January 22, 2019


Participants: School for Thinktankers

On Think Tanks organises the School for Thinktankers, an initiative aimed at inspiring the next generation of think tank leaders.

The first four editions of the School for Thinktankers (2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020). (Winterschool) were organised in partnership with foraus and the Think Tank Hub

These are the participants that have joined us for the School of Thinktankers since 2017.

School for Thinktankers 2020

Abraham Madero. Executive director, Early Institute Mexico

Abraham is a lawyer with more than a decade of experience leading teams. He specialized in Constitutional Law and Human Rights, and has experience working in the Mexican Federal Government. He is also an advisor in legal and parliamentary matters for social organizations, political parties, local governments, and legislators. He has published several papers on constitutional law, parliamentary law, human rights, federalism, and the criminal justice system.

Alba Gomez. Deputy director, strategic partnerships, European Council on Foreign Relations Venezuela – Germany

Alba is an International affairs specialist with long-standing experience supporting organisations in achieving their goals and maximizing their impact. She has an excellent understanding of EU policy developments and how to forge strategic partnerships with international actors. She has an academic background on international relations and diplomatic studies, with special focus and interest in fighting corruption.

Andrey Filippov. Executive director, DOC Moscow office Executive board member, Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute Russia

Andrey Filippov is executive director of the DOC Moscow office and Executive Board Member of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute. He implements research and policy programs by DOC Research Institute around the globe and facilitates “Policies, Institution and Progress for Global Inclusive Development” and “Infrastructure as the Backbone of Development” research programs. Actively participating in the DOC Research Institute and World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations since 2006, Andrey Filippov helped to bring to life more than 140 international projects, forums, and events, including Rhodes Forum, Schools of Intercultural Dialogue (in cooperation with UNESCO), task-force working group coordination in the framework of T20 (think-tanks engagement group under G20).

Anns Issac. Technical officer, Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies India

Anns Issac is a health policy and systems researcher engaged in knowledge translation. She holds a PhD in Public Health and has over seven years of professional experience in the development sector. Currently, she is a Technical Officer at Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (APO), India. She supports APO’s programme of research and quality control of flagship products. Dr. Issac received a Netherlands Fellowship in 2016.

Ashley Nemiro. MHPSS advisor, MHPSS Collaborative Denmark

Ashley Nemiro is a global mental health professional working as an MHPSS Advisor for the MHPSS Collaborative for children and families in adversity, hosted by Save the Children. She has over nine years of direct experience working in humanitarian settings with a focus on integrating mental health care into health, education, and protection services, developing supervision systems, and training and supporting staff on the use of scalable psychological interventions. Ashley started her career as a licensed family therapist and received her doctorate from North Carolina State University where she spent three years traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo to conduct her dissertation research and run a non-profit alongside Congolese women. Ashley served as the lead Mental Health Technical Advisor for the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) health and violence prevention and response program working in the Syrian region, Europe and East and West Africa from 2015-2018. Before joining the MHPSS Collaborative, she worked as a consultant for Terre des Hommes, World Health Organization, IRC, and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society supporting the implementation of Problem Management Plus as a trainer, supervisor, and project manager as well as supporting the development of curricula for vulnerable children and adolescent mothers with perinatal depression.

Bell Ihua. Executive director, Africa Polling Institute (API) Nigeria

Bell is the Executive Director of Africa Polling Institute (API), an independent, non-profit, non-partisan opinion research think-tank; which conducts polls, surveys, social research, and evaluation studies at the intersection of democracy, governance, economy, and public life. Prior to this appointment, he worked for 7 years with Nigeria’s Premier Public Opinion Polling firm, NOIPolls Limited, where he served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO); after holding the positions of Research Director & Chief Methodologist, and later Chief Operating Officer (COO). He led the organisation’s niche Opinion Polling and Social Research practice between 2012 and 2017; consulting and managing several assignments across the public, private, development, and non-profit sectors, for donors and partners such as the World Bank, UK DFID, German GIZ, Japanese JICA, US Conflict Stabilisation Office (USCSO) amongst others.

Cailtlin McDonald. Digital anthropologist, Leading Edge Forum United States of America – United Kingdom

Caitlin is the LEF’s resident Digital Anthropologist. She helps business leaders and teams learn to step outside their version of ‘normal,’ suspend judgment, and consider things from many different perspectives. This gives businesses the leading edge through boosting customer empathy, finding new solutions to old problems, and enriching the insight power of big data through multidisciplinary approaches. Recognised for her domain knowledge in qualitative methods like ethnography and participant-observation, Caitlin also spent six years at the quantitative coal face developing analytical models and designing dashboards for the world’s largest collaboration and talent network for education professionals. Before that Caitlin earned her PhD by following dancers around the world and across the internet to learn how information flows for cultural bodies of knowledge like dance are impacted by technoscapes (the digital world all around us.) Caitlin’s combined expertise gives her a uniquely balanced perspective for gleaning wisdom from the intersection between human imagination and digital systems. Caitlin is a trustee for Ellpha Citizen, a charity that leverages the power of data science and AI to create a more gender-balanced world, faster.

Cándido Pérez. Research Manager, Early Institute Mexico- Spain

Cándido is pursuing a PHD that focuses on the role of public policies on paternal involvement in early childhood. He is particularly interested in parental leaves as well as early childhood education and care centers for children under 3 years old. He is also a researcher in the Early Institute, a think tank that designs proposals to improve public policies related to care, education, and health of children in Mexico.

Carmen Valle-Trabadelo. Senior MHPSS advisor, MHPSS Collaborative Denmark

Carmen Valle-Trabadelo, Senior MHPSS Advisor at the MHPSS Collaborative, is a psychologist with 15 years’ experience in mental health. Initially focused in academia and research, she worked for Universidad Autonoma in Madrid, Cardiff University in Wales, and Universidad San Pablo in Madrid, where she reached the position of Head of the Psychology Department. In 2009, she started to combine the academic work with clinical work and services management, funding her own clinic, and setting up an innovative model of treatment of eating disorders. In 2011, after coordinating several collaborations between San Pablo and universities in Low and Middle-income countries, she decided to fully transition to development and humanitarian work. She worked with CBM in Sierra Leone for almost 5 years, supporting the implementation of Enabling Access to Mental Health and leading WHO’s MHPSS response during the Ebola crisis. She then transitioned to serve as Global Mental Health Advisor for CBM, providing technical support and advice in 15 countries across South East Asia and Latin America, with a strong focus on Human Rights, Systems Strengthening, and Psychological Interventions. In her current roles, she advises on Advocacy, Innovations, and Research for Child and Families MHPSS.

Chinny Ogunro. Director of health research, Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa Nigeria

Chinny Ogunro is the Director of Health Research at CSEA. She is also the co-Founder and Managing Director of Africa Health Holdings, a healthcare investment, and operations company committed to delivering high-quality, low-cost health care across Sub-Saharan Africa. She is an advisory board member at Growth Capital—the private equity fund arm of CCHub, a Steering Committee member of the Africa Leadership Academy’s Health Network, and serves on the leadership committee of MIT Solve, a global initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chinny holds a PhD in Health Management (Technology and Operations Management, Strategy) from the Harvard Business School, a M.A. in Health Management from Cornell University, and Bachelors degrees from Stanford University.

Chris Richards. Head of policy and public affairs, Institution of Civil Engineers United Kingdom

Chris joined the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) as Head of Policy and Public Affairs in October 2018. He has responsibility for the transfer of ICE’s insights and recommendations to political decision-makers, alongside supporting the Infrastructure Client Group with industry change initiatives. Previous roles include Head of Business Environment Policy at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation – where he was responsible for developing positions on infrastructure, devolution, and digital transformation. Other policy roles include stints at the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Claire Luzia Leifert. Head of Impact & Innovation Lab, German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP e.V.) Germany

Claire Luzia Leifert co-founded and heads the Impact & Innovation (I&I) Lab at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). The I&I Lab is a learning and experimentation space for new approaches to policy advice and public engagement with international politics. We explore, develop, and share new think tank methodologies, develop training for Think Tankers and bring Think Tanks together to learn from each other and work on common challenges. Claire also heads the Goerdeler Kolleg for Good Governance, a one-year professional development program and network for public intrapreneurs from Eastern Europe. Before joining DGAP in 2015, she worked for two years at the Heinrich Boell Foundation as a project manager in the fields of social & health policy as well as education & science policy. Since 2006, she has been a freelance project manager and facilitator with a focus on democracy and active civil society, public sector innovation, and organisational development of NGOs and Think Tanks. Claire Luzia Leifert studied European Studies and International Relations in Maastricht, Montreal, Berlin, and Vancouver. She is an alumna of HPI School of Design Thinking and a certified adult education trainer.

Ekaterina Bessonova. Communications officer, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Russia – Sweden

Ekaterina is a creative communicator, passionate about sustainability, and experienced in web and social presence. She is a communications professional specializing in sustainability science and policy. She leads the digital communications of the Swedish International Agriculture Network Initiative, SIANI, and carries out strategic communications for several research initiatives at the Stockholm Environment Institute, SEI. She holds a MSc in Sustainable Development from Uppsala University in Sweden and BA in Political Science from Saint-Petersburg State University in Russia.

Frédéric Maurer. Head of sales and business development, :elblox Switzerland

Frédéric studied electrical engineering at EPFL where he obtained a PhD in 2019. He is currently working at :elblox, an energy start-up that aims to ease the energy transition. In addition to the topic of energy, he is also interested in relations between Switzerland and the EU. In July 2018, he published a study within the GLP-lab in which he proposed concrete solutions for the reform of the accompanying measures for the free movement of persons (8-day rule).

Kaplu Soe Saw. Research associate, Another Development Policy Think Tank Myanmar

Saw Kaplu Soe is Research Associate at Another Development (AD). He joined AD in March 2018. He has a BA in Social Studies from the Myanmar Institute of Theology. He has been involved in several of AD’s policy research works: for example the decentralization and local governance in Karen State and Tanintharyi Region, which mainly focused on public communication and participation; as well as in the Yangon City Water Supply System and Green Spaces in Yangon.

Kohei Takahashi. Researcher/project leader, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies Japan

Kohei works for the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Japan as a researcher and project manager with the aim of building relations with the public and private sectors. His research interests are think tanks, technology, innovation, startups from universities, etc.

Lamiaa Iraqui Houssaini. Senior legal counsel, AMETHIS (Pan-African PE Fund) Morocco & France

Lamiaa is a business lawyer aspiring to be a policy entrepreneur. She is currently senior legal counsel within Amethis, a pan-African private equity fund. Prior to joining Amethis, Lamiaa worked as a lawyer in the M&A department of several French and international law firms. Lamiaa specialises in legal and tax advisory services regarding investment operations in Africa. Lamiaa holds a Master of Management degree from SKEMA Business School and a Master in tax law from the University of Paris Dauphine. She is currently undertaking a PhD and researching the legal and tax framework of venture capital in French-speaking Africa. Lamiaa is the president of AJAM Network, an international network of legal professionals in business law for Morocco and a member of the Global Shaper Community (affiliate to the World Economic Forum). Passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation issues in Africa, Lamiaa founded an initiative called Legal’Up that aims to provide probono legal advice to startups by law students and aims to create links between law students and young entrepreneurs. Lamiaa is fluent in Arabic, French, and English.

Luciana Gama Muniz. Deputy director, Brazilian Center for International Relations – CEBRI Brazil

Luciana is the Deputy Director at the Brazilian Center for International Relations (CEBRI). She holds a Master’s degree from the Social Sciences in Development, Agriculture and Society Program of the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ) and a bachelor degree in International Relations, as well as an MBA in Sustainability Management (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro – UFRJ) and an MBA International Politics (Fundação Getúlio Vargas). She has been working for more than fifteen years in the area of international cooperation, especially in think tanks and civil society organizations, and has large experience in institutional development, external relations, strategic planning, project management, and fundraising activities. She participated at the Latin American Program on Governance, Political Management, and Public Management, developed by the Latin American Development Bank (CAF) in partnership with Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) and George Washington University (GWU), and took part at the Interdisciplinary Course on Human Rights developed by the InterAmerican Institute of Human Rights, in Costa Rica. She is a member of the International Society of Research Administrators.

Lwin Maung Maung Swe. Programme director, Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM) Myanmar

Mr. Lwin Maung Maung Swe is the programme director of ALARM, formerly known as EcoDev. He joined the organization in 2005 as field staff of community-based natural resource management project in Kachin State. He currently oversees the management of programs and projects that are being implemented by EcoDev with the financial support from the UN, EU, USAID, and other INGOs for advocating policies and laws related to environmental governance, food security, extractive industry transparency initiative, climate change adaptation, and mitigation. With over ten years of experience, Mr. Lwin specializes in participatory planning, project management, environmental assessment, capacity building for sustainable natural resource management, climate change adaptation, and community development. He is a reviewer of a couple of international academic journals and, has authored and co-authored a couple of journal articles, technical reports, and publications related to agricultural adaptation to climate change, environment performance, and development. He has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from Yezin Agricultural University, an MsC in Natural Resources Management from the Asian Institute Technology, and an MsC in Environmental Management from the Australian National University.

Mma Amara Ekeruche. Research Associate, Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA) Nigeria

Mma Amara Ekeruche is a Research Associate at CSEA. She holds a Masters in Economic Policy from University College London (UCL), United Kingdom, and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. Her research experience cuts across education, public finance management, and partnerships for development. She runs a column – Your Nigerian Economist – on Stears Business and is a member of the Association for the Advancement of African Women Economists (AAAWE) and the Nigerian Economic Society (NES).

Mualeem Zikirullahi Ibrahim. Executive director, Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education Nigeria

Zikirullahi Ibrahim has an honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities from the Commonwealth University in the United Kingdom, and holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Mass Communication (by research) from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom. He is currently the Executive Director, and Board Secretary of the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED), a non-profit, non-partisan, and knowledge-driven non-governmental organization (NGO) with offices in Lagos, Abuja, and Kano States. He was the National Chairman (2012- 2016) of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of over 400 Civil Society Organisations, which specialized in election monitoring; and led the TMG to observe the historic 2015 General Elections. Zikirullahi is one of the leading minds behind the formation of United Action for Democracy (UAD), a pro-democracy group, which gave vent to the aspiration of Nigerians in restoring democracy in Nigeria. He was the Nigerian Liaison Officer (2000-2003) of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), an international development organisation with headquarters in Berlin, Germany; and he was the founding Secretary-General of the Nigeria Security Printing & Minting Company (Mint) Workers Forum.

Max Walter. Executive director, Centre for Development Alternatives Germany – Uganda

Max is Co-founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Development Alternatives. He is currently Team Leader for the design of Financial Sector Deepening’s 5-year strategy and an in-depth study on industrial policy for structural transformation in Uganda, with a focus on agro-industrialisation. Previously, he led the diagnostic and design of the Uganda Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Initiative and carried out the 2018 and 2019 annual reviews of NU-TEC, DFID’s GBP 43M agribusiness market development programme in Northern Uganda. In 2015 – 2017 Max worked in D.R. Congo as a programme manager and technical adviser on ELAN RDC, one of the largest market systems development programmes worldwide, with a strong focus on agricultural value chains. In addition, Max has led CDA research in Uganda on the SME enabling environment, entrepreneurship, economic transformation, skills development, labour markets, and energy. He holds an MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics and a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from the University of York.

Paulo Pereira. Professor of economics, Lisbon School of Economics and Management (ISEG) Portugal

Paulo has pursued an academic career in economics, and at the same time creating and participating in several civil society organisations in Portugal. Among them he was the co-founder of the Institute of Public Policy Thomas Jefferson-Correia da Serra (IPP TJ-CS) with research and projects on Democracy and Accountability, and Good Governance, Transparency, and Public Finance. More recently as an economist, he, along with other economists, prepared the economic programme for the socialist party and afterwards, took leave from the University, and became an independent member of the Portuguese Parliament (2015- 19). He is currently writing a book on Portuguese parliament and back at the University and at IPP TJ-CS.

Rajganna Kannanathan. Research fellow, KAICIID Dialogue Centre Switzerland

Rajganna is an international relations scholar with specialising in international human rights law and geopolitics. He is also an independent consultant of geopolitics with a special focus on the Indo-Pacific region. He has worked in the UN Human Rights High Commission in Geneva as an intern. In Switzerland and the UK, he has associated with various local and international NGOs focusing on conflict transformation, human rights advocacy, and research. Rajganna holds a master’s degree in international relations from the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations and a certificate of advanced studies in conflict mediation in intercultural and religious context from Bern University of Applied Sciences. He also attended specialised programmes from the UN Peace University and Geneva School of Diplomacy in Nuclear Disarmament and Arms Control. His research areas include peace studies, theoretical developments in international relations, political philosophy, and the study of human consciousness.

Rajiv Chandegra. General Practicioner, NHS United Kingdom

Rajiv is a practicing medical doctor with experience in global health. He also runs a non-profit publishing company and has done various local policy-level work in the healthcare sector. He’s currently shaping himself for a career in policy and consulting. Aside from that, he plays the Indian instrument of Tabla, loves playing football, and has a passion for all things related to great design.

Sheila Mburu. Research and policy officer, UK Collaborative on Development Research Kenya – United Kingdom

Sheila Mburu a research and policy officer at the UK Collaborative on Development Research, and is responsible for providing research and policy advice to member UKCDR organisations and key stakeholders. Her areas of expertise span across global health and nutrition research. She currently leads on UKCDR’s global health activities, built environment research, and cross-cutting activities on safeguarding and equitable partnerships. Sheila holds an Msci degree in Biochemistry and Genetics from The University of Nottingham, and a Msc degree in Nutrition for Global Health from The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Sheila has also worked with the WHO country office in Rwanda, the Power of Nutrition, and the Medical Research Council’s Gambia Unit. Whilst at WHO, she co-authored a book chapter on brain drain caused by the recruitment of health workers from sub-Saharan Africa to developed countries.

Thurein Aung. Program officer, Yangon Heritage Trust Myanmar

Thurein Aung holds a Computer Science degree from the University of Computer Studies, Yangon. He is a program officer at Yangon Heritage Trust, where he is responsible for research, communications, and outreach. He also manages the trust’s advocacy projects, including the Blue Plaque Program and its acclaimed walking tours. He takes a great interest in diverse subjects such as anthropology, sociology, and history. Born and raised in Yangon, he is inspired by the city’s rich history and its heritage. He joined Yangon Heritage Trust to play a part in ushering in a modern city that keeps its heritage and character intact. He is also a climate change activist.

School for Thinktankers 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 that provides information to support an informed dialogue on decent job 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 resources 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 fulfill 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 the coordinator and co-editor 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 in 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 an 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 a 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 in strategic management. Milena has more than twelve years of professional experience with an emphasis on think tanks’ management and finances. She has had an 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 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 in 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).

School for Thinktankers 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.

School for thinktankers 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