Basic Education and Policy Support Activity (BEPS)

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BEps STAFF BIOS

Don Graybill, Director Don Graybill

Don Graybill has more than twenty three years of experience in the field of international education and development, both in delivering and managing education activities. These activities have spanned a diverse development fields including: community education and mobilization, appropriate technology, organizational development, teacher training, leadership formation, community health, management development, water and sanitation, agricultural extension, vocational training, and project development. He has also experience in adult education, nonformal education, training design and management, strategic planning and management, curriculum design and materials development, among others. Dr. Graybill serves concurrently as the Director of the BEPS Activity and Deputy Director of the Education and Social Mobilization Division at Creative Associates International, Inc. Prior to joining CAII, he previously served as Director of Training and Organizational Development at Save the Children/USA and was Vice President of the Institute for Training and Development (ITD). He has also worked with Training Resources Group (TRG) as Human Resource Development/Institutional Development Specialist, as Training Systems Development Consultant, and served as a consultant on many other projects. Dr. Graybill has an Ed.D. in International Education and an M.Ed. in Educational Planning from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a B.A. in Urban Studies/Sociology from College of Wooster. He has lived and worked in Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Mozambique. He is fluent in Spanish and speaks some French.


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Uzma Anzar, Senior Associate

Uzma AnzarUzma Anzar has recently joined the BEPS team as the Deputy Director. An American citizen of Pakistani origin, she brings with her more than 10 years of professional experience of working with civil society organizations, donors and education policy makers. She is the co-founder and the first Managing Director of the only NGO in Balochistan Pakistan which works to promote education for marginalized groups and girls. From 1998 to 2001, Uzma was employed with the Human Development Network of the World Bank and worked on various projects including establishment of a partnership of donors for girls’ education. She worked with the Academy for Educational Development on the development of a U.S State Department financed interactive website for the prevention of human trafficking in East Asia and the Pacific. Working on a JICA project in Afghanistan, Uzma developed the education rehabilitation plan for Kabul city which was adopted by the donors in March 2002. She also developed and delivered the peace and civic education training for teachers in Kabul city. She recently worked with Ministry of Education and the World Bank in Yemen to develop a national plan for enhancing education for girls. She is the author of various papers on basic education and has presented extensively. Her countries of experience include Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Morocco, and Yemen. Uzma holds a Ph.D. in education and an M.B.A in International Business from American University in Washington, D.C.

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Margaret McLaughlin, Senior Associate

Margaret McLaughlinMargaret McLaughlin joins the Education, Mobilization and Communications division as a Senior Associate. She reports to BEPS Director Don Graybill. Margaret provides direction, administrative and management support, and oversight to projects. Margaret comes to Creative with extensive experience in education development and programming internationally ( U.S. Peace Corps, USAID and Save The Children) and domestically (Points of Light Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service). She was most recently the first director of CapeCorps----The Volunteer Center of Cape Cod and The Islands—which linked human resources and community-based organizations through volunteer activities. Margaret received an Ed.D. in International Education, Teacher Training, and Nonformal Education from the University of Massachusetts Center for International Education in Amherst.

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Cynthia Prather, Senior Associate

Cynthia PratherCynthia Prather, a Senior Associate at Creative Associates, is a trained educator with over twenty years of experience in writing and editing education-related research, documents, and instructional materials. As CAII's editor for the Advancing Basic Education and Literacy Project, she has edited and/or coordinated the development of numerous documents in the areas of basic education, girls' education, and community involvement. As the Editor/Information Disseminator for the BEPS Project, Ms. Prather is responsible for documenting project activities, disseminating BEPS resource library materials, and coordinating the completion of quarterly, annual, and final reports. Ms. Prather has an M.A. in Curriculum and Teaching and a B.S. in Elementary Education.

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Renuka Pillay, Chief of Party

Renuka Pillay is an educational activist for social change in Africa and has a rich history in educational implementation, specializing in teacher development, adult education, rural development, and special/remedial education.  Ms. Pillay serves as BEPS’ Education Policy & Institutional Advisor in Uganda where she is currently is responsible for expanding the teacher development model throughout Uganda.  Activities include planning and monitoring pre-service and in-service training activities for primary teacher colleges nationwide, coordinating training for in-service cooperating center tutors, and coordinating efforts to build wider acceptance of Uganda’s universal primary education policy.  Through these BEPS activities, she uses communication mobilization, involvement of excluded populations in nonformal education programs, the integration of reproductive health and sexuality in instructional programs, and promotion of early childhood education to achieve project goals.  Ms. Pillay was first involved in the design of the country’s Teacher Development Management System Model, then as Institutional Organizational Development Advisor and later as Acting Chief of Party for the Support for Uganda Primary Education Reform (SUPER) Project.  Ms. Pillay is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Center for International Education, where she is documenting the development, implementation, and effectiveness of the teacher development process.  She has an M.Ed. in Adult Education and Rural Development from the University of Manchester, and a Bachelor's in Education from the University of South Africa.  Dr. Pillay has worked in Uganda, the United States, South Africa, Benin, Senegal, India, United Kingdom, Tanzania and Zimbabwe and speaks Zulu, Afrikaans, and English.

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Jon Silverstone, Chief of Party

Jon SilverstoneJon Silverstone has a background in nonformal education and project management, and has worked for twelve years on programs to improve adult basic education, integrated literacy, public health and sustainable agriculture. He is currently Chief of Party for the EQuALLS (Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills) in the Philippines, which is part of the BEPS Activity. Before joining Creative, Jon served as Assistant Regional Director with Project HOPE, managing health education and training projects in seven countries of Central Asia & the Former Soviet Union. Prior to that, he worked with World Education as Country Director in Nepal, and was responsible for five projects focusing on girls and women’s education, health education, sustainable agriculture, and improved livelihoods. Before that, he served as Program Officer at World Education’s U.S. headquarters, backstopping education projects in South and Southeast Asia. He has worked in Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Jon has a Masters degree in Education from Boston University and a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Brown University.

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Sylvia Ellison, Management Associate

Sylvia EllisonSylvia Ellison is a Management Associate within the Education Mobilization and Communication Division of Creative Associates International Inc. where she focuses on basic education, child labor, and communities in transition. Prior to joining Creative Associates Inc., Ms. Ellison served as Regional Director of Sales and Grants at Teachscape, an on-line teacher development company, where she created and nurtured partnerships with school districts, teacher unions, teacher colleges, and state and federal education officers and refined the company’s on-line learning community features and services. At the American Institutes for Research (AIR), as Research Associate, Ms. Ellison evaluated a variety of programs related to literacy development and adult low-literate ESL learners, innovative technology usage in public schools, and improving the access and visitation of non-custodial parents to their children. Her experience as Project Manager at the Institute for International Research focused on eliminating barriers to education in developing countries using community school-based models to improve gender equity and access to education. Ms. Ellison has taught ESL at a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand and in Paris. She has contributed to the Harvard publication, Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown V. Board of Education. Ms. Ellison received her B.A. in Political Science and French from Hollins College and her M.ED from Harvard University.   Ms. Ellison speaks French and has lived in Egypt, Germany, Democratic Republic of Congo, Thailand, Central African Republic, Switzerland, and France.

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Rida Baidas, Management Associate

Rida BaidasRida Baidas is a Management Associate with Creative Associates and the BEPS Activity. She has extensive experience in project management, coordination, and monitoring and evaluation, along with financial management skills from project inception to completion. This includes projects funded by different international agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nation Development program (UNDP), the World Bank, and the European union. Ms. Baidas has extensive experience in human resource development and institution capacity building. She has also worked with non governmental organizations. Since joining Creative in June 2003 she has been a member of the management team supporting Creative’ USAID funded education projects in Iraq and also the project coordinator for the BEPS pilot activity to provide training and technical assistance to the Education Ministry in Morocco to institutionalize and conduct National Education Account at the Ministry. Currently, she is the Project Director for State Department funded project the Middle East Partnership Initiatives (MEPI), Partnership Schools Program. Ms. Baidas holds a master degree in Business Administration (MBA), a certificate in non-profit management, and she is fluent in Arabic and English.

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Vicky Frantz , Management Associate

Vicky FrantzVicky Frantz has experience in educational materials development, non-formal education, adult literacy, teacher training, English for Speakers of Other Languages, and community development; and has researched education for child laborers and global education. Mrs. Frantz currently works as a Management Associate, where she supports the development of BEPS publications and provides technical assistance to the BEPS Activity. Prior to her position with the BEPS Activity, Mrs. Frantz managed an adult literacy grant program for the Fannie Mae Foundation. She has also worked with the Latin American Youth Center’s Transitional Living Program and FUNDES Costa Rica’s micro-enterprise development program, and has taught English to immigrants in the Washington DC area. Her work and travels have taken her to various countries in the Caribbean, Latin America, and South East Asia. She holds a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Washington and a M.A. in International Training and Education from American University in Washington, D.C. She is proficient in Spanish.

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Joanne Murphy, Program Associate

Joanne Murphy
Joanne Murphy works in international development project support with an interest in primary education development and a regional focus on both Latin America and Africa. She currently serves as Program Associate with the BEPS Activity. Her role includes backstopping the Uganda project as well as assisting with the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Task Order. Ms. Murphy has an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College and a B.A. in Spanish from Bates College. She has lived in Spain at various points in her life and is dedicated to serving the Latin American community and working to improve the quality of life for children and youth. She has done so through volunteer medical interpretation and translation and mentoring.

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Sarah Havekost , Program Associate

Sarah Havekost
Sarah Havekost has spent the last three years working in both the health and education sectors in West Africa. As a volunteer with the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help in Benin, she helped train over 100 teachers and establish community library centers to service the needs of primary school students and teachers. As a techinical consultant with the Carter Center in Burkina Faso, she assisted district health officials in strengthening their monitoring systems to provide better care to local communities in the fight against Guinea Worm. She continues her work in international development as a Program Associate for BEPS as well as other EMC projects in Albania, Benin and Guinea. She has a BA from Furman University in South Carolina and a Masters degree in French Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has traveled extensively throughout West Africa and is fluent in French.

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Nima Abbaszadeh , Program Associate

Nima AbbaszadehNima Abbaszadeh serves as a Program Associate with the BEPS Activity in the Education, Mobilization and Communication Division at Creative Associates. He has previously served as an intern at the Center for Democracy in Washington, D.C. and as an international relations intern at the Office of Mayor Vera Katz in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Abbaszadeh holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, where he took an active and involved interest in working with local youth as well. In addition to volunteering as a tutor at a local elementary school, he helped establish a student organization dedicated to advocacy and volunteerism for children’s issues and coordinated with a youth shelter to plan programs for at-risk teenagers. Mr. Abbaszadeh has also lived and studied in London, Spain, and Mexico. He is proficient in Spanish and has a working knowledge of Farsi.


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Juliana Guaqueta, Program Specialist

Juliana GuaquetaJuliana Guaqueta is a professional in Finances and International Relations from the Externado de Colombia University, and holds certificates in Foreign Policy, and International Business and Trade from American University in Washington DC. Her interest in international relations encouraged her to move to Washington DC, where she has been actively engaged in international development activities with special focus in Latin America. Having done most of her education in Colombia, completed her studies in Great Britain, and the United States gave her the ability to fully comprehend realities in the development world. She previously worked for Southfive Strategies, an international consulting firm, preparing media communications and assisting with public relations activities; and for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs as a Research Associate. Additionally, she worked at the Pan American Health Organization for the Gender and Health Division and does volunteer work for the United Nations Association-YPIC. Currently she is a Program Specialist for the BEPS activity providing support to requests from USAID missions and regional bureaus in the area of basic education. She is fluent in Spanish


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Marc Sommers

Marc Sommers began working on education issues two decades ago, when he served as a girls’ high school headmaster in Kenya. Since then, he has worked on emergency and peace education, education during post-war reconstruction, the human rights of forced migrants, urban refugees and migrants, and community reconciliation. He has also explored the impact of war on children and youth in Africa as well as Colombia, El Salvador and Kosovo. Dr. Sommers is currently CARE's Educational Psychologist/Youth-At-Risk Specialist for the BEPS Activity. He also works as an international consultant and a Research Fellow at Boston University’s African Studies Center. His publications include a book, “Fear in Bongoland: Burundi Refugees in Urban Tanzania,” (Berghahn, 2001); a monograph, “The Dynamics of Coordination” (Humanitarianism and War Project, Tufts University, 2000); and three articles: “Peace Education and Refugee Youth” (EPAU, UNHCR, 2001), “Emergency Education for Children” (Center for Int’l. Studies, MIT, 1999), and “Young, Male and Pentecostal: Urban Refugees in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania ” (Journal of Refugee Studies 14(4), 2001). Dr. Sommers is fluent in Swahili, proficient in Spanish, and has a working knowledge of French.

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