I am currently the Practice Manager for Social Development in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region. I lead a team of about 35 staff who focus on ensuring social sustainability in ECA, with an emphasis on ensuring the inclusion of marginalized populations like Roma; addressing fragility, conflict and violence; and empowering citizens to chart their own course and hold their governments to account. I have traveled an unusual path in getting here. I started out as an agricultural engineer and as a young professional supported NGO activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then still called Zaire). I then pursued a PhD in economics, focusing on international monetary theory, and for a while I embarked on an academic career at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México while also undertaking short term consulting at the World Bank. Eager to return to a policy environment, I became the World Bank’s Country Economist for Gabon and later Chad in 2000, and in 2002 I moved to Timor-Leste as the Country Manager for the then newest country in the world. These experiences were transformative as I saw first-hand how policy makers make decisions informed by very complex socio-political environments, compelling me to think beyond economics as a lens for policy-making. I also became fascinated with understanding the islands of success that one finds among public agencies in even the most fragile countries.
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