Wendy Abt is the Founder/CEO of WPA, Inc., an advisory firm that provides strategic and financial advisory services to the commercial banking sector. She re-joined the IPA Board of Directors after having left to serve as Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment at USAID. Immediately prior to her appointment to USAID, she worked with J-PAL and IPA on several projects in West Africa. Ms. Abt 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. She 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 U.S. 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.
Trey Beck retired from the finance industry in 2015 to devote more time to social policy, with an emphasis on poverty mitigation and the fostering of civil society through American electoral reform. He joined the IPA board in 2016 and served as its chair from 2017 to 2022.
Trey spent his 23-year finance career at the D. E. Shaw group, a New York-based investment firm that is among the world’s largest and longest-established alternative investment firms and is widely regarded as a pioneer of quantitative finance.
Trey is a member of the board of New Classrooms, a non-profit delivering personalized math instruction to U.S. public school students. He is the former board chair of Turnaround for Children, which attempts to improve poverty-challenged American schools by addressing the effects of traumatic stress on child development.
Trey received his B.A. in 1993 from the University of Virginia, with a dual degree in history and Russian Studies, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and designated an Echols Scholar for academic distinction.
Heather is a founding partner of Causeway Strategies, a boutique consulting firm that helps individuals, organizations and corporations to communicate, connect and advance their objectives more effectively. She was formerly a partner at ASG Advisors, which advises corporate foundations and executives on their philanthropic and positioning efforts. Her background includes work in the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives, as well corporate communications in New York and charity sector communications in London. 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 KidsMatter.
Laura Hattendorf serves as Senior Advisor to the Mulago Foundation, having previously served as Head of Investments. Laura is also a Lecturer at Stanford's Graduate School of Business—co-teaching the course Starting and Growing Social Ventures—and an advisor to many social enterprises around the world, including the Rainer Arnhold Fellows.
Laura thrives in entrepreneurial environments and most of her professional career has been in early stage companies. In the social sector, Laura co-founded Sustainable Conservation, a nonprofit organization that innovates and implements economic solutions to environmental problems. Laura was its Executive Director from 1993 to 2000 and served on its Board of Directors through 2012. In the private sector, Laura was an early employee—and ultimately a partner—in the McArthur/Glen Group, a national commercial real estate developer that had a successful IPO. Laura started her career doing business strategy consulting with Strategic Planning Associates, which has since been acquired by Oliver Wyman. To jump-start her transition to the social sector, Laura spent a fantastic summer working at Yosemite National Park, where she focused on improving park operations and exploring the backcountry of the High Sierra.
Laura received her BS in Economics and Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and her MBA and Certificate in Public Management from Stanford University.
Cina Lawson is Minister of Digital Economy and Transformation of Togo. Drawing from her over 15 years of experience and expertise in telecommunications policy and regulation, she is leading Togo through a profound transition to an inclusive digital economy. Lawson began her career at the World Bank in Washington, DC where she worked on telecom restructuring projects in developing countries focusing on regulatory reforms. She went on to become a Manager of Corporate Strategy and Business Development at the Orange Group in New York City, and later at Alcatel-Lucent in Paris. Her initiatives as minister have included diversifying private participation in the telecoms sector, spearheading regulatory reforms for data protection and electronic transactions, setting up an innovation hub as well as pushing for the deployment of high-speed fibre broadband to link key institutions, including all public universities in the country. In 2012, Forbes magazine ranked her among the 20 most powerful young women in Africa, and in 2019, Lawson became the first African woman political figure to receive the Harvard Alumni Public Service Award. She is a fervent advocate of innovative solutions to Africa’s developmental challenges and sits on the advisory board of the Digital Identity, Trade and Economy Initiative of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and now Innovations for Poverty Action. She is a graduate of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and Sciences Po Paris.
Based in Nairobi, Karen is a serial social entrepreneur with over twenty-five years of experience working in Africa and South Asia. She has played a key role in building the global ecosystem for evidence and scale in international development and has an extensive track record of bringing evidence-based programs and organizations from early concept stages to a national-level scale. Before co-founding Fit for Purpose, Karen held senior leadership and founding roles at Evidence Action, Innovations for Poverty Action, Deworm the World, and the Tawasal Institute. A strategic thinker and creative problem-solver, she has extensive technical expertise in using evidence to design, implement, and monitor development interventions. Karen has a deep understanding of what it takes to build partnerships and coalitions. She earned her MSc in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and her PhD in Development Planning from the University of London. Karen participated in Y Combinator in 2017 and is a recipient of the Echoing Green Fellowship for her leadership as a social entrepreneur. She is a fluent Swahili speaker.
Jane Kabubo-Mariara is the Executive Director (ED) of the Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP) and is responsible for institutional development, fundraising and long-term sustainability, and delivery of all of PEP’s commitments. Since taking on the role of ED in 2016, Jane has been instrumental in strengthening and diversifying both PEP’s engagement with donors and partner organizations worldwide, as well as PEP’s service offering. Under her leadership, PEP has developed and delivered a range of programs that foster best practices for evidence-informed policymaking—including strengthening the capacities of local researchers in cutting-edge, gender-aware policy analysis and policy engagement—resulting in increased research uptake.
Prior to working at PEP, Jane held several senior positions at the University of Nairobi, with the most recent one as the Director of the School of Economics, a role she held for six years. At the University, she was charged with academic and administrative leadership, as well as management of the School of Economics, alongside the usual professorial responsibilities.
Overall, Jane has over 30 years’ experience in teaching, research, management, and resource mobilization. Among many notable achievements in her academic career, she is credited with making remarkable contributions in teaching, mentoring and developing the capacity of young scholars to undertake research. Some of Jane’s specialty research interests include the impact of climate change on agriculture and adaptation, environmental and natural resource economics, multidimensional poverty, child poverty and youth employment, and labor markets and income distribution.
In addition to her wealth of executive, academic, and research experience, Jane has also held numerous advisory roles, which have in turn made her a well-known figure in local, regional, and international academic circles, as well as in government. She is currently the President of the African Society of Ecological Economists (ASEE), a member of Central Bank of Kenya’s Monetary Policy Committee, the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) Advisory Board, and the Club of Rome’s Earth4All 21st Century Transformational Economics Commission.
Jane is also an integral member of the international scientific community and a thought leader in development economics, having authored multiple journal papers, books, monographs, and policy briefs, as well as several peer-reviewed working papers and mimeos.
Jane is a Professor of Economics at the University of Nairobi, from which she holds a PhD, an MA, and a BA in Economics.
Russell Siegelman draws from seven years of high tech experience at Microsoft, his eleven years as a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), and his many years in non-profit board service to help his students experience the art and science of evaluating and pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities. His goal is that he and his students both learn and have fun while working on entrepreneurial projects that they are passionate about, whether they be for-profit or social ventures. His current and ongoing activity as an angel investor and board member keeps him in touch with the entrepreneurial and investing in for-profit and nonprofit sectors. He brings this real-world knowledge and practical approach to developing business and social ventures.
Kentaro Toyama is the W. K. Kellogg Professor of Community Information at the University of Michigan School of Information and a fellow of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT. He is the author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology. Previously, he was a researcher at UC Berkeley and 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. The award-winning group is known for projects such as MultiPoint, Text-Free User Interfaces, and Digital Green. Kentaro co-founded the IEEE/ACM International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD) to provide a global platform for rigorous academic research in this field. He is also co-editor-in-chief of the journal Information Technologies and International 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 with a PhD in Computer Science and from Harvard with a bachelors degree in Physics. He was born in Tokyo, raised in both Japan and the United States, and now lives in the Seattle area.
As Chief Strategy Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ankur Vora serves as a principal advisor to the co-chairs, chief executive officer and Executive Leadership Team on the foundation’s overall strategic opportunities, risks, and tradeoffs. He leads the Strategy Office, which is responsible for enabling the highest and best use of the our resources—co-chair time, reputation, people, and dollars—to accelerate the foundation’s impact.
Prior to that, he was the director of programs at The Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) in London where he oversaw a cross-cutting portfolio of programs focused on health, nutrition, education, and climate change across Africa and South Asia, and led CIFF's efforts in designing and performance managing investments with grantees.
He also served as principal at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), where he focused on healthcare, financial services, and social impact projects. Before that, Ankur was a lecturer of Economics at the University of Chicago. He also worked briefly at Goldman Sachs, the Industrial Development Bank of India, and the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in India.
Ankur holds a PhD in Economics from The University of Chicago, along with a Masters in Economics and Bachelors in Computer Science from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani, India.
David Wells has focused the last 20+ years on helping consumer businesses grow and has recently shifted towards helping younger companies and the NGO and nonprofit world, particularly growth in the developing world.
He spent nearly 15 years at Netflix, with 8 as its CFO, retiring in early 2019, having served as VP of Financial Planning and Analysis prior to CFO. Mr. Wells was an integral part of the team that presided over Netflix’s transition to a self-produced content streaming company from the DVD company of its early days, its expansion to 190 countries, raising $12B+ in capital, and growth to a $130B+ company.
Prior to joining Netflix, Mr. Wells served in progressive roles at Deloitte Consulting for 6 years and in the nonprofit world before getting his MBA. Mr. Wells joined the Board of public ad tech company, The Trade Desk, in January 2016 and private fintech Transferwise in January 2019. He also serves as an advisor to several growth stage private companies.
Mr. Wells holds a joint MBA/MPP Magna Cum Laude from The University of Chicago and a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce from the University of Virginia.
He loves spending time with his wife and daughter doing anything outside.
Advisor to the Board
Mushfiq Mobarak is a Professor of Economics at the Yale School of Management. He serves as an Advisor to the Board of Directors, scientific advisor to the Bangladesh office, and an academic lead for the Peace & Recovery Program's Humanitarian and Forced Displacement Initiative at IPA. He also co-chairs the Urban Services Initiative at the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT, and leads the Bangladesh Research Program for the International Growth Centre (IGC) at LSE and Oxford. He has previously worked at the World Bank, and at the International Monetary Fund. He is a development economist with interests in environmental issues and has several ongoing research projects in Bangladesh, India, Malawi and Brazil. He conducts field experiments exploring ways to induce people in developing countries to adopt technologies or behaviors that are likely to be welfare improving. His research has been covered by The New York Times, The Economist, Science, NPR, Wired.com, the Times of London, and other publications in Bangladesh, India, Singapore, and Brazil.
Founder and former President and Chairman of the Board of Directors
Dean Karlan is the Frederic Esser Nemmers Distinguished Professor of Economics and Finance at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and Co-Director of the Global Poverty Research Lab. He is the Founder of Innovations for Poverty Action, a non-profit organization dedicated to discovering and promoting solutions to global poverty problems, and working to scale-up successful ideas through implementation and dissemination to policymakers, practitioners, investors and donors. In 2015, he co-founded (with Elijah Goldberg) ImpactMatters, a nonprofit dedicated to producing impact audits, which assesses whether an organization uses and produces appropriate evidence of impact. His research focuses on microeconomic issues of poverty, typically employing experimental methodologies and behavioral economics insights to examine what works, what does not, and why in interventions in sustainable income generation for those in poverty, household and entrepreneurial finance, health behavior, and charitable giving. He works on issues for low-income households in both developing countries and the United States. Karlan is on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the M.I.T. Jameel Poverty Action Lab. As a social entrepreneur, he is co-founder of stickK.com, a website that uses lessons from behavioral economics to help people reach personal goals, such as weight loss and smoking cessation, through commitment contracts on corporate wellness platforms. In 2011, Karlan co-authored More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics is Helping to Solve Global Poverty, and in 2016 he co-authored Failing in the Field. Karlan received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was awarded distinguished alumni awards from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business and the Duke University Talent Identification Program. Previously, Karlan was the Samuel C Park, Jr Professor of Economics at Yale University, and Assistant Professor of Economics at Princeton University. Karlan received a Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T., an M.B.A. and an M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Virginia.