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Bridging the Gap: Speakers

Ola Abu Alghaib

Ola Abu AlghaibOla Abu Alghaib has almost two decades of experience in the field of disability, development, and inclusive social policies in low and middle income countries.

In her career her responsibilities have encompassed policy analysis, programme design, management and evaluation, formulation of advocacy strategies, capacity development, extensive use of qualitative methods, and research with the World Bank, UN agencies (WHO, ILO, UNESCO), NGOs, DPOs and INGOs.

She has been a member of advisory bodies to support governments in social policy reform; she has been recently involved in providing technical expertise in effective reforms towards inclusive social protection policies. Currently Ola is completing her PhD on Social Protection and Disability in low and middle-income countries.

Dr John Bosco Asiimwe

Dr John Bosco AsiimweJohn Bosco Asiimwe holds a PhD in Statistics from Makerere University, Uganda and is a co-investigator on the Bridging the Gap project.

He is a lecturer in the same university and is also Head of the Department of Planning and Applied Statistics. In 2015, he was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.

He has carried out a number of research projects as a Principal Investigator including: University of California, Berkeley, the WEISS family funding of Harvard University and Oxford university, UK.

He has published a number of journal articles mainly in the health-related field. He worked on the Bridging the Gap study as a statistician.

Richard Boden

Richard BodenRichard Boden has been the Deputy Team Leader of DFID’s Disability Inclusion Team since August 2016, and is also currently the Global Disability Summit policy and country engagement lead.

He has worked for DFID since 2010 in a variety of policy and programme roles. Richard is an accredited Social Development Advisor for DFID and has led this role in a number of social inclusion policy areas — youth, gender and violence against women and girls — and undertook a role as SDA in the DRC for DFID.

Richard has a MA in Poverty Reduction and Development Management from Birmingham University, and prior to DFID he worked for Christian Aid.

Dr Richard Bwalya

Dr Richard BwalyaRichard Bwalya is a Research Fellow at the University of Zambia’s Institute of Economic and Social Research and co-investigator on the Bridging the Gap project. He has been conducting research in Rural Development and Development Economics for over ten years.

He also has experience conducting research with persons with disabilities and working with development organisations such as World Vision, Leonard Cheshire and WaterAID among others where his work has included evaluating programme inclusiveness.

Dr Mark Carew

Dr Mark CarewDr Mark Carew is a Research Fellow at the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre and an Honorary Research Associate at UCL. He has contributed expertise across the quantitative aspects of the Bridging the Gap research, on which he is a co-investigator.

A social psychologist, Dr Carew's research interests encompass the numerous barriers that face people with disabilities globally (e.g., social participation, access to healthcare, inclusive education). Recent publications co-authored include Disability and Sexual Health (Routledge, due June 2018).

Dr Tim Conway

Dr Tim ConwayTim Conway is a senior Social Development Advisor in DFID’s research division.

In earlier positions he worked for two years with CONCERN Worldwide in Cambodia; five years with the Overseas Development Institute in London; five years in the World Bank Cambodia Country Office, managing poverty analysis and coordination of donor support to the government’s national poverty reduction strategy; two years in DFID’s policy division team, working on social protection and poverty monitoring; and, immediately prior to his current post, four years in Ethiopia, managing DFID support to the Ethiopian Government’s Productive Safety Net Programme and social development policy issues.

Anderson Gitonga

Anderson GitongaMr Anderson Gitonga is the CEO of United Disabled Persons of Kenya and a co-investigator of the Bridging the Gap research project.

Anderson is a community development practitioner who has successfully led multi-disciplinary teams in implementing community focussed programmes for the last twenty years, focusing on vulnerable and marginalised groups, particularly persons with various disabilities in Kenya.

Anderson has facilitated the conceptualisation, design, resource mobilisation and implementation of community-rooted projects that have promoted inclusion of persons with disabilities in political, economic and social spheres.

The programmes have adopted a twin-track approach by implementing interventions that empower individual persons with disabilities while at the same time mainstreaming disability in respective aspects of design and implementation of projects, in legislation, policy formulation and in general service delivery.

Professor Nora Groce

Professor Nora GroceProf. Nora Groce is the Principal Investigator on the Bridging the Gap project. As a medical anthropologist, Prof. Groce works on issues of global health, international development and human rights, with particular focus on global disability issues.

Research over the years has concentrated on vulnerable groups, with attention to the interface between persons with disability and access to adequate health care and inclusion in international development programmes.

Neil Heslop

Neil HeslopNeil lost his sight aged 21 and is a law graduate from Newcastle University. He holds an MBA from Cranfield School of Management and a Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Throughout his 25-year career, Neil has not only held senior leadership roles in the telecoms industry in North America and Europe but also co-founded the charity Blind In Business and acted as an advisor to the UK government on the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act.

He became CEO of international pan disability charity Leonard Cheshire Disability in 2016, whose 6,500 staff support more than 30,000 people with disabilities in the UK and 16 countries in Africa and Asia.

Neil is Co-Chair of the Disability Charities Consortium, a group of the eight largest disability charities dedicated to promoting the rights and interests of 13 million people with disabilities in the UK. In 2002 he was awarded the OBE for services to British Telecommunications and charity.

Kiran Kaja

Kiran KajaKiran Kaja is a Technical Program Manager in the Google Assistant team. He works on accessibility and ensures that Assistant-based products and features are useful to everyone including users with disabilities.

He has over a decade of experience in the accessibility field having worked with Adobe, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and SAP Labs.

Dr Maria Kett

Dr Maria Kett is Head of Research at the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre and Honorary Reader in Disability and Development at UCL.

She is a Co-Investigator on the Bridging the Gap project. She has extensive experience of applied research in disability and international development, with a particular interest in health, education, human rights, poverty alleviation, and the consequences of social exclusion.

An anthropologist by training, Maria also has a strong research interest in conflict and disaster-affected countries, and has undertaken policy-focused work on inclusive humanitarian responses and more recently on climate resilience.

Ms Winnie Khaemba

Winnie KhaembaMs Winnie Khaemba is a Research Fellow at the African Centre for Technology Studies in Kenya, and a co-investigator on the Bridging the Gap project. Ms Khaemba has been actively involved in environmental, sustainable development and climate change work since 2006 and has participated at various forums both locally and internationally.

She has worked closely with youth, grass root communities, and other interest groups to foster environmental and climate change awareness, and to promote sustainable development.

She currently serves as an advisor to the Executive Board of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) and is a Member of the Global Green Grants’ Next Generation Climate Board (NGCB). Ms Khaemba holds a master's degree in Law and Environmental Science [University of Nottingham], a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies [Kenyatta University] and is currently working towards an MSc Climate Change [University of Nairobi].

Dr Raymond Lang

Dr Raymond LangDr Raymond Lang is a Research Fellow at the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre and an Honorary Senior Research Associate at UCL.

Dr Lang has been working in the disability and development sector for the past twenty years. Dr Lang has provided disability and policy expertise to the Bridging the Gap project.

His research interests include mainstreaming disability into broader development programmes, monitoring and evaluation of disability programmes, the practicalities of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and policy in practice within the disability and development sector.

Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo

Charlotte McClain-NhlapoCharlotte McClain-Nhlapo is the Global Disability Advisor for the World Bank Group. With Law Degrees in international law and administration from The University of Warsaw and Cornell Law School, her work at the Bank is focused on disability inclusive development under its twin goals to end poverty and promote shared prosperity.

As Disability Advisor, she supports operational teams across the institution to ensure that Bank policies, programmes and projects are disability inclusive. In 2011 as a well-respected human rights lawyer in disability and child rights advocate, she was appointed by President Obama to lead USAID’s work on disability inclusive development, from developing policies and country strategies to technical assistance for programme implementation.

Earlier in her career, she was appointed by President Nelson Mandela as a Commissioner to the South African Human Rights Commission.

Hector Minto

Hector MintoHector Minto has worked in the field of Assistive Technology (AT), Alternative Communication (AAC) and Special Educational Needs (SEN) for 20 years, focusing on emerging technology and how to maximise its effectiveness across the wide range of people with physical, learning and sensory disabilities.

Additionally, Hector has worked on UK government focus groups and inquiries for AAC and AT and led projects on gesture technology, eye-tracking, home automation and telecare.

Hector joined Microsoft 18 months ago as an Accessibility Evangelist, where he engages across the European workforce and stakeholders to showcase inclusive design, product accessibility, the inclusive hiring programme and accessibility innovation from Microsoft Research.

A critical part of Hector’s role is to learn from Microsoft customers how they can continue to adapt to the changing needs of the diverse population they support.

Tomi Lounio

Tomi LounioTomi Lounio is a Programme Analyst on Human Rights at UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa and the lead advisor on disability-inclusive development for UNDP in Africa. His focus areas include e.g. strengthening the cooperation between UNDP and the African Union on human rights; mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities into UNDP’s policy and programmes, including supporting strategic engagement with AU Member States in their efforts to ensure disability-inclusive development; and strengthening the capacity of Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) in the region.

This has included supporting the establishment of the first representative continental membership organization of DPOs -the African Disability Forum. Tomi is also a resource person for the Technical Secretariat of the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) in Africa.

He holds a Master's degree in Development Studies from University of Helsinki, and has worked extensively across Africa since year 2012. Tomi is fluent in Finnish and English and has intermediate skills in Swedish, French and Kiswahili languages.

Professor Sophie Mitra

Professor Sophie MitraSophie Mitra, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Economics at Fordham University with research interests in development economics, disability, health and applied microeconomics and a co-investigator on the Bridging the Gap project.

She is the author of Disability, Health and Human Development (Palgrave MacMillan, September 2017). Recently, she has studied the economic impact of disability and mental illness, multidimensional poverty, the association between disability and poverty, social protection programmes, the definition and prevalence of disability.

Some of her research on disability and mental illness is interdisciplinary and mixes qualitative, quantitative and participatory methods. She has received funding from agencies such as the Economic and Social Research Council, the National Institute of Mental Health and the World Bank.

Sophie Mitra is co-editor of the Palgrave Studies in Disability and International Development and is also a fellow of the Human Development and Capability Association and a senior research associate at the Center for International Policy Studies (Fordham).

Sreerupa Mitra

Sreerupa MitraSreerupa Mitra is based at the UNDP Headquarters in New York and works as the focal point for Quality Assurance and Country Support at the Technical Secretariat of the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD).

For more than a decade, as a development professional, she has been involved with programmes on disability rights, child rights, poverty eradication and inclusive education in countries across the world.

Apart from directly implementing and managing programmes in development and emergency contexts, she has also been engaged in research on public service delivery and disability inclusion. Sreerupa’s work has also focused on capacity building on implementation and reporting on the CRPD.

She has an MA in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India and an MSc in International Development (Development Management) from the London School of Economics, UK.​

Dr Daniel Mont

Dr Daniel MontDaniel Mont is the Co-President of the Center for Inclusive Policy, an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Development Centre at University College London and a co-investigator on the Bridging the Gap project.

He has worked extensively on disability measurement issues and the relation between disability and socio-economic well-being, as well as inclusive policy evaluation and design.

He previously was a Senior Economist at The World Bank, the Director of Workers' Compensation Project at the National Academy of Social Insurance, a Principal Analyst with the US Congressional Budget Office, and an Assistant Professor at Cornell University. He has his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BA from Swarthmore College.

Professor Colm O’Cinneide

Professor Colm O'CinneideColm O’Cinneide is Professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law at University College London (UCL). A graduate of University College Cork, the University of Edinburgh and King’s Inns in Dublin, he was called to the Irish Bar in 1997 and went on to work as a legal adviser in the UK House of Lords before joining UCL in 2001.

He has published extensively in the field of comparative constitutional, human rights and anti-discrimination law. He has also acted as specialist legal adviser to the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Women & Equalities Committee of the UK Parliament, and advised a range of international organisations including the UN, ILO and the European Commission.

He also was from 2006-16 a member of the European Committee on Social Rights of the Council of Europe, and since 2008 has been a member of the academic advisory board of Blackstone Chambers in London.

Professor Joyce M Olenja

Professor Joyce M OlenjaProfessor Joyce Olenja PhD is Professor and Head of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Nairobi and a co-investigator on the Bridging the Gap project.

She is a medical anthropologist with extensive teaching and research experience in the field of social science and health with specific focus on sexual and reproductive health, gender, vulnerable populations and disability.

Thorkild Olesen

Thorkild OlesenThorkild Olesen is the chairman of the Disabled People's Organisations Denmark and a board member of the European Disability Forum. Diagnosed with glaucoma at birth, Thorkild lost his sight completely at 21.

Thorkild’s career in the disability movement is long and rich. In 1993 he became the chairman of the youth organisation of the Danish Association of the Blind. Later he became Head of Department, Vice-Chair, and in 2009 he was elected as President of the organisation.

During this period he was also elected as Vice-Chair of Disabled People’s Organisations Denmark and in 2014 he became Chair of the organisation. Beside his work as Chair of the Danish Association of the Blind and the Disabled People’s Organisations Denmark, he is a member of numerous boards within the disability area, e.g. chair of the World Braille Council.​

A/Professor Margie Schneider

Associate Professor Margie SchneiderMargie Schneider is an Associate Professor at the Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health at the University of Cape Town and a co-investigator on the Bridging the Gap project.

She originally trained as a speech and language therapist and audiologist but has been working as a social science researcher in the field of disability studies and public health since the mid-1990s.

Her expertise is in the field of measurement and disability statistics, intervention research and public mental health.

Professor Tom Shakespeare

Professor Tom ShakespeareTom Shakespeare is Professor of disability research at the Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia and a co-investigator on the Bridging the Gap project.

A qualitative sociologist with 30 years’ experience of working on disability, his books include Disability Rights and Wrongs and The Sexual Politics of Disability. He was formerly at WHO, where he co-authored and co-edited the World Report on Disability (2011).

Professor Leslie Swartz

Professor Leslie SwartzLeslie Swartz is a clinical psychologist and a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Stellenbosch University. Leslie has worked on the Bridging the Gap project as a co-investigator.

He has published widely in the fields of mental health and disability studies and was founding editor-in-chief of the African Journal of Disability. He has received the leading award for scholarship in psychology from the South African Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa.

He has worked extensively on disability issues in Africa and was Lead Research Partner for the Southern African Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) Research Programme. Recent publications include the co-edited Palgrave Handbook of Disability and Citizenship in the Global South (due for publication in 2018).

Current projects focus on disability, sexuality and representation; psychosocial disability and postgraduate education; disability and social security; and disability and access to physical activity.

Professor Charlotte Watts

Professor Charlotte WattsProfessor Charlotte Watts was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Development in October 2015.

Originally trained as a mathematician, with further training in epidemiology, economics and social science methods, she has twenty years experience in international HIV and violence research.

Prof. Watts is responsible for championing the use of robust evidence, including from research and evaluation across DFID.

Dr Mary Wickenden

Dr Mary WickendenDr Mary Wickenden is a disability researcher, with a particular interest in inclusive and participatory research and in hearing the voices of adults and children with disabilities and their families, especially those living in the global south or in disadvantaged contexts.

Being interested in cultural and social aspects of disabled people’s experience, she has worked extensively on disability related research, intervention and training projects in South Asia, East and Southern Africa.

She believes strongly in the importance of inclusive approaches to research, international development and service provision and in the recognition of the equal rights of adults and children with disabilities globally. She works at the Institute for Global Health, University College London and the Institute for Development Studies, University of Sussex.

Frances Wood

Frances WoodFrances Wood is the Data and Evidence Lead in DFID’s Disability Inclusion Team. She leads on DFID’s work to strengthen data and evidence relating to disability inclusion, including DFID’s new Disability Inclusive Development programme.

She has worked as a Statistics Adviser within the Department for International Development for the past 14 years. Her career in DFID has included statistical capacity building work and monitoring and evaluation advice for DFID’s Africa Regional Programmes, country portfolios in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Zambia, and in policy teams covering development financing and education.

She has recently returned from a secondment to United Nations Development Programme where she worked with UNDP to strengthen organisation-wide results monitoring and reporting approaches.