Organizers and Steering Committee


MERL Tech DC 2019 is organized by Kurante and sponsored by DevResults, IMC Worldwide, Esri, Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), Synergy International Systems, and FHI 360.

See below for more information about our 2019 Organizing Team and Steering Committee.

MERL Tech Organizers

Linda Raftree supports strategy, program design, research, and ethical uses of technology and digital data in international development initiatives. She advises Girl Effect on digital safety, security, and privacy, and contributes to their research and strategy efforts. She has supported development of responsible data policies and guidelines for CRS and USAID, and she supports Girls Who Code and the Bank Information Center on safeguarding. Linda runs Technology Salon in New York City and organizes the MERL Tech conference. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Linda worked for 16 years with Plan International. She has published on the intersection of digital technology and adolescent girls, child/youth migration, youth workforce development, and monitoring and evaluation. 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.

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Wayan Vota 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.

Jana Melpolder has been working in ICT4D since 2012 and got her start working for Inveneo, World Possible, and ICTworks. For several years she managed Technology Salons in San Francisco and previously worked for Equal Access International, AREWA24, and Metrics for Management. Today she is the Communications and Marketing Lead at Engineering for Change and recently joined Harper Hill Global as its Social Media Manager. She has reported on development programs from several countries including Bolivia, Ghana, Thailand, and India, and she has served as an Editorial Intern at U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Her writing has been published on World Vision, Beliefnet, and Twitter’s “Twitter for Good” blog. Jana’s educational background includes a B.A. in Anthropology from West Virginia University and a Master of International Development from the University of Pittsburgh.

MERL Tech Steering Committee

Michael Bamberger has a Ph.D. in Sociology from the London School of Economics. He has 45 years of experience in development evaluation including 23 years with the World Bank where worked on development evaluation, evaluation training for the Asia region and gender and development. Since retiring from the Bank he has worked as an independent consultant on development evaluation with 10 UN agencies as well as with development banks, bilateral aid agencies, NGOs and foundations. Michael has advised the Evaluation Office of the Rockefeller Foundation, is a member of the International Evaluation Advisory Panel of the Independent Evaluation Office of UNDP, and is a member of UN Women’s Evaluation Advisory Panel. He is also on the editorial board of a number of leading evaluation journals. Recent publications include RealWorld Evaluation: Working under Budget, Time, Data and Political Constraints (2012); Introduction to Mixed Methods in Impact Evaluation (2012); How to Design and Manage Equity Focused Evaluations (2011); Emerging Opportunities: Monitoring and Evaluation in a TechEnabled World (2014); Dealing with Complexity in Development Evaluation (2016); and Integrating Big Data into the Monitoring and Evaluation of Development Programs (2016).

Riccardo de Marchi Trevisan is an International Development professional with more than a decade of successful experience in managing projects and relationships with governments, nonprofits, and multilateral organizations. He currently works in the Nonprofit and International Organization team at Esri, the global leader of GIS. When he is not supporting the use of GIS to make the world a smarter and better place to live, Riccardo enjoys a good Netflix binge, but can also be found in the kitchen preparing traditional Italian meals, or playing with his kids. Riccardo previously sat on the Board of the Colon Cancer Alliance and was the Chair of the Society of International Development’s ICT Working Group.

Arshak Hovanesian, Synergy International Systems (pending bio)

Maliha Khan is an international development practitioner who focuses on dealing with issues of complexity in measurement and accountability systems; designing initiatives for social change, and leading organizational change processes. An expert in ethical issues and data, she led the Oxfam confederation-wide “Responsible Data Policy”, one of the first policies of its kind in any development organization, approved in 2015. She has also advised other organizations on responsible data policy and practice, including helping to develop the policy for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). She is the founder of Daira, a boutique client centered start-up that specializes on enabling organizations to make better decisions using data, analysis, and insights for international development. See Maliha’s full bio here and follow her on Twitter at @malihkhan.

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Michael Klein is a director of International Solutions Group (ISG), a company that works with governments, U.N. agencies, international organizations, NGOs and other companies to improve the implementation of humanitarian aid and development programming. In his director role, Klein works with a wide array of partners on programming in the more than 40 countries in which ISG operates. Recent engagements he led include: program and organizational evaluations; organizational adoption of ICT-based M&E systems; mobile data collection via online forms, SMS, IVR and other tools; project monitoring and indicator development; and M&E system design and strategy development. See Mike’s full bio here.

Aasit Nanavati is the Director of Partnerships at DevResults, focusing on strategy and client development for the monitoring and evaluation platform. Having served the international development sector for the past decade and an epidemiologist by training, Aasit’s expertise in harnessing technology to catalyze social impacts in the field have supported the initiatives of USAID implementing partners such as Abt Associates to strengthen the health system in South-East Asia and technology adoption in East Africa. Aasit has an MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and was honored as a Global Health Corps Fellow in 2013. The fellowship brought his monitoring and evaluation insights to Uganda, to help the USAID Strengthening TB and AIDS Response (STAR) Program better understand HIV service performance throughout the country. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sent Aasit to India in 2015 to scale its TB awareness campaign nationally and his insights on patient needs are included in a chapter of Let’s Talk TB, A Series on Tuberculosis. Aasit continues to help the international development community adopt technology solutions and is continues to support young development professionals as an Adjunct Professor at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University. 

Laura O’Brien, Digital Impact Alliance (pending bio)

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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.