in one’s life. She is an Adolescent Health Champion as she hopes to spend her career cultivating agency in young people to take ownership over their own health and to fight for gender equality. 

Priya is a graduate of UPenn, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Boston University School of Medicine. She also is a graduate of the University of California San Francisco Pediatric Leaders Advancing Health Equity Residency Program. Priya was a 2009 Fulbright-Nehru Scholar and 2020 Fogarty NIH fellow to India in global health where she has studied maternal, adolescent and child health policy. She has been an advocate for gender equality, youth-centered participation, and global health equity for over 15 years, and is a frequent contributor to the Lancet.

Late Ricky Sharma

Co-Founder and Co-President (he/him/his)

Ricky oversaw operations and strategy for Adolescent Health Champions. Prior to starting Adolescent Health Champions, Ricky spent many years in the financial industry as a private equity investor and as an investment banker. Ricky received a bachelor’s degree in business and political science from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, where he was also a New World Social Innovation Fellow. 

Ricky was an Adolescent Health Champion because he was passionate about unlocking the potential of adolescents globally because of the transformative impact these talented youth can have on our future. He believed that overcoming gender inequality and creating a more equitable world requires engagement and collaboration from people of all genders.

Ricky tragically passed away in July 2023, but his legacy will forever inspire Adolescent Health Champions to advance gender equality and justice.

Joy Bhattacharya

(he/him/his)

Joy oversees the Policy and Partnerships portfolio for Adolescent Health Champions. Prior to working with Adolescent Health Champions, Joy worked in the Sales and Operations sector for 2 years. He completed his Bachelor’s in Chemistry from Hansraj College, University of Delhi and his Master’s in Public Policy from OP Jindal Global University. Joy is an Adolescent Health Champion because he very strongly believes in the idea of empowering adolescents to take charge of their peers’ and their own health. He believes that adolescents have the potential to foster equality and inclusivity for all genders.

Danish

(he/him/his)

Danish focuses on the Research, Knowledge-Sharing, and Youth Engagement verticals at Adolescent Health Champions. Before Adolescent Health Champions, Danish worked on youth-related research with the Generation Unlimited and Decent Jobs for Youth initiatives. He has completed his Bachelor’s in History from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi and holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute, Geneva. Danish is an Adolescent Health Champion because he believes that true equality-of gender, class, caste, religion etc-can only be achieved when every young person is able to harness their voices, talents, and creativity, and channel it towards transformative change.

Nelabh Krishna

(he/him/his)

Nelabh plays a key role in overseeing the Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Knowledge-Sharing verticals at Adolescent Health Champions. His academic background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, University of Delhi, and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from OP Jindal Global University. Nelabh is an Adolescent Health Champion because he advocates for the creation of a nurturing environment that cultivates positive social interactions, resilience, and healthy coping mechanisms among adolescents. He firmly believes that by prioritizing adolescent health, we can not only enhance their individual well-being but also foster healthier communities and advance sustainable development goals. 

Pragati Kalibe

(she/her/hers)

Pragati aids the Adolescent Health Champions team in their partnerships in rural India by working on curriculum development and research. Prior to her full-time engagement with Adolescent Health Champions, Pragati graduated from Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts in Pune with a major in Psychology and a minor in Business Studies. Pragati is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes that education has the power to transform communities. Engaging the youth in constructive dialogue that focuses on their own and their peers’ physical and mental well-being while also empowering them to become advocates for health and equality is the most effective driver of social change and equitable growth.

Ishani Vakharia

Director of Education and School Partnerships (she/her/hers)

Ishani Vakharia is an educator and former school principal (Headmistress) from Mumbai, India who has been passionate about supporting youth for over two decades.  Ishani has taught at both primary and secondary schools in Mumbai. As part of her involvement with AHC,  she has led expansion strategy, school partnerships, and designed the parents’ curriculum. She is an Adolescent Health Champion, as she believes that adolescents have tremendous potential and they must be empowered with correct knowledge about themselves and their growth.

Ritika Singh

Health Programming and Design Lead (she/her/hers)

Ritika Singh is doctoral student at Virginia Tech studying biomedical engineering, and received her bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego. She is very passionate about gender equality and spreading health education in India. She focuses on all aspects of design for AHC including the curriculum, website, mobile application, and social media. She is also a health educator for teaching youth in India and has been involved with curriculum development. Ritika is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes in a world where all adolescents are guaranteed access to health education and can lead happy and healthy lives. 

Snigdha Shahi

(she/her/hers)

Snigdha Shahi is an MPP candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School and MIB candidate at The Fletcher School, Tufts University. Her interests lie in gender, strategy, peace and diplomacy, and social innovation. Snigdha focuses on AHC mobile application development, expansion strategy, and research. A relentless optimist, she is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes that empowering young girls today is an investment in women who will lead tomorrow and create an ecosystem where all genders thrive – in dignity, health, equity, education, agency, and overall well-being.

Aruna Nannapaneni

(she/her/hers)

Aruna Nannapaneni is a high school student with a passion for global health. Aruna focuses on AHC’s curriculum development as well as Youth Advisory Board operations. Aruna is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes adolescents need to be given proper information about their health in order to gain a better understanding of themselves and reach their greatest potential.

Tejaswini Govindaraman

(she/her/hers)

Tejaswini Govindaraman is an undergraduate student studying Bioengineering. Tejaswini focuses on AHC’s virtual programming, program evaluation, and curriculum development. Tejaswini is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes adolescents deserve access to proper health education that will support their growth and development and empower them to shape the future of their communities

Darpa Anireddy

(she/her/hers)

Darpa Anireddy is an undergraduate student studying public health. Her focus as part of AHC is on virtual programming, education, and curriculum development. Darpa is an Adolescent Health Champion because she wants students to receive important education about their bodies, minds, and well-being that they can take with them throughout life.

Priya Pathak, MD, MPH

(she/her/hers)

Priya Pathak is a pediatrician with a passion for health equity and community health. Priya grew up in India and has been involved in several public health projects in Maharashtra and the US during her MD and MPH training. She has been focused on community-based participatory research related to the creation of the AHC Youth Advisory Board. She is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes that youth voices matter, and that young people can be an incredible force for positive change in their families, communities, and society. 

Suman (Simi) Singh, MS

(she/her/hers)

Suman Singh is an aspiring medical student with a background in women’s health advocacy. As a part of AHC, Simi has been involved in community-based participatory research that highlights the growth of the AHC Youth Advisory Board. Simi is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes that education is extremely crucial in empowering adolescents at a young age and to enable women to achieve their full potential and take ownership of their own health. 

Yasmin Khajenoori

(she/her/hers)

Yasmin Khajenoori is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley studying public health. Her interests lie in promoting health equity through community based solutions. Yasmin is passionate about providing the support and encouragement needed to unlock the potential of every youth. As a part of the team, she has been focused on virtual programming, marketing, and fundraising. Yasmin is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes that empowering youth as leaders can be instrumental in tackling inequality and creating a more inclusive world. 

 

Nanditha Jayakumar, MBBS

(she/her/hers)

Nanditha Jayakumar is a medical graduate from Sri Ramachandra Medical College in India who is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree. Her interests lie in advocating for preventive care and health maintenance. She has been involved with research related to adolescent-friendly healthcare in India.  She believes that being an Adolescent Health Champion is the path to creating a promising future free of health inequities. 

Riya Sanghavi

(she/her/hers)

Riya Sanghavi is a high school student with a passion for building youth leadership and capacity. Riya focuses on Youth Advisory Board operations, curriculum, and mobile application development with AHC. Riya is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes that working with AHC is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of girls like her in India.

Neha Thakur

(she/her/hers)

Neha Thakur is an undergraduate student who focuses on the development and data analytics of the Adolescent Health Champions mobile application. Neha is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes that a strong health education and a supportive environment can empower young people to reach their full potentials, become leaders within society, and inspire social change.

Samantha Patella

(she/her/hers)

Samantha Patella is a medical and public health student who holds a degree in Psychology and has worked with many immigrant, refugee, and international populations. Samantha’s work ensures that AHC’s research and programs promoting youth behavioral change are grounded in effective theoretical social and behavioral models. She is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes that when equipped with the right tools and knowledge, youth all over the globe can create healthy lives for themselves and those around them.

Riona Sood

(she/her/hers)

Riona Sood is a Mumbai-based high school student who is passionate about advocating for youth mental health. Riona has been working on integrating parents into the AHC program along with working on Youth Advisory Board operations. She is an Adolescent Health Champion as she believes in equality for all genders and the importance of promoting the emotional well-being of all adolescents. 

Shivani Raheja

(she/her/hers)

Shivani Raheja is a lawyer pursuing a Masters in Public Policy from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Her interests lie in bioethics, human rights, gender and health policy. She has focused on advancing both physical and mental health equality for many years. Shivani works on virtual programming, marketing, and human resources as part of the AHC team. She is an Adolescent Health Champion working to ensure that youth possess tools to freely talk about societal taboos that are  barriers to enabling youth to seek out help.

Preena Soni

(she/her/hers)

Preena is a development professional with 8+ years of experience building long-term fundraising and program partnerships. She enjoys working with teams to attain equilibrium and leverage social impact through participatory processes. She is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes in the power of love, compassion and nurturing abilities in every human and it’s transformational capacities to provide a safe, healthy and empowering environment for young girls and marginalized youth and communities. She is a mother of two girls, an all-time singer and loves being outdoors.

Navya Pariti

(she/her/hers)

Navya Pariti is an undergraduate student with an interest in public health and data science. She focuses on the Adolescent Health Champions mobile application development and analytics. Navya is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes that health education and support are crucial for tackling gender disparities and empowering youth to lead social change.

Our Board of Directors

Dr. Prajakta Adsul MBBS, MPH, PhD

(she/her/hers)

Prajakta Adsul is a primary care physician, researcher, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Adsul’s research uses implementation science to incorporate the complexities of real-world practice to produce meaningful solutions that are relevant to several stakeholders including researchers, clinicians, and community members. 

She received her MBBS from Maharasthra University of Health Sciences. She also is a former Fogarty NIH Global Health Equity Scholar in Mysore, India and trained with the National Cancer Institute with a focus on cancer prevention, health inequality, and implementation science. 

Growing up in India, Prajakta’s experiences as an adolescent and then as a young adult have shaped her research interests in promoting equity with a focus on women’s health, particularly sexual and reproductive health. Prajakta is an Adolescent Health Champion because she believes that focusing on improving the health and well-being of adolescents today will ensure a healthier future for tomorrow and for generations to come!  

Dr. Sohil Sud MD, MA 

(he/him/his)

Sohil Sud is a pediatrician and Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where he directs global health education for the Department of Pediatrics and Division of Graduate Medical Education.  He cares for newborns and hospitalized children at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Washington Hospital (Fremont, California).  He is a Faculty Affiliate of the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences. He has investigated and published peer-reviewed manuscripts on topics including tobacco control, global health, and personal protective equipment.  Dr. Sud also supported the COVID-19 response as a member of the Information & Guidance team of the COVID-19 Command Center at San Francisco Department of Public Health. 

Dr. Sud completed his clinical training at UCSF in the Pediatric Leadership for the Underserved (PLUS) program.  Sohil is an Adolescent Health Champion because he believes in the promise, potential, wonder, creativity, curiosity, non-conformity, joy, fragility, beauty, resilience, and power of our world’s youth.

Dr. K. “Vish” Viswanath

(he/him/his)

Dr. K. “Vish” Viswanath is Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH). Other additional leadership positions held by Dr. Viswanath include: Director of the Center for Translational Communication Science, DFCI/Harvard Chan; Director, Harvard Chan, India Research Center and Co-Director, Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness, Harvard Chan.

Dr. Viswanath’s work documents the relationship between communication inequalities, poverty and health disparities. He has written more than 260 journal articles and book chapters concerning communication and health disparities, and the delivery of health communication interventions to marginalized populations.  Vish is an Adolescent Health Champion because of the importance of investing in youth who are the bridge between generations and who, with the right support, can fulfill the promise of promoting collective well-being.

Priya Shankar MD, MPH

Co-Founder and Co-President (she/her/hers)

Ricky Sharma

Co-Founder and Co-President (he/him/his)

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