Former Board Members

2015 Board Members

Co-President: Elaine Kubik

Elaine Kubik is a Panamanian-American who grew up all over the world as a military dependent. She recently served as the digital marketing manager for buildOn, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations in inner cities in the U.S. and developing countries around the world. Previously she led the social media efforts for including brand management of the iconic Travelocity Roaming Gnome. Prior to Travelocity, Elaine worked overseas in Madrid, Spain as a marketing/communications manager for a research foundation. @elainekubik

Co-President: Swetha Ramaswamy

Combining her background in education and technology, Swetha’s most recent experience is as an Instructional Designer for TechChange where she led the design and development of online learning courses for clients. Her prior experience includes serving as a Corps Member with Teach for America where she taught math and English as a special education teacher in Baltimore, and a Fulbright Research Scholar where she explored the social and economic impact of internal migration in Nepal. She graduated from George Washington University with dual degrees in History and International Affairs.

Vice President: Sebastien Labarre

Born in France and raised in Dallas, Texas Sebastien has always enjoyed learning languages. Growing up speaking both French and English, then later studying Spanish in high school, Sebastien decided to learn Mandarin his sophomore year of college for fun. What started as fun was the beginning of a 5 year adventure through China. After years abroad and a couple businesses (one success and one failure) under his belt, Sebastien came to SIPA to learn how to use a shrinking global playing field and technology to improve the lives of people all around the world.

Communications Lead: Odharnait Ansbro

Events Lead: Mariela Machado Fantacchiotti

Mariela Machado has a Telecommunication Engineering degree from UCAB in Caracas, Venezuela after which she obtained her master’s degree in Networking in Barcelona, Spain. She then became project manager for 5 years at Telefonica. Her interest in the field of development practice and diminishing the worldwide digital divide awoke during her internship in Peru, where she developed a project to provide IP phone service to a local hospital in a remote town of 1000 people. After this project and through involvement in other NGO organizations, she knew this was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

Curriculum Development Lead: Supriya Kumar

Supriya Kumar is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Affairs with an Economic and Political Development concentration at SIPA. Prior to SIPA, she served as the Communications Manager for the Worldwatch Institute, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. focused on environmental research. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations with a focus on International Development and a minor in Economics from the American University’s School of International Service. Her interest in international development began in high school, where she participated in service trips to India, Cambodia and Vietnam and had the opportunity of volunteering with organizations such as Mother Theresa’s Home, Tabitha and the Phu My Orphanage.

Treasurer: Samriddhi Malla

Samriddhi Malla is an MPA degree candidate at SIPA where she is pursuing a concentration in Energy and Environment with a specialization in Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis. Previously, she worked as an economic analyst at NERA Economic Consulting and Compass Lexecon on economic matters related to M&A regulatory review, antitrust litigation and damages, and class certification. Ms. Malla then went on to work as a consultant for Organisation Development Centre, where she guided non-profit and public sector clients in Nepal on organizational assessment, behavior, and management issues. She holds a B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from Lafayette College. She is interested in the intersection between energy access and energy enterprise business models that contribute to economic and sustainable development in emerging and developing markets.

2014 Board Members

President: Boris Maguire

Boris came to SIPA to explore his fascination with global information and communications systems and logistics, focusing on post-crisis response, reconstruction and development. He joined NMTF to build his understanding of ICT’s increasingly important role in that space. Boris is currently working with mWater to design and implement a pilot program to use their mobile technology to improve water testing in Mexico City, and this summer he’ll join a USAID project to support ICT4D initiatives in Cambodia. In retrospect, Boris accidentally got a first taste of ICT4D as a high-school teacher in the Dominican Republic in 2008, when he tricked his students into learning by having them make Facebook Profiles for characters from The Great Gatsby. Boris then served two years as a congressional staffer, conducting oversight investigations and hearings related to military contracting in Afghanistan, aid spending, and other national security and foreign policy oversight issues. He transitioned to a DC-based media development non-profit and worked for two years on initiatives in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tunisia. When his position was eliminated shortly after being accepted to SIPA, Boris started a short-lived but successful blog under the nom de plume, The Panel Crasher, where he mused about being unemployed and searching for free food at DC panel events. Bored with sandwich jokes and overwhelmed by his imagined internet celebrity, Boris went to work on a permaculture farm in Ecuador for a couple months before starting at SIPA. He assures the reader that his quarter-life crisis has been resolved. Connect with Boris on LinkedIn.

Vice-President: Prerna Seth

After her bachelors in economics from India, Prerna spent a year working on alternative energy and livelihood issues in a remote rural village in the Himalayas. Ever since then, she has been interested in how development issues and policies impact grassroot communities. She has also spent time working in the media industry, as a freelance writer and organizing music festivals. At NMTF, she is very interested in exploring the social impact of technological change in communities, and exploring ways to leverage technology as a social leveler. She firmly believes that in order to design good development policies, one needs to be sensitive to understanding different layers on impact policies have on all the communities and stakeholders involved. In her free time, she likes to spend time in the mountains, hiking, skiing and climbing.

Treasurer: Matt Smith

Hailing from Bozeman, MT, Matt is fascinated in the linkages between development policy, planning and practice. As an Associate with the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and Fellow with the Burton K. Wheeler Center for Public Policy, he analyzed
rural economic development policies in Montana while later witnessing their implementation as a student and community-organizer throughout the
state. Matt saw similar development dynamics at play while working as a Project Manager with Engineers Without Borders (EWB-MSU) in Western Kenya and while assessing USAID WASH projects in Uganda with the Ministry of Water. His current interest is in policies and programs that support social entrepreneurship in emerging markets
and, in 2012, was awarded a Boren Fellowship to research youth-driven entrepreneurship programs and study Swahili in East Africa. As a Boren Fellow, Matt worked as a consultant with TechnoServe and Mercy Corps on USAID and Nike Foundation supported initiatives.

Director of Communications: Joel Putnam

Joel grew up 95% in Seattle, and 5% on a cattle ranch in eastern Washington State. Thanks to saving up to travel since he was little, he’s been fortunate enough to travel over 70 countries across all seven continents, and has volunteered in a myriad of short-term development projects on the ground, including education, tech set-up and maintenance, environmental cleanup, and disaster relief. He graduated with a double major in political science and international studies from the University of Chicago, and is supporting his education at SIPA the same way he supported the acting habit he fed for three years in New York City: tutoring kids in Math, Science, English, Spanish, and standardized test prep. Since starting school he has engaged with various development consulting projects, and is currently working on a team with fellow NMTF board member, Prerna, on a hygiene social enterprise based in India.  Connect with Joel on LinkedIn.

Director of Events: Yan Wang

Yan Wang is a SIPA graduate student interested in media and social enterprise. Before she came to SIPA, she worked at a top Chinese educational consulting firm. Yan  established her Chamber of Commerce in college and was invited to attend a special  program of China Central Television called “I Can Create the Future” to share her Entrepreneurial experiences with excellent college students. She was an ambassador of Shanghai World Expo and received the Outstanding College Student award granted by China’s Government. She was also granted the Hollywood Humanitarian Award issued by the Women’s International Film & Television Showcase, due to her efforts in Sichuan earthquake-relief. Currently, she is working on her social enterprise as one of the Executive Board members of SIPASA.

Director of Curriculum Development: Eva Pereira

Eva is a graduate student at SIPA interested in civic technology. Previously, she worked in media as a Journalist and Web Producer at Forbes where she wrote about disruptors in education, nonprofits, and government. Eva joins our board as the Director of Curriculum Development.

2013 Board Members

President: Jesper Frant

Degree: SIPA / MPA in Development Practice

Undergraduate school/major: University of Colorado – Boulder / BA in International Affairs

Ever since he spent a year of high school living in a small Mexican town near the Gulf of Mexico, Jesper has been fascinated by how international and global affairs influence local communities. After earning his BA in International Affairs, Jesper worked for a variety of political, non-profit, and government organizations, developing an expertise in strategic online communications. At Columbia, and through his involvement in the New Media Taskforce, Jesper wishes to pair his passion for international affairs with his knowledge of online communications. Connect with Jesper on LinkedIn.

Vice-President: Rachana Kumar

Degree: Columbia SIPA / MPA 

Undergraduate school/major: R.V. College of Engineering/ B.Engg in Electronics &  Communication

Rachana has keen interest in use of ICT for development and public policy. She has over seven years of experience leading technology initiatives in diverse areas,  ranging from entertainment sector in New York to sociopolitical space in India.  You can connect with Rachana on Linkedin 



Treasurer: Le Chen

Degree: SIPA / MPA in Development Practice

Undergraduate school/major: Fudan University, School of Journalism / BA in Journalism.

Le has more than 2 years working experience in Chinese media, such as Xinhua News Agency and Oriental Morning Post. Most recently, she served as a volunteer at an NGO Yspaniola, for which she went into one of the minority Haitian communities in Dominican Republic to do education trainings. Previously, she worked as a special reporter of Television Broadcasts Limited in Hong Kong, where she was responsible for mainland affairs. She speaks Chinese and is addicted to volunteering and traveling in different countries. Connect with Le on LinkedIn.

Director of Trainings and Events: Janice Dean

Degree: MPA in Development Practice– SIPA, Columbia University Undergraduate School and Major: Austin College – Sherman, TX; BA in Religious Studies

Janice is excited about the potential of ICT in simplying processes and transforming lives. From her previous work in refugee resettlement and ethnographic fieldwork in India and China, she is particularly interested in exploring ICT4D in the spheres of education and humanitarian affairs.  Connect with Janice on LinkedIn.

2012 Board Members

Co-President: Lakshmi Balachandran

Degree: SIPA / MPA in Development Practice

Undergraduate school/majorNanyang Technological University / B.Engg in Computer Engineering

Lakshmi has a keen interest in the use of technology for development, particularly in education. A Computer Engineer by training, she did her undergraduate thesis on the use of computer games for teaching. After graduation, she worked in mobile banking and process improvements at Citibank Singapore. She has been a volunteer teacher in India and in Singapore for many years, and currently interns with Connect To Learn, coordinating technology solutions and developing health awareness and leadership programs for girls at schools in Millennium Villages in Africa.

Co-President: Megann Mielke

Degree: SIPA MPA in Development Practice

Undergraduate school/major: University of Washington – Seattle (Latin American Studies/Spanish)

Megann is a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She served in southern Peru from 2008-2010 in the water and sanitation program. You can follow her on twitter @MgnnM .

Director of ICTs and Mobile for Development: Savanna Honerkamp-Smith

Degree: SIPA, Master of Public Affairs in Development Practice

Undergraduate school/major: University of Oregon/International Studies, Spanish

Fun Fact: She had a horse growing up and practiced English and Western equitation and dressage.

Savanna is interested in program evaluation and the role of new technologies in international development organizations’ information-gathering and accountability systems. Before starting her master’s program at SIPA, she served as a Protected Areas Management volunteer in the Peace Corps in central Honduras.  There, she worked with farmers in a small, coffee-growing community to promote soil conservation and watershed protection and partnered with the national forestry college ESNACIFOR to do community outreach through science and ecotourism classes at local schools.

Director of Crisis Mapping: Will Perreault

Degree: SIPA / Masters of Public Administration, International Finance and Economic Policy, Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis

Undergraduate school/major: Davidson College, B.A. in Rural Poverty Studies and Community Development

Fun fact: I was once in a circus in England, before the days of new media.

Will Perreault is a community and economic development professional with 6 years of experience implementing programs in the DRC, Haiti, Appalachia, and 10 other communities.  Will first gained exposure to crisis mapping while working in Nairobi, Kenya, after the 2007-2008 post election violence. In addition to serving as a Congressional Hunger Fellow and as a White House intern for President Obama’s National Economic Council, Will has worked in a number of finance and operations roles for community economic development organizations.

You can find him on twitter here, or on linkedin here.

Director of Communications: Chris Planicka

Degree: SIPA / MPA in Development Practice

Undergraduate school/major: University of Notre Dame / BA in History

Fun fact: I sometimes grow strange facial hair patterns for my own (and others’) amusement.

Mr. Planicka is a second-year student interested in the role of ICTs in international development. He has taken a course in GIS and a on the role of ICTs and New Media in development and social change. His other academic interests include agricultural, educational, and small-business development, as well as environmental protection. Prior to SIPA, Mr. Planicka spent two years as a Peace Corps environment volunteer in Madagascar, working with farmers to improve their agricultural yields while conserving the surrounding rainforest environment. He focused on organic farming, permaculture, bio-intensive gardening, and agro-forestry projects. He then extended his Peace Corps service in Madagascar as a business adviser for a farmers’ cooperative, working on an organic rice certification and export project. The cooperative successfully exported the first-ever organic rice shipment from Madagascar. For more information, you can follow his blog here and his bird-like noises here.

Director of Finance: Farah Thalji

Degree: SIPA, Master of International Affairs – International Finance and Economic Policy/International Conflict Resolution

Farah is what you would call a newcomer to the study of ICTs and new technologies. As a student from the Middle East, however, she can’t help but be interested in the way these technologies impact the quickly changing pace of politics and other public spheres. While she is fascinated by the many useful tools emerging in the field, her main focus is a comparative study of regional trends and reasons for the differences in their rate of adopting new technologies.

2011 Board Members

Directors: Yaquta Kanchwala and Matthew Cruse

Yaquta Kanchwala is a development practitioner with experience in microfinance, food security and access to energy. She currently works in development consulting and loves to cross-apply knowledge gained in one sector to another; she is an ardent follower of ‘small-holder farmer’ agriculture and ICT4D and enjoys discussions about issues and innovations in the space! In her spare time, she looks forward to good mystery novels, new restaurants and fun evenings with friends and family!

Director of ICTs and Mobile for Development: Priyanka Pathak

Director of Crisis Mapping (Outreach): Nadia Hasham

Director of Communications: Saira Qureshi

Director of Finance: Chason Smith

2010 Board Members


Directors: Sawako Sonoyama & Jaclyn Carlsen

Director of Knowledge Management and Treasurer: Diana Rodriguez

Director of Communications: Bianca Wilson

Director of Crisis Mapping: Dean Zambrano

2009 Board Members

Co-chairs: Kay Kastner & Oleksandr Ilchuk

2008 Board Members

Founder: Sean Blashcke

Sean Blaschke spent much of the last twelve years working around the convergence of technology and development in West, Central and Southern Africa. He witnessed the explosion of mobile phone ownership in rural Gambia in late 2001 during his work with Peace Corps, and two years later while serving as the National Media Coordinator for the Department of Forestry, was instrumental in building key partnerships between fledgling telecommunication companies and the Gambian Government. Between 2007-2009, Mr. Blaschke earned his MA in Economic and Polical Development at SIPA, and in 2008 founded the New Media Task Force. Mr. Blaschke began work with UNICEF in 2008, coordinating mHealth projects in Malawi (which won best global ICT innovation by USAID in their 2008 “Development 2.0 Challenge”), Rwanda and Ethiopia.  Mr. Blaschke currently serves as the Health Systems Strengthening Coordinator for UNICEF Uganda, and supports global UNICEF efforts around mHealth strategy and regional deployments.