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Global Project Director, USAID Local Health Systems Sustainability Project

Maria Francisco has over three decades of professional experience focusing on global health issues and health care delivery systems in low- and middle-income countries. She has held positions in the public and non-profit sectors, serving in senior advisory, management, and leadership roles for a wide range of initiatives to advance universal health coverage goals and ensure equitable access and financial protection. She brings leadership in the areas of public health program and policy development, having worked extensively in maternal and child health, infectious diseases, and health systems strengthening programs throughout Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. She has led large multi-country flagship programs for USAID as a senior advisor for child health and immunization. She served on strategic multilateral fora for the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, GAVI Health System Strengthening, and Community Integrated Management of Childhood Illness. She also served in senior technical roles with USAID in Kenya and Vietnam. As an implementing partner, she provided technical direction in health systems strengthening and equity-centered programming under USAID’s Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator (HSSA), Quality Assurance Project, MOMENTUM Routine Immunization Transformation and Equity, Acting to End Neglected Tropical Diseases | East, and the Maternal and Child Survival Program.

As Global Project Director for USAID’s Local Health System Sustainability (LHSS) project, Maria provides leadership and management oversight for the project, helping shape and support strategic programming that facilitates country-led progress in ensuring resilient, affordable, quality care through effective health systems. The project supports country efforts to strengthen systems capacity, reduce financial barriers to care and treatment, ensure equitable access to essential health services for all people, and improve the quality of health services.

Before joining Abt, Maria was senior program director for Results for Development, where she oversaw the firm’s work in HSS, health financing, and equity-focused programming as a consortium partner on several USAID projects. As technical director of USAID’s HSS Accelerator project, she managed the development and implementation of the Accelerator’s HSS technical approach. At USAID, Maria served as a senior health systems advisor in Kenya and Vietnam for nearly eight years and was a senior technical advisor for child health at USAID headquarters for nine years. She also worked for University Research Co. under USAID’s global Quality Assurance Project, for World Bank- and Aga Khan Foundation- funded initiatives, and as chief of party for the URC health systems bilateral in Cambodia.


  • Health
  • Health systems
  • Project management
  • Health financing
  • Infectious diseases

Key Projects:

  • USAID Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator
  • USAID Quality Assurance Project
  • USAID MOMENTUM Routine Immunization Transformation and Equity
  • USAID Acting to End Neglected Tropical Diseases | East
  • USAID Maternal and Child Survival Program
Maria Francisco