January 22, 2019


Participants: WinterSchool for Thinktankers

On Think Tanks in partnership with foraus and the Think Tank Hub organises the WinterSchool for Thinktankers (WISCH), an initiative aimed at inspiring the next generation of think tank leaders.

The WISCH has had 3 editions so far (2017, 2018 and 2019) and we are preparing the 2020 edition.

WISCH 2019

Alejandra Teran. Junior Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) in Bolivia

Alejandra has a B.A. in economics from the San Pablo Bolivian Catholic University and a diploma in quantitative methods for economic analysis from the Bolivian Private University. At INESAD Alejandra works in a project to strengthen research on economic development in Bolivia and manages a project website which provides information to support an informed dialogue on decent jobs creation for the Bolivian workforce. She is co-founder of REDES-UCB (a student journal) and has been a teacher’s assistant in microeconomy I, microeconomy II and general economics. Before joining INESAD she worked as a research assistant at IISEC-UCB (Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas). Her areas of research are gender economics, labour economics and social justice.

Andrea Villarreal. Coordinator of research and evaluation at Grupo FARO in Ecuador

Andrea’s areas of expertise include the quantitative evaluation of public policies (impact evaluation), macroeconomics, economic policy analysis, public budgeting and development economics. Prior to joining Grupo FARO in Ecuador, she was director of economic affairs (2017) and national director of decentralised autonomous governments (2012-2015) at the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Ecuador. Additionally, she has worked as a researcher at the International Institute of Finance in Washington DC and at the Catholic University of Ecuador. Andrea holds a master’s degree in public administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science; a master in finance and risk management from the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar – UASB, and a B.A in economics from the Catholic University of Ecuador.

Anna Bugmann. Master’s student in environmental sciences and agro-economics  at ETH Zurich in Switzerland

Anna is a master’s student in environmental sciences and agroeconomics at ETH Zurich. She has a B.A. from the Université de Lausanne. Between her studies she spent a total of one and a half years in east and Southeast Asia, in education and agriculture-related internships. Anna has a strong interest in sustainable supply chain management and aims to work in supporting and promoting policies of ethical international trade.

Ayomi Nanayakkara . Human resource executive at the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in Sri Lanka

Ayomi  Nanayakkara has a B.A. in entrepreneurship and management from the Uva Wellassa University, Sri Lanka. She is currently following a master’s in labour relations and human resource management at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Ayomi has over five years’ experience in human resource management in the private sector and development agencies. She is currently human resource executive of the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), a Sri Lankan think tank.

Beth Wheaton. Senior lecturer at Southern Methodist University and CEO at Equip the Saints in the USA

Beth holds an M.A. and PhD in economics from Temple University and an M.S. in international business and trade from Grambling State University. She is an economics senior lecturer at Southern Methodist University (SMU), and the founder and CEO of Equip the Saints, a non-profit consultancy that works to strengthen non-profit organisations worldwide and to equip world changers to fulfil their personal missions. Beth is a researcher on child labour, the economics of human trafficking, the economics of human rights, including capital punishment, violence against women, asylum seekers, terrorism, child abuse, genocide, hate, and gun violence. In early 2019 she published the book The Economics of Human Rights.

David Gomez Alvarez Perez. Professor at Universidad de Guadalajara and executive director of Transversal Think Tank in Mexico

David has a PhD/MPhil in public administration from New York University (NYU); a MSc in public policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); a BA in public administration from El Colegio de México. He is coordinator and coeditor of Steering of the Metropolis, a UN Habitat publication on metropolitan governance. He has held high-level positions in Mexico’s public sector, led and participated in civil society organisations and has worked for international organisations as a consultant. He is executive president of Transversal, a think tank based in Guadalajara, Mexico

Eric Baghdasaryan. Local economic development manager at the American Fund for Armenian relief and co-founder of Sahman NGO in Armenia

Eric has a master’s degree in public administration and political science from Yerevan State University, and a PhD in political science from the Armenian Public Administration Academy. He is the co-founder of Sahman NGO, a local economic development manager at the American fund for Armenian relief, and the executive secretary of the Armenian Center for Social Development and Public Policy.

Eshraq Al-Haddad. Senior project coordinator at Al-Aghar Group (Independent Saudi Think Tank) in Saudi Arabia

Eshraq  has a B.S degree in management information systems and a master’s degree in business administration. She works as senior project coordinator in an independent Saudi think tank with the objective of transforming the kingdom to a knowledge society through providing decision makers with strategic options in the areas of social, cultural and economic development. Eshraq is the founder of Greenzie – a local initiative that promotes environmental awareness.

Founty Alassane Fall. Research assistant at Consortium pour la Recherche Économique et Sociale (CRES) in Senegal

Founty is a research assistant at the Consortium pour la Recherche Économique et Sociale (CRES) in Senegal. Currently she works on a project on gender responsive budgeting. Founty has a master’s degree in economics with a specialisation on human resources.


Joseph Ishaku. Research associate at the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA) in Nigeria

Joseph works as a research associate at the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), a think tank based in Abuja, Nigeria, that specialises in applied economic policy research. He has a master’s in economics from University College London (UCL) and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the American University Nigeria (AUN) in Yola. His research interests include development economics and education.

Julien Vincelot. Urban95 coordinator at the Bernard van Leer Foundation in the Netherlands

Julien works in the Urban95 initiative at the Bernard van Leer Foundation – making cities better places by focusing on babies, toddlers and those who care for them. Julien contributes to the development of Urban95 strategy and manages the Urban95 Starter Kit, as well as global Urban95 partnerships and projects related to public space and mobility. He joined the Bernard van Leer Foundation after graduating from a dual MSc degree in urban policy at the London School of Economics and Sciences Po in Paris. He also has a bachelor’s in social and political sciences from Sciences Po’s Europe-Asia programme and spent a year studying architecture and urban planning at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Manuel Gustavo Isaac. Beatriu de Pinós post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Barcelona and LOGOS Research Group in Spain

Manuel Gustavo currently holds a Beatriu de Pinós post-doctoral Fellowship of the Catalan Agency for Management of University and Research Grants (AGAUR) hosted at the University of Barcelona. Previously, he was early post-doc  mobility Fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation based at the University of Amsterdam. Before that, Manuel Gustavo held several types of research and teaching positions at the University of Geneva, the Sorbonne-Nouvelle University, and Paris Diderot University. Manuel Gustavo attended the Paris Diderot University, has a B.A. and M.A. in philosophy, and M.A. in linguistics, and a B.A. and M.A. in logic from the Paris Sorbonne University.

Maarinke van der Meulen. Policy programme officer at The George Institute for Global Health in Australia

Maarinke has more than 15 years experience in strategic communications and special projects management with particular interest is building collaborations to improve health and social outcomes. She is part of the team that is developing the think tank of The George Institute for Global Health; a volunteer community organiser; member of the steering committee of the Human Rights for NSW alliance; and co-convenor of the Amnesty International local chapter in Newtown where she lives. Maarinke has a B.A. in business, a graduate diploma in health communications and policy, and recently obtained a master’s in international law and international development.

Milena Gaitan. Administrative and financial director at Fundación Ideas para la Paz  (FIP) in Colombia

Milena is an internationalist from Universidad del Rosario and has a post-graduate certificate on international business management. She is a master student on strategic management. Milena has more than twelve years of professional experience with an emphasis on think tanks’ management and finances. She has had active engagement in projects co-funded by public, private, national and international institutions.

Min Zar Ni Lin. Deputy director of research at the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD) in Myanmar

Min is the deputy director of research at the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD). He holds a master’s degree in economics from Chiang Mai University, Thailand and was a research Fellow of the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) at the University of Queensland from 2014 to 2015. He is also a member of Rubber Sector Development Committee of Mon State Government. He has worked as the deputy national coordinator at the Myanmar Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (MEITI) national coordination office. His research interest are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) development, labour market and migration, and natural resource governance.

Mollie Zapata. Research associate for the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in the USA

Mollie Zapata is a research associate for the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, where she is responsible for conducting quantitative and qualitative research on issues related to genocide prevention, with a primary focus on the Center’s Early Warning Project. Previously Mollie had been working in natural language processing analytics at Protagonist, an international affairs consulting firm. Her other work experience includes the US Institute for Peace, the Institute for Inclusive Security, the Enough Project, and the National Geographic Society. Mollie holds an MA from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a BA in international affairs from Boston University.

Natalie Echenique. Research assistant at ARU Foundation in Bolivia

Natalie has bachelor’s degree in economics from the San Pablo Bolivian Catholic University. In ARU Foundation she has assisted on and led research on income distribution, labour market and gender inequalities in Bolivia. Also, she has assisted in the coordination of the Impact Evaluation Module for capacity development with ILAIPP centres. Before working at ARU Foundation, she was an intern at the Bolivian Central Bank.

Paula Pino. Communications coordinator at Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE) in Peru

Paula is the communications coordinator at the Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE), where she implements its communications strategy, including a digital plan-to-action, closely linked to the monitoring and evaluation plan, the professional development plan, and the policy engagement plan. She is a master’s degree student in human development at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and holds a BA in science and communication arts with a major in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and a specialisation in multimedia creation from the University of the Andes, in Colombia. Before joining GRADE, Paula worked in national media and institutional press.

Roman Kulchynskyy. Executive director of the Data Journalism Agency and editor-in-chief for Texty.org.ua in Ukraine

Roman is the executive director of the think tank Data Journalism Agency and editor-in-chief for Texty.org.ua, Kyiv, Ukraine. Since 2012 the Data Journalism Agency works on projects about corruption, open data, education, health care, city environment, state procurements, and specialises in telling a story using data visualisation techniques. Roman has more than six years of professional experience in analytics and think tanks, and more than 15 in media production. He has a master’s degree in journalism.

Sébastien Chahidi. International law master’s student at the University of Zurich in Switzerland

Sébastien Chahidi is a master’s student at Zurich University. Sébastien is highly interested in green finance and renewable energies policies, as well as new technologies.


Sulamba Shaaban. Chief administrative and finance manager at Science Technology and Innovation Policy Research Organization (STIPRO) in Tanzania

Sulamba holds a bachelor of commerce in accounting from the University of Dar es Salaam and a master’s in business administration specialised in finance from the Open University of Tanzania. She is also a certified public accountant registered by the National Board of Accountants and Auditors of Tanzania. Currently Sulamba works as a chief administrative and finance manager with the Science Technology and Innovation Policy Research Organization (STIPRO) in Tanzania. Before joining STIPRO, she worked with the Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority as a senior finance and administrative officer for three years. She has also worked at the Dar Es Salaam University- College of Education (DUCE) as the senior internal auditor and as an external auditor with Ernst and Young Tanzania.

Thomas Cheney. PhD candidate on space law and policy at Northumbria University and executive director of the Centre for a Spacefaring Civilization in the UK

Thomas is the executive director of the Centre for a Spacefaring Civilization. He is currently working on a PhD in space law at Northumbria University in the UK, as well as being co-lead of the Space Generation Advisory Council’s Space Law and Policy Project Group. He is a member of The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group and a member of For All Moonkind’s Legal Advisory Council.

Varsha Pillai. Programme manager for policy engagement and communication at the Public Affairs Centre (PAC) in India

Varsha has over 15 years of experience on communications, a bulk of which was spent as a TV news journalist at news organisations like CNN-IBN and ANI-Reuters. She has worked across diverse communication verticals including internal communication, public relations and media advocacy in the NGO and for-profit sector. She was a National Film Archives of India (NFAI) research fellow in 2009 and in 2017 she received the Netherlands Fellowship to attend a course at Radio Netherlands Training Centre (RNTC) in Amsterdam. Currently she is a a programme manager for policy engagement and communication at the Public Affairs Centre (PAC).

WISCH 2018

Note: Bios are accurate to the time of their participation in the WISCH2018

Ama Pokuaa Fenny. Research Fellow at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) in Ghana

Ama is a research Fellow with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economics Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana. Her research topics include health economics, health service delivery, social protection, and identifying synergies to integrate governmental policies into service delivery systems in Ghana. She has a PhD in health economics from the Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Denmark; an MSc in health, population & society from the London School of Economics & Political Science (UK) and BA in economics and computer science from the University of Ghana.

Awab Elmesbah. Policy and research coordinator at the Center for Development and Public Policy in Sudan

Awab is the policy and research coordinator at the Center for Development and Public Policy. Awab worked as a TV producer for one of the most famous political talk shows in Sudan. He established Sudan Debates, an organisation concerned with spreading the culture and art of debate among higher education students. Awab, a Chevening scholar, holds an M.Sc. in African development from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.Sc. in electrical and electronic engineering from the University of Khartoum.

Bernadette Ndema. Officer at Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment in Uganda

Bernadette is a communications specialist with a Master of Arts degree in journalism and communication, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communication from Makerere University. She also holds a diploma in journalism from the Uganda Management Institute. She has over 17 years of experience on development communication in different regional and international organisations including USAID, GIZ and SNV. She currently works with the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment as communications officer where she manages the internal and external communication for the organisation, as well as the publication of research products.

Isabel Pereira Arana. Coordinator and lead researcher of the drug policy area at Dejusticia: Center for the Studies of Justice, Law and Society in Colombia

Isabel is a political scientist from the University de Los Andes of Colombia (2008), and has a master’s degree in development studies, with emphasis on conflict and peace building from the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies. Her focus is on the impact of drug policies on rural development, public health, and armed conflict. She is currently a lead researcher in the drug policy area at the Center for the Study of Law, Justice and Society (Dejusticia), with special emphasis on access to controlled medicines and palliative care, and the implications of the peace process for drug policies in Colombia. Previously, Isabel worked as a professional of international cooperation projects for development in conflict zones in Colombia and as adviser to the national government in multilateral negotiation.

Janaka Wijayasiri. Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka

Janaka is a research Fellow and head of international economic policy research at IPS. His area of research is trade issues at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. He has been part of Sri Lanka’s official delegation representing the academia at regional forums such as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). He has also participated in various bilateral trade negotiations with other countries which Sri Lanka is currently seeking agreements with. Janaka has a BA in economics with development studies from the University of Sussex, an MA in economics of development from the Institute of Social Studies, the Netherlands, and a PhD from Monash University, Australia.

Juan José Herrera Mera. Project coordinator at Grupo FARO in Ecuador

Juan José is an economist with research experience in extractive industries, energy, sustainable development, climate change and public finance. He has contributed with Grupo FARO’s research projects for more than six years in projects with the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), GIZ, ECLAC, amongst others. Currently, Juan José is Grupo FARO’s project coordinator and is in charge of the research and advocacy of this think tank on the topics of extractive industries and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Khaled Mahmoud Alwaleed. Director of training and development at CDPP in Sudan

Khaled is the director of training and development at CDPP. He has studied International Development in LSE, and  has a purchasing and supply chain master’s from the University of Westminster. Khaled is specialised in public procurement planning and public purchasing auditing.

Michael Olender. Editor for Southern Voice in Canada

Michael is th editor for Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals. Since 2012, he has dedicated to publishing and international development in various roles. He has worked as an analyst and editor in federal government, embassy, central bank, and think tank settings. He assisted a Canadian research specialist and the permanent representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations in writing a background research paper for the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. He holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, Canada.

María del Carmen López Imizcoz. Communications coordinator and press officer at the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC) in Argentina

Carmen has a bachelor’s in economics (University of Buenos Aires) and a master’s in journalism (University of San Andres). Since 2007 she has worked as an economic journalist for different media outlets at Buenos Aires. In 2017 she joined the communications area at CIPPEC, where she coordinates internal and external communications actions.

Nicole Kaiser. Scientific assistant at e-concept AG  in Switzerland

Nicole studied political science at the University of Zurich and Geneva with a focus on democracy studies, political participation and migration. She has been a research assistant at the European University Institute in Florence and as intern at the Swiss Embassy in Chile. Currently, Nicole is working as a project manager at e-concept AG, a research and consulting company in Zurich, dealing with policy design and evaluation as well as strategic consultancy of mainly Swiss public sector clients.

Ninja Bumann. Organisational assistant at the Institute of Eastern European History of the University of Vienna and member of foraus– Austria

Ninja studied history, Slavic languages and literature and political science in Zurich, Prague and Vienna and gained experience in the field of international politics during various internships at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Swiss Embassy in Bratislava and the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM). Besides her current position as an assistant at the Institute for Eastern European History at University of Vienna, Ninja is part of a small team which wants to set up a foraus spin-off in Austria.

Rachel Strohm. Co-founder and chief operating officer at Mawazo Institute in Kenya

Rachel Strohm is co-founder and COO of the Mawazo Institute, a research institute based in Kenya. She is also a PhD candidate in political science at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the politics of higher education in East Africa. Prior to founding Mawazo, Rachel worked as a research manager in development economics in Ghana, Rwanda, and the DR Congo.  She holds an MA in international relations from Johns Hopkins University, and a BA in geography and French from Dartmouth College.

Rahel Renggli. Head of audiovisual communication at cr Kommunikation/ cr Lichtspiele in Switzerland.

Rahel has a bachelor’s degree in political science (major) and philosophy (minor) from the University of Lucerne, and a master’s in global governance and world society from the University of Lucerne. She has worked in Media Consulta, an international communication agency, in the field of political communication and audio-visual productions for clients such as the UN, European Union and other political and non-governmental organisations. She is currently head of the department of audio-visual communication and a member of the management at CRK Kommunikation, Kreation & Kino.

Richa Bansal. Director of communications at Centre for Policy Research  in India

Richa is the director of communications at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, India, which she joined in 2014. Since, she has launched a new website, a new brand identity, six social media channels, set up a team, and produced regular interpretation as well as outreach of research outputs. Prior to this she worked in different gender rights organisations based in India and the UK. She started her career as a journalist and worked for different newspapers in India. She has a bachelor’s in English literature, a master’s degree in mass communication, and an MPhil in development studies from the University of Cambridge, UK.

Rozainah Baharuddin. Chief operating officer at Khazanah Research Institute in Malaysia

Rozainah is the chief operating officer at Khazanah Research Institute (an organisation she helped set up). Before joining the Institute, she was the director of the Group CEO Office in CIMB Group, where she headed the unit supporting the deputy chief executive officer. Rozainah started her career as an audit assistant in KPMG, and she spent just over five years in the corporate finance departments. She graduated from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom with a BA in business economics and is a chartered accountant from the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA),

Sanchir Jargalsaikhan. Vice-director at Sustainable Development Strategy Institute in Mongolia

Sanchir is a political scientist and activist concerned with economic and political development in Mongolia and in the global south. His research interests are development, democratisation processes in post-socialist countries, trade, investment, extractives, poverty and debt in the developing world.

Shuvo Mahmud Sazzad. Dialogue associate-communication at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in Bangladesh

Shuvo is a communications and knowledge management professional. He has an MA in English with a focus on media and communications studies from Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh. He has professional experience in branding and development communications and has worked with BBC Media Action and the James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH). His areas of expertise include digital media and content management, audio-visual production, campaign planning and management. As a CPD official, Mr Shuvo is the communication focal person of the Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh.

Sonja Schiffers. Co-president at Polis180, visiting Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs and PhD candidate at Freie Universität Berlin in Germany

Sonja Schiffers is a visiting Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Research Division Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and PhD candidate at Freie Universität Berlin, analysing Russian and Turkish foreign policies towards the South Caucasus and the Balkans. She also serves as co-president of Polis180, the Berlin-based grassroots think tank for EU and foreign policy, and co-head of Polis180’s programme area on women and international politics.

Waha Ibrahim. Center for Development and Public Policy as an Executive Assistant for the Executive Director

Waha Ibrahim works at the Center for Development and Public Policy as an executive assistant to the executive director.

WISCH 2017

  • Evelyne Bettina Auer, was a graduate student on European health management
  • Leticia Biendo-Becerra, was a PhD student at the European institutional and public law
  • Mathias Bonk, was a global health expert
  • Luca Flurin Brunner, was a community manager at foraus
  • Gabriel Farfán Mares, was a think tank entrepreneur
  • David Gomez-Alvarez, was a visiting scholar at MIT, think tank entrepreneur, and former public servant in Mexico
  • Russell Harrigan, was a think tank entrepreneur at the British Virgin Islands
  • Adrian Hartmann, was a works at the Christian Solidarity International Switzerland, a human rights organisation
  • Makhele Letlhogonolo, was a graduate student in public health
  • Jon Nash, was a technology entrepreneur
  • Tobore Oru, was a economics doctoral student in Grenoble
  • Halyna Pastukh, worked at Data Journalism Agency NGO in Ukraine
  • João Pedro Pompeu Melhado, worked at Endeavor Think Tank
  • Shanchuan Qiu, was a student at the Graduate Institute of Geneva
  • Mehdi Shiva, was a PhD student