Commission Team

Liesbet Steer, Ph.D.

Liesbet Steer, Ph.D.

Director

Bio

Dr. Liesbet Steer is the director of the Education Commission. She was the director of the Commission’s report The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World. She now oversees the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations, including the design of the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd), and initiatives on the education workforce (EWI), delivery (DeliverEd), and High Touch High Tech (HTHT). She has more than 20 years of experience in international development research and policy.

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.

Rory Allen

Rory Allen

Operations Manager

Bio

Rory Allen opens the line of communication between clients, customers, and businesses. With over 10 years of experience as a Director of Operations in both the public and private sectors, Rory has experience in operations management consultation, team building, professional development, strategic implementation and company collaboration. In addition to his primary job functions Rory has been recognized by CX Solutions leadership team for his extraordinary commitment to quality and reliability.
Tatiana Kweder

Tatiana Kweder

Finance and Operations Advisor

Bio

Tatiana has more than twenty years of experience in organizational leadership, financial and strategic planning, corporate governance, and performance and operations management. She thrives in creating and leading a culture focused on improving productivity, creating sustainable change, and engaging diverse perspectives. Prior to joining the Education Commission, Tatiana was CFO for a $1 billion privately held global travel / hospitality group focused on providing innovative solutions to disrupt an institutionalized industry. Before entering the private sector, she was Assistant Vice President for the University System of Maryland where she established and cascaded strategically derived performance metrics throughout all organizational levels creating continuity of understanding on how individual productivity contributes to the University’s mission. Tatiana also had the honor of leading the Resource Allocation and Institutional Renewal group for the University’s accreditation process. Tatiana holds a BA from the University of Maryland and a MS in Information and Library Sciences from Drexel University.
Jack Bohen

Jack Bohen

Executive Assistant

Bio

Jack is the Executive Assistant at the Education Commission and is currently based in Washington DC. He manages the Director’s calendar and schedule in addition to supporting and coordinating teams across a number of the Commission’s workstreams. Prior to joining the Education Commission, Jack worked at Year Up, an organization dedicated to closing the opportunity divide for young adults, and as an elementary and middle school teacher at Horizons, an educational enrichment program for underserved students. He is passionate about developing innovative educational solutions in pursuit of a more equitable and opportunity-filled world. Jack graduated from Williams College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, with a concentration in International Relations.

Communications and Partnerships

Lana Wong

Lana Wong

Communications Lead

Bio

Lana manages strategic communications across the Commission’s programs and has helped to shape the Commission’s external communications since 2016. Based in Washington, DC after living abroad in London, Nairobi, and Paris, she has wide-ranging creative communications experience as a photographer, educator, BBC television presenter, creative director of the World Bank’s Connect4Climate initiative, and founding member of the diverse collective Moderate The Panel.

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.

Katherine Kullman

Katherine Kullman

Senior Communications & Partnerships Analyst

Bio

Katherine Kullman is the Senior Communications and Partnerships Analyst for the Education Commission and is currently based in New York City. In this role she leads on developing and maintaining the strategic partnerships of the Commission, while identifying engagement opportunities to achieve organization and project goals. She currently leads on the coordination of the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) and Global Education Forum (GEF).

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

Debra A. Jones

Strategic Engagement and Communications Advisor

Bio

Debra A. Jones is a Strategic Engagement and Communications Advisor at the Education Commission. Debra is a senior advocate and influencer with more than 27 years of experience leading groundbreaking programs, high-impact advocacy campaigns, and pioneering research on children and women. Debra has a passion for empowering local communities to develop and execute innovative solutions to real-world problems, including the meaningful engagement of children to transform national and global policy.

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.

Programs

Pedro Alba

Pedro Alba

Strategic Advisor

Bio

Pedro Alba is CEO and Founding Partner of BlueOrange Consulting. Blue Orange has provided services to multilateral development institutions and banks and civil society organizations in the areas of innovative development finance, setting up new development facilities and budget reform.

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.

Kate Anderson

Kate Anderson

Project Lead

Bio

Kate Anderson is project lead for DeliverEd, a UK FCDO-funded partnership with the University of Oxford which seeks to broaden the evidence base on delivery approaches in education. Kate is also the founder of Unbounded Associates, a Washington, DC-based firm that supports governments, donors, UN agencies, NGOs, and researchers to find strategic ways to increase impact, communicate successes, and chart new paths in education. She has more than 18 years of experience in education policy, research, and practice.

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 Awuku, Ph.D.

Project Lead

Bio

Dr. Sam Awuku is the Project Lead of the Education Commission’s Innovative Pedagogies Project (IPP) and brings to the role over 30 years of working experience in the education and development sectors across sub-Saharan Africa, the United Kingdom, and Poland. Since 2015, Sam has been supporting Ghana’s Ministry of Education through T-TEL as a Key Adviser for Policy, Leadership, Institutional Development, ICT, and Communications that has positioned him to provide strategic advice to the Ministry and its agencies on school curriculum and related policies, leadership in teacher education institutions, emergency remote teaching and learning, and partnerships with external organizations like the Association for the Development Education in Africa (ADEA). Sam was the Global Director for the Centre for Development and Public Engagement with the African Institute for Mathematical Science – Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI) Foundation during which he led the Centre’s development efforts of the Foundation engaging with country ministers and presidents leading to the establishment of AIMS centres in Tanzania and Rwanda. As a consultant, Sam has provided high-level strategic positioning services to the Education Development Trust, Right to Play, ImpactEd International, and the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) among others through TeachAid Consulting Ltd., a consultancy company that he co-founded in 2009.

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.

Amy Bellinger

Amy Bellinger

Head of Programs

Bio

Amy established and is leading the Education Workforce Initiative (EWI) and the High-Touch, High-Tech (HTHT) Initiatives for the Education Commission. EWI is working at global and country levels with multiple partners to design, test, and scale new approaches for expanding, strengthening, and reimagining the education workforce. HTHT aims to test and scale personalized learning for all students by combining the unique strengths of the teacher (High Touch) and the power of technology (High Tech). Amy is also a strategic advisor to the Education Commission’s DeliverEd Initiative which is focused on better delivery of education systems. As an international education consultant, Amy leads portfolio/program/organization strategy, design, implementation, and review with a particular focus on innovative approaches. Prior to working independently, Amy was Head of International Education at Ark where she developed and implemented Ark’s first international education strategy including the launch of its first education program in Africa, new education programs in India, and seed funded STIR Education. Prior to that, she was Deputy Chief Executive of Future Leaders, a UK-focused school leadership program for challenging urban schools. Amy’s previous career was as a management consultant for Deloitte, IBM, and PwC. She has a BA Hons degree in Geography with European Study from Exeter University and is based in Bristol, UK.
Madelyn Cunningham

Madelyn Cunningham

Strategic Engagement Manager and Senior Analyst, Finance

Bio

Madelyn is the Strategic Engagement Manager and Senior Analyst for Finance and is based in Washington, DC. In this role, she works on the Global Education Forum (GEF) and the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd).

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.

Raphaëlle Faure

Raphaëlle Faure

Project Lead

Bio

Raphaëlle is a consultant in international development and Research Associate at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). She was recently a Senior Policy Advisor at the UK Treasury in the Strategic Projects and Budget directorate. Prior to that, she was a researcher in ODI’s development strategy and finance programme. Her interests and expertise relate to development finance, international development policy, and, the institutional design and strategic priorities of donor agencies. She also worked at ODI as project officer for two editions of the European Report on Development, the European Commission’s flagship publication on development cooperation. Before joining ODI, she worked for the Agence Française de Développement (AFD). Raphaëlle holds an MA in European and International Law from the University of Grenoble and an MA in EU International Relations and Diplomacy from the College of Europe in Bruges.

Katie Godwin

Katie Godwin

Researcher

Bio

Katie is from the United States and currently based in Madrid, Spain, working as a consultant in global education research and policy. She oversees the Education Workforce Initiative’s research agenda and activities. She led development of EWI’s flagship report, Transforming the Education Workforce, and also supports EWI’s in-country work to develop education workforce reform options with Ghana, Sierra Leone and Vietnam. Previously, Katie worked in Nashville, Tennessee leading immigrant and refugee education services with non-governmental organizations.

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.

Charry Lee

Charry Lee

Senior Project Coordinator

Bio

Charry is the Senior Project Coordinator based in Washington, DC for DeliverEd, an initiative to gather evidence and create a community of engagement to build understanding of how to most effectively implement policies that address the learning crisis; and for the Education Workforce Initiative, rethinking education workforce to equip students with adaptable skills for the 21st century. Charry provides support on project and research coordination and implementation of process to develop and disseminate reports, events, tools, and resources. Prior to joining the Education Commission, Charry was a Researcher for the Public Diplomacy Department at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and a Project Coordinator for the Bridge International, where she managed multiple international grants supporting aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries. Charry graduated from Flagler College with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary and Special Education and holds a Masters of Education degree in International Education Policy and Management from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Lucia Mercado

Lucia Mercado

Bio

Lucia is a consultant for the Education Commission providing research support to the Innovative Pedagogy Project (IPP). She has more than six years of experience in education policy implementation and research initiatives. She has worked as an international education consultant with the World Bank Group’s Education Global Practice, the Brookings Institution, Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development, and the Pratham Education Foundation. She formerly worked in Peru’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Industries as a public servant in higher education quality enhancement and skill training programs.

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 Sagun

Rose Sagun

Researcher

Bio

Rose manages the Education Commission’s High Touch High Tech initiative, which leverages AI to deliver personalized learning at scale. She has 10 years of experience in education, EdTech, and learning innovations. She developed an award-winning learning product for a Forbes Global conglomerate and managed a range of online learning experiences: for adults in corporate as well as children in early years & K-12.

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.

Nick Vaughan

Nick Vaughan

Special Advisor on Innovative Finance

Bio

Nick is a macroeconomist with 30 years’ experience including 15 years in the UK Finance Ministry (HMT).  He has a comparative advantage in all aspects of economic policy, financial markets, National Accounts and technical skills e.g. macromodelling. On request by the UK Chancellor Gordon Brown, Nick originated and developed the International Finance Facility (IFF) in two years to indicative AAA credit rating in 2003; led technical discussions on IFF for HMT with Goldman Sachs, World Bank, S&P, Eurostat, and French and German Finance Ministries – the IFF went on to become the IFFIm. He was then moved on promotion to develop the macroeconomic model for HMT and the economic and fiscal forecasts it supported. In December 2008 Nick was promoted to Deputy Director of the Economics Group to lead the UK economic and fiscal forecasts through the GFC for HMT along with an extraordinary range of policy advice. In 2014 he left HMT on promotion to Director of National Accounts and Economic Statistics with responsibility for producing all UK economic statistics including the financial accounts and Balance of Payments that in other countries are often produced by the central bank; in parallel to that role he also developed and defined a transformation program for National Accounts that was then funded by HMT. In 2016 he took on the role of Chief Economist for the UK statistics office in addition to the responsibility for compiling the statistics, including public sector finances that deal with the classification of financial commitments by governments and public corporations. Subsequently in 2018 Nick was approached for the role of Chief Economic Adviser for Jersey, a UK crown dependency, leading on all economic policy advice e.g. Brexit and COVID with extraordinary policies to support the economy and also fiscal stimulus, along with economic and fiscal forecasting.
Paula Villaseñor

Paula Villaseñor

Bio

Paula Villaseñor has extensive experience in public policy, particularly in the education sector, in Latin America and East Asia. Paula has worked as public official within Mexico’s Ministry of Education leading the design and implementation of a large-scale program to improve skills development. She has also worked as a consultant for the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank on skills development, education policy implementation, socio-emotional learning, education reform, and vocational education and training. At the World Bank, she was part of the team that produced the World Development Report 2018 on education and learning. Her fields of expertise in the education sector are skills development and public sector management. Paula holds a Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) from Harvard University, a BA in Economics from Mexico’s Technological Institute (ITAM), and is certified in change management. She grew up in Latin America, Europe, and Africa, and is proficient in Spanish, English, and French.