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 is a 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 nine-year tenure with DAI, she has also supported a diverse portfolio of donor-funded governance and economic growth projects in 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.
Alejandro Solis works as DAI’s ICT specialist for the Latin America region, developing Centro Clima as the Regional Information Center, Coffee Cloud (Coffee Farmers and Technicians Solution), Clima Pesca (Climate Information for Fisheries), and Hidro Clima (Tool for Small Hydroelectricity Generators). He has extensive experience working on development projects across Central America and the Caribbean. Alejandro has implemented projects for the Inter-American Development Bank, NASA, and the World Bank in climate change and environmental ICT applications.
In 2015, Alejandro was nominated as an MIT “Innovators under 35” candidate in Central America. Recognized as a strong leader who inspires confidence and motivates and influences customers, peers, and co-workers, Alejandro’s commitment and dedication derive from his strong desire to improve upon and simplify technologically advanced systems and use them to create a better user experience resulting in a better adoption of the ICT tools and services generated.
Alexander Sekhniashvili is a Consultant for Partnerships and Insights at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration (CDA). Alex comes to DAI with a background in infrastructure development and digitalization and a passion for harnessing the benefits of public-private partnerships to empower communities around the world. Previously, as the Director of Projects at CG/LA Infrastructure, Alex worked with project owners and developers to identify and overcome bottlenecks in planning, executing, and promoting transportation, energy, and water projects. He also worked with private sector clients across technology, finance, and equipment and service industries to support their business development efforts with project intelligence. He has in-depth understanding and engagement in domestic and international markets (North and Latin America, Europe, and Asia), has authored industry reports and articles, and spoken at conferences on infrastructure, international trade, and development. He holds a master’s degree in Russian and East European studies from St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, and a bachelor’s 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. Since 2016, he has served as a technical advisor to the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) in Accra, Ghana, where he helps young technology entrepreneurs develop digital solutions for the local agricultural sector. He also teaches a course on ‘Digital Development: Innovative Use of Technology in Emerging Markets’ at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. 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. Anand has managed various technology-related development projects, including the first nationwide mobile phone-based survey in Afghanistan, workshops for youth activists on crowdsourced mapping tools, and partnerships with universities to integrate young engineers into conflict management. Anand speaks regularly at international conferences and has authored studies on topics at the intersection of digital technology and international development. He hails from Bangalore, India. He has 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, that included an analysis of the incentives, bottlenecks, and trends shaping digital financial services in Senegal. 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.
Since 2014, Chloe Messenger has worked for DAI in Europe, both in business development and project management for clients including the European Commission, the UK Department for International Development, the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office and the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade. As Senior Consultant in DAI’s Europe office, Chloe works across business units and donors to help integrate new technologies into development work. Chloe has hands-on experience of 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 UK 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.
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.
Galia Nurko is a Digital Specialist at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration, where she leads the cybersecurity, privacy and internet governance portfolio. Galia is particularly passionate about the impact of technology adoption on institutions, culture, politics, and behavior. Prior to this role, she spent her career working at the intersection of communications and international relations. For example, Galia severed as the Director of Media Relations for the Embassy of Israel to the United States, a Project Consultant at the Institute for Integrated Transitions, and a Graduate Policy Fellow at the Information Technology and Information Foundation. She has conducted research on how technology affects access to services and jobs, privacy legislation, and cyber hygiene. Galia has master’s of science degree in foreign service from Georgetown University and bachelor’s degree in history from The Ohio State University.
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.
Greg Maly leads CDA’s product development and data science team. He has spent his career working at the intersection of global development and diplomacy, technology, and the arts. In previous roles, he conducted data driven conflict analysis research at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, designed data collection and analysis tools for the University of Denver’s Global Health Affairs Program, and developed some of the first distance learning courses at the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Academy for Conflict Management and Peacebuilding. He holds a master’s degree in international studies from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, and bachelor’s degree in policy, ethics, and conflict from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Inta Plostins brings five years of experience in the international development sector, including nearly 1.5 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/EU citizenship.
Jamie Parr is a Data Scientist for the Center for Digital Acceleration (CDA) at DAI. He works in the application of quantitative social science and statistical methods to the analysis of public policy issues, particularly in the areas of governance, education, and health policy. Prior to joining the CDA, he worked in the field of monitoring and evaluation of donor projects. More recently, Jamie has focused on using big data and survey research methods for applied research products on international development projects. Jamie’s regional expertise is in the Latin America and Caribbean region, and wrote his master’s thesis on the distribution of primary healthcare resources of the More Doctors federal healthcare program in Brazil.
Julia Burchell, Senior Consultant, Partnerships and Insights, 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 (CDA). Previously, she spent more than nine years at the GSM Association, most recently acting as the global lead on the GSMA National Dialogue initiative, which convenes mobile industry leaders and senior policymakers to identify how closer public-private collaboration at a national level can help progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. 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 in writing from Goldsmiths University.
From her early research in cultural anthropology to subsequent work in management consulting, Krista Baptista has always been engaged around ways to do things better and empower entrepreneurs to use new skills and tools. Combining this background with an interest in international development led her to DAI and, specifically, to ways that information and communication technology (ICT) and geospatial tools can be integrated into development work.
Krista leads the ICT/Geospatial Services team for DAI’s Office of Information and Management Technology. She is responsible for designing, managing, and supporting ICT and geospatial deliverables for DAI projects and for overseeing the team. She is also responsible for DAI’s ICT and geospatial strategy, identifying and negotiating with key partners and consultants, and supporting related new business efforts. Previously at DAI, she worked in knowledge management, marketing, and business development. In 2006, Krista was Team Leader for the Microenterprise Results Reporting project, where she was responsible for managing a database-driven initiative that collected and reported on global microfinance data.
Before joining DAI, Kristen Roggemann held advisory and business development positions within a variety of mobile-for-development and international development organizations, most recently as the Strategic Partnerships Manager for GSMA mWomen, driving partnership strategy at the intersection of the mobile operator and international development sectors.
Prior to working for GSMA, Kristen was the Business Development Manager at Souktel, Inc. in Palestine. While at Souktel, Kristen delivered mobile partnerships in more than 12 countries, doubling Souktel’s market footprint and developing new product lines. Before Souktel, Kristen was a management consultant at The Bridgespan Group in New York City.
Kristen has extensive field experience in the Middle East and Africa working on mobile-for-development initiatives in both public and private sector contexts, and got her start in international development through a Fulbright Scholarship to study women’s literacy in Morocco in 2005.
Rachel Clad found her way to DAI after years of field-based public health research and program implementation in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. As Project Lead for Peripheral Vision International in Uganda, Rachel used digital insights to drive strategy for a health advocacy campaign for Planned Parenthood Global. She has worked with the Centers for Disease Control in Namibia conducting health systems analyses and on disease surveillance and quality improvement projects in South Africa and India. She has extensive experience conducting qualitative research in the United States, where she explored drivers of HIV risk behaviors and the impact of long-term discrimination on health outcomes.
In Rachel’s role as a Global Practice Specialist in DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration, she identifies, researches, and designs global digital development solutions and conducts business acquisition activities. Rachel is passionate about human-centered design and strives to integrate its processes into more traditional development approaches. In her free time, she manages Healthcare Experience Design, a meetup group that brings together health professionals and designers for co-creation and learning events.
She has a master’s degree in health behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Georgetown University.
Rob Ryan-Silva is an international development professional with nearly 25 years of experience using systems approaches to achieve development results. Rob joined DAI in 2002.
As Director of the DAI Maker Lab, Rob builds hardware and capacities around building hardware in support of DAI’s projects worldwide. Previously, as Project Director for the five-year, $185 million 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. Prior to joining DAI, Rob managed operations for the Egypt field office of the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), and worked for other international development organizations. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Susannah Horton is a Digital Specialist at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration. Prior to joining DAI she worked at the World Bank on a clean tech 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 USAID 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.
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 degrees in psychology and music performance from the University of Maryland.