The Project Team

The New Climate Economy (NCE) project team is headquartered in Washington DC, with members located at partner institutes in Addis Ababa, Beijing, London, Nairobi, New Delhi, and Paris.   

The Team

Yelena Akopian, Communications Manager

Yelena is Communications Manager for the New Climate Economy. Previously, she led WRI’s communications for the Science Based Targets initiative by developing and implementing strategic communications to drive the initiative’s growth across priority sectors and geographies. Yelena has previously supported marketing and communications in the international development field, focusing on conflict and human rights in the Eurasia region. Prior to that, she worked as a writer and editor for a variety of publications. She holds a B.A. in international relations, with emphases in political science and literature, from the University of California, San Diego and a M.A. in Global Communication from George Washington University.

Sara Ascher, Senior Project Manager

Sara is a Senior Project Manager for the Climate Action Team. She is helping to build better systems for knowledge sharing, communication and collaborative teamwork to assist in reaching the Climate team's and WRI's mission and goals. Sara is an ordained clergy person in the Unitarian Universalist tradition. Prior to coming to WRI, she served as a congregational minister and then as the Executive Director of the International Council of Unitarians & Universalists. Her multicultural and intercultural program development, team leadership, and project management provide a solid foundation for her work at WRI. Sara holds a Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School at Yale Divinity School and a second Masters in Global Affairs from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Amar Bhattacharya, Lead of Finance Initiative

Amar is a Senior Fellow at the Global Economy and Development Program at Brookings Institution. His focus areas of work include sustainable infrastructure and climate, development finance, and global economic governance. Previously, Amar was Director of the Group of 24, an intergovernmental group of developing country Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from April 2007 until September 2014. Prior to taking up his position with the G24, Amar had a long-standing career in the World Bank. His last position as as Senior Advisor and head of the International Policy and Partnership Group. Through these positions, Amar has had a long standing engagement in research and policy discussions on the global economy and spillovers, international financial architecture, development financing and the global governance agenda including on the role and reform of the international financial institutions. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Delhi and Brandeis University and his graduate education at Princeton University. 

Beth Benyishay, Chief of Staff

Beth Benyishay is the Chief of Staff for the New Climate Economy Project. She is responsible for supporting the Program Director on overall program delivery and managing program operations, finances, and fundraising strategy. Prior to joining the New Climate Economy, she worked as a Program Officer for the Eurasia Foundation, where she oversaw operations for projects focused on civil society in Russia. Beth has a Master’s degree from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and a BA in History and Russian language from Goucher College.

Milan Brahmbhatt, Issue Expert/Researcher 

Milan Brahmbhatt is Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute and leads the work of the Country Transitions workstream. Before joining the New Climate Economy, Milan worked at the World Bank, as Senior Adviser to the Vice President of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network, dealing with a wide range of macroeconomic and structural policy issues, including the economics of climate change and sustainable growth. Milan holds Masters and Bachelors degrees in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Katie Connolly, Project and Engagement Specialist

Katie Connolly is a Project & Engagement Specialist for the New Climate Economy project. Prior to joining NCE, Katie worked as a program coordinator on USAID’s Water for Africa through Leadership and Institutional Support program implemented by DAI. In this role, Katie supported water, sanitation and hygiene projects throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Her past experience also includes working with the Water Technology and Innovation team within the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water. Katie holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from the Ohio State University and a M.S. in Environmental Public Health from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where her research focused on climate change risk and resilience in the water sector.

Jan Corfee-Morlot, Senior Advisor

Jan Corfee-Morlot is Senior Advisor to the New Climate Economy project. She was the technical lead of the NCE 2016 report - The Sustainable Infrastructure Imperative - and is playing a similar role for the forthcoming 2018 Report. Previously, Jan was with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), where most recently she led the Development Assistance Committee's program on climate change, environment and development. She has published widely on climate policy - adaptation and mitigation, green growth and development, climate finance and green investment policy. Prior to joining the OECD, Jan held positions with the International Energy Agency (Paris), Pacific Gas and Electric Company (California), and state and local government in the US. Jan has also been  a lead author with the award-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Jan has BSc and MSc degrees from UC Berkeley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, respectively, and a PhD in geography from University College London, where her dissertation focused on California and the politics of sub-national climate action. Jan is a citizen of the US and France and resides in Paris. 

Edward Davey, Director, Geographic Deepdives, Food and Land Use Coalition 

Edward Davey is Director, Geographic Deep Dives at The Food and Land Use Coalition, a new initiative which grew out of the Global Commission on Economy and Climate. Prior to joining WRI, Edward was Senior Programme Manager at The Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit, where he co-led a number of international initiatives on REDD+, zero deforestation commodity supply chains, forest landscape restoration and climate change.  Prior to the ISU, he served as Lead Adviser on Environment in the Colombian Presidency's international cooperation office. Edward has a Master's with Distinction in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an undergraduate degree in Modern Languages (French and Spanish) from the University of Oxford.

Beakal Fasil, Communications and Engagement Specialist, WRI Africa

Beakal Fasil is currently working as the Communications and Engagement Specialist for the WRI Africa Office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She has previously worked for UNDP Regional Service Center as the Knowledge Management Officer for 4 years in the South-South Cooperation and Financing for Development team. She also has working experience in NGOs and other UN agencies. She served as a Junior Programme Officer for the African Child Policy Forum (NGO) for 2 years; worked for UNICEF in the media and external relations section as well as for UNECA in the publications and conference service section where she acquired her knowledge in editing reports, undertaking research, and event planning among other things. Beakal is a graduate of Masters in Peace and Security Studies with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.

Laura Fishburn, Programme Coordinator

Laura Fishburn is a Programme Coordinator for the New Climate Economy. She supports the project with financial management, proposal development, contracts coordination, and more. Prior to joining NCE, Laura worked as a Program Associate for The Mitchell Group, an international development consulting firm where she provided operational support to NIH-funded Ebola research and clinical activities in Liberia, Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Laura holds three degrees from the University of Utah: an honors B.A. in French, and regular B.A.s in International Studies and in Gender Studies.

Madhavi Ganeshan, Senior Strategic Engagement Manager

Madhavi Ganeshan is the Strategic Engagement Manager for the New Climate Economy project. She is responsible for managing and implementing the overall engagement process for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. Previously, Madhavi was with the United Nations Foundation overseeing the operational management of the Energy and Climate team with a special focus on Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) in which the UN Foundation is a key partner. Her past experiences includes a short stint with the energy and environment team at Clinton Global Initiative, New York and as project manager with Marcus Evans, Australia, a leading business intelligence company producing B2B events across industry sectors. Madhavi holds a double Master's in International Relations and International Business from Macquarie University, Australia and a Bachelor degree in Engineering from Pune University, India. 

Leonardo Garrido, Lead Economist 

Leonardo Garrido is a Development Economist with more than 20 years of experience on applied economic research and empirical methods. Leonardo's main research interests include the linkages between climate, the environment and the socio-economy; the dynamics of poverty, inequality and growth; the application of heterodox approaches for understanding complex socio-economic phenomena; and the analysis of constraints to inclusive development in the developing world. Prior to joining the New Climate Economy, Leonardo worked for 15+ years conducting empirical work, macro and micro modeling and country engagement for several multilateral and bilateral development organizations, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the  UK Department for International Development and USAID. During that period, he led projects in over 25 countries in support of policy making, mainly in Sub Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Leonardo previously served as Chief Economist for a Venezuelan financial institution, as Head of Economic Research in Venezuela's Tax Revenue Authority, and as Empirical Economist for a leading Venezuelean economic private consulting institution. Leonardo obtained his Economics degree at Universidad Catolica Andres Bellow in Caracas, Venezuela. He also holds a Certificate in International Taxation from Harvard Law School, and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he specialized in both macroeconomic and microeconomic analysis. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two sons. 

Carolina Genin, Climate Director, WRI Brasil

Carolina is the Climate Director at WRI Brasil. In this role, she strategises how WRI can put its knowledge and expertise at the service of Brazilian society to best mitigate climate change risks and adapt to its impact whilst keeping development goals high. Carolina comes from the philanthropy sector, she crafted and operationalized the Porticus Latin America sustainability portfolio from 2011-2018. Before she worked as a Networks and External relations manager for the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) in London, designing communication strategies in favour of forest & climate change policies at national and global levels. Carolina holds a Master’s in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and a BA on Social Communication from the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio).

Arya Harsono, Research Coordinator

Arya is a a Research Coordinator for NCE. He conducts research and data analysis and provides support for the team's projects. During his time with NCE, Arya intends to foster evidence for the economic benefits of global climate action and impart valuable insights for the Indonesia country case. Prior to joining NCE, Arya worked with WRI Indonesia to develop a thematic study on mobilising financing for food and land use (FOLU) initatives. He has also evaluated the viability of solar developments in Sub-Saharan Africa for The Nature Conservancy and coordinated publications produced by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment. Additionally, he has experience working in the film industry, with credits in Hollywood movies such as Blackhat, Beyond Skyline, and Eat, Pray, Love, as well as developing content for social media companies Snapchat and Tastemade. Arya holds a Masters in International Affirs from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, and a Bachelors in Environmental Studies from the University of Southern California.  

Joel Jaeger, Research Associate

Joel Jaeger is a Research Associate for NCE. He leads global research on green and inclusive recovery from COVID-19, including tracking green stimulus, evaluating job creation opportunities, and analyzing the lessons learned from green stimulus in 2008-2009. He also does research on the economics of climate policy in the United States, including co-authoring research on America's New Climate Economy, and tracks global progress on low-carbon technologies against climate goals. During his studies at Johns Hopkins, he supported U.S. climate negotiators in the U.S. Department of State's Office of Global Change and did research on climate policy and electric vehicles for the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of U.S. electric utilities. He has also worked as a journalist for the Inter Press Service at the United Nations headquarters and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations. Joel holds a B.A. in Political Science from St. Olaf College and an M.A. in Energy, Resources, and Environment from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Andrea Mendez

Andrea Mendez is a Project Specialist in the National Climate Action portfolio. She supports the work of the New Climate Economy (NCE) team, including tracking project deliverables, ensuring coordination between the Communications, Engagement and Research teams, and aiding the project leads in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia. Prior to joining WRI, Andrea was the Political Attaché at the Embassy of Panama where she implemented advocacy strategies through congressional outreach to meet foreign policy goals. Previously, she led the Embassy's communications strategy and was the Project Manager for all diplomatic and cultural events. Andrea holds a Bachelor’s in International Politics from Aberystwyth University and a Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) from Georgetown University.

Mikayla Pellerin, Project & Engagement Specialist

Mikayla Pellerin is a Project & Engagement Specialist for the New Climate Economy project. She is responsible for tracking project deliverables; building and maintaining relationships with in-country partners, stakeholders, and High-Level Champions; ensuring coordination between the Communication, Engagement, and Research teams; and executing strategies, products, and events. Before joining NCE she was a Project Specialist for WRI's Global Climate Program. Prior to joining WRI, Mikayla worked as an Operations Assistant for a non-profit focused in Community Development, Action in Africa, and worked as Development and Programs Assistant for a non-profit dedicated to providing objective analysis of US EPA policies, The Environmental Protection Network. Mikayla is passionate about intersectional approaches to addressing climate change and holds a B.A. in International Service from American University with thematic focuses in Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability and a regional focus in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Freya Stanley-Price, Communications Manager

Freya Stanley-Price is a Communications Manager for NCE. She works with colleagues across NCE’s Country Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa to communicate the economic and social benefits of tackling climate change. Prior to joining NCE, Freya worked for the Coalition for Urban Transitions — a joint initiative of WRI and C40 Cities — encouraging national government action for zero-carbon, resilient and inclusive cities. She worked with the Coalition’s partners and research programmes to publish papers and communicate the Coalition’s work to key audiences. Before this she was an energy communications specialist at Imperial College, London and the University of Oxford, working with researchers to promote effective, evidence-based responses to the global energy challenge. Freya has also worked for the Centre for Alternative Technology, an environmental educational charity, and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. She holds a Master’s in Environmental Politics and Policy and an undergraduate degree in English Literature, both from the University of Leeds.

Egi Suarga, Low Carbon Development Initiative Programme Lead, WRI Indonesia

Egi is a program lead for Indonesia Low Carbon Development Initiative (LCDI). He works to assist the Government of Indonesia on how best to implement low carbon development policies at national and regional level, including policy integration in the Medium-Term Development Plan, Strategic Environmental Assessment, and related government planning and strategy documents at national ane regional level. Prior to joining WRI, Egi used to work as Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF). He also worked with UNDP as Monitoring and Reporting Officer. He graduated from Bandung Institute of Technology, majoring Geophysics Engineering and then took his master's degree on defense management from the same university.

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