Obituary: Alfred Yassa, 55, Chief, of CCP's Near East
and Eurasia Division
Alfred Yassa, chief of the Near East and Eurasia
Division of the Center
for Communication Programs at the
Bloomberg School of Public
Health, collapsed and died Feb. 22 outside his office
in the Candler Building. He had just returned to work,
colleagues said, following shoulder surgery. The cause was
Colleagues described Yassa, 55, as a teacher, leader,
family man and friend whose professionalism touched
everyone he met. He will be remembered, they said, for his
kind and gentle spirit and his great humility.
Alfred Yassa was born June 28, 1949, in Khartoum,
Sudan, and received a medical degree from Cairo University
in Cairo, Egypt, and a master's in public health from
Harvard. At the time of his death, he lived in Towson with
his wife, Emily.
Yassa, who spoke both Arabic and English, spent more
than 20 years working in public health and health
communication. He developed, implemented, monitored and
evaluated country and regional programs and activities for
CCP, which he joined in 1994. As Near East Division chief,
he managed technical and administrative operations for
country projects. Prior to becoming chief, he served as the
resident strategic health communication adviser to the
Jordan National Population Commission and the Oman Birth
In Jordan, he led a five-year, national healthy
lifestyles project to improve Jordanians' health status
with exercise, diabetes control, smoking cessation and
improved reproductive health. Yassa also led a
groundbreaking effort to involve religious leaders in
reproductive health activities in that country, and he
helped design a national reproductive
health/family-planning strategy and campaign to involve
men. He helped secure the endorsement and participation of
Jordan's royal family for this campaign, including the
active involvement of Her Royal Highness Princess Basma. He
played an instrumental role in preparing the Arabic version
of the Contraceptive Technology Handbook, which has shaped
the work of medical professionals throughout the Near East.
Before joining CCP, Yassa was one of the founders of
the Near East Foundation's Center for Development Services.
He played an active role in health communication training
in the Minya initiative in the 1990s.
"Alfred's great compassion, knowledge and demeanor
have touched the hearts and minds of everyone he knew in
Jordan," said Soliman Farah, CCP's chief of party in
Jordan. "His great spirit was more of that of celestials
than humans. It will forever dwell in Jordan's mountains,
valleys and deserts he loved so much."
In addition to his wife, Yassa is survived by two
sons, George and Michael.
A memorial will be held later this month at CCP.
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