Multicultural, multilingual, and multidisciplinary to the core—global in outlook and approach—our authors are steeped in the challenges of delivering development solutions in the field. They are committed to sharing our innovation and experience to inform international development practices around the world.
Addie Ryan Tadavarthy
Addie Ryan Tadavarthy is a Senior Strategic Projects Manager with DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration. A member of the Partnerships & Insights team, she supports the acquisition and management of digitally focused and strategic projects, providing design, research, and implementation support to project teams in the field and home office. During her ten-year tenure with DAI, she has also supported a diverse portfolio of donor-funded cybersecurity, governance and economic growth projects in Europe, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, including four years in Jakarta as Program and Operations Manager for the regional ASEAN-U.S. Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable, and Sustainable Development and Security (PROGRESS) project. Addie earned a bachelor’s degree in international management and French from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota and then launched her career in international development through a Fulbright Scholarship to examine the impact of microlending on women’s economic empowerment in Morocco. She is proficient in French and conversational in Indonesian, Moroccan Arabic, and Spanish.
Alexander Sekhniashvili is a Digital Specialist at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration, focusing on the technical delivery of digital development projects and securing new business. Prior to joining DAI, Alex managed a team responsible for quarterly formulation and publication of industry reports and client deliverables as the Director of Projects at CG/LA Infrastructure, focused on infrastructure development and digitalization to empower communities in developing countries across various regions (Europe and Eurasia, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and South Asia). In 2017, Alexander worked with the Center for Strategic and International Studies to gather and synthesize data to track investments across Eurasia, resulting in publications related to foreign policy interests of the United States. He holds a master’s degree in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and development from the University of Westminster.
As manager of the Digital Advisory portfolio within DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration, Anand Varghese works with clients to develop digital strategies, design and implement digital-focused activities, train staff on the use of digital platforms for development, and identify local partners. Prior to joining DAI, he served as Senior Manager at the PeaceTech Lab at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Anand played an integral role in creating and launching the Lab, the Institute’s first nonprofit spin-off in its 30-year history. He hails from Bangalore, India. He has a master’s degree in democracy and governance from Georgetown University, a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University, and a bachelor’s degree in media studies, English literature, and psychology from Christ College, Bangalore University.
As a Digital Specialist with DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration, Araba Sapara-Grant brings technical experience in agriculture, climate change, and private sector engagement to her work supporting research and business development for digital and ICT-focused projects. Previously, as a consultant for TechnoServe, Araba developed a climate change strategy for the organization’s West Africa division, including an analysis of digital innovations used to increase the adoption of adaptation and conservation practices in the agriculture sector. In addition, Araba has developed a government engagement strategy for myAgro, a mobile layaway platform for smallholder farmers. Araba has a master’s degree in global human development from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she specialized in agriculture and food security and completed a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. She speaks French and has field experience in Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, and Tanzania.
Ben Harguth is a Principal Manager at DAI, focusing on new business and project implementation. Ben has worked with diverse, global teams to design and develop programs, capitalizing on innovative solutions to meet development challenges. He has worked across multiple sectors and countries, and is experienced in technical writing, strategy, change management, and client engagement.
Before joining DAI, Ben was at Cardno, supporting senior management on the development and execution of business strategies, including the integration and use of digital solutions and tools. He has also supported large-scale digital programs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and worked as a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton.
Ben has extensive field experience in Africa and the Asia-Pacific, across multiple donors. He is currently based in Kigali, Rwanda. Ben holds a master of arts degree in public policy from the Central European University and a bachelor of arts degree in political science and international studies from the University of Wisconsin.
Since 2014, Chloe Carrington (née Messenger) has worked for DAI in Europe, both in business development and project management for clients including the European Union, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Department Office, and the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade. As Senior Consultant, Chloe works across business units and donors to help integrate new technologies into development work. Chloe has hands-on experience in research into digital technologies and innovation in Malawi, South Sudan, and the Western Balkans. She has provided training on digital for development and human-centered design to donor clients in the United Kingdom and Ghana, as well as to in-house DAI staff. Chloe has a master’s degree in politics, security, and integration from University College London.
Connor MacKenzie is an Associate Digital Specialist at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration, where he provides digital advisory services across DAI’s international development portfolio. Prior to joining DAI, he provided project support to different USG funded initiatives, including multiple USAID programs focused on strengthening public administration and State Department projects on public diplomacy. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji, where he led digital trainings for high school students and local community members. He has a master’s degree in international development and economics from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wake Forest University.
Erica Behrens joined the Center for Digital Acceleration in December 2019, providing support for research and implementation projects as well as new business efforts. Prior to DAI, Erica worked in nonprofit management consulting, working with teams to analyze and improve client operations. Before her consulting work, Erica gained development experience interning with AMAR U.S., an international nonprofit providing skills training and basic services to refugees and internally displaced people in Iraq and in Jordan with a local development consulting firm. Erica graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in international relations with a concentration in the Middle East.
Grace Cha is an Associate Manager on the Partnerships and Insights team. She brings a mix of business development, technical assistance, and project management expertise for projects. Prior to joining DAI, Grace held a number of business development and project management roles for global health projects, with cross-cutting experience in leadership training and development, business process improvement, and operations management. She was most recently a senior manager at Chemonics, where she collaborated with senior management to identify, research, strategize, and advise on pursuing business development opportunities and determining key insights by combining research and analysis with critical business drivers. She concurrently served on the activity core management team for a program focused on delivering research, knowledge, and training products to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Acquisition and Assistance workforce to develop a foundational understanding of applying innovative finance approaches to the design and development of awards.
Gratiana Fu works on the products team within DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration. Prior to joining DAI, she worked as a Global Health Corps Fellow in Rwanda, where she designed and developed a national heart disease registry, conducted digital health trainings, and managed a mobile health platform for improving post-surgical care. She is passionate about using appropriate data and technology for the betterment of healthcare and health outcomes around the world. She holds a master’s degree in health informatics and bachelor’s of science degree in sociology, both from the University of Michigan. She is fluent in English, French, and Mandarin and speaks conversational Kinyarwanda.
Inta Plostins brings five years of experience in the international development sector, including nearly two years at the intersection of digital tools and development. Inta serves as a Digital Specialist at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration, where she provides digital advisory services across DAI’s international portfolio of development projects. Previously, at GeoPoll, she worked with partner organizations ranging from donor implementing partners and foundations to African think tanks and agricultural research institutions on integrating mobile into their technical solutions and program designs. Inta has a master’s degree in international affairs from American University and a bachelor’s degree with honors in history from McGill University. She speaks English, Latvian, and French and has American, Canadian, and Latvian (European Union) citizenship.
Julia Burchell brings more than a decade of experience in digital for development, gender, and sustainability. With expertise in commercial innovations that reach low-income and marginalized people, especially women, at scale, she currently leads the Partnerships and Insights team at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration. Previously, she spent more than nine years at the GSM Association, most recently acting as the global lead on the GSMA National Dialogue initiative. She specialized in gender and mobile before leading research into mobile value-added services and industry partnerships. Julia has a strong background in corporate communications, having previously represented organizations across the telecommunications, utilities, accountancy, and law industries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Nottingham and a master’s degree in writing from Goldsmiths University.
Komal Bazaz Smith
Komal Bazaz Smith works at the nexus between social impact, strategy and community engagement. She is passionate about using her client relationship, influencing and advocacy skills to design and build smart and impactful activities that improve the lives of others. Komal has more than 20 years of multi-sectoral experience advising clients including global Fortune 500 corporations, philanthropic organizations, social entrepreneurs, research institutions/ universities, and government agencies in the U.S. and globally. She has led strategic consulting projects for DAI, R4D, Arabella Philanthropic Advisors, Booz Allen and Accenture, and co-founded the non-profit Kashmiri Institute, focused on creating partnerships and building language and cultural awareness in the diaspora community. Today, she is the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership Project Director at DAI Global, LLC, supporting USAID’s Innovation, Technology, and Research (ITR) Hub. Ms. Bazaz Smith holds an M.Sc. in International Commerce & Finance, and an honors International Business Diplomacy certificate from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a B.A. Comparative Area Studies, Spanish, and Markets & Management degree from Duke University.
Miriam Stankovich has rich research experience in leading complex projects in data protection and governance, intellectual property and technology law, regulatory impact assessment of emerging technologies (AI, Blockchain, IoT, Virtual/Augmented Reality, and 3D Printing), and technology transfer. She has also served as a senior legal and policy advisor for major international organizations such as the International Telecommunication Union, the World Bank, World Intellectual Property Organization, the International Finance Corporation, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, United Nations Development Programme, the Inter-American Development Bank, the African Development Bank, African Union, and the European Union.
Nancy Haugh is a Digital Associate at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration. Nancy has experience in misinformation, disinformation, gender analysis, dialogue facilitation, LGBTQ human rights, and countering violent extremism. Previously, Nancy worked as a Business Development Associate at Vysnova Partners Inc.; as a Graduate and Research Assistant for American University’s School of International Service; and as an intern at the Center for Democracy in the Americas and Human Rights First. Nancy has conducted research on how misinformation shape peacebuilding processes and human rights realization; on the technologization of the U.S.-Mexico border; on politicized homophobia in Eastern Europe and Central America; and on the role of large tech companies in global peacebuilding and peacemaking. Nancy earned dual bachelor of art degrees in Spanish and international affairs: Latin America studies from James Madison University and holds a master of arts degree in international peace and conflict resolution from American University.
Priya Sethi brings more than 12 years of experience in international development and program management, leading cross-functional, innovative teams to create impactful solutions. She currently serves as a Senior Program Manager in DAI where she manages a portfolio focused on digital financial services and women’s economic empowerment. Prior to joining DAI, she managed international capacity building programs at the U.S. Department of State to advance disaster relief and global health security in the Middle East and South Asia. She also led the development of a data analytics hub, supporting multiple bureaus integrate advanced analytics tools to make informed, data-driven decisions. Priya has experience supporting multiple U.S. government agencies and international organizations, including overseas in South Korea and Colombia. She has a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor of science degree in foreign service from Georgetown University.
As Director of the DAI Maker Lab, Rob Ryan-Silva builds hardware and capacities around building hardware in support of DAI’s projects worldwide. Previously, as Project Director for the RESPOND project, Rob worked with government ministries, academia, multilateral organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and donors in Africa and Southeast Asia to create new opportunities to build the capacity to prevent and respond to outbreaks of emerging infectious disease. He has led DAI’s Governance practice, worked on redevelopment in Iraq and Afghanistan, and managed efforts to contain avian influenza. He attributes his success in these disparate areas to an approach that emphasizes understanding the perspectives and incentives of partners and using that understanding to create space for collaborative work toward common objectives.
He has experience working with projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development in Afghanistan, Egypt, El Salvador, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Pakistan. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Susannah Horton is a Senior Manager at DAI. Prior to joining DAI she worked at the World Bank on a cleantech entrepreneurship program, focusing on building a sustainable monitoring and evaluation digital platform. Susannah’s interest in both international development and digital development started when she was a teacher in rural China, where she used MP3 players to increase learning outcomes. She has since broadened her interest beyond the education sector and gained experiences doing work at the intersection of research, data, and program implementation at the Brookings Institution and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Susannah has spent time working in India and conducting research in the Philippines while earning her master’s degree in international development and economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She has a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in international relations.
Throughout her career, Talia Dweck has focused on the power of innovation and ICT to transform health outcomes, specifically in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Talia has more than five years of experience working in global health for a variety of institutions including the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of HIV/AIDS, the Liberia Ministry of Health, the advocacy wing of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and Grassroot Soccer. Talia has a master’s degree in global human development from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she specialized in global health and private sector engagement. She has field experience in Liberia, Kenya, and South Africa, where she piloted a project that uses soccer to educate young girls about HIV prevention, gender-based violence, and female empowerment.
Temi Olatunji is a Data Analyst at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration. Temi brings technical experience in community and public health advocacy. Previously, Temi worked as a Supervisor of the Central Region for Optimal Health Care, where she started as a Coordinator for Community Services. Temi has led diverse research efforts on housing and employment opportunities for houseless and marginalized communities. Temi graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a bachelor of science degree in community health. She also has a professional certificate in data science. At DAI, Temi integrates best practices into data collection efforts and identifies areas of improvement for DAI’s dashboard management toolkit for global projects.
Trevor Olexy comes from an eclectic professional background that saw the convergence of technology, electro-mechanical engineering, software development, data analytics, and musical performance. Prior to joining DAI, he worked to significantly advance quantitative methodology in conflict analytics at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, maintained complex automatic train control systems for a major public transit organization, and performed spatial analysis in conjunction with near real-time remote sensing of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon. Complex systems with highly specific and challenging problem sets continue to drive him on his path to solve problems. He earned his master’s degree in geographic information systems and two bachelor’s degrees in psychology and music performance from the University of Maryland.