Steering Committee Members

Felipe Barrera-Osorio - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Felipe Barrera-Osorio is an economist working on the economics of education. The main objective of his research is to study the effects of educational policies in developing countries. This agenda intersects development economics and the economics of education. He is part of a new generation of development economists who aim to test the effects of different school- and system-wide education policies. The premise of this evidence-based agenda is to formulate clear hypotheses about why a policy may work, create an intervention that can test the idea, measure and evaluate the impacts of the intervention, and, if successful, scale up the intervention. Currently he has projects, among other places, in Argentina, Cambodia, Colombia, Pakistan and Uganda.  

He holds a Ph.D in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, U.S.A. and a B.A. in Economics from Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia. Between 2004 and 2006, he was the Deputy Director of the Colombian think-tank Fedesarrollo. He moved to the United States in 2006 to work as a senior economist at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. He joined the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2011 as Assistant Professor of Education and Economics; since 2015, he became Associate Professor. He is part of the policy committee of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and affiliated with the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard. Since 2007 he has been part of the executive committee of LACEA's Impact Evaluation Network , which he helped to create.  In 2008, he was awarded the Juan Luis Londoño Medal for research in education. The recognition is given every other year to a Colombian economist under the age of 40.

Imogen Parsons - DFID UK

Imogen Parsons is Head of the Humanitarian Innovation and Evidence Programme in DFID. Prior to this, she was Head of the Africa Humanitarian Unit in DFID, overseeing a range of humanitarian responses and resilience programmes in Africa. She has worked in and on a range of crisis settings, including DRC, Libya, Ethiopia, Angola, the Sahel and Afghanistan, with NGOs, UN and academic and research organisations. She hold a PhD in International Relations and a Masters degree in Development Studies.

Lisa Bender – UNICEF

Lisa Bender, an Education Specialist with UNICEF, has a background in humanitarian response, post-crisis transition and social programming for children and youth. At UNICEF’s global headquarters, she provides technical consulting and policy advice for the education sector with a focus on complex emergencies and fragile states.  

Prior to UNICEF, Lisa worked with other UN agencies and international NGOs in direct programming, needs assessments, and evaluations in countries such as Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Haiti. Lisa served in the Peace Corps and began her professional career as a social worker and teacher. She holds a Master’s degree from Vanderbilt University's top-ranked Peabody College of Education.  

Dan McClure - ThoughtWorks 

Dan McClure is a hands-on innovator, working to shape innovation practices in complex and messy enterprise environments. For over 30 years he has seen diverse innovation challenges up close, as a change agent, driving enterprise change from within for organizations experiencing massive regulatory upheaval, as an entrepreneur serving chaotic public sector consortiums, and as an executive consultant advising organizations ranging from major commercial brands to international humanitarian agencies. Today, as a leader of Innovation Design efforts for ThoughtWorks, a global technology and innovation consultancy, he leverages his extensive experience to push organizations beyond conventional views of creative practices. 

Alice Obrecht - ALNAP

Alice Obrecht is Research Fellow at the Secretariat for the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance (ALNAP), based in London, UK. She is currently leading ALNAP’s workstreams on innovation and effectiveness. As part of this work, she has led the ALNAP Secretariat’s involvement in the World Humanitarian Summit process, including the organisation of the 2015 Global Forum for Improving Humanitarian Effectiveness, a thematic consultation for the WHS. She has also designed and managed an 18-month research process on successful humanitarian innovation, in partnership with ELRHA’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund. This research uses case studies and a theory testing design to explore the factors that contribute to successful innovation processes.  Prior to joining ALNAP, Alice has worked in policy research focusing on disaster risk reduction policy in West Africa as well as accountability practices and frameworks both within and outside the humanitarian aid sector.

Ita Sheehy - UNHCR

Ita Sheehy is the senior education officer at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), responsible for global education strategy and programming for refugees both in emergencies and in situations of protracted conflict. Ms. Sheehy has had a long career in education, moving from elementary school teacher to curriculum developer and college lecturer, interspersed with over 20 years in education programming in lower income countries in the global south. She has worked with grassroots organizations, international NGOs, bilateral organizations and with several branches of the United Nations, most notably UNICEF and UNHCR, in situations spanning rural development, natural disasters and conflict affected situations. The primary focus of Ms. Sheehy's work over the past decade has been on education in situations of protracted conflict, with an emphasis on partnerships, systems strengthening, funding frameworks, and quality assurance. Her current work with UNHCR also includes increased integration of a solutions approach to refugee education and support for education for returnees.