Who we are

Organization History

The idea of identifying which programs do the most good was a goal for founder Eva Vivalt since 2004. It became clear that the results from impact evaluations needed to be synthesized and, after finishing her economics Ph.D. and beginning work at the World Bank, she decided to help fill this gap, creating an organization that relied solely on rigorous methods. The initial team comprised economists from the University of California, Berkeley and the World Bank. We focus on gathering data from impact evaluations of development programs, such as those done by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, at MIT; Innovations for Poverty Action, based around Yale; and the Center for Effective Global Action, at the University of California, Berkeley, among others. On February 7, 2012, AidGrade became a registered non-profit corporation in Washington, D.C. AidGrade has since obtained 501(c)(3) tax exemption in the U.S.


Key Staff

Eva Vivalt, Founder

Eva Vivalt is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto. Dr. Vivalt’s main research interests are in investigating stumbling blocks to evidence-based policy decisions, including methodological issues, how evidence is interpreted, and the use of forecasting. Dr. Vivalt is also a principal investigator on three guaranteed income RCTs and has other interests in labor economics and development. Dr. Vivalt is a co-founder of the Social Science Prediction Platform, a platform to coordinate the collection of forecasts of research results.

Dr. Vivalt holds a Ph.D. in Economics and an M.A. in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley and previously worked with the Development Economics Research Group at the World Bank. Prior to the Ph.D., Dr. Vivalt completed an M.Phil. in Development Studies at the University of Oxford on a Commonwealth Scholarship.

Jeff Qiu, Research Associate

Jeff Qiu received his B.A. in Economics and Statistics from U.C. Berkeley in 2010 and a M.Sc. in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics with Distinction from the London School of Economics in 2011. He is now an Economics Ph.D. student at Yale University. In the past, he has worked as a research assistant for Susan Athey in the Empirical Economics Team at the Microsoft Research New England, building econometric models. He is highly skilled in a variety of programming languages and has conducted meta-analyses using Stata and R.

Cesar Augusto Lopez, Research Analyst and Volunteer Coordinator

Cesar Augusto Lopez obtained his B.A. in Economics in 2013 from the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on international development and trade. He is interested in research and project implementation in education; policy; and technology adoption and diffusion, particularly with regards to Latin America. He is also a firm believer in the transformative power of sports for development.

Alma Bezares-Calderón, Research Analyst

Alma is a student in the interfield Politics and Economics Ph.D. program at Claremont Graduate University. She holds a M.Sc. in International Studies from the University of Montreal and completed her B.A. at the Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico City. Alma is interested in economic development, political institutions and social protection programs, with particular applications in Latin American and Eastern European countries. She has previously worked as a research assistant on topics relating to inequality, poverty, social redistribution, economic development and institutions. She is also a teaching assistant for time-series econometrics.

Mark Englebert, Research Analyst

Mark Engelbert is a graduate student in International Development at the School for International Training in Washington, D.C. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Maryland, where he specialized in philosophy of science. He has conducted research on education policy and worked as a volunteer researcher for Giving What We Can. He is interested in how policy-relevant conclusions can be drawn from large, ambiguous, and conflicting bodies of evidence.

Alex Robson, Web Developer

Alex Robson holds a M.A./M.Sci. in Physics from Cambridge University, and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Oxford University. Alex got involved in AidGrade through The Centre For Effective Altruism in Oxford, where he was a long-term volunteer and graduate intern. Although his background is outside of development economics, he helps AidGrade on technical projects.

Scott Weathers, Social Media Guru

Scott is a Global Policy Fellow at IntraHealth International, where he advocates for global health legislation in the U.S. He received his B.A. in Public Health from American University. Previously, Scott interned with AidGrade, the Center for Global Development, the State Department, and Council on Foreign Relations, among other places. Scott is interested in scaling up the most effective global health and development interventions worldwide.


Board of Directors

Miguel Almunia, Director

Miguel is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick (UK). He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and a Master’s degree in International Development from Harvard Kennedy School. He has worked as a consultant in the Development Economics Research Group at the World Bank and has previously done field research in Peru for Innovations for Poverty Action. Miguel also has extensive experience with economic research both through his academic programs as well as through having frequently served as a research assistant, including at the Harvard Center for International Development.

Juan David Barón, Director

Juan David Barón is an Economist at a large international organization. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from the Australian National University and worked for ten years in the central bank of Colombia. Juan David is a published researcher whose main focus is in education. He has recently been involved in development projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia, where he liaised with government officials and conducted poverty assessments under difficult, data-scarce conditions.

Kate Cronin-Furman, Director

Kate Cronin-Furman is an international lawyer (Columbia, J.D. 2006) who has worked in Cambodia, New York, and The Hague. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Columbia University. Her research focuses on issues of justice and accountability in the aftermath of mass atrocity. Kate blogs about human rights and development at http://www.wrongingrights.com.

Willa Friedman, Director

Willa Friedman is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Houston. She completed a Ph.D. in Economics at UC Berkeley and an A.B. in Social Studies at Harvard. She previously worked with the Jameel Poverty Action Lab/Innovations for Poverty Action in Kenya. Willa has also served as an impact evaluation instructor for the World Bank and the Center for Effective Global Action in Rwanda, Tunisia, and Kenya and has advised evaluation design for RTI International, Abt Associates, and Innovations for Poverty Action as a technical advisor for projects in Mali, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya.

Philip Weiner, Director

Philip Weiner is the head of Asia Product Risk Management and Regional Reinsurance based out of Manulife’s Hong Kong office. In this role he is responsible for reviewing and approving all new product initiatives in Manulife Asia. Philip also oversees the regional reinsurance area which helps in building strong relationships with reinsurers as well as developing the systems to manage the underlying transactions. Before coming to Hong Kong, Philip worked for Mercer and Sun Life Financial in Toronto, Canada. Philip earned a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo in Canada and is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) and Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA).



There are several organizations with whom with collaborate. Among them:





Past staff and affiliates include:

Tadeja Gracner, Research Associate

Tadeja Gracner is an Economics Ph.D. Candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. Tadeja completed a B.Sc. in Economics at the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana and then obtained her M.Sc. in Economics at London School of Economics. During her graduate studies at Berkeley, she worked on micro health insurance in Cambodia. Currently, she is investigating the relationship between infrastructure upgrades and local labor markets, as well as looking at obesity in developing countries.

Bobbie Macdonald, Project Coordinator

Bobbie Macdonald joined AidGrade in September 2013 upon completing his M.Sc. in International Development at the London School of Economics. Previously, he worked in Ethiopia on a range of impact evaluations and other studies commissioned by major donors and research institutes. He also obtained field experience in Kenya and served in research capacities at the Overseas Development Institute and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. His research interests and areas of expertise span a wide range of issues, but his core commitment is to identify and address the binding constraints on individual well-being around the world.

Diana Stanescu, Research Analyst and Volunteer Coordinator

Diana Stanescu received her B.A. in International Relations and Asian Studies in 2013 from Mount Holyoke College. She has experience designing methodologies for program evaluation through her work and research projects on gender equity and postwar public policy as well as on labor market discrimination and occupational segregation. Following her study abroad in China and Japan, Diana taught at Tokyo Joshi Daigaku. She is interested in the growth and evolution of political institutions and their effects on economic development, civil society, and democratization.

Michael Clark, Social Media Intern

Michael Clark studies Political Science with a focus on International Relations at the University of California, Berkeley. He has worked in journalism and currently serves as a Staff Writer for the Berkeley Political Review. Michael is interested in the effects of political institutions on both poverty alleviation and the efficacy of aid.

Many others have contributed to this work. A short list is provided here.