AGM 2021 Bios

Samantha Power was sworn into office as the 19th Administrator of USAID on May 3, 2021.

In leading the world’s premier international development agency and its global staff of over 10,000 people, Power will focus on helping the United States respond to four interconnected challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic and the development gains it has imperiled; climate change; conflict and humanitarian crises; and democratic backsliding. Power will also ensure that USAID enhances its longstanding leadership in areas including food security, education, women’s empowerment, and global health. Additionally, Power is the first USAID Administrator to be a member of the National Security Council, where she will ensure that development plays a critical role in America’s responses to a range of economic, humanitarian, and geopolitical issues.

Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Power was the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the William D. Zabel Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School. From 2013 to 2017, Power served in the Obama-Biden Administration as the 28th US Permanent Representative to the United Nations. During her time at the UN, Power rallied countries to combat the Ebola epidemic, ratify the Paris climate agreement, and develop new international law to cripple ISIS’s financial networks. She worked to negotiate and implement the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, helped catalyze bold international commitments to care for refugees, and advocated to secure the release of political prisoners, defend civil society from growing repression, and protect the rights of women and girls.

From 2009 to 2013, Power served on the National Security Council staff as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. At the NSC, she advised the Obama-Biden Administration on issues such as democracy promotion, UN reform, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, atrocity prevention, and the fights against human trafficking and global corruption.

An immigrant from Ireland, Power began her career as a war correspondent in Bosnia, and went on to report from places including Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. She was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and has been recognized as one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People,” one of Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers,” and by Forbes as one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” Power is an author and editor of multiple books, and the recipient of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

Power earned a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Biographies of Speakers at UAA 2021 Annual General Meeting

Sara Bennett PhD is Professor and Associate Chair in the International Health Department, and Director of the Health Systems Program, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. With training in politics and economics, Sara is broadly interested in health policy and systems in low and middle income countries having studied issues in health financing, health markets, health worker motivation, and the effects of development assistance. Her research has also addressed institutional capacity development, health systems governance, and the use of evidence in policy and decision-making. Sara is currently conducting research that explores the role of the private sector in India’s Covid-19 response, as well as a participating in a study that seeks to identify policies and system features that have enabled countries to sustain essential health services during the pandemic.

Sara’s career encompasses both academic and policy positions. She played a significant role in the development of the field of Health Policy and Systems Research being former Vice-Chair and Chair of Health Systems Global (2012-16) editor of Health Policy and Planning (2009-15), and Executive Director of the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research at the World Health Organization (2006-08). Sara is strongly committed to bridging the worlds of academia and practice, and building institutional capacity for health research internationally. She graduated from Oxford (MA), Cambridge (MPhil) and London School of Economics (PhD). You can follow Sara on Twitter @saracbennett


Mukesh Chawla, PhD, Adviser, Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank, has worked for over twenty-five years with governments and international development partners in Europe, Asia and Africa on a variety of health sector issues, including design and diffusion of complex innovations in health, identification of innovative business solutions to address systemic and process issues in the health sector, and economics of health. He led the development of the Pandemic Emergency Financing (PEF) facility, which provided surge funds to low-income countries for early response to major disease outbreaks through a unique pandemic insurance mechanism and managed its operations until the facility closed in April 2021. His current area of interest and responsibility is helping countries get better prepared to respond immediately and effectively to disease outbreaks that have the potential of assuming pandemic proportions. He has written extensively on the role of markets and market-like institutions in the creation of incentives that strengthen health systems, fiscal space for health, innovations in health financing, design of health sector reforms and economics of aging populations. Prior to joining the Bank, he held a research faculty position at Harvard University, Boston, USA. Before that, as member of the Indian Administrative Service in India, he held several key government positions between 1980 and 1998. He attended St. Stephen’s College and Delhi School of Economics, Delhi, India, and Boston University, Boston, USA.


Amanda Glassman is executive vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and also serves as chief executive officer of CGD Europe. Her research focuses on priority-setting, resource allocation and value for money in global health, as well as data for development. Prior to her current position, she served as director for global health policy at the Center from 2010 to 2016, and has more than 25 years of experience working on health and social protection policy and programs in Latin America and elsewhere in the developing world.

Prior to joining CGD, Glassman was principal technical lead for health at the Inter-American Development Bank, where she led policy dialogue with member countries, designed the results-based grant program Salud Mesoamerica 2015 and served as team leader for conditional cash transfer programs such as Mexico’s Oportunidades and Colombia’s Familias en Accion. From 2005-2007, Glassman was deputy director of the Global Health Financing Initiative at Brookings and carried out policy research on aid effectiveness and domestic financing issues in the health sector in low-income countries. Before joining the Brookings Institution, Glassman designed, supervised and evaluated health and social protection loans at the Inter-American Development Bank and worked as a Population Reference Bureau Fellow at the US Agency for International Development. Glassman holds a MSc from the Harvard School of Public Health and a BA from Brown University, has published on a wide range of health and social protection finance and policy topics, and is editor and coauthor of the books What’s In, What’s Out: Designing Benefits for Universal Health Coverage (Center for Global Development, 2017), Millions Saved: New Cases of Proven Success in Global Health (Center for Global Development 2016), From Few to Many: A Decade of Health Insurance Expansion in Colombia (IDB and Brookings 2010), and The Health of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean (World Bank 2001).


Madhumita Gupta served as Mission Economist, Senior Advisor for Science, Technology, Innovation and Partnership, and Director for the Office of Governance, Education and Strategic Activities at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), India.   She has a wide canvas of experience across several development sectors and extensive field experience in developing countries, including large scale field surveys.  She has served with the World Bank, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, as well as consulted for the Organization for American States and the Danish International Development Agency.  In the early 1990s, Ms. Gupta was first hand witness to and supported, from the World Bank and USAID platforms, India’s unprecedented economic liberalization efforts that led India to slowly emerge as a market-oriented economy.  Subsequently, she worked on several structural adjustment programs, including on India’s trade and fiscal management reforms.  During the latter part of her career at USAID, her focus turned more and more towards sustainability and scalability of development efforts where ‘governance and institutional arrangements’ became a focal point.   Ms. Gupta also has extensive private sector experience.  She has an MBA from the George Washington University and an B.Sc in Economics.


Irene Koek is Associate Vice President and Global Health practice lead at Save the Children/U.S.  She joined Save the Children in late July 2020 after more than 30 years with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Ms. Koek began her career in family planning/reproductive health, and subsequently served in a number of leadership positions at USAID including as the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator and acting Assistant Administrator for Global Health. She led the development of USAID’s infectious disease strategy in the late 1990s, and helped start up the President’s Malaria Initiative and USAID’s tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases programs, and later served as USAID’s Global Health Security Agenda lead.  From 2010-2014 she was the Director of the Health Office in USAID/Indonesia. Ms. Koek has worked extensively with international partners, including serving as the Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board from 2005-2009 and representing USAID on the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for several years.


Jeremy Konyndyk serves as Executive Director of the USAID COVID-19 Task Force and a Senior Advisor to the USAID Administrator. He oversees the development and implementation of USAID’s COVID-19 response efforts, comprising resources approaching $10 billion that support over 100 countries suffering the devastating effects of the virus. He leads the agency’s engagement on COVID-19 with foreign government counterparts, partner organizations, and global response institutions including Gavi/COVAX, the World Health Organization, and the Global Fund. He rejoined USAID in January 2021.

Mr. Konyndyk served in a previous appointment at USAID as the Director of USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) from September 2013 – January 2017. As Director of the lead federal office responsible for coordinating the US Government’s response to international disasters, Mr. Konyndyk oversaw OFDA’s global programs and responses to an average of 70 disasters in 50 countries every year. During his tenure there he led the US Government’s humanitarian responses to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the Nepal earthquake, the Iraq crisis, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the resurgent conflict in South Sudan, and the ongoing war inside Syria, among other crises.

Mr. Konyndyk also serves on the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the World Health Organization’s Programme on Health Emergencies.

From 2017 to 2021, Mr. Konyndyk was a Senior Policy Fellow at the Center for Global Development where he co-created the COVID-Local initiative to develop a Frontline Guide for use by city and community leaders to organize and fight COVID in their communities. He also led CGD research initiatives on pandemic preparedness, humanitarian effectiveness and reform, and U.S. development policy. Earlier in his career he worked for NGOs including Mercy Corps and the American Refugee Committee, and served as a Refugee Officer at the US State Department.

Mr. Konyndyk holds a Bachelor’s degree from Calvin College and a Master’s from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.


John Norris  is the Deputy Director for Policy and Strategic Insight at the Gates Foundation with a focus on the emerging trends most likely to impact the foundation’s programs. John has served in a number of senior roles in government, international institutions, and nonprofits. In 2014, John was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Global Development Council, a body charged with advising the administration on effective development practices. John previously served as  Executive Director of the  Sustainable Security and Peace-building Initiative at the Center for American Progress and as Executive Director of the Enough Project.  He has also held senior positions at the United Nations, the State Department, and the International Crisis Group.  He worked for USAID in the 1990s, both as a speechwriter for Brian Atwood and as a field disaster expert.  In 2014 he wrote a series for Devex on “USAID: A History of US Foreign Assistance”, a review of the tenures of the 16 USAID Administrators.  In addition to The Enduring Struggle, he is the author of several books, including Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism and the  Disaster Gypsies , a memoir of his work in the field of emergency relief. He has published commentary in scores of outlets, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal , and elsewhere. He has a graduate degree in public administration.

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