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999 Peachtree St. NE c/o Georgia Bio Suite 1800 
Atlanta, GA 30309

©2018-2019 Georgia Global Health Alliance. All rights reserved

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Maria Thacker Goethe, Executive Director


Maria Thacker-Goethe is the Executive Director of the Georgia Global Health Alliance. She has over 13 years of experience in non-profit management and development.


Maria has a diverse background including environmental health, women’s health and health communications and marketing. She continues to serve as President & CEO for Georgia Bio, the state's life sciences trade association and prior to that Maria participated in a fellowship at Centers for Disease Control & Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in environmental investigations, working closely with the National Center of Environmental Health in Chemical Demilitarization.

Maria serves as a board member of the CJD Foundation, Southeast BIO, the Southeast Medical Device Association and the Coalition of State Bioscience Institutes. She is a 2009 recipient of the Power 30 Under 30 Award for professional and community excellence and a 2019 recipient of the Metro Atlanta Chamber Phoenix Award for her role as an ambassador for life sciences and global health in the state of Georgia.

Maria received her Master in Public Health in health education/communication, and maternal and child health from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Sweet Briar College.  Additionally, Maria has volunteered for 9 years with the Junior League of Atlanta/La Amistad Estrellitas program which works to empower Latina teens.

Salena Araya, Operations and Program Assistant


Salena Araya joined GGHA in the Fall of 2018 as the Global Health ATL intern; she assume the role of Operations and Program Assistant, July 2019.  In her role, Ms. Araya provides administrative, marketing and event support to GGHA and the Metro Atlanta Chamber senior staff for the Global Health ATL community-wide initiative.  This involves managing over 150 volunteers and community leaders across Metro Atlanta.  Ms. Araya is also responsible for supporting the development, implementation and management of special projects for GGHA.


A native of Atlanta, Ms. Araya's interest in global health stems from her Ethiopian-Eritrean heritage. Ms. Araya received her Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia, College of Public Health.  In addition to her role with GGHA, she continues to gain experience in community health as a social media and community outreach volunteer at the Empowerment Resource Center. Most recently, Ms. Araya served as a SWEP intern with the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Her work there focused on language access and assisting with the CUPS program.

Ms. Araya intends to gain experience in community organizing and program management during her role with GGHA before she enrolls in an MPH program focused on social and behavioral sciences. 

Lisa Hayes, Strategic Consultant


Elisabeth (Lisa) Hayes is an international global health consultant, specializing in strategy and stakeholder engagement towards improved outcomes. With over 15 years of experience in international strategy development and implementation and partnerships, Lisa has produced results with high level and diverse stakeholders that include: leaders of UN agencies (WHO, UNICEF, UN General Assembly, UNECE, UNDP); global health agencies (The Task Force for Global Health, The Carter Center, CDC, Ministries of Health); Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs); donors (Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, World Bank, regional development banks, bilateral aid organizations); and thought leaders from around the world. A skilled meeting and logistics planner, Lisa has managed and supported complex, multi-tiered, high-level committees for international health and development that include a UN General Assembly session; the Global Road Safety Stakeholder Forum in Geneva, Switzerland; regional road safety forums in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico and qualitative research with experts to advance program goals.

A skilled executive leader, Lisa most recently served as Executive Director of the Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council (Safety Net) for five years. Her work coordinated strategy implementation among a planning body of key stakeholders with the goal to: 1) work to strengthen the health care infrastructure; 2) build safety net system capacity; and, 3) improve access to primary and behavioral health care in Coastal Georgia. As a result of this leadership, Safety Net received multiple awards. This includes the 2017 Community Impact Award from Georgians for a Healthy Future for directly improving the health of Georgians in and around their community. Lisa was also recognized as a finalist (one of three national honorees) for the Milbank Memorial Fund and AcademyHealth’s 2018 State and Local Innovation Prize (for “Building Continuity of Care System for Chatham County Jail Inmates via Health Information Exchange”).

For six years, Lisa served as a Senior Associate Program Director at the Task Force for Global Health in two programs: The Center for Global Health Collaboration and The Global Road Safety Forum. In this role, she developed, coordinated and implemented multi-tiered strategies with high level stakeholders for sustainable solutions. For example, she led a national partnership in Uruguay to implement a seat belt law; write and pass a UN Resolution to address road safety with international team; co-authored the book, “Real Collaboration: What it Takes for Global Health to Succeed.” The book details a roadmap, or “Journey” partnership framework, with a toolkit designed to improve outcomes and evaluation metrics for global health partnerships.

Lisa earned a Master of Business Administration from The Goizueta Business School at Emory University, with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is an alumni Fellow of the 11th class of the Liberty Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, of the Aspen Institute. A member of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families’ Children’s Health Leadership Network (CHLN) and coordinates a strategy to improve children’s health in Georgia. A recognized thought leader, Lisa is a Fellow at Emory’s Institute for Developing Nations.