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 Voipebox.com, 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 Voipebox.com, 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 Kiva.org’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 Google.org 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.