Board of Directors
President and Founder of IPA, Professor of Economics at Yale University
Dean Karlan is Professor of Economics at Yale University and President and Founder of IPA. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago's Harris Graduate School of Public Policy and Graduate School of Business and received his Ph.D in 2002 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, Dean is also a research fellow at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab and the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development.
Founder, WPA Inc
Wendy Abt has just now re-joined the IPA Board, which she left when she was appointed to USAID as Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment, a position she has recently left. Immediately prior to her appointment to USAID, she worked with J-PAL and IPA on several projects in West Africa. Since leaving USAID, WPA, Inc the advisory firm she founded in 1995, is advising the African Development Bank on its financial sector development strategy. She has extensive transactional experience in Africa working as an adviser to African governments and central banks as well as institutional investors. In 2003, WPA sponsored and was the General Partner for a private equity fund whose anchor investor was HSBC, First Rand. Ms. Abt is an expert in commercial banking privatization, and has written, published, and lectured on the topic. Prior to her advisory and investment assignments, she held executive positions in a major US commercial bank. Before her career in banking, Ms. Abt spent over ten years in public policy research, first in Africa and then in the United States with the African American Institute in New York, and Abt Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ms. Abt received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Government from Connecticut College, and a master’s degree in statistical research from Harvard University’s School of Education.
Co-Program Director in Finance, International Growth Centre and Lecturer in Economics, London School of Economics
Greg Fischer is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the London School of Economics and Co-Director for the finance program at the International Growth Centre. He is a graduate of Princeton University and received his PhD in 2008 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also has ten years’ experience in the investment and banking sector with Centre Partners Management and Morgan Stanley Capital Partners. He is the recipient of several awards and grants, including the Economic and Social Research Council’s First Grant (2009-2012), the Robert M. Solow Prize (2008), the Small Grant in Behavioral Economics from Russell Sage Foundation (2007), the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship (2005-2008), and MIT’s Presidential Fellowship (2003-2005). He is also a member of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, the Economic Organization and Public Policy Programme, STICERD at LSE, CEPR and BREAD.
Senior Vice President of Policy & Practice, International Rescue Committee
Senior Vice President of Policy & Practice, International Rescue Committee
Jodi Nelson, Ph.D. has returned to the International Rescue Committee as the Senior Vice President of Policy & Practice. She was previously a Director in IPI specializing in the Global Development Program at the Gates Foundation and founder and first Director of the Research and Evaluation Department at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Jodi worked before this at several nonprofit organizations with international missions, including the Asia Society, the Society for International Development, World Resources Institute, and the Committee for Economic Development. She has taught graduate courses on international aid and evaluation at Princeton University and New York University. Jodi has a doctorate in Political Science from Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.
Professor of Law at University of Michigan Law School
J.J. Prescott is a Professor at the Law School whose research and teaching interests include criminal law, sentencing law and reform, employment law, and torts. Much of his work is empirical in focus. He received his J.D., magna cum laude, in 2002 from Harvard Law School where he was the Treasurer (Vol. 115) and an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Professor Prescott clerked for Judge Merrick B. Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and he earned a Ph.D. in Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006. Professor Prescott was a Research Fellow at Harvard Law School in 2003–2004, a Special Guest at the Brookings Institution (Economic Studies) in Washington, D.C., in 2004-05, and a Research Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center from 2004 to 2006. He received a double B.A. with honors and distinction in Economics and Public Policy from Stanford University in 1996.
President of the Flora Family Foundation
Steve Toben is the president of the Flora Family Foundation in Menlo Park, California. FFF supports the philanthropic activities of the descendants of Bill Hewlett, co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard Company. Interests of the Flora Family Foundation include international development, the environment, education, and human rights. Before joining the staff of the Flora Family Foundation, Mr. Toben served as a program officer at the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation where he directed the foundation's programs on conflict resolution and the environment. He is a former chair of the Environmental Grantmakers Association and a co-founder of the Peace and Security Funders Group. He is a recipient of the Peacemaker/Peacebuilder Award from the National Peace Foundation in Washington for his work in international conflict resolution. Mr. Toben is a graduate of the Yale Law School and the University of North Carolina, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He began his career as a law clerk for the Hon. Sam J. Ervin, III, on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and practiced law for eight years. His board service includes the Consensus-Building Institute in Cambridge, the Global Justice Center in New York, the Great Valley Center in Modesto, Legacy Works in Palo Alto, and the Institute for Conflict Transformation in New York. He is a former member of the Portola Valley Town Council and twice served as mayor.
Associate Professor at University of Michigan School of Information
Kentaro Toyama is an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. Previously he was a researcher at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. Until 2009, he was assistant managing director of Microsoft Research India, which he co-founded in 2005. At MSR India, he started the Technology for Emerging Markets research group, which conducts interdisciplinary research to understand how the world’s poorer communities interact with electronic technology and to invent new ways for technology to support their socio-economic development. Prior to his time in India, Kentaro did computer vision and multimedia research at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, USA, and Cambridge, UK, and taught mathematics at Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana. Kentaro graduated from Yale University with a PhD in Computer Science and from Harvard with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics.
Benjamin S. Appen
Founding Partner, Co-Chair of Investment Committee, and CEO of Magnitude Capital
Mr. Benjamin Sheridan Appen, CFA, also known as Ben, serves as the President, Chief Executive Officer and Founding Partner of Magnitude Capital, LLC. Mr. Appen is responsible for developing and managing the Magnitude family of funds of hedge funds. Immediately before joining Magnitude Capital, Mr. Appen was the Chief Executive Officer of Alkindi, Inc. where he was responsible for overseeing the development of a collaborative filtering application based on n-dimensional clustering algorithms. He was previously a Senior Vice President at D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P. During his seven-year tenure, Mr. Appen co-founded and managed fund of funds business, which grew to approximately $600 million in hedge fund investments. In this role, he oversaw the evaluation of all investment strategies, manager selection, and quantitative research, including the development of new tools for monitoring portfolio risk. Mr. Appen also managed D. E. Shaw & Co.’s venture capital investments, and served on the board of directors of Schrödinger, Inc. He serves as the Chairman of the Board at Credit Where Credit Is Due, Inc. He serves as the Chairman of Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners. He is also a trustee of the Citizens Budget Commission. He is a C.F.A. charter holder since 1999. In 1992, Mr. Appen graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science from Columbia University.
Heather W. Grizzle
Partner at ASG Advisors
Heather is a partner at ASG Advisors, a boutique consultancy that advises corporate foundations and former elected officials on their philanthropic and positioning efforts. Her background includes work in the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives, as well corporate and financial communications in New York. She graduated cum laude with high honors in Economics from Harvard University, where her thesis included original research on giving and volunteering in the United States. Heather is vice chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Stewardship, and a member of the Boards of Alpha USA and VisionFund International.
She and her husband, Ben, have four children, Abigail, Annarose, Rachel, and Caleb.