Meet Our Experts

Lana Abu-HijlehLana Abu-Hijleh, Country Director, Palestine
Lana Abu-Hijleh is a Palestinian development expert working for the past 28 years with international development and humanitarian agencies in Palestine and throughout the Middle East region. Read more.
Chase ConiglioChase Coniglio, Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Manager
Chase Coniglio is an international development professional with eight years of experience in project design, monitoring, evaluation, and knowledge management. Read more.
headshot Milton Funes, Senior Development Advisor
Milton Funes has 15 years of international development experience, with expertise in capacity building, health, social infrastructure, urban/rural planning, micro-finance and economic development. Read more.
Marjan Horst EhsassiMarjan Horst Ehsassi, Senior Director, Governance & Global Health
Marjan H. Ehsassi is Senior Director of Governance and Global Health. Most recently, she led the Principled Engagement Initiative and was Senior Policy Fellow at Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace and Security. Read more.
Elissa McCarter-LaBordeElissa McCarter-LaBorde, Vice President, Development Finance
Ms. LaBorde is Vice President of Development Finance, where over the last 11 years she has built the technical department that manages Global Communities’ microfinance, SME, and housing finance. Read more.
Nancy McDonaldNancy McDonald, Technical Director, Youth
Nancy McDonald is the Technical Director for Youth at Global Communities, where she provides technical support to Global Communities youth programming. Read more.
Ashleigh MullinaxAshleigh Mullinax, Knowledge Management & Learning Manager
Ashleigh Mullinax is an international development and knowledge management professional with over 10 years of experience managing food security, agriculture, knowledge management, and learning programs for USAID and other donors. Read more.
Edward PerezEduardo Perez, Technical Director, WASH
Eduardo Perez has over 15 years of experience working with and advising USAID and numerous other international organizations on WASH and global health issues. Read more.
Richard ShumannRichard Shumann, Director, Development Finance Operations
Richard Shumann is Director of Development Finance Operations for Global Communities, and Chief Operations Officer of Vitas Group. Read more.
Tuul TuvshinbayarTuul Tuvshinbayar, Program Manager, EMIRGE Mongolia
Tuul Tuvshinbayar is the Program Manager of the USAID-funded Enabling Market Integration for Rural Group Empowerment (EMIRGE) program. Read more.
Kelly Van HusenKelly Van Husen, Regional Humanitarian Advisor
Kelly Van Husen provides programmatic support to emergency programs and develops and implements Global Communities’ overall humanitarian assistance strategy, focusing on programs responding to Gaza and Syria. Read more.
Pia WanekPia Wanek, Vice President, Humanitarian Assistance
Pia Wanek is Vice President of Humanitarian Assistance at Global Communities, which works closely with communities to help them recover and eventually rebuild in the wake of both man-made and natural disasters. Read more.
Kristin WilcoxKristin Wilcox, Technical Specialist, Food Security & Cooperatives
Kristin Wilcox is a Technical Specialist and Program Manager for Cooperative Development Programs with Global Communities. Read more.
Karla YoderKarla Yoder, Technical Director, Workforce Development
Karla Yoder is Global Communities’ Technical Director of Workforce Development. She specializes in education, youth transition and workforce development. Read more.
Andrew LevinAndrew Levin, PhD, Technical Director, Agriculture and Food Security
Andrew Levin, PhD has worked for over 15 years in the area of agriculture value chains and sustainable agriculture and has a technical background is in soil science. Read more.
Lindsay McMahonLindsay McMahon, Technical Director, Governance
Lindsay McMahon has worked in a variety of capacities and contexts to support communities, civil society organizations and government agencies to make public institutions more effective and responsive. Read more.

Lana Abu-Hijleh

Lana Abu-Hijleh, Country Director, Palestine

Since 2003, Abu-Hijleh has been the Country Director of Global Communities Palestine, leading a team of 200 Palestinian and international professionals in designing and implementing assistance programs focusing on economic revitalization, community and social infrastructure, democracy/governance, job creation, and food security in the West Bank and Gaza. Among these programs is the Youth Local Council movement in the West Bank, which gives Palestinian youths a chance to participate in and run their own electoral process, respond to constituent concerns, plan and execute community improvement projects, and shadow local ministers and council members to learn good governance practices and become engaged citizens in the political process. In 2014, Ms. Abu-Hijleh was named a as a Laureate and finalist of the John P. McNulty Prize by the Aspen Institute for her work developing the program. 

Prior to her work with Global Communities, Ms. Abu-Hijleh served as the Deputy Resident Representative of the UNDP Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People for over 17 years and was responsible for developing policies and programs with a range of focus areas from water resource management, sustainable basic infrastructure development, good governance promotion and institutionalization to women and youth social, political and economic empowerment. In addition she is the first Palestinian woman to become a member of the Board of Directors of the Palestine Investment Fund and the Bank of Palestine, the leading National Bank in the West Bank and Gaza. She is a fellow of the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network member of the Middle East Leadership Initiative; a member of the global Young Presidents Organization; and the Vice Chair of the Partners for New Beginning, Palestine Chapter. She also serves on the Boards of the Palestine Student Lending Fund, Riwaq - the Palestinian Center for Architectural Conservation, Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute, El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe, and the Palestinian Institute for Public Diplomacy. She is also a member of the Education for Employment Foundation-Palestine and the Business Women Forum.

Recent Articles & Publications


Chase Coniglio, Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Manager
 

Mr. Coniglio is a Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Manager with a technical expertise in mobile technologies and community-based M&E as practiced in food security and poverty reduction programs. Chase has led technology driven M&E strategies for USG funded programs in El Salvador, Guatemala, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Chase earned his M.A. in International Development with an emphasis in Evaluation Methods from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and received his B.A. in Global Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. 


Milton Funes in Haiti

Milton Funes, Senior Development Advisor

In Mr. Funes' previous role as Director of Program Impact and Learning, he led a team focusing on taking lessons learned in the field and disseminating across the development field and other interested parties. Mr. Funes also spent three years as Global Communities’ Country Director in Rwanda, leading large-scale community-based programs that supported Rwandan families to develop sustainable ways of coping with health and economic challenges. He also served as Global Communities’ Country Director for Honduras, where he managed programs worth $60 million from Global Fund for health protection in HIV/AIDS with an emphasis on Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC). He has also worked with several country teams while providing short-to- medium term technical assistance to programs in Afghanistan, Haiti, Indonesia, Sri-Lanka, Colombia, Bolivia and Georgia. Mr. Funes has developed proposals and managed programs funded by a wide range of donors including USDA, World Bank, The Global Fund and USAID. He has also been a panelist / presenter in major international conferences such as the International Aids Conference (Melbourne 2014), World Urban Forum (Rio de Janeiro 2010), World Humanitarian Conference (Boston, 2011) and Steel Days Conference (Luxembourg 2011). Mr. Funes holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, completed M.B.A. coursework at the Catholic University of Honduras, and has received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the National University of Honduras. He is a native Spanish speaker and speaks English, French and Danish. 

Recent Articles & Publications


Kelly Van Husen, Regional Humanitarian Advisor

Ms. Van Husen also develops and implements Global Communities’ overall humanitarian assistance strategy, focusing on the Middle East and programs responding to humanitarian needs as a result of conflicts in Gaza and Syria. Ms. Van Husen has over ten years of experience working in humanitarian assistance and development. Prior to her current role, she worked as the Deputy Chief of Party for Grants and Contracts for IRD, and spent over two years working in Afghanistan for Development Alternatives, Inc. as a Field Director for development and stabilization efforts in the country. She worked for Global Communities on emergency and early recovery programming in Indonesia in the wake of the 2006 earthquake on Java island and as a program development assistant for Global Communities’ emergency and transition programs. Ms. Van Husen received her Masters of Science in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Bachelors of Art in International Relations and Political Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Recent Articles & Publications


Marjan Horst Ehsassi, Senior Director, Governance & Global Health

Marjan H. Ehsassi is Senior Director of Governance and Global Health. Most recently, she led the Principled Engagement Initiative and was Senior Policy Fellow at Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace and Security. With over 20 years of experience, she has served as Executive Director and COO in both public and private sectors. Marjan is the Founder and President of BlackFish Advocates, an organization dedicated to engagement with civil society in complex and closed environments. As Senior Program Manager, she managed democracy and governance programs in Asia at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) as well as rule of law and judicial reform programs in the MENA region at the American Bar Association (ABA-ROLI). She worked with the Gender Equality Group in the Office of the Chief Economist at the World Bank. Marjan began her legal career with Blake Cassels & Graydon in Toronto and later trained as a litigator at the New York offices of Sherman & Sterling. She earned a BA in International Relations from the University of Toronto and an LL.M from McGill University in Montreal. Originally from Iran, she was born in Geneva and speaks English, French and Farsi with native fluency. Marjan sits on several Boards, presents widely and has been a regular contributor to various news channels, such as BBC and Voice of America. Her published work includes:


Elissa McCarter

Elissa McCarter-LaBorde, Vice President, Development Finance

In addition to her role as Vice President, Ms. LaBorde serves as the CEO of Vitas Group, a commercial holding company established by Global Communities to expand its microfinance operations with a particularly focus on the Middle East region. Ms. LaBorde has 15 years' experience as a microfinance practitioner. Prior to Global Communities, she spent 7 years in the field, having started up and managed two microfinance institutions in Armenia and Turkey, and serving as technical advisor to more than a dozen MFIs in Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Ms. LaBorde has authored two books on microfinance mergers and continues to publish articles and opinion pieces that span a number of topics related to financial inclusion. She has a Master’s degree from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris; and currently serves as adjunct professor of a Masters level course on Financial Inclusion at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Recent Articles & Publications


Nancy McDonald, Technical Director, Youth

Ms. McDonald has over 15-years’ experience managing large-scale, overseas development projects supporting at-risk youth including scholarship programs promoting girls’ education, English learning, and entrepreneurship skills. She has served as AMIDEAST Country Director in Jordan and as Chief of Party for a USAID-funded vocational education project in Macedonia. She has backstopped large USAID-funded programs such as the $75 million Education Reform Program in Egypt and the Revitalizing, Innovating, Strengthening Education (RISE) program working in earthquake affected  areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in Pakistan. She has designed and managed girls’ scholarships programs in the Middle East as well as smaller UNICEF, US Department of State and corporate-funded projects. Before working in international development, Ms. McDonald worked at Harvard University’s Program on Nonviolent Sanctions and Cultural Survival working on conflict resolution workshops focusing on Oil Exploration in Fragile Environments bringing together indigenous groups, oil company executives and environmental NGOs to dialogue creative solutions to avoid conflict. She also served as an assistant to Prof. Herbert Kelman at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Trinity College and a Master of Arts in International Relations from Boston University. 

Recent Articles & Publications


Eduardo Perez, Technical Director, WASH

Prior to coming to Global Communities, Eddy Perez was the Chief of Party for a USAID-funded research grant to learn if a systems change approach can lead to sustainable WASH services; Professor of Practice in Global WASH at the Center for Global Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at the School of Public Health at Emory University; and, from 2004 through 2014, he was the Lead Sanitation Specialist for the World Bank and global team leader for the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) global program on learning, technical assistance and capacity building for scaling up rural sanitation and a parallel program on scaling up handwashing behavior change. These programs used evidenced-based knowledge of what worked and what did not work to influence policies and practices of governments and development partners in Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean, South Asia and East Asia. Eddy also worked for 13 years as the Technical Director for the USAID-funded WASH Project and its successor the Environmental Health Project (EHP) that provided short-term technical assistance and analytical work to USAID Washington DC as well as USAID Missions in developing countries globally. Prior to this, Eddy was the Honduras Country Director for CHF International (now Global Communities) leading a USAID-funded program that worked with local partners to provide household and small business credit to support housing upgrades in urban informal communities.

Eddy has worked with and advised various global development partners including UNICEF, WaterAid, Plan International, WHO, USAID, DFID, DGIS, IRC, the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank. He has been the keynote speaker at multiple global and regional conferences such as the Stockholm World Water Week, and the Africa Ministerial conference on Sanitation (AFRICASAN). Eddy is the author or co-author of multiple knowledge products including guidelines, manuals, policy and research briefs, and articles in leading practitioner journals such as WaterLines. He was the Chair of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) expert working group on sanitation for the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and former member of the Technical Advisory Group of the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF). Eddy has a BS in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master’s of Science in Engineering and Public Policy (with a concentration in Science and Technology in International Development) from Washington University.


Ashleigh Mullinax, Senior Knowledge Management Specialist

Ms. Mullinax has extensive experience designing and implementing knowledge management and organizational learning activities to further the reach of international development efforts. Throughout the last decade, she has successfully managed a diverse portfolio of projects and teams, emphasizing the timely delivery of high quality and creative deliverables. Through her work at the QED Group, the SEEP Network, and ACDI/VOCA, she has experience working with a variety of government and private international aid donors including USAID, USDA, and the MasterCard Foundation. She received her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina and her Master’s Degree from the George Washington University in Anthropology with a concentration in International Development.


Richard Shumann, Director, Development Finance Operations

Mr. Shumann has 25 years’ experience in international economic development. Mr. Shumann is a prominent expert in housing microfinance, having designed or modified products in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, and presented for Deutsche Bank, Lafarge and SEEP, among others. Mr. Shumann has led training on marketing and product development in Mozambique, South Africa, Morocco and Palestine. He provides oversight to Global Communities’ credit policies and internal auditors in eight countries. He has worked in over 40 countries, including long term assignments in Mozambique, Angola, Burundi and Guinea. He has a BA in Economics from Macalester College, and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is fluent in Spanish and French. 


Tuul Tuvshinbayar, Program Manager for EMIRGE Mongolia

Ms. Tuvshinbayar has 13 years’ experience in the cooperative sector overseeing 53 cooperatives with over 700 members. As Program Manager for EMIRGE, she works with Mongolian farmers in the dairy and vegetable sectors to increase their production yields through cooperative development. She is deeply involved with cooperative programs in efforts to enhance program effectiveness, and raise incomes of clients. Her work also involves building networks between small farmers, key sector players, local associations, NGOs as well government authorities.

Recent Articles & Publications


Pia WanekPia Wanek, Vice President, Humanitarian Assistance

Ms. Wanek has directed Global Communities’ Humanitarian Assistance response for a variety of crises, including the West African Ebola epidemic, the 2014 war in Gaza, the ongoing Syrian and Yemen conflicts, and Hurricaine Marie in Puerto Rico. A seasoned humanitarian assistance professional, Ms. Wanek has more than 15 years of experience in the donor community and the NGO world. She worked for USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance for six years, predominantly on East and Central Africa emergency response programs, and supported the civil-military portfolio at the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and strategic planning and policy development at the Consular Affairs bureau at the State Department. Ms. Wanek also worked in humanitarian response and resource planning at World Vision U.S. While with an Australian strategic consulting firm, Noetic Corporation, she explored the evolution of irregular threat groups and the potential implications of game-changing, disruptive technologies from technical, social, political, legal and ethical perspectives. She is adept at bringing together diverse stakeholders around complex topics to develop effective ways forward. Ms. Wanek was born and raised overseas, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and International Studies from Colby College in Waterville, ME.  She also holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in Anthropology and Development.

Recent Articles & Publications


Kristin WilcoxKristin Wilcox, Technical Specialist, Food Security & Cooperatives

Ms. Wilcox provides strategic and technical leadership to economic development and livelihoods focused programming. In addition, she works to develop improved methods for group aggregation facilitation models, implements value chain competitiveness and market integration strategies and new approaches to business performance evaluation.

Recent Articles & Publications


Karla Yoder, Technical Director, Workforce Development

Ms. Yoder leads has over 15 years of experience designing, implementing and providing technical assistance to workforce development, education, livelihoods and microfinance programs in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the United States. As Technical Director of Workforce Development, she leads the development and technical implementation of a global portfolio of economic and workforce development projects. Prior to working with Global Communities, Ms. Yoder worked with International Justice Mission in Zambia, developing and managing a microenterprise and microfinance program for its vulnerable legal clients. She also worked at the AED National Institute for Work and Learning  where she managed the Johnson & Johnson-funded Bridge to Employment program, co-authored a guidebook to assist community colleges in increasing their responsiveness to local labor markets, and assisted counties in the State of Georgia to develop innovative career and technical education academies. Ms. Yoder's publications highlighting private sector-driven approaches to workforce development include: The 21st-Century Community College: A Strategic Guide to Maximizing Labor Market Responsiveness and Strengthening Education to Drive Economic Development: A Manual for Replicating The CEC Experience in Your Community. She also authored a chapter “Women and Microcredit: A Critical Introduction” in The Women, Gender and Development Reader. Ms. Yoder holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the School for International Training and a Master’s of Arts in Sociology from the George Washington University.


Andrew Levin, PhD, Technical Director, Agriculture and Food Security

Andrew Levin, PhD began his experience as a Peace Corps volunteer working with small holder men and women farmers in Honduras. Working in a coffee growing region along with his beekeeper wife, he taught women’s groups how to grow vegetables for the market and for household consumption and promoted technologies to reduce soil erosion in maize and bean crops planted on steep hillsides. Following Peace Corps service, he worked for USDA as an agricultural loan officer and commodity analyst. For 15 years he was an Agriculture/Foreign Service Officer with USAID including long-term assignments in Nigeria, Mozambique and Zambia. Several projects he designed include Nigeria MARKETS and Zambia Profit+ agriculture value chains, Mozambique applied agriculture research and Zambia Global Development Alliance partnerships in sustainable agriculture. Prior to joining Global Communities, he led the management of a Collaborating, Learning and Adapting activity through LEARN which supports Africa Bureau and field mission capacity to implement USAID’s self-reliance vision. His technical background is in soil science; he has a particular interest in promoting sustainable technologies which support healthy soils.


Lindsay McMahon, Technical Director, Governance

Lindsay has worked in a variety of capacities and contexts to support communities, civil society organizations and government agencies to make public institutions more effective and responsive. Most recently, she worked for Oxfam Great Britain in the Democratic Republic of Congo to develop and launch Oxfam’s governance programming in DRC. Prior, based in Washington, DC with the National Democratic Institute, she was responsible for the range of democracy and governance programs NDI implemented in the Sahel region. Lindsay has also worked for USAID in Afghanistan and with the International Organization for Migration in Sudan, Zambia and Geneva. Lindsay holds master’s degrees in international affairs and public administration and is working towards a PhD in public policy and public administration.