Dear Friends of the CROWN Project,

Don’t be afraid of this month’s long newsletter (or my bad Halloween puns)! We have so many exciting treats to share – and no tricks!

Firstly, we are excited to say that the CROWN Project in Bihar has been awarded to Project Concern International (PCI). We are so excited to meet our PCI colleagues and bring them in on the knowledge sharing and collaboration that has already begun with our existing CROWN projects. Stay tuned for more updates from Bihar!

Secondly, we are thrilled to share our boo-tiful, brand new CROWN website! Our updated webpage includes the most up-to-date information about CROWN, our partners, and includes a wonderful new resource repository for maternal nutrition, HCD, and other relevant materials and articles. You might even see a few familiar faces talking about CROWN pop up – in addition to maternal nutrition expertise, we’ve apparently got some spookily talented actors on the team!  Shout-out to our Webmaster, Sam Sturner, for our fresh new digs.

Keep reading below (if you dare) to learn more about the new website, the launch of the CROWN Mentorship Program, and to learn a little about the JHU faculty member behind the program, Michelle Kaufman!

All the best,

Daryl Stephens
CROWN Program Manager

October Feature: CROWN Mentorship Program

Nurturing the Next Generation of Nutrition Experts! 

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the Mentorship Program, an integral component of the CROWN project, dedicated to elevating the proficiency required to upscale nutrition adherence programs. The program strives to match seasoned nutrition professionals with mentors who can assist in achieving their personal and professional development goals, fostering skill enhancement, and promoting overall well-being in both their work and personal lives. 

Adopting a Mentee-centered approach, the Mentorship Program places paramount importance on addressing the unique requirements of each individual mentee. Among the mentees are esteemed individuals such as senior staff from the core Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded projects, inclusive of in-country project leads, junior staff associated with the core projects, local partners, and staff from the Ministry of Health. 

Our network of Mentors comprises both local experts engaged in similar projects and global experts dedicated to similar causes. An ideal CROWN mentor embodies the following attributes: 

  • Extensive proficiency in nutrition, gender dynamics, research, program design, implementation, and human-centered design.
  • Enthusiasm for serving as a guiding force, a reliable sounding board, and a supportive figure for mentees seeking to advance their work in the realm of nutrition.
  • Exceptional communication skills, with a penchant for active listening and providing support without judgment.
  • Eagerness to pay it forward by imparting knowledge and wisdom to the upcoming generation of nutrition experts.
  • Dedication to investing in the growth and development of young professionals within the health sector.
  • Open to all locations, with a particular interest in regional experts situated in East and West Africa, as well as South Asia. 

Each carefully selected CROWN mentor will be paired with one or more enthusiastic mentees, all striving to achieve their professional goals within the realm of nutrition. This unique program is built upon the principle of personalized mentorship plans, wherein every mentee crafts their own strategy for growth. A select group of mentors will then be matched to these plans, ensuring that the needs of each mentee are met effectively. The role of a CROWN mentor transcends mere guidance, extending to the provision of crucial information, access to valuable resources, networking opportunities with fellow professionals, and empathetic social support tailored to the individualized requirements of the mentee.

The Mentoring Plan within the CROWN project encapsulates nine critical areas of competencies, fostering a holistic approach to career development and personal growth: 

  1. Maintaining effective communication 
  2. Aligning expectations with reasonable goals and objectives
  3. Cultivating the necessary skills and knowledge for success
  4. Embracing and addressing diversity
  5. Nurturing independence and self-reliance
  6. Driving professional development initiatives
  7. Upholding professional integrity and ethical conduct
  8. Overcoming challenges arising from resource limitations and adversity
  9. Initiating and driving institutional change 

As part of the process, project leads will evaluate staff interests, followed by potential mentees completing an online interest form, highlighting their top three areas of competencies. Our team will then meticulously select mentors based on the specific needs and requirements of the mentees. The subsequent pairing of mentors and mentees will be based on a comprehensive competency assessment, with periodic assessments planned to track progress and incorporate new competencies as necessary. 

Don’t miss the chance to be a part of this transformative journey in the field of maternal and child nutrition. To enroll in the Mentorship Program, we invite you to complete the CROWN Mentorship Form through the following link: CROWN Mentorship Form. 

We are excited to foster a collaborative environment where seasoned professionals and aspiring talents can connect, learn, and grow together.  

Join us in this transformative journey of nurturing the future leaders of the nutrition landscape! 

For more information and to become a part of this enriching experience, visit our website or reach out to us on 

Stay tuned for more updates on the remarkable strides taken by the CROWN project to revolutionize nutrition adherence programs worldwide! 

Team Spotlight: Michelle Kaufman 

In the spotlight this month is the esteemed Michelle Kaufman, PhD, a trailblazing authority in the realm of e-mentorship. Dr. Kaufman is a social psychologist by training with expertise in gender and sexuality as determinants of health outcomes and using mentoring and technology to promote health. She is an associate professor in the Department of Health, Behavior, and Society with a joint appointment in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Her groundbreaking work revolves around the fusion of communication technology and mentoring practices, yielding transformative outcomes in the field. Michelle Kaufman has spearheaded numerous projects, securing vital funding from prestigious institutions such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, and the Gates Foundation. Her collaboration with the National Mentoring Partnership has paved the way for revolutionary research in leveraging technology and social media to enhance health outcomes for marginalized communities. 

With a particular focus on at-risk adolescent and young adult populations susceptible to substance abuse, mental health challenges, and risky sexual behavior, Dr. Kaufman’s research has made significant strides in identifying effective intervention strategies. 

Furthermore, she is at the forefront of a substantial global initiative, generously funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, spanning over 40 low- and middle-income countries. This project centers on mentoring public health professionals, emphasizing the integration of gender equity in health data collection, thereby fostering a more inclusive and comprehensive approach to public health. 

Role on CROWN: The CROWN project is thrilled to have Dr. Kaufman as the lead for our mentorship program, a pivotal aspect of our initiative aimed at nurturing and enriching skill development. Dr. Kaufman, in expressing her enthusiasm for being part of the team, stated, “I am honored to contribute my expertise in mentoring to support the professional advancement and growth of nutrition experts across the three countries.” 

Hobbies: Apart from her invaluable role in the project, Dr. Kaufman leads a vibrant life outside of work. With a profound love for travel, she particularly relishes trips involving hiking or scuba diving. Notably, she has scaled heights of up to 16,500 feet above sea level and explored the depths of the sea at 102 feet below sea level, often accompanied by her spouse. Furthermore, she cherishes her role as a doting mother to her adventurous 7-year-old, who shares her passion for exploring the wonders of the world. 

Upcoming Events

Save the Date: February 12-14, 2024

Join Us for the CROWN Annual Convening 2024 in Nigeria! 

Mark your calendars for the highly anticipated CROWN Annual Convening, tentatively scheduled to take place from Feb. 12-14 in vibrant and culturally rich Abuja, Nigeria. 

Get ready to be a part of an enlightening and engaging event where leading minds in the field of nutrition will come together to share insights and foster collaborative initiatives aimed at shaping the future of maternal and child nutrition. 

Stay tuned for formal invitations and more details soon.

CROWN at Work

On October 16, the CROWN project hosted a session at the 6th Global Micronutrient Forum in The Hague, Netherlands titled “Adopting Human-Centered Design Principles to Close the Adherence Gap for Maternal Micronutrient Supplementation.” 

For this panel, Rajiv Rimal (pictured above) was accompanied by representatives from JHU Center for Communications Program in Ethiopia (Tewabech Tesfalegn), Nutrition International (Jennifer Busch-Hallen, Nkechinyere Adinoyi), Sonder Design (Leoor Levy), as well as representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Zeina Sifri) and the Ethiopia Federal Ministry of Health (Kidist Woldesenbet). Congrats to all participants for a wildly successful presentation!

The event served as a hub for insightful discussions, valuable exchanges, and the exploration of innovative solutions to pressing micronutrient challenges, marking a significant step forward in the pursuit of enhanced maternal health and nutrition outcomes.