The Sabin Vaccine Institute’s leadership team is comprised of a diverse group of global health, development and international relations experts.

Executive Staff

Amy Finan
Chief Executive Officer

Brian Davis, CPA
Chief Operating Officer


Senior Staff

Maria Bianchi
Director, Administration

Vince Blaser, MA
Director, Immunization Advocates

Janet Daniels, MBA
Director, Accounting

Courtney Finch, PhD
Principal Research Scientist, Research & Development

Denise Garrett, MD, MSc
Vice President, Applied Epidemiology

Tara Hayward, MA
Vice President, Resource Development & Policy

Kate Hopkins, PhD, MPH
Director of Research, Vaccine Acceptance & Demand

Stacey Knobler, MSc
Vice President, Vaccine Innovation & Global Immunization

Heather Ross, MPH
Director, Technical Writing

Roxana Rustomjee, MB, ChB, FCPHM,
MMed, PhD

Senior Vice President, Research & Development

Jennifer (Fluder) Siler, MBA
Vice President, Global Community Engagement

Paul L. Smock, MS
Senior Director, Quality Assurance and Chemistry,
Manufacturing and Controls Oversight

Michelle Williams, MBA
Vice President, Employee Engagement

Mary Beth Woodin, MBA, MPH
Vice President, Communications


Amy Finan

Chief Executive Officer

Amy Finan joined the Sabin Vaccine Institute as Chief Executive Officer in April 2016. In her time as CEO, Amy has led the development and implementation of a new organizational strategy focusing Sabin on a mission to make vaccines more accessible, enable innovation and expand immunization across the globe. Under Amy’s leadership, Sabin has rebuilt its vaccine research and development and global immunization programs, while diversifying and expanding its funder base, reinvigorating the Sabin brand and growing its Board of Trustees and staff. 

Most notably, in 2019 Sabin launched its new R&D program by securing a license from GSK to continue the development of vaccines against the deadly Ebola Sudan and Marburg viruses, then securing a U.S. Government contract to fund the development. Sabin also has successfully rebuilt its immunization programs and fortified relationships with global organizations such as the World Health Organization; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; UNICEF; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust, as well as with country leadership. Specific programs include a revitalized network for immunization professionals, expanded disease surveillance programs to give countries the data they need to make vaccine introduction decisions, and educational programs that equip journalists to report accurately on vaccines.

Prior to joining Sabin, Amy served as senior vice president responsible for business development at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). During her 11-year tenure, she played a critical role in expanding BIO’s membership and revenue base and implementing innovative approaches to fundraising, branding, marketing and programming. For two years and simultaneous with her BIO responsibilities, she also served as president of the Biotechnology Institute, an organization founded by BIO to promote life science education.

Prior to BIO, Amy led corporate communications and investor relations for the former clinical-stage biotechnology company EntreMed, Inc., created and implemented a biotech initiative for Montgomery County, Maryland, and served as a government relations director at the National Association for Biomedical Research.

Amy studied at the London School of Economics & Political Science and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. A native of Columbus, Ohio, she has lived in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for more than 35 years and currently resides in Bethesda, Maryland, with her family.

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Brian Davis, CPA

Chief Operating Officer

Brian Davis has worked with the Sabin Vaccine Institute since 2005 and has served as its chief operating officer since 2008. Prior to joining Sabin, Brian owned an established accounting practice in Washington, D.C. that served the non-profit sector in areas of life science, education, economic development and low-income housing. Brian holds CPA certificates in Maryland and the District of Columbia as well as a bachelor's degree in business administration with a major in finance from Michigan State University, and is a member of the American Institute of CPAs.

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Maria Bianchi

Director, Administration

Maria Bianchi is the director of Administration at the Sabin Vaccine Institute where she manages office operations. After traveling to Niger, Maria joined Sabin based on its mission to make a difference in the lives of the world’s children regardless of who they are or where they live. 

Prior to joining Sabin in 2009, Maria worked as the Operations Manager for RegNet Environmental Services for 13 years. Since 2005, she has served the Girl Scouts as a Service Unit Manager, Encampment Chair, Money Manager and Recognitions Chair in addition to being a scout leader for over a decade. Maria graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a major in English and a minor in art.

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Vince Blaser, MA

Director, Immunization Advocates

For more than 15 years, Vince Blaser has utilized a journalism and public policy background to raise the profile of global health programs and issues by initiating and growing partnerships. Prior to joining Sabin in July 2020 as Director of Immunization Advocates, he served in advocacy and policy leadership at IntraHealth International and directed the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, an alliance of more than 35 U.S.-based organizations advocating for greater and more strategic investment in frontline health workers in low- and middle-income countries. Previously, he worked in advocacy, policy and communications roles at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Global Health Council. Vince also has written and edited for the Kaiser Family Foundation’s daily reports on global health, held several positions as a newspaper reporter in Washington, D.C., and Colorado, and worked at the British Houses of Parliament in London. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and journalism from Colorado State University and a master’s degree in international education development from Columbia University.

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Janet Daniels, MBA

Director, Accounting

Janet Daniels is the director of Accounting at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, where she is responsible for managing all accounting activities, preparing monthly and annual financial statements, managing actual versus budgeted spending, and providing financial information to management and program directors.

Janet has more than 25 years of experience in the field of accounting. Prior to joining Sabin in 2009, Janet was the controller at MENTOR/The National Mentoring Partnership, where she was responsible for managing all accounting functions. Janet has a master’s degree in business administration from St. Louis University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance from the University of Missouri, Columbia. 

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Courtney Finch, PhD

Principal Research Scientist, Research & Development 

Dr. Courtney Finch is the principal research scientist for R&D. She brings more than 10 years of virus experience primarily studying vaccines and therapeutics. She has worked with animal models of disease and a wide range of viruses including filoviruses (such as Ebola virus and Marburg virus), influenza viruses and SARS-CoV-2 in a variety of containment environments, from Biosafety Level-2 to Biosafety Level-4 (BSL-4).

Prior to joining Sabin, Dr. Finch held positions at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration where she participated in the World Health Organization human serology program which selects the virus strains to be incorporated into the seasonal influenza vaccines. Next, she worked at the Integrated Research Facility in Frederick, MD, part of the Division of Clinical Research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. As a study director there, she managed multi-disciplinary teams, designed and directed in vitro and in vivo studies and worked on multiple high-consequence viral pathogens requiring BSL-4 containment. Most recently, she served as Principal Scientist at AbViro, LLC, tasked with expanding their product portfolio and program management of these new products with the goal of moving products into clinical trials.

Courtney completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia and her PhD in molecular and cell biology at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Denise Garrett, MD, MSc

Vice President, Applied Epidemiology

Dr. Denise Garrett is the vice president of Applied Epidemiology at the Sabin Vaccine Institute. In this role, she directs a team focused on generating epidemiological evidence to inform vaccine decision-making, optimize vaccine use and increase the impact of immunization. Since joining Sabin in 2015, she has successfully led the landmark multisite Surveillance of Enteric Fever in Asia Project (SEAP) and the Sero-epidemiology and Environmental Surveillance (SEES) study, served as the Secretariat Director for the Coalition against Typhoid and overseen several vaccine effectiveness studies in Pakistan and Brazil.

Denise brings extensive experience in program leadership and management, study design and implementation, technical assistance, infectious disease control and prevention, and outbreak response. Prior to joining Sabin, Denise worked at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a medical epidemiologist for more than 23 years, where she focused on international health and research, leading several multicenter research studies in both high- and low-resource settings. She has more than 100 professional publications in several high-impact public health and infectious disease journals, and frequently presents and serves on panels at international conferences and stakeholder meetings.

Denise received her medical training with a special focus on infectious diseases and a master’s degree in human biology from Brazil’s Federal University of Minas Gerais. She also participated in the U.S. CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service officer training program where she received training in the practice of applied epidemiology. 

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Tara Hayward, MA

Vice President, Resource Development & Policy

Tara Hayward is vice president of Resource Development and Policy at the Sabin Vaccine Institute. She oversees fundraising and public policy activities supporting Sabin’s work to improve lives through immunization. With more than a decade of experience in non-profit fundraising, she has led Sabin’s efforts to secure funding from governments, foundations, corporations and high net worth individuals since 2010. 

Prior to joining Sabin, Tara served as the manager of development for the International Women's Media Foundation, where she was responsible for creating and managing the infrastructure and operations of annual giving, foundation and corporate fundraising, and special events. Her prior experience also includes working for the United Nations Population Fund in Bosnia and Herzegovina and serving in the Peace Corps in Romania.

Tara holds a master’s degree in international development from the University of Denver in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and a bachelor’s degree from DePauw University, where she majored in English writing.

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Kate Hopkins, PhD, MPH 

Director of Research, Vaccine Acceptance & Demand

Dr. Kate Hopkins oversees the research programming across the Vaccine Acceptance & Demand team to implement program activities, expand and manage partnerships, invest in new research projects and continue the growth of Sabin’s thought leadership programming.

Prior to joining Sabin, Kate spent 11 years living and working in sub-Saharan Africa conducting infectious disease prevention and psychosocial-behavioral research and health service program implementation in low- and middle-income countries—with particular focus on high-risk and vulnerable populations. Managing multi-country and multidisciplinary teams, her past portfolio of work included supporting clinical research site operations and strengthening capacity for the conduct of HIV and COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials within the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and COVID-19 Prevention Network. Kate supported the implementation of the ENSEMBLE J&J Phase III clinical trial and the subsequent SISONKE J&J COVID-19 vaccination rollout amongst healthcare workers in South Africa.

Kate has been a joint-Faculty Researcher for the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, for nine years; and is a virtual course lecturer on Operational Research within a post-graduate diploma program in TB/HIV Management for the University of Cape Town in South Africa. She was awarded funding for her PhD study from the CDC as a PEPFAR-funded activity under its Cooperative Agreement with the South African Medical Research Council, earning her degree from the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health. She also holds a Masters in Public Health, with a focus on Global Health, from Boston University School of Public Health.

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Stacey Knobler, MSc

Vice President, Vaccine Innovation & Global Immunization

Stacey Knobler joined Sabin in 2018 to lead an initiative dedicated to accelerating the development of a universal influenza vaccine. Stacey has more than 20 years of experience as a global health and development professional, with expertise in research, program design and implementation, and strategic planning. She previously served as a Senior Adviser and Scientific Program Director for multiple large-scale initiatives for the Division of International Epidemiology and Population Studies at the Fogarty International Center (FIC), within the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Stacey has been recognized for her leadership of research and outreach activities that have effectively engaged stakeholders from multiple sectors, integrated numerous academic disciplines and translated scientific findings for application within a broad range of communities. Stacey has received numerous awards for outstanding achievement and distinguished service to the U.S. Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, as well as the FIC Director’s Outstanding Service Award and the FIC Director’s Special Award for Mentorship. She has over 40 professional publications and has served on the editorial review committees of several public health and infectious disease journals. Stacey is currently the President of the Board for the American Friends of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She received bachelor’s degrees in molecular genetics and political science from the University of Rochester in New York, and master’s degrees in epidemiology and public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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Heather Ross, MPH

Director, Technical Writing

Heather Ross joined the Sabin Vaccine Institute in 2020 to lead technical writing of Sabin’s proposals and reports, and support strategic development and design of educational resources for health workers, journalists and advocates. Heather brings extensive experience in program design and proposal development for U.S. Federal Government agencies, international funding bodies, foundational and private donors. She has written or co-written more than 60 proposals, multiple reports and peer-reviewed journal articles regarding educational quality and health access equity. Additionally, since 2014 Heather has served as an adjunct professor of global health at The George Washington University, teaching graduate classes in comparative international health systems.

Before joining Sabin, Heather was Senior Technical Writer and previously Senior Technical Advisor for health workforce development at IntraHealth International. During her tenure as technical advisor, Heather co-wrote methodologies for educational evaluation and strategic planning, and contributed to evaluation and quality improvement of medical and nursing education globally. She has guided curriculum design and evaluation at the policy level as well as institutional quality improvement in more than 100 schools of medicine and nursing in 20 countries. She capitalized on her deep technical knowledge of health systems and education to contribute to program planning and lead proposal writing efforts for IntraHealth while building organization-wide capacity to communicate cohesive technical strategies. Prior to IntraHealth, as research manager for the global coordinating center at the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Heather contributed to development and implementation of internationally comparable educational evaluation of MEPI-affiliated schools of medicine in 13 sub-Saharan African countries.

Heather holds a master’s degree in public health from The George Washington University with dual concentrations in global health and epidemiology.

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Roxana Rustomjee, MB, ChB, FCPHM, MMed, PhD

Senior Vice President, Research & Development

Dr. Roxana Rustomjee joined the Sabin Vaccine Institute as the senior vice president of research & development as of November 2019. She is a leader in the global health community and is committed to ensuring that people in low- and middle-income countries have access to vaccines. Throughout her impressive 20-year career as an infectious disease physician and clinical epidemiologist, Roxana has led teams of researchers, governments, private sector and non-governmental organizations worldwide to develop vaccines, drugs and diagnostics and move them closer to patients. She has served as the principal investigator of multiple research grants and led strategic product development partnerships with the private sector and government funding agencies.

Roxana has extensive experience effectively managing large, multi-country teams to accelerate biopharmaceutical product development and licensure. She has led global clinical trial networks across five continents, conducting trials in most countries with a high burden of infectious diseases as senior scientist at the Tuberculosis Clinical Research Branch within the Division of AIDS at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Roxana has supported the development and introduction of new vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for infectious diseases as head of the Office of HIV and Tuberculosis Research at the South African Medical Research Council, and she has delivered innovative trial designs for a novel tuberculosis vaccine in her role as senior director of clinical strategy in the BioSciences Division of Emergent Biosolutions UK/USA.

Using her experience addressing the needs and challenges of low- and middle-income countries, Roxana has taken a prominent role in defining health policy and translating research to advocate for change. She has served on a number of expert working groups with the World Health Organization, USAID and others, and on boards including that of The Biologicals and Vaccines (Biovac) Institute of Southern Africa (Proprietary Limited), where Roxana helped steer this relatively new public-private partnership to build a portfolio of more than 10 different vaccines and ultimately to supply South Africa with more than 25 million doses of vaccines annually.

Partnerships have been foundational to Roxana’s success. She has successfully organized, won and managed large multi-centered international grants with collaborators from governments, universities, private sector, non-governmental, and global health organizations.

Roxana is an infectious disease physician with a degree from the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa. She received her doctorate in epidemiology from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York. Roxana has published more than 60 peer-reviewed publications.

 

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Jennifer (Fluder) Siler, MBA

Vice President, Global Community Engagement

Jennifer (Fluder) Siler currently serves as the vice president of Global Community Engagement and leads Boost, a global community where immunization professionals connect, learn and lead. Before Sabin, Jennifer served as the Innovation Team lead and senior partnership advisor in the Global Health Bureau at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). She led USAID's innovation investments in the Ebola and Zika crises, launched one-of-a-kind partnerships with Facebook, GlaxoSmithKline and DuPont, and developed multi-donor strategy and community of practice for unmanned aerial systems in global health.

Jennifer has also worked at two national healthcare nonprofits in development and strategy, focusing on program development for patients and donors, as well at Edelman PR in brand experience and corporate social responsibility for private sector companies. She has pursued several global health fellowships in Kenya, South Africa and India with Innovations in Healthcare, OperationASHA, Jacaranda Maternal Health and Ubuntu. Jennifer has a master’s degree in business administration from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business specializing in social entrepreneurship in global health.

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Paul L. Smock, MS

Senior Director, Quality Assurance and Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls Oversight

Paul Smock leads quality assurance and oversees chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) as a part of Sabin’s research & development team. Most recently, Paul was a biotechnology quality & technical consultant at Meridian BioGroup, LLC., serving clients in Maryland and across the United States. Previously he had been Senior Director, Technical Quality at AstraZeneca Biologics (MedImmune, LLC) providing science and risk-based quality leadership and direction for biologics operations across the enterprise. Also at MedImmune, he was Senior Director, Quality Assurance (Site Head) for the Frederick Manufacturing Center (2011 FOYA Winner) for the start-up, licensure and transition to multi-product clinical/commercial operations phases of this facility. Paul has more than 40 years of experience in the biotechnology industry spanning biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, validation consulting, and in-vitro diagnostic businesses. He has previously held management and technical positions in QA/QC, Validation, Process Development, and Manufacturing at Wyeth Biotech, Serono Laboratories, Triad Technologies, and the DuPont Company. Paul is a 25-year member of the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), past president of the Boston Area Chapter and is currently a board member of the ISPE Chesapeake Bay Chapter. He holds a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in clinical chemistry from the University of Dayton and has served as an adjunct faculty member at Mount St. Mary’s University.

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Michelle Williams, MBA

Vice President, Employee Engagement

Michelle Williams joined the Sabin Vaccine Institute as vice president of employee engagement in 2020. Michelle has worked in the non-profit industry for more than 25 years, in a number of capacities including diversity, equity and inclusion, human resources management, talent development and optimization, training and organizational development, fundraising, and event management. She considers herself fortunate to have worked at organizations with causes close to her heart: welfare to work, community reinvestment, American farming and sustainability, health education, human anti-trafficking, and now vaccines and immunization.

Prior to coming to Sabin, Michelle founded and operated Conscientious Coaching and Consulting (CCC), a boutique firm providing non-profit organizations and small businesses with cost-effective human resources strategies tailored to meet the needs of the business. “Building healthy, diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces one individual and one organization at a time.”

Michelle earned her master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in management and a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she graduated with honors.

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Mary Beth Woodin, MBA, MPH

Vice President, Communications

Mary Beth Woodin joined Sabin in 2018 to lead communications for the organization, with a focus on advocacy for a universal influenza vaccine. Mary Beth is a scientist, communications professional and public health advocate with more than 20 years of targeted communications experience in the life sciences, including global health. Most recently, she was a Principal Associate at Abt Associates, where she was the global project director of HealthRise, a project designed to expand access to care for non-communicable diseases among underserved populations in Brazil, India, South Africa and the United States. Prior to that, she was the External Relations and Communications Director for the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, where she created and led a comprehensive communications program for the Enterprise’s scientists, funders, and potential partners. Mary Beth also ran her own health communications agency, MBK Associates, for more than 17 years, specializing in strategic communications services for a portfolio of global clients, from nonprofits to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Mary Beth has expertise in basic science, diagnostics, and drug development. She has been responsible for phase I through phase III clinical trials, including pharmaceutical regulatory submissions. Mary Beth began her career as a bench scientist, using her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She also earned a master’s degree in business administration in international business from Bentley University and in 2014, she earned her master’s degree in public health from New York University.  

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