MERL Tech DC
MERL Tech DC 2017 is brought to you by The Rockefeller Foundation, DevResults, Social Impact, TechChange, DIAL, FHI-360 and Kurante. See below for more information about our 2017 Organizing Team and Steering Committee.
Linda Raftree, Independent. Linda supports strategy, program design, research, and technology in international development initiatives. She co-founded MERLTech in 2014 and Kurante in 2013. Linda advises Girl Effect on digital safety, security and privacy and supports the organization with research and strategy. She is involved in developing responsible data policies for both Catholic Relief Services and USAID. Since 2011, she has been advising The Rockefeller Foundation’s Evaluation Office on the use of ICTs in monitoring and evaluation. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Linda worked for 16 years with Plan International. Linda runs Technology Salons in New York City and advocates for ethical approaches for using ICTs and digital data in the humanitarian and development space. She is the co-author of several publications on technology and development, including Emerging Opportunities: Monitoring and Evaluation in a Tech-Enabled World with Michael Bamberger. Linda blogs at Wait… What? and tweets as @meowtree. See Linda’s full bio here.
Wayan Vota, Digital Development Entrepreneur. Wayan is a co-founder of MERL Tech and Kurante. He is on the forefront of utilizing new and emerging technologies to magnify the intent of communities to accelerate their social and economic development. Wayan has worked at FHI360’s Tech Lab, Development Gateway, Inveneo, The World Bank and Mercy Corps where altogether he created holistic nationwide programmes in 11 countries. He has co-developed and organized multiple conferences to showcase technology’s promise, including Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, Fail Festival, and ICT4Drinks. Wayan publishes ICTworks, the premier online community of technology for development practitioners. Wayan co-taught the inaugural Masters-level class on Technology and Innovation for Development at Johns Hopkins University, using the Principles of Digital Development as a framework to showcase the opportunities and challenges of implementing technology-based international development interventions. See Wayan’s full bio here and follow him on Twitter at @wayan_vota.
Daniel Ramirez-Raftree, Independent. Daniel holds a BA in Sociology and Hispanic Literature from the University of Chicago. He is currently a Credit Analyst and Fellow at Urban Partnership Bank, a Chicago-based community development bank that aims to promote economic stability and opportunity in low-income areas throughout the city. Additionally, he provides research and writing services on contract, most recently for a Transformational Change Leadership project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. While at university, Daniel held leadership and advisory roles with the Organization of Latin American Students, the Multi-Cultural Student Affairs Office and the Emerging Minds Project. Daniel co-founded Mural, a bi-lingual (Spanish/English) magazine focused on the exploration of Latin American culture. See Daniel’s full bio here.
Katherine Lew, FHI-360. MERL Tech Organizing Team. Katherine is a Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Officer at FHI-360.
MERL Tech Steering Committee
Danielle (Dani) de García is a Director of Performance Evaluation, Innovation, and Learning with Social Impact, where she oversees a portfolio of monitoring, evaluation, and learning contracts. Dani’s recent work includes leading and participating in a number of evaluations and strategic planning engagements for USAID, Carter Center, MasterCard Foundation, MCC, US Department of State, and MacArthur Foundation initiatives around the world. Throughout her career, Dani has provided performance management and organizational development assistance to the World Bank, CATHALAC, and international NGOs; and has worked in more than 25 countries. A lover of social network analysis, participatory methods, and technology, she also has developed and delivered trainings to thousands of governmental, multilateral, and NGO staff around the globe. See Dani’s full bio here.
Nick Martin is the founder and CEO of TechChange, where he oversees all strategy and programming. Nick is an educator, technologist, and social entrepreneur. He is a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow (2013), an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow (2014), and an International Youth Foundation Global Fellow (2009). Nick was also the runner-up for the Society for International Development’s Rice Award (2014). He is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University and Georgetown University. Nick received his BA with honors from Swarthmore College and holds an MA in Peace Education from the United Nations mandated University for Peace (UPEACE). See Nick’s full bio here.
Veronica Olazabal is the Director of Measurement, Evaluation and Organizational Performance at The Rockefeller Foundation. She oversees the Foundation-wide measurement and evaluation function at the strategy, initiative, and grants portfolio levels, including the assessment of the impact of the Foundation’s work. She is also part of the Foundation’s senior leadership team. Veronica has worked with the MasterCard and Rockefeller Foundation’s international programs on topics ranging from youth learning and financial inclusion to climate change and market solutions. She led the monitoring, evaluation, and research efforts of social venture Nuru International, UMCOR (The United Methodists Committee on Relief), and the Food Bank for New York City. Veronica has also co-chaired InterAction’s Working Group for Evaluation and Program Effectiveness and represented civil society for the United Nation’s discussions on development effectiveness. In addition to currently serving on the American Evaluation Association’s (AEA) Board of Directors, she is the founder of AEA’s Social Impact Measurement (SIM) Topical Interest Group (TIG) and co-chair of AEA’s International and Cross-Cultural Evaluation (ICCE) TIG. See Veronica’s full bio here.
Josh Mandell supports strategy and sales at DevResults, where his role is geared towards understanding the needs of the international development community and getting tools in their hands to help them achieve measurable results. Prior to DevResults, Josh worked on international education and training projects funded by the U.S. State Department, USAID, and various foreign governments. First at AED and later as an independent consultant, he coordinated operations for several education initiatives in Baghdad, Iraq. While earning his MPA from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, Josh focused on the intersection of technology and monitoring and evaluation. See Josh’s full bio here.
Melissa Johns is the Senior Director for Insights and Impact at the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), where she leads DIAL’s overall research program, knowledge dissemination and influence agenda. Prior to DIAL, Melissa spent twelve years at the World Bank. As part of the leadership team of the World Bank’s Doing Business report, Enterprise Surveys, Women, Business and the Law report and the Migration and Remittances Database, Melissa’s work contributed timely, objective and comparable data to policymaking and research around the world. Melissa developed government advisory projects following the outcomes of this research in more than 10 countries and managed a team with operational engagements spanning 40 countries. Prior to the World Bank, Melissa practiced corporate law with international law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. Melissa holds a Juris Doctorate from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Studies from Duke University. She is an Executive Board member of the Washington Foreign Law Society and past Steering Committee member of the Governance Data Alliance. See Melissa’s full bio here.