Our Team

Joe McCannon, Co-Founder and CEO

Joe McCannon

Before co-founding the Billions Institute, LLC, Joe was an appointee in the Obama Administration, serving as Senior Advisor to the Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). There he rolled out major pieces of the Affordable Care Act and was part of the founding leadership team at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), directing its Learning and Diffusion Group. Before this, he was Vice President and faculty on large-scale improvement at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, leading the organization’s major domestic initiative to improve patient safety, the 100,000 Lives Campaign, and starting its work in Africa. He has supported large-scale transformation in several nations, including Canada, Denmark, England, Japan and South Africa, and consulted on the topic for a number of organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization and Community Solutions (100,000 Homes Campaign).

He started his career in the publishing industry with roles at Fast Company, The Atlantic Monthly, and Outside magazine. He is a graduate of Harvard University and was a Reuters Fellow at Stanford University.

Becky Kanis Margiotta, Co-Founder and President

Becky Kanis Margiotta

Becky Kanis Margiotta co-founded The Billions Institute, LLC with her friend Joe McCannon to answer one question: how do we spread solutions to the world’s most pressing problems to everyone who could benefit as quickly as possible? Previously, Becky led the 100,000 Homes Campaign for Community Solutions. Featured on 60 Minutes, the Campaign was a nationwide large-scale change effort to find and house 100,000 of the most long-term and medically vulnerable homeless people in America by July 2014. Before that, she commanded two Special Operations companies in the US Army. She graduated from West Point and holds a masters degree from The New School. Becky was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change in 2013 and by the Schwab Foundation as a Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015.

Abigail (Abby) Zier Alyesh, Vice President

AbigailAbby has experience in change management and continuous process improvement, specifically focused on promoting large-scale care delivery transformation and payment reform to improve health care quality. Before joining the Billions Institute, Abby was a Quality Improvement Manager at the University of Michigan Health System, where she established and managed the Internal Medicine Quality and Innovation Program. Additionally, she led the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) Learning and Diffusion Group’s team that was responsible for designing, implementing, and managing learning communities across the country. Prior to her work at CMMI, Abby worked at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement on the Research and Development Team. Abby holds an MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a BA in anthropology from Georgetown University.

Nana A. Y. Twum-Danso, MD, MPH, FACPM, Senior Advisor


Nana Twum-Danso, MD, MPH, FACPM, is a Senior Advisor to the Billions Institute and the Founder and CEO of MAZA, a social enterprise that is establishing a transportation network to provide timely access to health care in rural Ghana. She is a public health and preventive medicine physician and a social entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in public health policy, strategy, program design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and research at local, national and global levels. Before MAZA, Nana was a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she shaped and managed grants to improve maternal and child health outcomes at scale and provided strategic guidance on adolescent health. Prior to that, Nana led Project Fives Alive!, a nationwide quality improvement initiative that partnered the Institute for Healthcare Improvement with the two largest health service providers in Ghana to reduce child mortality. Nana’s work with MAZA has recently earned her membership in the Echoing Green Global Fellowship Program.

Jennifer Kennedy, Training Manager


Jennifer Kennedy is a trainer, speaker, and entrepreneur with 15 years of experience in education. Jennifer’s passion in education began as a volunteer in Ohio teaching English to Mexican migrant farm workers. She joined Teach For America and taught first grade in Compton, California. Her teaching career included teaching in Cameroon, West Africa and at a Charter School in Inglewood, California. She earned both the Teacher of the Year and Leadership Awards for her commitment to educating young minds. After leaving elementary education, she became a software trainer where she designed and implemented in-person and virtual professional development for over 100 school districts across California. Jennifer founded Teach Good Stuff to help business owners create online curriculum and digital content. She has spoken for the Blogging While Brown, BlogHer, iBloom, At the Helm, and Toastmasters conferences.

Keith Farrell, Project Manager


Keith Farrell is a project manager at the Billions Institute. Keith comes to the Billions Institute with a background in education and political organizing. He started his career with Teach for America working as a high school mathematics teacher at a charter school in inner city New Orleans, where he taught from 2009 – 2012. Most recently, he has worked as a field director and regional field director on a number of political campaigns, notably the campaign to update the Massachusetts’ bottle bill, Don Berwick’s 2014 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign, and Ed Markey’s 2013 initial Senate campaign. Keith lives in Somerville, MA. He is currently pursuing an MPA degree from Northeastern University and has a BA in mathematics and political science from Connecticut College.

Kara McElvaine, Project Manager

Kara McElvaine is a project manager at the Billions Institute. Prior to joining the Billions Institute team, Kara spent over two years working at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence where she consulted with youth-serving organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Playworks, to identify areas for improvement in their existing social and emotional climates. Kara earned her BA at the College of William and Mary, where she studied both Anthropology (with a focus on Medical Anthropology) and Art History.  When she’s not working, she can be found practicing and teaching hatha yoga, reading copiously, and exploring nature and new places.


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