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Our Team

Connect To Learn Staff

Radhika Iyengar
Director of Education

Radhika Iyengar has a Ph.D. in Economics of Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. As the Education Director for the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) for 10 countries in Africa and the Scale-up Operations at the Earth Institute Columbia University, Dr. Iyengar provides guidance and leadership for over 15 education research specialists and coordinators based in the United States and other specific countries. Dr. Iyengar led the efforts to assess the use of technology for large scale educational planning at the local level in Nigeria for Earth Institute’s Nigeria Scale-up Initiative a joint project between the Earth Institute and the Office of Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on MDGs (OSSAP).  Dr. Iyengar also holds an Adjunct Assistant Faculty position at the Teachers College, where she teaches graduate level courses on Education and Economic Development and Evaluation Research Methods. She acted as a Senior Special Advisor to UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report for 2016. She has been successful in bringing a more scientific rigor to the multiple projects she leads by merging her developing country experience with her technical training at Teachers College, and her practical experience is of much interest to students and faculty alike. Dr. Iyengar is the Principal Investigator of multiple research studies at the Earth Institute. Her research interests in conducting evaluation of educational programs and international educational development is in line with her role and responsibilities at the Earth Institute

Al-Houssaine Bah
Education Research & Policy Expert

Mr. Bah's current work focuses on monitoring and evaluation of the Whitaker Project Development Initiative in South Sudan and also developing CTL's program strategy for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Projects in several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to his current position, Mr. Bah was a Project Coordinator at Millennium Promise and the Earth Institute working on the Ebola Response in Guinea. He led the recruitment of more than 25 in country staff members to work closely with the New York team, and coordinated emergency management plans, implemented training procedures and provided guidance to new employees to ensure effective and efficient operations. Mr. Bah has also worked with Action Guinea, a grassroots, community based NGO that provides health and education services for the Guinean immigrant community, most of whom are asylees. Mr. Bah has is MA in Education Policy from NYU, and his BA in Sociology from the University of Gamal Abdel Nasser of Conakry.

Haein Shin
Education Technical Advisor

Haein Shin has experience in providing technical support, research, program implementation and management for various education projects in low-income areas across 10 countries in West and East Africa, India, Myanmar and MENA region. She contributed to fruition of youth and community education programs in Morocco with the United States Peace Corps and developed educational materials/curricula to improve learning outcomes, literacy, youth development and teacher training practices for the Millennium Villages Project, Mwenge University, Connect To Learn and Hindupat Institute of Teacher Training. She has also planned and managed implementation of health education program for girls at a women’s university in the Middle East. Her research interests include education in international development, pedagogical methods and child development. She received her M.A. in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University and B.A. in International Relations from the College of William and Mary.

Tara Stafford Ocansey
Education Technology Specialist

Tara is an education and creative media professional with extensive experience as a program manager working in diverse education settings. In her five years with Connect To Learn, Tara has managed a year-long study in Kenya and Uganda identifying best practices to integrating technology tools in rural, resource-poor classrooms, coordinated CTL's scholarship programs in ten countries in sub-Saharan Africa, developed teacher training modules in the integration of technology in teaching practice, and helped launch CTL's program expansion in Myanmar. Prior to joining CTL, Tara was a Research Fellow with the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, researching how evaluation efforts measure social change impacts of non formal adult literacy programs in Senegal, Ghana and Bangladesh. Tara has her MA in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and her BA in Cinema-Television from the University of Southern California.

Kara Nichols
Founding Executive Director

Kara Nichols was the founding Executive Director of Connect To Learn from March 2010 through June 2014 as the global initiative was designed, funded, incubated and established in 16 countries, encompassing it’s global advocacy campaign and all programming, monitoring and evaluation of its scholarship programs for girls, ICT-enabled learning programs in schools, and school-to-school connections programs. She also initiated and led the separate year-long ICT in Education research study conducted in Connect To Learn secondary schools in Kenya and Uganda in collaboration with Columbia University Teachers College, Kampala University and University of Nairobi. The study was undertaken to inform CTL's work and document the opportunities, challenges and important needs for multi-sector collaboration and investment to support improved learning outcomes in low-income classrooms and community centers with the thoughtful integration of ICT-enabled learning resources. While Kara continues to be available for advisory contributions for CTL's ongoing expansion, she moved on in mid-2014 in order to explore additional innovative models for sustainable development and social impact.

Connect To Learn Advisory Board

Helen Abadzi
Research, University of Texas at Arlington

Helen Abadzi is a psychologist and polyglot from Greece. After 27 years as a senior education specialist at the World Bank, she is a researcher at the University of Texas at Arlington.  To improve the outcomes of education investments she has used cognitive psychology and neuroscience.   Her work raised early-grade reading fluency into an international priority.  She is particularly interested in applying cognitive science implications for secondary education in low-income areas.

Payal Arora
Associate Professor, Department of Media and Communication at Erasmus University Rotterdam

Professor Arora is the Founder of Catalyst Lab, a center that reignites relations between academia, industry and the public via innovative social media engagements. Much of her research work focuses on entertainment, play, pleasure, and sociality via new media technologies to create critical digital cultures for social learning, activism and change, particularly in the global South.

David Hollow
Team Leader, Jigsaw Consult

David is the team leader of Jigsaw Consult, a social enterprise based in London that works to enhance development outcomes through evaluation, research and learning.

David has undertaken complex evaluations and research studies in over fifteen countries with a variety of donors, governments, INGOs and community-based organisations. The majority of his work focuses on the role of technology in development, monitoring and evaluation, and education. He holds a PhD (2010) in development geography from Royal Holloway, University of London. His doctoral research focused on evaluating the impact of ICT on education in Africa.

David is an Honorary Research Associate at the ICT4D Centre and an independent expert for DFID’s Girls’ Education Challenge Fund. David is also Chair of Trustees for Refugee Support Network, a London-based charity providing educational support to young people affected by displacement and crisis.


Dr Fahmida Khatun

Research Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue

Dr. Fahmida Khatun is the Research Director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a leading think tank in Bangladesh. She has accomplished Masters and PhD in Economics from the University College London (UCL), University of London. Prior to joining CPD in 2002, she worked as a Research Fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies; as an Environment Specialist for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); as an Economist for the USAID Mission in Bangladesh. She also taught economics at universities in Bangladesh and England. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Christian Michelsen Institute (CMI), Norway in 1994. She received fellowship from the Asia Foundation and conducted research on Green Economy at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET), Korea in 2012. She also received Fulbright Fellowship and has been a Visiting Scholar at the Earth Institute, Columbia University for six months in 2015 where she worked on ICT and Sustainable Development Goals.

Silvia Montoya
Director, UNESCO Institute of Statistics

Dr Montoya became the Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in 2015. She has extensive experience in a wide range of national and international initiatives to improve the quality, management and use of education statistics, with a specific focus on learning assessment.

Prior to joining the UIS, Ms Montoya was the Director-General of Assessment and Evaluation of Education Quality at the Ministry of Education, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dr Montoya was appointed as the first Executive Director of the Unidad de Evaluación Integral de la Calidad Educativain 2015.

Among her many responsibilities, she oversaw the creation of the first comprehensive education quality index produced in Argentina. During the course of her career at the Ministry of Education of Argentina, which dates back to the late 1990s, she introduced a series of institutional changes and capacity-building initiatives to strengthen independence and objectivity in the production of education statistics and the measurement of learning outcomes.

Ms Montoya is also professor and researcher at the Catholic University of Argentina. She holds a Master’s and PhD in Policy Analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Dr. Jonghwi Park
Programme Specialist, ICT in Education, UNESCO

is Programme Specialist in ICT in Education, UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok). Her main duty is to support 46 Member States of the Asia-Pacific region in integrating ICT in their education system in a holistic manner. Led by Dr. Park, ICT in Education Team at UNESCO Bangkok provides ICT policy review, technical supports for ICT policy development and regional comparative research on ICT in education. Her team is specialized in designing teacher development programmes to promote the effective ICT-pedagogy integration and implemented in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Philippines, Thailand, to name a few. She oversees high-level policy fora to promote policy dialogues on ICT in Education at regional and sub-regional levels, including the Asia Pacific Ministerial Forum on ICT in Education, the Central Asia Symposium on ICT in Education, and the Regional Seminar on Innovative ICT Practices.  Prior to joining the UNESCO Bangkok, Dr. Park managed various e-learning projects in both private and public sectors in Korea and worked as ICT-pedagogy consultant for secondary teachers and university professors in Canada. She holds MA in Educational Technology from Hanyang University, Republic of Korea and PhD in Educational Psychology (specialized in Learning Sciences) from McGill University, Canada.

Reshma Patel
Executive Director, Impact Network

Reshma Patel has a deep interest in improving the access to and quality of education for underserved communities in developing nations. She brings a wealth of experience from both the for-profit and non-profit sectors to her role as Executive Director of Impact Network, providing high-quality education to underserved students in rural Zambia. Prior to joining Impact Network, Reshma Patel worked at MDRC, a non-profit, non-partisan social policy research firm, dedicated to finding solutions to improve the lives of low-income communities.

Jim Teicher
CEO and Director, CyberSmart Africa

Jim Teicher is a internationally recognized leader in the planning, development, and realization of technology-enabled education. He founded CyberSmart Africa in 2007, and currently serves as CEO and director. CyberSmart Africa provides the first massively scalable, technology-enabled classroom learning solution for sub-Saharan Africa – including schools without electricity.

Jim currently serves on the advisory board of the US Congressional Internet Caucus, is a recent member of the consumer advisory board of McAfee Corporation, is co-founder of the National Cyber Security Alliance, has been a TEDx speaker, and is a member of the mEducation Alliance, among other affiliations.