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Our People


Our team works virtually across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and draws on collective experience in the classroom, government, civil society, academia, journalism, edtech, startups, and research. 

Aashti Zaidi Hai

subtitle: CEO

Aashti leads the team at GSF, and is responsible for the organisation’s strategy, growth, delivery and impact. Aashti is inspired by the idea of creating, growing and sustaining a vibrant platform for people to support and learn from each other, to partner and collaborate, and to work together to solve some of our challenges in global education.

Ajay Pinjani

subtitle: Learning Manager

Ajay previously worked with The Citizens Foundation as a Senior Manager Organisation Culture and Mother Tongue based Multilingual Education. Ajay led the research and design team studying and implementing benefits of using familiar language as a medium of instruction throughout students’ educational journey. Prior to that he founded an educational consultancy ‘Ek Nuqta’ and was associated with Aga Khan University Examination Board.

Alina Lipcan

subtitle: Director

Alina leads on supporting education entrepreneurs to scale education innovations that improve learning for underserved children. She is passionate about achieving better outcomes in education through evidence-based collaborations between innovators, funders, and governments. Prior to GSF, Alina was part of the co-founding team at the Education Outcomes Fund leading a pioneering results-based financing partnership with the government of Sierra Leone. She has experience consulting on education evidence and policy, and working as an Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister in Moldova.

Habeeb Kolade

subtitle: Innovation Manager

Habeeb previously worked as Programme Manager for Wennovation Hub, where he led the design and implementation of incubation, acceleration and entrepreneurship programmes. His role also involved helping businesses prepare for investment, including pitches for investors. Before this, Habeeb was the Growth Manager for ed-tech start-up Studylab360.

Joan Orina

subtitle: Impact at Scale Lead, Kenya

Joan has experience working with different ventures to refine their product offering, grow market share and achieve operational efficiency, and profitability. In her previous role as the Accelerator Manager for Global Disability Innovation Hub at Innovate Now, she managed and coordinated project activities including selection of ventures for the accelerator programme, active learning workshops, design thinking initiatives through live labs, venture building and execution and investment facilitation

Kavita Rajagopalan

subtitle: Director

Kavita leads on growing and strengthening the GSF community. She brings over a decade of experience in education in India working with both government and low-cost private schools. She has experience designing and implementing large-scale training programs for teachers and school leaders and supporting state governments with their education intervention.

Kiran Sahib

subtitle: Senior Innovation Manager

Kiran has designed and is delivering the first Impact at Scale Labs that supports 3 organisations scale their innovations for post-covid learning recovery. Kiran is deeply passionate about understanding how to effectively scale impactful innovations. Kiran’s favourite project is the scale readiness framework project, as she sees this as an important step to supporting the education community understand scale in the education context much better.

Lucas de Jesus

subtitle: Senior Innovation Associate

Lucas is co-founder of the Brazilian Ed-tech Nave à Vela, a company in the STEAM space, he led the development and scaling of an educational platform that impacted over 100,000 students. He has also served as a Portfolio Manager and Board Member for the Brazilian venture studio CAOS Focado, that supports social tech entrepreneurs across different markets helping them to validate and scale innovative solutions. 

Maria Dimitreli

subtitle: HR and Operations Associate

In her previous roles working in HR, Learning and Development, and Business Psychology, Maria helped organisations create safe and supportive environments for their employees and has experience in promoting mental health at work. Maria has been involved in various organisational development projects such as assisting organisations through periods of change and transformation.

Mercy Karumba

subtitle: Community Associate

Mercy promotes community member growth and engagement. This includes identifying potential community members in the non-state education sector, supporting in the application and on boarding process as a first point of contact; and member mapping the GSF community to reflect the geographic spread, areas of work and expertise, their needs and priorities to better align the GSF programmes with the community's requirements. 

Minha Khan

subtitle: Innovation Associate

Minha designs and disseminates the Impact at Scale Labs initiative. As a Sociologist of Education, Minha's work at GSF allows her to learn about and collaborate with education systems around the world. Her favourite experience at GSF has been the in-person workshops that bring a wealth of knowledge together and create opportunities for learning.

Peter Colenso

subtitle: Senior Advisor

Peter works as a consultant in international education and health. Peter worked previously for the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and for DFID, where he was latterly Head of the Human Development Department in DFID’s Policy Division. Peter has worked as an education specialist in Africa, Asia and the Balkans. 

Philippa Frankl

subtitle: Operations Director

Philippa leads on the internal operations at GSF. Her primary focus is on people and culture and creating the best possible environment for the team to thrive, the organisation to run smoothly and our resources to be applied effectively to create the impact we want to make in the world. Philippa is passionate about learning and is excited to support GSF through a phase of growth and change and ensuring a fun, engaging, efficient and effective workplace for the whole team to learn and grow together, while supporting the GSF community to do the same.   

Poornima Kharbanda

subtitle: Senior Innovation Manager

Poornima has close to 10 years of experience working with entrepreneurs, governments, and other ecosystem partners in education. At GSF, her work includes leading on the second cohort of the Impact at Scale Labs focused on childcare and ECED organizations in East Africa, as well as scoping out and building opportunities for innovative financing in education. Prior to GSF, she has worked as a management consultant advising public and private ecosystem players in education and skills on programme design, market strategy, policy design and evaluation, and impact assessments.

Priyanka Upreti

subtitle: Evidence Hub Manager

Priyanka has over 7 years of experience in the education sector in India. She was a Fellow with Teach For India for 2 years, teaching a primary classroom, and later worked with the Training Team to design student learning curriculum and assessments. Priyanka has also worked with Central Square Foundation, supporting grants, research, and policy design related to Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN).

Santiago Ortiz-Correa

subtitle: Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Associate

Santiago has worked as a consultant and research associate for UNESCO, UNDP, World Bank, UNICEF-Office of Research Innocenti and the Global Partnership for Education in projects related to industrial policy, safety strategies, cash transfers, access to water and sanitation, as well as education and social protection programmes. 

Stephen Jobling

subtitle: Communications Manager

Stephen brings over a decade of experience in communications, marketing and advertising, working in both agency and client-side creative communications roles. Stephen joined Guardian News & Media in 2013 as part of the launch team for their award-winning branded content agency, Guardian Labs. He then moved to ESI Media’s Story Studio, their in-house creative department working across The Independent and Evening Standard.

Tejaswini Mani

subtitle: Senior Associate

Tejaswini began her career as a Software Engineer at Schneider Electric before transitioning into the development sector in 2018. She worked in KPMG India's ‘Education & Skills’ practice, providing strategic consulting and implementation support for public & private sector clients in K12 and higher education space. She worked with clients on projects ranging across - strategic growth, GTM strategy, performance management & global ranking improvement.

Ursula Hankinson

subtitle: Senior MEL Manager

As Senior MEL Manager, I lead on the measurement of GSF’s work, as well as support to GSF members to design and implement their own MEL frameworks. I enjoy engaging with members and understanding their programmes and the education impact they are having. I am passionate about data and evidence being used to shape interventions and to create change in the sector.

The GSF board is made up of thought leaders from the GSF community, funders and the wider international education sector.

Corina Gardner

subtitle: CEO, IDP Foundation

Before joining the IDP Foundation, Corina served as Director of Global Strategy for the Nike Foundation's Girl Effect, where she led efforts to shift negative social norms in developing countries. Earlier, Gardner worked with GSM Association, a global trade association for mobile network operators, and their strategic partners, which included the Omidyar Network, MasterCard Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. 

Harry Anthony Patrinos

subtitle: Senior Adviser, Education, The World Bank

Harry leads work on education finance, education quality, and labour market outcomes. He specializes in the economics of education. Previously, he managed education teams in Europe and Central Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, and the Middle East and North Africa.

Kimberly Gire

subtitle: Founder and Chair, Global Women Leaders Strategic Philanthropy

Co-Chair: Kimberly Gire, Founder and Chair of Global Women Leaders Strategic Philanthropy, leverages her expertise in capital markets, finance, and philanthropy to support global humanitarian, development, climate, and women's organizations. As a strategic philanthropist, she advocates for sustainable solutions, particularly for women, girls, children, and youth, fostering cross-sector collaboration. With a distinguished senior executive finance career, including roles as CFO for the business, private and retail banks at Westpac Banking Corporation, Kimberly serves as Co-Chair of the Centre for Disaster Protection and the Chair of the Centre for Global Equality at Cambridge.

Nirav Khambhati

subtitle: Partner, The Blended Finance Company (TBFC)

Nirav is a partner at The Blended Finance Company (TBFC), specializing in designing and executing blended finance programmes that enable investors to deploy significant capital while generating sustainable returns, and donors to maximize their catalytic leverage. Prior to setting up TBFC, Nirav managed Kaizenvest’s private equity operations in India and led the firm’s blended practice globally. 

Pablo Jaramillo

subtitle: CEO, Alianza Educativa

Pablo is currently CEO, Alianza Educativa, a network of 11 charter schools that serves more than 11,000 underprivileged students in Bogotá. Pablo previousely served as Deputy Minister of K-12 Education of Colombia. He is one of the co-founders and former CEO of Enseña por Colombia, a partner of the Teach for All Network that has recruited more than 300 Colombian leaders to teach in underprivileged regions of the country. 

Paul Skidmore

subtitle: CEO, Rising Academies

Paul helped set up the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative in Rwanda, and went on to be Director of Projects and Deputy CEO. Paul left to found the Rising Academy Network in 2014, growing rapidly to reach more than 250,000 students in over 900 schools across Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana. 

Stacey Brewer

subtitle: Co-founder and CEO, SPARK Schools

Dedicated to making a difference and solving South Africa’s education challenges, Stacey launched the SPARK Schools network in 2012 and has been intricately involved in its evolution and growth ever since. She obtained an MBA in Entrepreneurship cum laude from the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). At GIBS, Stacey channelled her passion for education into her thesis, which focused on a sustainable financial model for low-fee private schools in South Africa. This research served as the foundation for the establishment of SPARK Schools. 

Dr Vongai Nyahunzvi

subtitle: Founding CEO, Alliance for Women and Girls

Co-Chair: Vongai Nyahunzvi, Head of Africa and Chief Network Officer at Teach For All, brings over 20 years of leadership experience across corporate, government, and non-profit sectors. Vongai is also founding CEO of the Alliance for Women and Girls (AFWAG), leading with a transformative vision to empower women and girls, focusing particularly on Africa. Known for her entrepreneurial spirit, she excels in strategic thinking and relationship-building. Vongai previously led Teach For All's Africa Region, overseeing partner engagement and launching new organizations. With a background in leadership development, she authored two books and initiated CEO roundtables and Europe Leadership Awards. Committed to gender equality, Vongai serves on various boards and advocates for girls' empowerment worldwide.

Zia Akhter Abbas

subtitle: Executive Vice President, The Citizens Foundation

Zia leads TCF’s growing partnership with the Government as well as its global resource mobilization effort. He helped steer the process of developing TCF’s new organizational strategy to create 2 million agents of positive change by 2030. Under his stewardship, TCF has rapidly expanded its public-private partnership portfolio to 350+ school units educating more than 50,000 students. Before joining TCF in 2014, Zia spent 17 years at leading global financial services organizations including Citibank and Standard Chartered. 

Our Global Advisory Committee provides advice and strategic guidance including in fundraising, edtech, non-state education and education financing.

George Werner, Liberia’s Minister of Education from 2015 to 2018

Mo Adefeso-Olateju, Founding MD, The Education Partnerships Centre

Mubuso Zamchiya, Managing Director, Age of Learning Foundation

Robert Jenkins, Global Director, Education and Adolescent Development, UNICEF