Working Group Member Biographies: Catastrophe Insurance for Humanitarian and Emergency Assistance


July 08, 2016


Professor Dr. Stefan Dercon is Chief Economist at the Department for International Development in London. He is also Professor of Development Economics at the University of Oxford, associated to the Department of International Development and to the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford. He is Professorial Fellow at Wolfson College. Previously, he has held positions teaching economics at Jesus College, Oxford, the University of Leuven (Belgium) and Addis Ababa University. He also acted as a Programme Director for the World Institute of Development Economics (WIDER), United Nations University. Stefan’s research has emphasized the application of microeconomics and statistics to the analysis of development problems. He has published in top general and field journals in economics and other disciplines on diverse topics, including risk and poverty, the foundations of growth in poor societies, agriculture and rural institutions, migration, political economy, childhood poverty, social and geographic mobility, micro-insurance, and measurement issues related to poverty and vulnerability. He has worked extensively in Ethiopia, Tanzania and India. At DFID, he is responsible for strategy and research, especially on the economic aspects of development, and for the use of evidence to improve the quality of development policy design and evaluation across a wide range of development issues.

Owen Barder is a Vice President at the Center for Global Development, Director for Europe and a senior fellow. He is also a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics and a Specialist Adviser to the UK House of Commons International Development Committee. Barder was a British civil servant from 1988 to 2010, during which time he worked in No.10 Downing Street, as Private Secretary (Economic Affairs) to the Prime Minister; in the UK Treasury, including as Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and in the Department for International Development, where he was variously Director of International Finance and Global Development Effectiveness, Director of Communications and Information, and head of Africa Policy & Economics Department. As a young Treasury economist, Barder set up the first UK government website, to put details of the 1994 budget online. 

During 2004-2006 Barder worked at CGD, mainly on the Advance Markets Commitment for vaccines. Barder has also worked in the South African Treasury on budget strategy; at Development Initiatives where he helped to establish the International Aid Transparency Inititiative; and was a visiting scholar in economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He has lived in several countries in Africa, most recently in Ethiopia during 2008-2011. Barder has been an Associate at the Institute for Government, a member of the Advisory Group of Twaweza, the Board of Publish What You Fund, and a member of the UK Government International Development Sector Transparency Panel. He writes a personal blog at and hosts a development podcast at  He is on Twitter as @owenbarder.

Working Group Members

Professor Dr. Alex De Waal is the executive director of the World Peace Foundation and a research professor at The Fletcher School, Tufts University. He is considered as one of the foremost experts on Sudan and the Horn of Africa, his scholarship and practice has also probed humanitarian crisis and response, human rights, HIV/AIDS and governance in Africa, and conflict and peacebuilding. Previously, he worked for several Africa-focused human rights organizations, focusing on the Horn of Africa, and especially on avenues to peaceful resolution of the second Sudanese Civil War. His research focuses on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, poverty and governance, and initiated the Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa. De Waal was a fellow at the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard (2004-2006) and program director at the Social Science Research Council. He was a member of the African Union mediation team for Darfur (2005-2006) and senior adviser to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan (2009-2012). He was also on the list of Foreign Policy’s 100 most influential public intellectuals in 2008 and Atlantic Monthly’s 27 “brave thinkers” in 2009.

Alice Albright is the chief executive officer of the Global Partnership for Education, overseeing a multilateral partnership organization made up of over 50 developing country governments, as well as other donor governments, civil society and nongovernmental organizations, teacher organizations, international organizations, and private sector organizations and foundations, whose joint mission is to galvanize and coordinate a global effort to provide a good quality education to children, prioritizing the poorest and most vulnerable. Albright has more than 27 years of international experience that spans the private, non-profit, and public sectors. Albright previously served in the Obama administration as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank). From 2001 to 2009 she served as the chief financial and investment officer for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), and was named head of GAVI’s Washington, DC, office in 2003. From 1985 to 2001 Albright worked as a banker with a focus on emerging markets and held positions at the Carlyle Group, JP Morgan, Bankers Trust Company, and Citicorp.

Aniket Shah is the program leader financing for sustainable development Initiative at Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). In this role, Shah works with the world’s largest institutional investors, from both the public and private sectors, to develop long-term portfolio investment strategies with a focus on emerging markets and Africa. Prior to this role, Shah worked at The Earth Institute at Columbia University where he served as special assistant to the director, professor Jeffrey Sachs. In this capacity, Shah worked on international development projects in Africa, Asia and North America. Prior to that, Shah was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs & Co, where he focused on mergers and acquisitions in the Financial Services Group. In late 2013, he released his newest book, Learning from the World: New Ideas to Redevelop America, published by Palgrave Macmillan. Shah has written for various publications and is often quoted in financial press including Institutional Investor around the world.

Dr. Cindy Huang is a visiting policy fellow at CGD, where she works on issues related to development effectiveness, fragile and conflict-affected states and strengthening US development policy. Previously, Huang worked as the deputy vice president for Sector Operations at the Millennium Challenge Corporation where she oversaw the strategic direction and implementation of a$2 billion portfolio. She also served in the Obama Administration as the director of policy of the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilisation Operations, and as senior advisor to the State Department’s counselor and chief of staff. Prior to that she managed the interagency leadership team of Feed the Future, a presidential initiative launched by a $3.5 billion, three-year commitment to agricultural development and food security. Previously, she worked for Doctors Without Borders and the Human Development Center in Pakistan.

Dan Preston is assistant professor, deputy director for Global Initiatives and an affiliate faculty member at the Russian and East European Institute at School of Public and Environmental Affairs: Indiana University (SPEA). His work focuses on finance as a catalyst for international development, policy analysis, international relations, and teaching pedagogy. Preston collaborates with and advises various international organizations and think tanks such as the World Economic Forum, Center for Global Development, OECD, and Hudson Institute and serves on the Board of Directors of the Creative Action Institute. Prior to SPEA, he held investment banking positions with Citigroup in the US and France, specializing in economic advisory, debt management, and capital raising for sovereign governments in Europe, Africa, and Asia and securitization programs for corporations primarily in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Japan. Preston also worked as a management consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Information Resources on a range of strategic issues for Fortune 500 companies, technology start-ups, and the US Defence Department.

Dr. Daniel Clarke is a senior disaster risk financing and insurance (DRFI) specialist, Finance and Markets Global Practice of the World Bank Group since April 2014. He is part of the World Bank Group GFDRR DRFI Program where he works with governments towards efficient, cost-effective solutions for enhanced financial protection against disasters. Since 2006 he has worked with the World Bank Group on a wide range of projects ranging from sovereign financial protection in Mexico, Colombia, Indonesia, the Caribbean region, and the Pacific region, to agricultural insurance in India, Kenya, Mongolia, and Bangladesh, and scalable social protection in Kenya. Within the DRFI Program Clarke currently coordinates the analytical work, agricultural insurance work, and a project trying to strengthen the evidence base on the costs and benefits of potential DRFI solutions. Before joining the World Bank as staff he trained as an actuary in the private sector before spending six years lecturing financial mathematics and financial contracting in developing countries at the University of Oxford. Clarke has published papers in a range of peer reviewed academic journals such as the Journal of Development Economics. He has a first class degree from Cambridge University in Mathematics in Computer Science and a D.Phil. in Economics from the University of Oxford, and he is also a fellow of the Institute of Actuaries.

Debbie Hillier is a Senior Humanitarian Policy Adviser at Oxfam, leading work on DRR and resilience and leading policy work for crises including the Ebola Epidemic and El Niño. For three years she supported crisis response from the Humanitarian Department, including programme development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From 2002 to 2010, she has worked in the humanitarian policy team on arms control, working on the development of UK legislation, European arms controls, and most significantly in developing and driving the Control Arms campaign, providing policy, research, and strategic advice to achieve an international Arms Trade Treaty. She has written key think pieces including “A Dangerous Delay” and “No Accident” and a range of crisis-specific policy positions.

Dr. Ginger Turner is a senior economist and vice president with the reinsurance company Swiss Re. She has authored numerous publications on topics in catastrophe risk and insurance, most recently including the behavioural economics of risk-taking after natural disasters, terrorism insurability, mobile distribution in emerging markets, and the global natural disaster underinsurance gap. During spring 2015, Turner was a visiting faculty member at the University of Sydney Business School, teaching a course on innovative design methods for insurance. Prior to joining Swiss Re, she was a postdoctoral fellow at The Wharton School's Risk Center. With a focus on private and financial sector development in emerging markets, Turner has worked in the World Bank Office of the Chief Economist and Africa region, at Goldman Sachs in London, and at Actis Capital and Pan-African Private Equity in Johannesburg. As an entrepreneur, she helped start Cosmos Ignite, a company that manufactures and distributes affordable household lighting in rural India. Turner is a director of the Friends of Mandela Rhodes Foundation, the Texas Lyceum, and SMART Family Literacy. Ginger studied at Stanford University (BA Economics/MS Engineering) and the University of Oxford (MPhil/DPhil Economics) as a Rhodes Scholar. She has been a non-resident global governance fellow of the Brookings Institution and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr. Gordon Woo is a catastrophist at Risk Management Solutions (RMS), specializing in mathematical modelling of extreme risks, with a particular focus on catastrophe insurance. Apart from his scientific papers, he is the author of two books, published by Imperial College Press: The Mathematics of Natural Catastrophes, and Calculating Catastrophe. Woo specializes in the assessment and management of extreme risks, both natural and man-made. As both a scientist and a risk analyst, he bridges the knowledge gap between hazard experts and risk stakeholders. Woo was a top mathematics graduate at Cambridge University, completed his PhD at MIT as a Kennedy Scholar, and was a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He is currently an adjunct professor at NTU, Singapore, as well as a visiting professor at University College London.

Dr. Joanna Macrae, formerly head of Profession and Senior Humanitarian Research Adviser, at DFID and coordinator of the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute in London.

Rachel Turner, is director of the International Finance Division, focusing on Economic Development at DFID. Previously, Turner was director for East and Central Africa, overseeing DFID’s programmes in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. She has over 20 years of development experience in low and middle income countries of Africa, the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. She has headed the DFID office in Mozambique and with her experience of managing DFID’s relationships with global financial institutions, she has a strong understanding of public and private sector development issues and wide involvement with the multilateral and bilateral development architecture. Turner attended Nottingham University where she obtained a First Class Degree in Economics. She also has a MSC in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Ravi Gurumurthy is the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at International Rescue Committee. Prior to that he was director of strategy and communications at the Department of Energy and Climate Change and from 2007-2010 he was Strategic Advisor and Speech Writer to the Foreign Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He has a BA in History from Brasenose College, University of Oxford.

Rowan Douglas CBE is CEO at Willis Towers Watson and leads the Capital, Science and Policy Practice division. He is also Chairman of the Willis Research Network which he founded in 2006. Previously Rowan served as CEO Global Analytics of Willis Re and then across Willis Towers Watson. He began his career as a reinsurance underwriter with Syndicate 1095 at Lloyd's before founding the risk information company WIRE Limited in 1994, which was acquired by Willis Towers Watson in 2000. Rowan has two public appointments in the UK serving on the Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology and also the Natural Environment Research Council which oversees approximately $500m of annual environmental science expenditure. More widely, he Chairs the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Private and Financial Sector Working Group preparing the second UN Hyogo Framework for Action Agreement in 2015 and the World Meteorological Organisation Expert Advisory Group on Financial Risk Transfer preparing for the UN Agreement on Climate Services in 2015. He is also a member of the Political Champions for Disaster Reduction Committee chaired by the UNDP Secretary General and the UK Secretary of State of International Development. He is a member of the Global Earthquake Model Foundation Governing Board, Pavia Italy; the Advisory Board of the Earth System Laboratory, NCAR, Boulder CO and the Royal Society's Working Group on Human Resilience to Climate Change due to report in late 2014. Rowan read Geography at Durham University (BA Hons); Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol (M.Phil) and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Sean Lowrie has led the Start Network since September 2010, enabling NGOs to realise groundbreaking innovation in the humanitarian sector. Sean has over 26 years’ experience in the humanitarian sector, specialising in initiatives for inter-organisational collaboration. Beginning his career as an engineer and logistician, Lowrie spent nearly 10 years on the front lines of humanitarian action in Kenya, DRC, Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia, Swaziland, and Tanzania. Lowrie has a BSc from Queen University in Canada in Mechanical Engineering and a MPhil in Social Science from King’s College London.

Simon Young is CEO of African Risk Capacity Insurance Company. He has a background in Earth Sciences and after completing a PhD in volcanology, he worked for the British Geological Survey on a variety of projects, including as Chief Scientist and the first full-time Director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory during the main phase of the volcanic eruptions on Montserrat between 1995 and 2000. Since then, Young has worked as a consultant, providing a broad range of disaster and climate risk management and financing services around the world in both private and public sectors. Between 2006 and 2013, that work was undertaken as CEO of Caribbean Risk Managers Ltd, where he was closely involved in the development, implementation and operations of both the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) and the Microinsurance Catastrophe Risk Organisation (MiCRO). He also provided advisory services to the World Bank during the development and implementation of the Pacific pilot risk pool, PCRAFI, and was involved in a number of other disaster risk management and climate change adaptation projects in the Americas and Asia. Most recently, Simon supported CCRIF’s expansion into Central America and the implementation of its Excess Rainfall product, and also represented CCRIF on the deal team for the CCRIF / IBRD catastrophe bond placed in July 2014. During 2013 and early 2014 he was lead Advisor to the African Risk Capacity Insurance Company during its start-up phase, and was formally appointed CEO in July 2014, a position he still holds. He is also ARC Ltd’s Underwriter, managing the insurance underwriting process and supporting the Company’s interactions with the international risk markets.

His Excellency Mr. Sufian Ahmed, is  Advisor to the Prime Minster of Ethiopia on Fiscal Policy. Prior to this, H.E. Mr. Ahmed was Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development and is one of Africa’s longest-serving finance ministers (1996 to 2015).  His Excellency led Ethiopia’s Macro team, which is responsible for policy formulation, implementation and monitoring and has contributed to the country’s double-digit growth rate achievement for more than 10 years in a row. He  served as  the General Manager of Ethiopian Customs Authority (1994-1995) and has also worked as a lecturer at Jimma College of Agriculture and Addis Ababa University. His Excellency Mr. Ahmed has a BA and MA in Economics from Addis Ababa University.

William Dalziel is a partner and head of the Institutional Division at London & Capital. Dalziel and his team at London & Capital are involved with all areas of the institutional market space, focusing on providing innovative investment solutions coupled with exceptional service. With over 30 years of experience within the insurance industry, he has developed a comprehensive understanding, from an operational point of view, of the intricacies of insurance companies. This detailed knowledge has enabled London & Capital to successfully offer bespoke asset management services to captive insurance firms, starting in the Caribbean and Bermuda, and now also including clients in domestic US and European jurisdictions. Dalziel was previously a Director for Zurich Financial Services’ international business in Latin America and spent 7 years based in Miami. He is a faculty member of the International Centre for Captive Insurance Education (ICCIE) and part of the editorial board of Captive Review. Dalziel was recommended in the Citywealth Leaders List 2013.


Claire Horton is Special Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer at the Global Partnership for Education where she leads the Secretariat’s work on disaster and risk financing for education. Previously, Horton was Chief Economic Officer in the Financial and Economic Development Unit in the Solomon Islands Ministry of Finance. Prior to this she held positions at the World Bank, initially as a political risk analyst covering the Middle East and North Africa, and then in Strategy and Country Services, where she worked on the global financial crisis response, IBRD graduation, and state and peacebuilding.

Deirdre O'Sullivan-Winks is the Programme Director, ACRE and Inclusive Business at Christian Aid. Prior to this, she was Senior Project Manager for New Business Models at the Start Network where she led the development of innovative financing solutions for more effective humanitarian response and anticipation by international and national NGOs. D‎eirdre has also worked in International Development for CAFOD, Save the Children International and VSO, and has focused on leveraging private sector approaches to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of long-term development work and humanitarian aid. Her previous career was in Investment Management, mainly at AXA Investment Managers.

Emma Williams is joint deputy head of the private sector division in the UK Department for International Development, where she co-leads the team working on insurance and the financial sector. Prior to this she spent four years in Ethiopia office leading DFID’s work on economic development and climate change. She has worked on climate change for over a decade, including as part of the UK delegation to the UN climate negotiations at Copenhagen in 2009. Before joining DFID she worked in the policy unit at CAFOD, a UK NGO, and for the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on emission trading. She holds degrees from Cambridge and Sussex Universities.

Ian Clark is Head of Unit, for Disaster Risk Management at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. Between 2010 and September 2016 he was in charge of a unit dealing with Disaster Risk Reduction including coordinating the EU position for the negotiation of the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction at the DG for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations at the European Commission. Previously Ian Clark spent some 16 years working on Environment policy for the European Commission.

Sophie Evans is the Programme Director for the Capital, Science, & Policy Practice at Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking, and solutions company. The Practice confronts the large-scale challenges of risk and seeks innovative uses of risk management and insurance-related mechanisms to build resilient economies and societies around the world to support sustainable growth. Evans is also the Co-Chair of the Insurance and Humanitarian System Working Group for the Insurance Development Forum, a public/private partnership led by the insurance industry and supported by international organisations, including the World Bank and United Nations. Previously, she was Senior Programme Coordinator for the Planning from the Future Project and worked at the Humanitarian Futures Programme, both based at King’s College London.