Development in Transition

Track III: Driving Constant Learning

Panel 15: When are RCTs appropriate?

Ran­dom­ized Con­trol Tri­als (RCTs) have become a ubiq­ui­tous impact eval­u­a­tion method as they are con­sid­ered the gold stan­dard for estab­lish­ing whether an inter­ven­tion truly makes an impact. NGOs choose to design pro­grams that can be eval­u­ated through an RCT in order to demon­strate impact and secure fund­ing from donors. Grad­u­ate stu­dents are choos­ing to study top­ics that can be eval­u­ated through an RCT in order to demon­strate pos­i­tive results and be pub­lished in top aca­d­e­mic jour­nals. But the ques­tion remains: Are RCTs over hyped? This panel will explore when RCTs are appro­pri­ate and applic­a­ble to other con­texts. The pan­elists will dis­cuss their use­ful­ness and lim­i­ta­tions and how orga­ni­za­tions can apply lessons from RCTs to poli­cies or pro­grams with a dif­fer­ent scale, scope and setting.

Direc­tor: Eliz­a­beth Bennett


MARTIN ABEL (MODERATOR) is a PhD Can­di­date in Pub­lic Pol­icy at the Har­vard Kennedy School. In this pre­vi­ous capac­ity as a research man­ager at J-PAL Africa, he worked on issues of youth employ­ment in coop­er­a­tion with the South African gov­ern­ment and man­aged J-PAL Africa’s capac­ity devel­op­ment ini­tia­tive. His research inter­ests are devel­op­ment eco­nom­ics, behav­ioral eco­nom­ics and labor eco­nom­ics. Mar­tin holds a Mas­ter in Pub­lic Admin­is­tra­tion in Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment from the Har­vard Kennedy School and a BA in Eco­nom­ics from the Uni­ver­sity of Jena.

THOMAS CHUPEIN is a Pol­icy Man­ager at J-PAL and man­ages J-PAL’s Health Pro­gram and a research ini­tia­tive that focuses on improv­ing urban ser­vices in devel­op­ing coun­tries. In these roles, he helps forge new research part­ner­ships, writes pol­icy pub­li­ca­tions, and con­ducts out­reach with pol­i­cy­mak­ers to dis­sem­i­nate evi­dence from J-PAL eval­u­a­tions. Prior to join­ing J-PAL, Thomas was Head of Research Ini­tia­tives for the Cen­ter for Effec­tive Global Action (CEGA) at UC Berke­ley, where he co-managed the J-PAL-CEGA Agri­cul­tural Tech­nol­ogy Adop­tion Ini­tia­tive, helped launch the Behav­ioral Eco­nom­ics in Repro­duc­tive Health Ini­tia­tive, and led the Center’s research dis­sem­i­na­tion activ­i­ties. Pre­vi­ously, he worked for two years as a data ana­lyst for UNICEF in Bhutan, Nepal, and Thai­land. Thomas holds a Mas­ters in Pub­lic Admin­is­tra­tion in Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (MPA/ID) from the Har­vard Kennedy School and a BA in Devel­op­ment Stud­ies from UC Berkeley.

FELIPE BARRERA-OSORIO’s aim in research is to deter­mine how dif­fer­ent edu­ca­tional incen­tives impact the learn­ing out­comes of pri­mary– and sec­ondary school-aged chil­dren in dif­fer­ent con­texts and lev­els of edu­ca­tion devel­op­ment. He is cur­rently eval­u­at­ing sev­eral inter­ven­tions that use ran­dom assign­ment, regres­sion dis­con­ti­nu­ity designs, difference-in-difference, and instru­men­tal vari­ables approaches. Felipe Barrera-Osorio holds a Ph.D in Eco­nom­ics from the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land, Col­lege Park, U.S.A. and a B.A. in Eco­nom­ics from Uni­ver­si­dad de los Andes, Bogota, Colom­bia. Barera-Osorio moved to the United States in 2006 to work as a senior econ­o­mist at the World Bank in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Since 2011, he has been an assis­tant pro­fes­sor of edu­ca­tion and eco­nom­ics at the Har­vard Grad­u­ate School of Education.

JANINA MATUSZESKI is Lec­turer in Pub­lic Pol­icy. Her inter­ests include pro­gram eval­u­a­tion, devel­op­ment eco­nom­ics, polit­i­cal econ­omy and research involv­ing dig­i­tal map data (GIS). Most recently, she worked for Oxfam Amer­ica as Senior Research Coor­di­na­tor, Com­mu­nity Finance Depart­ment, over­see­ing the oper­a­tional and impact research for Oxfam America’s Sav­ing for Change microsav­ings pro­gram in Mali, Sene­gal, Cam­bo­dia, El Sal­vador and Guatemala. Prior to this she served as as a water and san­i­ta­tion Peace Corps Vol­un­teer in Mali. She also worked at ideas42, a micro­fi­nance research cen­ter at Har­vard, focus­ing on small busi­ness devel­op­ment projects in India. She received a PhD in eco­nom­ics from Har­vard Uni­ver­sity in 2007, with spe­cial­ties in devel­op­ment eco­nom­ics, polit­i­cal econ­omy and macro­eco­nom­ics, and a BA from Amherst Col­lege in 1997 in chem­istry and physics.

Panel 16: Big data for devel­op­ment: Promises and perils

The expo­nen­tial growth of mobile tech­nolo­gies in emerg­ing mar­kets has gen­er­ated tremen­dous promise as well as per­ils for the use of Big Data for the pur­poses of human devel­op­ment. Opti­mists see Big Data as a unique oppor­tu­nity for data-driven pol­icy design, tar­geted imple­men­ta­tion, and eval­u­a­tion of pro­grams in emerg­ing mar­kets. How­ever, skep­tics fear the per­ils of vio­lat­ing pri­vacy, exploita­tion by not-so-benevolent gov­ern­ments, and a less human-centered approach to pol­icy design and imple­men­ta­tion. This panel will explore both the ben­e­fits and chal­lenges of Big Data and what the future holds for the effec­tive use of Big Data for human development.

Direc­tor: Ali Kamil


BJÖRN-SÖREN GIGLER (MODERATOR) is a Senior Gov­er­nance Spe­cial­ist at the Open Gov­ern­ment & Inno­va­tion Prac­tice at the World Bank Group. Gigler also holds the posi­tion of Vis­it­ing Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor for Polit­i­cal Econ­omy at the Edmund A. Walsh School of For­eign Ser­vice and the McDo­nough School of Busi­ness at George­town Uni­ver­sity. He holds a Ph.D in Devel­op­ment Stud­ies from the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics, a M.S. in Eco­nom­ics from the Munich Grad­u­ate School of Eco­nom­ics, and a M.A. in Inter­na­tional Affairs from George Wash­ing­ton University.

ALEX ‘SANDY’ PENTLAND directs MIT’s Human Dynam­ics Lab­o­ra­tory and the MIT Media Lab Entre­pre­neur­ship Pro­gram, co-leads the World Eco­nomic Forum Big Data and Per­sonal Data ini­tia­tives, and is a found­ing mem­ber of the Advi­sory Boards for Nis­san, Motorola Mobil­ity, Tele­fon­ica, and a vari­ety of start-up firms. In 2012 Forbes named Sandy one of the ‘seven most pow­er­ful data sci­en­tists in the world’, and in 2013 he won the McK­in­sey Award from Har­vard Busi­ness Review. His research has been fea­tured in Nature, Sci­ence, and Har­vard Busi­ness Review, as well as being the focus of TV fea­tures on BBC World, Dis­cover and Sci­ence chan­nels. Sandy’s research group and entre­pre­neur­ship pro­gram have spun off more than 30 com­pa­nies to date, three of which are pub­licly listed and sev­eral that serve mil­lions of poor in Africa and South Asia.

PHILIP EVANS is a senior part­ner and man­ag­ing direc­tor in BCG’s Boston office. He founded BCG’s media sec­tor and has con­sulted for cor­po­ra­tions world­wide in the finan­cial ser­vices, con­sumer goods, media, and high-technology indus­tries. He is a coau­thor of four Har­vard Busi­ness Review arti­cles, one of which, “Strat­egy and the New Eco­nom­ics of Infor­ma­tion,” won HBR’s McK­in­sey Award. Blown to Bits (coau­thored with Tom Wurster) was the best-selling book world­wide on tech­nol­ogy and strat­egy in 2000 and has been trans­lated into 13 lan­guages. Philip grad­u­ated with dou­ble first-class hon­ors in eco­nom­ics from Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity, win­ning two Uni­ver­sity prizes. He was a Hark­ness Fel­low in the eco­nom­ics depart­ment at Har­vard and also obtained an MBA with hon­ors from Har­vard Busi­ness School.

NATHAN EAGLE is the co-founder and CEO of Jana, a com­pany that helps global brands con­nect directly with peo­ple in emerg­ing growth mar­kets via mobile phones. In addi­tion to being CEO of Jana, Dr. Eagle is an Adjunct Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity. His research involves engi­neer­ing com­pu­ta­tional tools, designed to explore how the petabytes of data gen­er­ated about human move­ments, finan­cial trans­ac­tions, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion pat­terns can be used for social good. In 2012, Wired named Eagle one of the ’50 peo­ple who will change the world’ and the Mar­ket Research Soci­ety awarded him the President’s Medal. Eagle has been elected to MIT’s TR35, a group of the world’s top inno­va­tors under 35. Eagle holds a BS and two MS degrees from Stanford’s School of Engi­neer­ing; his PhD from the MIT Media Lab­o­ra­tory founded the field of ‘Real­ity Min­ing’ and was declared one of the ’10 tech­nolo­gies most likely to change the way we live’ by the MIT Tech­nol­ogy Review.

EMMANUEL LETOUZÉ is the co-founder and direc­tor of Data-Pop, a global net­work on Big Data and devel­op­ment co-created by the MIT Media Lab, the Over­seas Devel­op­ment Insti­tute and the Har­vard Human­i­tar­ian Ini­tia­tive, where he is, respec­tively, a Fel­low, a Vis­it­ing Scholar and a Research Asso­ciate. He is also a PhD can­di­date in Demog­ra­phy at UC Berke­ley (ABD) and a non-resident Adviser at the Inter­na­tional Peace Insti­tute. He is the author of Global Pulse’s white paper “Big Data for Devel­op­ment: Chal­lenges and Oppor­tu­ni­ties” (May 2012) and of the last 2 OECD reports on Frag­ile States. From 2006 to 2009 he worked for UNDP in New York and from 2000 to 2004 for the French Min­istry of Finance in Viet­nam. Emmanuel grad­u­ated from Sci­ences Po Paris (BA, 1999, MA in Eco­nomic Demog­ra­phy, 2000) and Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity (MA in Inter­na­tional Affairs, 2006) where he was a Ful­bright fel­low. He is also a polit­i­cal car­toon­ist for var­i­ous media outlets.

Panel 17: Lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy to achieve new solu­tions in development

In a world where tech­nol­ogy per­vades every aspect of life, its util­ity in real­iz­ing goals and aims in inter­na­tional devel­op­ment is ris­ing. For instance, the pro­fu­sion of cel­lu­lar and broad­band tech­nolo­gies has enabled the adop­tion of inex­pen­sive means of cre­at­ing impact and shun­ning the tra­di­tional path taken by the indus­tri­al­ized world. This panel will shed light on how tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tions are redefin­ing the dis­course in the field of inter­na­tional devel­op­ment, and how best can they be uti­lized to achieve more effec­tive and effi­cient outcomes.

Direc­tors: Rahul Lad­ha­nia and Heinz Col­lege at Carnegie Mel­lon University


PUKAR MALLA (MODERATOR) leads a par­al­lel career as an inno­va­tion spe­cial­ist and a com­mu­nity orga­nizer. As a Senior Research Fel­low at the Har­vard Kennedy School, he is inves­ti­gat­ing and pilot­ing inno­va­tion and lead­er­ship frame­works for young inno­va­tors to accel­er­ate change in devel­op­ing coun­tries. As Co-Founder of the social enter­prise, Nepal ko Yuwa, he has been orga­niz­ing Nepali youth to lead change through enter­prise and pol­icy inno­va­tions. In last 3 years, as a Senior Inno­va­tion Pol­icy Spe­cial­ist at World Bank, he sup­ported the gov­ern­ments of India, China and Ghana to pro­mote inno­va­tion and inclu­sive growth. In prior engi­neer­ing career, he led design at Intel, AMD, Sil­i­con Graph­ics and a Sil­i­con Val­ley start-up, and secured 2 US patents. He received his Bach­e­lors from Swarth­more Col­lege with focus on engi­neer­ing and eco­nom­ics. He spent 3 years at Cor­nell, where he attained MS/PhD in Elec­tri­cal Engi­neer­ing with a Minor in Busi­ness Man­age­ment. He earned his MPA from Har­vard Kennedy School. While at Har­vard, he also led the Har­vard Grad­u­ate Coun­cil as its elected President.

JUAN E. CHEBLY is PhD Can­di­date in Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment at Simon Boli­var Uni­ver­sity in Cara­cas, Venezuela. He is also founder and CEO of, and cur­rently works for the United Nations Mil­len­nium Cam­paign as the Coor­di­na­tor for the World We Want Plat­form. He holds a BS in man­age­ment, a minor in Inter­na­tional Busi­ness, and a Finance MBA degree from St. John’s Uni­ver­sity in Queens NY. Juan Elias com­pleted his stud­ies with hon­ors at St. John’s in 2009. At age 24, he became St. John’s Tobin Col­lege of Busi­ness youngest Adjunct Pro­fes­sor dur­ing Fall 2010. He taught Foun­da­tions of Finance and was among the top ranked pro­fes­sors by stu­dents. In 2009 he founded, a tele­com startup intro­duc­ing inno­v­a­tive and pio­neer­ing VOIP tele­phony solu­tions in South Amer­ica and the US. Cur­rently he is advo­cat­ing for the United Nations Mil­len­nium Campaign’s fight against poverty at UNDP New York Head Quarters.

JOSEPH MERTZ is an Asso­ciate Teach­ing Pro­fes­sor in the H. John Heinz III Col­lege at Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity. His teach­ing focuses on two threads: devel­op­ing technical-professional lead­er­ship skills and using tech­nol­ogy for devel­op­ment. He is direc­tor of Tech­nol­ogy Con­sult­ing in the Global Com­mu­nity, which has sent 57 stu­dents to 11 devel­op­ing coun­tries to help gov­ern­ment min­istries and NGOs improve their strate­gic use of tech­nol­ogy. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Com­puter Sci­ence from Penn State and the Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and a Ph.D. in Engi­neer­ing and Pub­lic Pol­icy from Carnegie Mel­lon. Between degrees, he worked as a sys­tems soft­ware devel­oper for Bell Lab­o­ra­to­ries for 5 years.

MAIKA HEMPHILL is a finance pro­fes­sional and devel­op­ment oper­a­tions spe­cial­ist who isn’t afraid to try some­thing new. As Poten­tial Energy’s Direc­tor of Devel­op­ment and Strat­egy, Maika is help­ing to lead the orga­ni­za­tion through a period of impact– based growth — tak­ing suc­cesses in PE’s work in Dar­fur, Sudan, and trans­lat­ing them to oper­a­tions through­out sub Saha­ran Africa. Strat­egy, growth, and cre­ativ­ity in com­plex set­tings have been con­sis­tent mark­ers of her career. For­merly tasked with devel­op­ing’s pres­ence in the US domes­tic micro­fi­nance mar­ket, Maika was respon­si­ble for wide­spread domes­tic growth and recog­ni­tion– both through Kiva’s portfolio-based invest­ments as well as strate­gic part­ner­ships. Her work at Kiva and Poten­tial Energy has been backed by a solid foun­da­tion of finan­cial analy­sis, port­fo­lio and part­ner­ship devel­op­ment. Prior to her time at Kiva, Maika worked as an invest­ment banker under Piper Jaffray’s Finan­cial Restruc­tur­ing Group as well as a Senior Loan Offi­cer under ACCION USA’s lend­ing team. Work­ing in-depth with US micro-entrepreneurs, and with cor­po­ra­tions in finan­cial dis­tress or bank­ruptcy, has allowed her a strong eye towards rec­og­niz­ing both strengths and hid­den weak­nesses in non-traditional orga­ni­za­tional set­tings. Maika holds a B.S. in both Finance and Inter­na­tional Busi­ness as well as a minor in Span­ish from New York University.

Panel 18: In pur­suit of con­stant learn­ing: Mon­i­tor­ing, eval­u­a­tion, and the space between

Mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion (M&E) is a ubiq­ui­tous phrase with dif­fer­ent mean­ings to dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Across gov­ern­ments, NGO’s, and pri­vate com­pa­nies, the process of M&E varies widely in form and results when it comes to improv­ing project effec­tive­ness, evidence-based pol­icy, and orga­ni­za­tional capac­ity. Amidst this vari­ety, how can we assess the process of assess­ment itself and the com­mon chal­lenges that emerge? This panel will explore themes such as how to bal­ance the donor’s need for rig­or­ous eval­u­a­tions with the implementer’s need to improve projects as they encounter prob­lems on the ground. It will also address how we can cre­ate feed­back loops between mon­i­tor­ing, eval­u­a­tion, project design, and implementation.

Direc­tor: Tim O’Brien


SALIMAH SAMJI (MODERATOR) is a Fel­low at the CID’s Build­ing State Capa­bil­ity Pro­gram. She has over ten years of expe­ri­ence work­ing in inter­na­tional devel­op­ment. Most recently, she served as a senior pro­gram man­ager at lead­ing a trans­parency and account­abil­ity ini­tia­tive focused on empow­er­ing cit­i­zens and deci­sion mak­ers, by mak­ing infor­ma­tion on ser­vice deliv­ery out­comes, pub­licly avail­able. She has also worked at the World Bank as a social/rural devel­op­ment and mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion spe­cial­ist in South Asia and Africa. Born in Kenya, Sal­imah has worked and lived in Kenya, India, Pak­istan, Tajik­istan, Canada and the USA.

MALIHA KHAN is a devel­op­ment prac­ti­tioner in the fields of mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion, learn­ing and account­abil­ity and led two of the largest iNGOs func­tions in these areas (Oxfam Amer­ica and CARE USA). She has been respon­si­ble for lead­ing inter­nal teams that pro­vide tech­ni­cal sup­port, main­tain stan­dards, lead inno­va­tion and pro­vide thought lead­er­ship in the orga­ni­za­tions. Prior to join­ing CARE she was an Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment at World learning’s SIT Grad­u­ate Insti­tute where she taught devel­op­ment pro­fes­sion­als pro­gram design, mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion amongst other things. She has worked as a con­sul­tant for a vari­ety of bilat­eral, mul­ti­lat­eral and gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions. Dr Khan is from Pak­istan, where she started her career imple­ment­ing devel­op­ment projects. She has a Mas­ters in Social Anthro­pol­ogy from Quaid-i-Azam Uni­ver­sity, Islam­abad and a doc­tor­ate from the State Uni­ver­sity of New York, where she spe­cial­ized in Devel­op­ment Anthropology.

AMANDA BEATTY has been work­ing in the field of M&E since she grad­u­ated from the Kennedy School in 2001. Amanda’s main focus is large-scale ran­dom­ized eval­u­a­tions in the fields of community-driven devel­op­ment (CDD) and edu­ca­tion, and work­ing with gov­ern­ments to main­tain ran­dom­iza­tion, and imple­ment sur­veys and analy­sis. She has worked at RAND, the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion, and the World Bank Indone­sia. Cur­rently, Amanda is a researcher at Math­e­mat­ica Pol­icy Research where she leads eval­u­a­tions in Indone­sia and Tan­za­nia related to nutri­tion, CDD, edu­ca­tion and early child­hood devel­op­ment. She is also a co-PI on a CDD impact eval­u­a­tion in the Philip­pines with Inno­va­tions for Poverty Action.

GRACE HOLLISTER pro­vides strate­gic direc­tion and tech­ni­cal over­sight to the Deworm the World Initiative’s pro­grams glob­ally. Deworm the World Ini­tia­tive part­ners with gov­ern­ments to pro­vide tech­ni­cal assis­tance in scal­ing and insti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing school-based deworm­ing pro­grams that improve the well-being of chil­dren in Africa and Asia. Grace has 10 years of exper­tise in pro­gram imple­men­ta­tion and oper­a­tions man­age­ment, orga­ni­za­tional process devel­op­ment, finan­cial report­ing, and bud­get analy­sis through prior work includ­ing at the US Government’s Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion. Grace holds a BA from Tufts University.