Liesbet Steer, Ph.D.
Before joining the Commission, Liesbet was a fellow at the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution and director of the Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) flagship program on development progress, financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As a fellow of ODI’s Centre for Aid and Public Expenditure, she also worked on issues of development finance, aid effectiveness, and the production and use of impact evaluations, including in education. Between 1997 and 2007, Liesbet lived and worked in Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos, and Cambodia. She directed the economic reform program for the Asia Foundation in Indonesia, a technical assistance and research program on local economic development and growth. She also worked with the World Bank and IFC on private sector reform and the design and evaluation of SME development programs in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
Liesbet was educated at the Universities of Antwerp and East Anglia, and the London School of Economics. She holds a M.Sc. in Quantitative Economics, and Ph.D. in Development Economics.
Finance and Operations Advisor
Communications and Partnerships
In 1997, Lana founded Shootback – a youth photography and development project in the Nairobi slums that amplified the voices of marginalized young Kenyans so they could tell their own stories. The youth’s powerful photos and words became the basis of a book, an international touring exhibition, and a documentary film. More than 20 years later, the project continues, offshoot youth media training organizations have developed, and many Shootback students are now professional photographers and filmmakers.
Inspired by this experience and collaborations with international organizations, local nonprofits, foundations, and artists, Lana is passionate about harnessing the power of the arts and underheard voices for advocacy, education, and sustainable development.
Lana earned a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University and a Master’s in Photography from the Royal College of Art in London.
Senior Communications & Partnerships Analyst
Prior to joining the Education Commission, Katherine worked as an Early Childhood Specialist at Briya Public Charter School in Washington, DC, a two-generation education model serving recent immigrants that embraces a comprehensive approach to care to enact social change. She most recently worked in the office of the Ambassador at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates helping to lead local and international foundation relations. She is a proud alumna of AmeriCorps and passionately believes that local service can have global impact.
Katherine holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Skidmore College and earned a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.
Debra A. Jones
Strategic Engagement and Communications Advisor
Debra serves as an Assistant Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs since 2000. She is the co-founder and Chair of the Board of the International Organization for Adolescents, which has been preventing adolescent and child trafficking, and promoting girls’ leadership since 1999.
Debra is a senior advisor to United Nations leaders and ambassadors having held roles as the Global Advocacy and Campaigns Director at JK Rowling’s Lumos Foundation, Save the Children’s Director and UN Representative, the Director of Global Advocacy at Family Care International (FCI), Women’s Program Officer at the Presbyterian UN Office, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
In Paraiso, Dominican Republic, Debra co-founded the Paraíso Assistance Program (PAP), to construct a community hospital and train local health promoters. Debra later served as FCI’s National Director in Santo Domingo, and a consultant with the World Bank, International Planned Parenthood Federation (WHR), and Profamilia.
Debra holds a Master of Public Health (population and family health) and Master of International Affairs (economic and political development) from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from New York University.
Previously, Pedro was the Vice President Budget, Performance Review and Strategic Planning of the World Bank and was in that capacity responsible for budget and strategic planning for the World Bank, as well as the General Services Department reporting directly to the Group CFO. Most important management responsibilities included overall oversight of the World Bank budget of about US$ 3.8 billion, and the formulation and supervision of the annual strategic planning process for the World Bank. Pedro was also a member of senior management committees of the World Bank including the Senior Management Team (that advised the President on all key corporate decisions) and the finance and risk committee (that advised the CFO on all financial decisions). As Vice President, Pedro was responsible for key reform initiatives such as the design and implementation of a new strategic planning and budgetary process, the reform of the resource management function in the World Bank, and a significant 8 percent cut to the Group budget.
Prior to this position, Pedro has served in a variety of positions in the World Bank, including as Country Director in the Russian Federation, in the Southern Cone of Latin America, and in several fragile states in Africa. Pedro has a PhD in Applied Economics from Cornell University, has published both academic and policy reports on financial integration and macroeconomic policy, and has lectured in universities in Spain, USA, and Russia.
Prior to joining the Education Commission, Kate was an associate fellow at the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution where her leadership on the Learning Metrics Task Force contributed to the inclusion of learning indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals. Earlier in her career, she designed, implemented, and evaluated training programs for teachers and early childhood providers in the US and Pakistan. She has published numerous reports, peer-reviewed journal articles, and has been interviewed on BBC World News. Ms. Anderson holds a M.P.P. in International Policy and Development from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Psychology from Pepperdine University.
Sam Awuku, Ph.D.
Sam is the Board President for the Ghana Society for Education Technology and a government nominee on the Council of the the University of Cape Coast. He is a member of the Institute of Directors, UK. Sam holds a teachers’ certificate (mathematics teaching) with distinction and BA (Hons) in Social Science (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast; MA in Inclusive Education from the University of Reading; MBA from Trinity College; MA in Education Programme with mathematics focus from London South Bank University; and Ph.D. in Education Technology and Development Policy from the UCL Institute of Education.
Head of Programs
Strategic Engagement Manager and Senior Analyst, Finance
Previously, she worked at the Brookings Institution, where she did research into financing for development and oversaw the Brookings Blum Roundtable on Global Poverty. She has also worked at the National Association of Independent Schools and the Social Progress Imperative. Madelyn has a B.A. in Economics and International Relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.A. in International Trade and Investment Policy from George Washington University.
Katie graduated from Belmont University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Russian. She holds a Masters of Education degree in International Education Policy and Management from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and completed Columbia Law School’s graduate program at the Center for Public Research and Leadership.
Senior Project Coordinator
Lucia holds a Master’s in Public Administration and International Affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru.
Rose is a global-thinking human and proudly Filipino, graduating with honors from the University of the Philippines and Harvard University for international education policy and education innovation. She serves as the Co-Chair of Harvard Alumni for Education- San Francisco Bay Area chapter.
Special Advisor on Innovative Finance