Team Bios

© UNHCR/Antwan Chnkdji

Agnes Gaga

Agnes Gaga – Digital Communications Consultant

Agnes previously worked with UNHCR’s Digital Engagement Section on a wide range of areas including donor engagement, data analysis, digital tracking, email marketing, e-commerce and project management. She has also held positions with UNICEF and Save the Children where she worked on fundraising and communication. Agnes has a B.Sc in International Economics and an M.Sc in International Public Administration and Politics from Russia and Denmark respectively.

Björn Gillsäter – Head of the Center

Prior to his current role, Björn was the World Bank Group’s Special Representative to the United Nations in New York.  He joined the Bank in 2001 as Senior Advisor to the Nordic-Baltic Executive Director. He brings over two decades of experience of working on multilateral affairs, both as a government official with the Ministry of Finance of Sweden, and several other international organizations. The positions he has held include the Alternate Executive Director at the African Development Bank, the Chief for Multilateral System Analysis with UNICEF, the Head of the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (a function hosted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Katherine Perkins

Charlotte Persson – Management Support Consultant

Charlotte previously worked on projects such as ‘Scaling Fences’ (UNDP), a large-scale empirical study on irregular migration from Africa to Europe and the ‘SDG Accelerator’ (UNDP), an innovation journey for small and medium sized enterprises to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. She has broad experience in operational processes from other international organizations and research experience from in rural Tanzania and Ghana. Charlotte holds a B.Sc in International Business from Copenhagen Business School and a M.Sc. in Global Development from Copenhagen University.

Domenico Tabasso

Domenico Tabasso – Senior Economist

Domenico has worked with the Policy Evaluation Unit of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Research Department, where he analyzed the effects of labor market policies in emerging and developing countries. He has also contributed to the work of the ILO within the IFC-ILO-UNHCR-UNICEF-WB and Government of Netherlands partnership on Inclusive Jobs and Education for Forcibly Displaced Persons. Domenico has held academic positions at the universities of Essex, Geneva, and Melbourne, publishing several policy reports and academic articles. He holds a B.Sc in Economics from Bocconi University, and an M.Sc and a Ph.D in Economics from the University of Essex.

Felix Schmieding

Donatien Beguy – Senior Statistician

Donatien is a population scientist and data expert with vast experience in research, capacity building, knowledge translation and monitoring and evaluation of development programs. Donatien joined the JDC after working as a senior demographer at UN-Habitat  where he provided high-level technical support to countries to monitor urban conditions and trends, and to develop tools, methodologies, data systems and analysis and building the capacity of National Statistics Offices. He holds a BSc in Statistics from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Statistique et d’Economie Appliquée, Cote d’Ivoire, an MA in Demography from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and a PhD in Demography from Université Paris Nanterre, France.

Felix Schmieding

Elizabeth Ahikiriza – Fellow

Elizabeth Ahikiriza’s area of focus is Agricultural Economics. She has over nine years of experience assessing farmers’ needs, conducting household surveys, training sessions, and mobilizing stakeholders to ensure effective project implementation in Uganda. Previously, she has worked on different donor and government-funded projects in Uganda in the areas of Nutrition and Agriculture. She also has experience in monitoring and evaluation. Elizabeth holds a B.Sc in Agriculture from Makerere University, an M.Sc in Nutrition and Rural Development, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Ghent University. 

Felix Schmieding

Felix Schmieding – Senior Statistician

Felix’s earlier work includes assignments with UNHCR, UNDP, and the UN Statistics Division. He has implemented or provided technical assistance to numerous statistical activities in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean–including living conditions surveys, labour force surveys, population censuses, and administrative registers. He has worked closely with the National Statistical Offices and National Statistical Systems of a number of countries building technical and institutional capacity. Felix has also held key roles in the development of international statistical standards under the auspices of the UN Statistical Commission. Felix holds an M.Sc degree from the University of Oxford.

Harriet Mugera

Harriet Mugera – Senior Data Scientist

Harriet joined the World Bank in 2015 as an Economist with the Development Data Group and was the focal person on migration and forced displaced-data related issues. As a member of the Living Standards Measurement Study team, she has expertise in survey instrument development, field operations, data quality control and analysis of household and survey data. Harriet was also one of the World Bank experts who drafted the International Recommendations on Refugee Statistics (IRRS) and the Manual on Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, working closely with UNHCR, International Organization for Migration (IOM), among others. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Trento (Italy) and was a visiting fellow at Cornell University (USA). She also holds a Master’s (MSc.) degree in Finance and a Bachelor’s Degree (B.Sc.) in Commerce.

Jeffery Tanner

Jeffery Tanner – Senior Economist

Prior to this role, Jeffery served as the lead for results and evaluation for the Global Financing Facility, and was also the lead for impact evaluation activities at the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group. Jeffery was the lead economist for the US Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) work in Honduras, Guatemala, Burkina Faso and Georgia, and led the MCC’s work on  the Partnership for Growth Initiative in El Salvador. He holds an MPA/ID from Harvard and earned his Ph.D at RAND, where his dissertation focused on social, demographic, and economic effects of migration.

Katherine Perkins

Katherine Perkins – Program Associate

Katherine joined UNHCR in January 2020 after working as Executive Assistant for the American Medical Association Foundation in Chicago and, prior to that, as  the Programme Coordinator for OECD in Paris. Her professional expertise centers  around event coordination and planning, office management, as well as administrative  and budget oversight. Katherine holds a B.A Hons degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Liverpool.

Maja Lazić

Maja Lazić – Deputy Head of the Center

Maja brings over two decades of experience of working in conflict, post-conflict areas and in emergency settings in the Balkans, South East Asia and Central Asia with UNHCR, UN Human Rights (OHCHR) and non-governmental organizations. From 2018 to 2020, she was the Deputy Representative for UNHCR in Malaysia where she worked towards the objectives of the Global Compact for Refugees and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She has further served in UNHCR’s Headquarters in different policy and management capacities. While Maja’s professional experience is anchored in protection of the forcibly displaced and stateless populations, she also has experienced in education, programme oversight, public engagement, donor and partner relations in humanitarian and development contexts.

Marie Gertz Schlundt

Marie Gertz Schlundt – Administrative Associate

Marie previously worked with UNHCR’s Partnership and Coordination Service in inter-agency coordination, research and analysis, information collection, reporting and administration. She joined UNHCR in 2016, in Myanmar, focusing on the return and reintegration of Myanmar refugees from Thailand and IDPs within Myanmar. She has previously held positions with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Danish Embassy in Uganda, OHCHR and the International Dalit Solidarity Network. Marie holds a BSc in International Development Studies and a MSc in Global Studies from Roskilde University, Denmark.

Arthur Alik Lagrange

Melany Markham – Senior Communications Consultant

Melany has over two decades experience as a communication specialist with large international organizations and has spent over ten years working in forced displacement emergencies. Formerly a spokesperson for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Iraq during the Mosul Crisis, she also worked for World Vision where she led global  communications for the El Nino response in 2016. Melany also created and implemented a community communications strategy in the Dadaab refugee camp in 2012 when bio-metric registration was first introduced. She holds a Bachelor of Public Policy and Management and a Master of Marketing from the University of Melbourne. 

Marie Gertz Schlundt

Meshack Achore – Fellow

Meshack has over seven years of research experience in healthcare access and inequalities in Canada and Africa. He employs mixed methods, qualitative, quantitative, and community-based approaches in his research and his interests include sanitation and water security, water, health, and wellbeing, social determinants of health, global and public health, and epidemiology. Meshack has five years’ experience translating the findings of his to stakeholders, targeted populations, and health care providers. Meshack has a M.Sc. in Public Health from McGill University and six years of university teaching experience in social science and health, specializing in demographic methods and public health surveillance. He has taught at Columbus State University and Queen’s University, where he was awarded a PhD in Health Promotion.

Marie Gertz Schlundt

Md Suhag Ahmed – Administrative Associate

Before joining JDC, Suhag joined UNHCR digital marketing and fintech team in a project support role, where he worked on developing a Project Management Office (PMO), managing finance, and collaborating with stakeholders, including donors. Additionally, he has extensively worked on large-scale research projects with UNDP Bangladesh, Transparency International Bangladesh, and Indiana University, coordinating field operations, data analysis, and reporting. He has recently obtained his Nordic Master’s in Social Work and Welfare (NOSWEL) from two Nordic universities: the University of Stavanger, Norway, and Aalborg University, Denmark.

Marie Gertz Schlundt

Paddy Brock – Senior Data Scientist

Paddy joined the JDC from the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) where he worked as a Senior Statistician, leading a cross-divisional team of analysts in a number of policy areas including the UN Sustainable Development Goals, working closely with the UK Office for National Statistics. Previously, he was the statistics, results and evaluation lead for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) office and programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As a Data Scientist at DFID he helped build the organisation’s data handling and analytical capability. Paddy holds a PhD from the University of Leeds, an MRes from Imperial College London, and a BSc from the University of Oxford.

Marie Gertz Schlundt

Takaaki Masaki– Senior Economist

Taka’s expertise lies in leveraging big data, remote-sensing and geospatial data – coupled with microdata from household surveys – to uncover the spatial dimensions of poverty. He previously worked with the World Bank’s Poverty and Equity unit in the Africa Region where he led several flagship reports, including the Lake Chad Regional Economic Memorandum and Horn of Africa Regional Economic Memorandum. Taka has also held a role as a Senior Research Analyst at AidData and has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Cornell University.

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