Global Health

Our Canadian Team cont'd.

Meseret Desta has worked for more than 10 years on Maternal, Neonatal, Child Health Care and HIV/AIDS prevention programs. In Ethiopia alone she has contributed to projects at a number of organizations, including the Maternal Child Health Integrated Program at Jhpiego, an affiliate of John Hopkins University.

With her Ethiopian background, she was a key support to our 2014 SMTTP course. In Edmonton she produces a biweekly MNCH newsletter. "I consider myself very privileged to be a part of this unique and special project, where, as a midwife, I use my skills and knowledge to support Ethiopian midwives in sharing information and research findings."


Heather McLellan is an Associate Professor teaching in the Advanced Studies in Critical Care - Emergency Nursing program at Mount Royal University.  She has been a nurse for almost 35 years with the majority of her time spent in emergency and critical care helicopter transport in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Texas.

As former chair of the Midwifery program at MRU, Heather has supported the SMTTP program from the beginning, travelling to Ethiopia twice and planning return trips for the next cohort of students. She is excited by the opportunity to work with her Ethiopian and Canadian colleagues to improve maternal and perinatal outcomes through this educational initiative.


Deepa Upadhyaya is an assistant professor in the midwifery program at Mount Royal University, and a member of a low-volume midwifery practice at Birth Partnership in Calgary. She has practiced midwifery and nursing in many places around the world including the U.S., Ireland and Scotland. In 2003-2004 she volunteered in Afghanistan as a midwife with Médecins sans Frontières.

Dedicated to providing healthcare in low-resource countries, Deepa has been heavily involved in Mount Royal’s leadership in monitoring, refining and teaching our SMTTP course in Ethiopia. She is very excited to be part of the project.


Wendy Wood is a full-time midwife in Calgary and an instructor for midwifery emergency skills and Helping Babies Breathe. She feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to join Mount Royal University's SMTTP teaching team in Ethiopia in February 2015 and would jump at the chance to contribute again in the future.

Wendy spent 15 years as an advanced life-support paramedic with the Calgary EMS department before returning to school and becoming a midwife. She describes her career change as moving on the circle of life from sickness and death to birth and life. It has been a good move for her: maternal and newborn care has become one of her life’s passions.


Ashton James, a graduate of the University of Alberta, has been with the project since September 2016 as our project assistant. She has three years' experience working in community engagement, fund development, coordination and social services in Edmonton's non-profit sector, as well as two years' experience supporting sustainable agriculture initiatives directed at improving maternal and child nutrition with rural farmers, youth and women's groups in southwestern Uganda through partnerships with the Kigezi Heathcare Foundation and Go Organic Africa
Ashton James, a graduate of the University of Alberta, has been with the project since September 2016 as project assistant. She has three years' experience working in community engagement, fund development, coordination and social services in Edmonton with non-profit organizations including Ceiba Association, Elizabeth Fry Society of Edmonton and United Way of the Alberta Capital Region. She also has two years' experience supporting sustainable agriculture initiatives to support maternal and child nutrition in southwestern Uganda through partnerships with the Kigezi Heathcare Foundation and Go Organic Africa.

Thomas 'Tommy T' Gobena is a bassist and music producer living in Washington D.C. He is currently the UNICEF Ambassador to Ethiopia. He plays bass in the multicultural gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello.

Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Thomas has lived in the US since 1987. Thomas is working with musicians and lyricists in Ethiopia to produce an educational song for the project, aimed at encouraging pregnant women to deliver in health facilities.



Dr. Michael Frishkopf is Professor of Music, Director of the Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the University of Alberta. His research focuses on the music and sounds of West Africa and the Arab world, as well as global human development through musical participatory action research.  

Michael has played an active role in the Project's association with Thomas Gobena, UNICEF Ambassador to Ethiopia.  Thomas is producing an educational song in Ethiopia to encourage pregnant women to deliver in a health facility. Michael is the executive producer of this song.


David Evans is our communications lead; he has been chronicling the project in various ways - including collaborating with Project Manager Janet Summerhayes on this website. He has also written news reports and produces the project's SMTTP graduation bulletin.

David is the Edmonton Journal's former opinion pages editor. Since leaving the paper, he has continued to write and consult on a freelance basis. He has a B.A. in history from the University of Toronto and a Masters from the University of Sussex in the U.K. He says that fortunately for the project's students, his only role in teaching so far has been playing the role of a delivering mother in a Helping Babies Breathe course.