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Our Philosophy

We believe that every individual has the right to realize their own human potential, and our rights-based approaches bring out the change agent in everyone!  How do we accomplish this? We focus on "human technology", the harnessing of each individual's ability to become an active and successful change maker in his or her own life, family and community. By creating and nurturing a deep learning environment, our participants are able to tap into their own unique talents and interests to foster change within their lives - both at the work and personal levels. Working not only from the head, but also from the heart, creates a dynamic and more meaningful way of working, and provides new and exciting opportunities for change to happen on deeper levels.


And because we are strong advocates of human rights-based approaches (HRBA), we create all our learning materials on open-source platforms, providing all our alumni with a complete set of learning resources and tools to take with them at the conclusion of our learning events. We believe that knowledge is power, so using open-source materials under the Creative Commons License allows us to share freely the wealth of knowledge we have without copyright infringement. We encourage all our alumni to make use of the materials we share with them, either as is, adapted to their local needs, or simply used as a springboard to creative inspiration in developing completely new tools and resourses. We then encourage our alumni to "pay it forward" by sharing their new-found resources with others, thus building networks and communities of practice that value, encourage and protect rights-based approaches to social and behavior change.


Our human rights-based approaches were born out of, and have evolved over many years of work within the UNICEF programming world, as well as amongst a tightly-knit community of rights-based practitioners working with UNICEF. We thank those colleagues who have shared their tools, materials, thoughts and ideas freely with us, and who have inspired us to both use and springboard off of the wonderful work they have done over the years.  We also thank the many countless individuals - too many to name here - whom we have met online along the way, and who have shared freely with us some of the most wonderfully profound materials and resources to use and share with our Experiential Learning Lab participants and partners.


Our Team

With over 50 years of combined experience working in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Region, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, the Change Makers team brings our extensive expertise and unique, proven approaches to any programmatic or organizational issues our clients want to address.  We are highly experienced in research and assessment, program design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of short term projects and long term programs related to health, education, child protection, maternal and child health (MCH), and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). In addition, we place priority on programming that addresses gender inequities and social disparities of underserved populations, and use approaches that identify the root causes to program barriers, thus ensuring that the correct issues are being addressed through social change interventions.

Shari Cohen
Co-Founder &
Lead Change Maker

Shari Cohen is a senior international development professional with over 28 years of field experience in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, Latin American and the Caribbean.



With a strong focus on human rights-based approaches, she works with people to realize their individual and collective potential to create locally relevant, sustainable social change that enhances all aspects of society. Her client list includes UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, US and EU based international NGOs, faith based organizations, the CDC, and assorted bi-lateral agencies including USAID, DIFD, AusAID/DFAT, Asian Development Bank (ADB), etc.


Although she has a wide scope of skills and expertise related to overall programming, Ms. Cohen’s technical area of expertise is in human rights-based social and behavior change communication (SBCC), also known as Communication for Development (C4D). Ms. Cohen has also designed several innovative social change-related tools including a rights-based Community Dialogue tool, as well as simple and practical approaches for using story-telling for social change. She and Ms. de Windt were recognized by the MIT Media Lab’s Learning Creative Learning faculty for their innovative creative learning approaches and were featured storytellers for LCL-2, and she was a moderator/facilitator for the third iteration of the online Learning Creative Learning course, LCL-3.


Ms. Cohen has proven expertise in coordinating and working with culturally diverse teams in multiple locations; and identifying and incorporating locally appropriate, participatory approaches to maximize results and local ownership in all aspects of programming and project development. Currently residing in San Diego, California, she holds both Bachelor and Masters degrees in Communication Arts, and speaks conversational Bahasa Indonesia and Vietnamese.

Cynthia R. de Windt

Cynthia R. de Windt is a facilitator with over 30 years of experience in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean in support of organizational development, team building, human resource development, 

social marketing and social mobilization activities. She designs and facilitates complex interventions including Future Search conferences and learning events in Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) and Communication for Development (C4D), and incorporates client and consumers’ issues as components of participatory community development programs. 


Ms. de Windt has a keen interest in development programs which involve the communities for whom they are intended, incorporating stakeholders participation from inception through the evaluation phases, including substantial training components, design and production of training materials. She likes the challenge of work that requires innovation and creative application of organizational and managerial skills. Moreover, she enjoys working as a member of multi-disciplinary and culturally diverse teams.


After taking MIT Media Lab's Learning Creative Learning course, she and Ms. Cohen began their journey to reimagine rights-based SBCC/C4D, taking their many years of field experience working with UNICEF, combined with concrete "human technology" to create a more powerful learning experience around social and behavior change issues and challenges.


She holds a teaching certificate from Curacao, and Masters in Education from Harvard University. As a Dutch-Caribbean national who is multi-lingual, her mother tongue is Papiamentu, and she is fluent in English, Dutch, Spanish, French and Bahasa Indonesia. Ms. DeWindt resides in New York, Curacao and London.

Shelley Facente
Research Specialist

Shelley Facente is a senior public health consultant with over a decade of experience working with government agencies and community-based non-profits in the US, South Africa, the Caribbean, and The Netherlands.



With a focus on formative research, needs assessments, and evaluation, Ms. Facente’s expertise spans a wide range of skill sets that help her clients understand, implement, and tell their story. Her client list ranges from local to national and international entities, including the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the University of New South Wales, and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. Her previous and current projects include work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and FIND, with extensive work in South Africa, The Netherlands, and the Caribbean.


In addition to her consulting work, Ms. Facente serves as a project manager and clinical data coordinator for the Consortium for the Evaluation and Performance of HIV Incidence Assays (CEPHIA), a multinational consortium that brings together world leaders in the development, performance assessment and application of established and novel assays to identify recent HIV infection. The CEPHIA project team is working closely with the WHO HIV Incidence Assays Working Group, the CDC, FHI 360, and others to further the use and application of HIV incidence assays on both a large population level and in individual clinical settings. She has been invited to share her research and expertise at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), the CDC / Association of Public Health Laboratories HIV Diagnostics Conference, the IAS International AIDS Conference, the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, and the International Conference on Urban Health, among other local and regional summits and conferences.


Ms. Facente earned a Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, with a concentration in Health and Social Behavior and a specialty in multicultural studies. She then worked for six years with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, assisting community-based organizations to plan and implement rapid HIV testing programs. This role helped hone her skills in bridging the gap between people developing policies and those implementing policies in the field. In 2009, Shelley left the health department and founded Facente Consulting, a public health consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently consulting while also working on her PhD in Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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