Ola Abualghaib
Manager of the Technical Secretariat

Dr. Ola Abualghaib was appointed Manager of the UNPRPD in August 2019. Ola led the organization’s development and implementation of the Strategic Operational Framework (SOF) for 2020-2025, which positions the UNPRPD Fund as a key player in supporting countries advancing disability inclusion. Under her direction, the organization has successfully launched and implemented over 40 joint programmes across all regions. Ola has more than twenty years of experience working on gender and disability in development, including in fragile and crisis-affected settings in the Arab States, Africa and Asia.  Before joining UNPRPD, she was the Director for Global Influencing and Research at Leonard Cheshire Disability in London, UK. Over the past 15 years, she has also worked with the UN system worldwide to promote disability-inclusive policies and programmes. Ola served as the Vice Chair of the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) and a board member of the Disability Rights Funds. Ola holds a PhD in Social Protection from the University of East Anglia, UK. Ola was featured in the Gender Equality Top 100 list of most influential people in global policy.

Natalia Mattioli
Programme Coordinator

Natalia is a strategic programme management expert with more than 15 years of experience working with CSOs, governments and UN Agencies including WHO, UNDP, UNFPA and UN Women. In 2004 she was appointed Director of Autism Europe in Brussels and obtained funding under the European Commission anti-discrimination program. In 2007 she moved to South America, where she worked as a consultant for several organizations, UN agencies and governments to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities in cross sectorial development programmes. In Uruguay, she coordinated a UN joint programme on health services reform. In 2015 she joined the UNPRPD, where she has been responsible for the coordination of over 50 programmes across the world and the launch of 10 global initiatives.  Natalia holds a master’s degree in International Aid from the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain. She is fluent in Italian, English, Spanish and French.

Alfred Smith
Technical Programme Support Specialist

Fred brings a wealth of experience to the team at UNPRPD, having previously served at the Royal College of Nursing in the UK, where he led two global health programmes. Fred dedicated 11.5 years at the international NGO Sightsavers, where he worked in a number of roles including as the Head of Policy, responsible for leading the organization’s influencing work with national governments, UN agencies and the World Bank on disability-inclusive development. Fred has extensive experience of working on strengthening disability inclusion in national development plans, SDG implementation and international cooperation, and has played a key role in ensuring the systematic engagement of persons with disabilities in development programmes across Africa and Asia. Fred has an MA in Disasters, Adaptation and Development from King’s College London, UK where he specialised in disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and climate resilience.

Veronica Cuesta Alvarez
Cuesta Alvarez
Communications Specialist

Veronica Cuesta Alvarez is an international communication expert. Prior to joining the UNPRPD, Veronica has held several key communications roles within international organizations and diplomatic missions in various countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Hong Kong, Italy and the United States. Her past experiences include serving as a communication specialist for the Global Opportunities for Sustainable Development Goals (GO4SDGs) initiative at UNEP. There, she played a key role in accelerating cooperation and implementation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Veronica holds a master’s degree in international liaison and communication from Westminster University, London, and a dual degree in audiovisual communication and journalism from Nebrija University, Madrid.

Sakunthala Mapa
Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialist

Saku has 15 years of experience in partnership building, program design, logframe development, capacity building, developing knowledge products, and monitoring and evaluation. She has built this experience through working in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Saku began her career in international development at the World Health Organization's (WHO) country office in Myanmar and later moved to the WHO country offices in Sri Lanka and Nepal. Afterward, she moved to the UK and worked with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance's Asia and Eastern Europe program and later led the Japan Trust Fund for HIV and reproductive health programme at the International planned parenthood federation (IPPF). Throughout these assignments, Saku worked with national and local networks of people living with HIV, youth organizations and women organizations to design innovative pilot programmes to increase access to services. In 2018, she joined Leonard Cheshire as Director of Innovation and UK Program Delivery to strengthen the organization's role as a thought leader in inclusive design thinking and transform the lives of people with disabilities.

Saku holds a postgraduate degree in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a master's degree In Innovation management from the University of Sussex, UK.

Annika Nilsson
Senior Disability Research Specialist

Annika Nilsson has worked in the area of development cooperation for over 35 years. She has extensive experience with complex evaluations in areas linked to social change processes, civil society capacity development, democracy and human rights progress, and aid effectiveness. Key focus areas have been children's rights, persons with disabilities and LGBTI people. Annika has been part of two major evaluations of disability inclusion in Norwegian aid. Annika has also engaged in organisational capacity analysis, OD coaching and mentoring of civil society organizations, particularly those of persons with disabilities. She has supported SIDA in developing web-based tools for applying HRBA and implementing international training programmes on the rights of persons with disabilities. She has engaged in results/rights-based management and disability inclusion support to several agencies. She has been heavily involved in research and method development, leading several methodological studies. Since 2021, Annika has been working closely with UNPRPD to support the Situational Analysis processes.

Lisa Adams
Diversity & Research Specialist

Lisa Adams is a disability and gender justice expert with over twenty years of directing disability justice advocacy, intersectional advocacy and inclusive grantmaking internationally, working with governments, activists, social justice organisations, donors, UN agencies and human rights institutions. She was most recently a Disability and Gender Advisor at CREA, leading a global disability, gender and sexuality online institute run by women with disabilities from the global South, international cross-movement building, intersectional research and engaging feminist activists with disabilities and their allies on sexual and reproductive health rights. She was Program Director at the Disability Rights Fund (DRF), leading global grantmaking on disability rights led by persons with disabilities. At DRF, she authored a gender and disability strategy for grantmaking and philanthropy. She has led research, training and technical assistance on human rights monitoring, disability rights legal and policy reform, and human rights advocacy. Lisa holds a MSc in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics.

Al Nuaimi
Administration and Operations Assistant

Lubna has over two decades of experience working for UN agencies, including UNESCWA, UNDP, UNCHR, and UN Women. Her responsibilities have included conducting RFQs, analyzing project delivery, assisting with event logistics, communicating with media outlets, and providing administrative assistance for the implementation of the program’s action plans and finance.

Before joining UNPRPD, Lubna was a Program and Administrative Associate at OSESGY, UN Women Yemen CO, where she provided administrative support in preparing program work plans, budgets, and proposals. In 2017, Lubna also worked for UNDP-UNHCR Sub Regional Response Facility-Amman, Jordan, as a Program, Administrative, Procurement, and Logistics Associate, where she supported the Policy & Crisis Coordination Specialist in following up with project partners on financial and progress reports. She also assisted in the preparation of programme financial reports for the Joint Secretariat.

Lubna holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Baghdad University and is fluent in English and Arabic.