Dr. Dennis Wood, Project Director
Executive Director, IRIS Center
Dr. Wood serves as project director of the Financial Assessment Project. He has extensive experience in the reform, design, and evaluation of policies and projects in a variety of sectors, from legislation to securities markets. Dr. Wood has also served as manager of the PPC IDEAS project, providing USAID with leading expert opinion on key policy issues, the SEGIR Legal and Institutional Reform IQC, Chief of Party for a Cooperative Agreement in Bangladesh, and director of two cooperative agreements in Indonesia. As Director of field office programs at IRIS, Dr. Wood oversaw projects in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Former Soviet Union. Dr. Wood holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of Maryland.
Dr. Monique Cohen, Project Director
Founder and President, MFO
Dr. Monique Cohen co-directs the Financial Services Assessment Project. She is the founder of Microfinance Opportunities and has over 25 years of field experience in microfinance services. Monique spearheaded the groundbreaking "Global Financial Education Program" which builds the financial capabilities of the poor using a range of media tools and workshops. She developed "Listening to Clients," a visual and interactive market research microfinance training toolkit. During her tenure as a senior technical advisor to USAID, she worked on issues of microenterprise development and designed and managed the organization's AIMS (Assessing the Impact of Microenterprise Services) project, and established USAID's global leadership role in microenterprise client assessment and analysis. Monique holds a doctorate degree in economic geography from Clark University. Over the years, she has taught courses at the Boulder Microfinance Training Program; Columbia University; and the University of Southern New Hampshire's Microenterprise Development Institute.
Dr. Geetha Nagarajan, Research Director
Associate Director, IRIS Center
Dr. Geetha Nagarajan is Associate Director at the IRIS Center, serving as Research Director, Economist and Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist. She designed and directed all the IRIS studies for Financial Services Assessment project in Malawi, Kenya and Peru. Dr. Nagarajan is a highly experienced researcher, advisory assistance provider, and author of several peer reviewed publications. She has worked in 21 developing countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Dr. Nagarajan has evaluated economic development programs, and conducted field based research to identify causes of poverty to design policy and programs to address them, especially in conflict and disaster affected environments. An expert in small and micro and small enterprise development, and rural and microfinance, she has a wide range of experience in developing, measuring, and implementing activities to ensure program effectiveness to reach the target population. She holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics and a Master's degree in Economics from the Ohio State University.
Elizabeth McGuinness, Director of Consumer Research, MFO
With more than 15 years of experience in the microfinance industry, Elizabeth McGuinness manages all client assessment, market research and microinsurance activities for Microfinance Opportunities. Under the FSA project, Liz managed several of the research studies. She designed and implemented FSA studies in Malawi, Pakistan and India. Since 2004, Liz has played a key role in developing new programs and partnerships for the organization, as well as designing and pioneering new research tools and methodologies. Prior to Microfinance Opportunities, she worked for Save the Children, where she managed a group lending program in Tajikistan, and later provided technical assistance to microfinance programs in Africa, Latin America and Central Asia while based in Washington, D.C. Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from McGill University, and a Master of Arts degree in economics from New York University.
Dr. Guy Stuart, Senior Advisor, MFO
Dr. Guy Stuart is the Principal Investigator for the Malawi and Kenya Financial Diaries Studies in the FSA project. Formerly, he was a Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School for 13 years. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago.
Dr. Dhiraj Sharma, Program Specialist, IRIS Center
Dr. Dhiraj Sharma is a Program Specialist at the IRIS Center. He analyzed the impact of the provision of financial services on the breadth, depth, and cost of outreach in rural Malawi. His previous work experience includes impact evaluation of social programs using randomized control trials, quasi-experimental designs, and non-experimental methods. Dr. Sharma holds a Ph.D. from the department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE) at the Ohio State University.
Dr. Lila Khatiwada, Program Specialist, IRIS Center
Dr. Lila Kumar Khatiwada is a Program Specialist at the IRIS Center and worked on the field study that assessed community effects of mobile money (M-PESA) in rural Kenya. He has previously worked in microfinance, natural resource management and agricultural development projects for ten years in Nepal. He has a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Jose Manuel Romero, Program Specialist, IRIS Center
Jose Manuel Romero is a Program Specialist at the IRIS Center and worked on the impact of financial services in Malawi on households' risk management. He has previously worked at The World Bank and The International Monetary Fund as a researcher. He is currently in candidacy for a Ph.D. in Economics at The George Washington University.
Arthur Shaw, Program Specialist, IRIS Center
Arthur Shaw conducted field work in rural Malawi and investigated the impact of financial services in improving food security among rural households. He has over five years of survey, management, and evaluation experience on a wide variety of projects--from developing poverty monitoring tools for USAID to supporting an impact evaluation of irrigation and land tenure projects in Senegal and Burkina Faso. He holds a masters degree from Vanderbilt University.
Sherri Haas, Program Specialist, IRIS Center
Ms. Sherri Haas is a Program Specialist with the IRIS Center with five years of experience in technical research, implementation of field work, and project management. She has designed quantitative and qualitative study tools and conducted field research in Sub-Saharan Africa in rural and urban settings. For the FSA project she conducted five months of field research in Kenya to gather in-depth information on community food and water security as well as on the impact of M-PESA at the community level. Ms. Haas graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with Bachelors degrees in economics and political science.
Dr. Michael Ferguson, Senior Research Officer, MFO
Michael Ferguson is an expert on qualitative field methods, and his areas of research include impact assessment, evaluation, and market research. Dr. Ferguson carried out the Financial Landscape in Peru, the Financial Landscape Endline in Malawi and the and managed the Financial Diaries research in Malawi and Kenya. He holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Sarah Adelman, IRIS Center
Sarah Adelman, as a research assistant, conducted field work in Malawi to gather baseline data for IRIS and also analyzed it to examine outreach of formal finance in rural Malawi. She graduated with a Ph.D. from the department of agricultural and resource economics at the University of Maryland. She is currently an assistant professor at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Dr. Jeffrey Flory, IRIS Center
Jeff Flory worked on the Malawi Impact Evaluation at IRIS conducting field work in 2008 and 2010. The data he helped gather and analyze informs several papers as well as his doctoral dissertation examining the impact of microfinance on household risk management and spillover effects on the highly vulnerable in rural communities. He recently received his Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of Maryland. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory, University of Chicago.
J. Patrick Meagher, Legal and Regulatory Specialist, IRIS Center
Patrick Meagher, a senior fellow at IRIS, conducted the Enabling Environment study in Malawi. Mr. Meagher has straddled the academic and policy worlds. His research and advisory work deals with regulatory reform, institutional frameworks for medium- and small-scale finance, anti-corruption mechanisms, and decentralization - across the developing (and post-socialist) world. His writings have appeared in several journals and books on law, economics, and development.
Dr. Megan Plyler, Field Research Manager, IRIS Center
Megan Plyler conducted the research study on community effects of agent assisted mobile phone financial transactions in Kenya. She is a cultural anthropologist and qualitative research methods specialist.
Diana Rutherford, Senior Project Manager, IRIS Center
Diana Rutherford provides administrative, programmatic and financial management of the project. She also assists in survey management.
Suzanne Bach, Program Manager, IRIS Center
Suzanne Bach is a Program Manager at the IRIS Center and coordinates the implementation of this project. She has managed and implemented a wide variety of educational, advocacy, and public health programs in the US and internationally. She holds a Masters degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Jessica Bachay, Research Associate, MFO
Jessica Bachay works with Microfinance Opportunities' consumer research team, providing project support and planning. She also manages the organization's Financial Diaries database. Previously, Jessica worked as a research assistant at St. Thomas University in Miami, studying Latin American political systems, and as a graduate assistant for the University of Florida's Center for Latin American Studies. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Smith College, and a Master of Arts degree in Latin American studies from the University of Florida.
We acknowledge the following personnel who worked with IRIS and MFO at various stages of the Financial Services Assessment project from 2007 to 2011.
Researchers: Thierry van Bastelaer, Brett Colemen, Jennefer Sebsted, Anthony Leegwater, Zoe Cohen, Jerry Grossman, Brian Beard, Pam Young.
Project Managers and Assistants: Philip Stevenson, Emilie Amstutz, Sara Roswurm, Marie-Ann Sliwinski, Dina Sykes, Natalie Weinstein, Kate Reid, Chris Le, Eva Fowler.