On Wednesday, February 15, 2012 the New Media Taskforce will be hosting the first board meeting of the semester discussing topics such as what crisis mapping is, how mobile phones are transforming healthcare, how technology and information is becoming universal, and how you can get involved!
At this time you will also get the opportunity to meet the new board!! Below you will find their bios so you can get to know them a little bit better before the meeting on Wednesday.
Megann Mielke – Co-President
SIPA MPA in Development Practice
Undergraduate school/major: University of Washington – Seattle (Latin American Studies/Spanish)
Fun Fact: She has lived in eight states (Missouri, Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, California, Washington and now New York!)
Megann is a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She served in southern Peru from 2008-2010 in the water and sanitation program. At SIPA, she is also serving on the Monitoring and Evaluation Student Society board as their communications chair. You can follow her on twitter @MgnnM.
Lakshmi Balachandran; Co-President
SIPA / MPA in Development Practice
Nanyang Technological University / B.Engg in Computer Engineering
Lakshmi has a keen interest in the use of technology for development, particularly in education. A Computer Engineer by training, she did her undergraduate thesis on the use of computer games for teaching. After graduation, she worked in mobile banking and process improvements at Citibank Singapore. She has been a volunteer teacher in India and in Singapore for many years, and currently interns with Connect To Learn, coordinating technology solutions and developing health awareness and leadership programs for girls at schools in Millennium Villages in Africa.
Chris Planicka; Director of Crisis Mapping
SIPA / MPA in Development Practice
University of Notre Dame / BA in History
Fun Fact: I sometimes grow strange facial hair patterns for my own (and others’) amusement.
Mr. Planicka is a first-year student interested in the role of ICTs in international development. He has taken a course in GIS and is currently in a course studying the role of ICTs and New Media in development and social change. His other academic interests include agricultural, educational, and small-business development, as well as environmental protection. Prior to SIPA, Mr. Planicka spent two years as a Peace Corps environment volunteer in Madagascar, working with farmers to improve their agricultural yields while conserving the surrounding rainforest environment. He focused on organic farming, permaculture, bio-intensive gardening, and agro-forestry projects. He then extended his Peace Corps service in Madagascar as a business adviser for a farmers’ cooperative, working on an organic rice certification and export project. The cooperative successfully exported the first-ever organic rice shipment from Madagascar. His previous work experiences include administrative duties for the non-profit network Community Action Partnership and documents clerk duties at the public-interest law firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC. For more information, you can follow his blog here
Farah Thalji -Director of Finance
SIPA, Master of International Affairs – International Finance and Economic Policy/International Conflict Resolution
Farah is what you would call a newcomer to the study of ICTs and new technologies. As a student from the Middle East, however, she can’t help but be interested in the way these technologies impact the quickly changing pace of politics and other public spheres. While she is fascinated by the many useful tools emerging in the field, her main focus is a comparative study of regional trends and reasons for the differences in their rate of adopting new technologies.
Savanna Honerkamp-Smith, Director of ICTs and Mobile for Development
SIPA, Master of Public Affairs in Development Practice
University of Oregon/International Studies, Spanish
Fun fact: She had a horse growing up and practiced English and Western equitation and dressage.
Savanna is interested in program evaluation and the role of new technologies in international development organizations’ information-gathering and accountability systems. She participated in her first crisis-mapping deployment in 2011. Savanna’s interest in international development began at age 16, when she spent one year in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala as an exchange student. During her undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon, volunteered with community organizations such as Volunteers in Medicine and SASS, supporting victims of sexual assault and spent her junior year of college studying migration and Latin American politics at Universidad Latina de America in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. She graduated in 2007 and entered the Peace Corps as a Protected Areas Management volunteer in central Honduras in 2008. There, she worked with farmers in a small, coffee-growing community to promote organic fertilizers and soil conservation as well as women’s reproductive health. She partnered with the national forestry college ESNACIFOR to do community outreach through science and ecotourism classes at local schools. After finishing her service in 2010, she taught math, science, English and spelling at a bilingual school in Honduras before returning to the US to enter the MPA/DP program at SIPA in 2011.
Jennifer Torres- Director of Communications
Teacher’s College Doctoral Student in Health Education
Undergraduate Degree: University of Florida
Fun Fact: Lived and Studied in London for 2 years and has visited 23 states and 13 countries.
Currently, Jennifer is a first year Doctoral Student at TC her focus in on the use of technology for improving health practices. Jennifer has worked as a fellow for UNCIEF is the Division of Policy and Planning where she assisted in the developed of a website designed for country offices to share lessons learned. The website is used to develop UNICEF policy priorities and in program development. Prior to her work at UNICEF she worked as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill for both a Congressman and a Senator. Jennifer has an MSSW from Columbia School of Social Work and an MPH from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Follow Jennifer on Twitter:@londongirl12