Overview of BRAC
BRAC is a global leader in creating large-scale opportunities for people in poverty. Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, it is now the world’s largest development organisation. Over 110,000 BRAC workers touch the lives of an estimated 138 million people in 11 countries, using a wide array of tools such as microfinance, education, healthcare, legal rights training and more.
To find out more about BRAC, please visit BRAC.net
Founded in 2007, BRAC USA is an independent affiliate of BRAC with its own Board of Directors exercising full fiduciary responsibility for all grants, philanthropic programs and services. BRAC USA is determined to root out the systemic causes of poverty, and to design solutions that can be scaled up to reach millions.
To find out more about BRAC USA, please visit bracusa.org
Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative
In 2013, BRAC launched the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative. The Initiative aims to catalyse global implementation of the Graduation approach and its adoption across major stakeholders through the following:
- Increased awareness and uptake of the Graduation approach by stakeholders including policymakers, development finance agencies, national governments, NGOs and MFI implementers as a result of global advocacy efforts.
- Effective implementation of the Graduation approach, supported through advisory services, technical assistance, training and knowledge transfer from BRAC’s Targeting the Ultra-Poor programme to external stakeholders interested in, or currently implementing Graduation approaches.
“There is no other organization in the world that does this work in such a superior way. What BRAC has been able to do with the graduation programme is really incredible. They have the ability and the will to help others to bring it to reality in their own environments.”
– Anne Hastings, Global Advocate and Quality Assurance Advisor for Uplift and Former Director of Fonkoze.
“The program puts forward a simple but powerful concept: the problem with being ultra- poor is not any one constraint, but several interdependent constraints, and attacking poverty with an integrated program may be necessary to generating long term improvements. “
– Dean Karlan, Professor of Economics at Yale University and President and Founder of Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)
“This program has been evaluated with very rigorous randomized control trials … it's been found to be one of the most successful anti-poverty programs I've seen raising people's consumption level, food security, sense of dignity, sense of belonging.”
– Esther Duflo, Co-Founder and Director, Abdul Latif Jameel, Poverty Action Lab
BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation
Graduation Steering Committee
Dr. Muhammad Musa
Executive Director, BRAC
Executive Director, BRAC International
Senior Director Microfinance & Targeting the Ultra Poor, BRAC and BRAC International
Senior Director, Strategy, Communication and Empowerment, BRAC and BRAC International
President & CEO, BRAC USA
Chief Executive Officer, BRAC UK
Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative
Lindsay Coates is Managing Director of BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative, a holistic, time-bound approach to reach the poorest people and help them on a pathway out of extreme poverty.
Lindsay has nonprofit executive experience and a legal background in civil rights, which bring together her passion for human rights, the social sector, and global development. She is active as a speaker and writer on a range of topics around equity and inclusion.
Lindsay leads BRAC’s advocacy agenda to leave no one behind using effective, innovative, and multidimensional approaches to change the lives of the most marginalized people. She is also responsible for its learning agenda and technical assistance activities worldwide in the 10+ countries where BRAC is currently implementing or assisting with Graduation programs.
Before joining BRAC, Lindsay served as the president of InterAction, where she oversaw management and institutional outreach to InterAction members and partners. Lindsay has also served on the steering committee of the World Bank Global Partnership for Social Accountability, the executive committee for Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, and the boards of Episcopal Relief and Development, United States Global Leadership Coalition, and Development Gateway. She also served on the Obama administration’s Task Force on Global Poverty.
Prior to her work in the nonprofit sector, Lindsay practiced civil rights law in various capacities, including beginning her law practice in Mississippi. She is a graduate of the University of the South (Sewanee) and the University of Mississippi School of Law.
Director of Technical Assistance
As Director of Technical Assistance, Lauren manages a talented technical team to design and deliver high quality technical assistance, advisory services, and policy advocacy to clients including governments, UN agencies, bilateral and multilateral institutions, and international NGOs. Currently, Lauren provides critical expertise to the design and implementation of technical assistance contracts integrating economic inclusion and social protection with the Governments of the Philippines, Rwanda, and Lesotho; oversees donor and client relationship cultivation with multilateral and bilateral institutions; leads business development strategy and client and partner acquisition; and acts as an external representative in relevant global fora including the United Nations, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and before national governments.
Prior to joining BRAC USA, Lauren was seconded to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Ecuador to facilitate baseline evaluation and launch of a Graduation program targeting refugees, now scaled nationally and expanding throughout UNHCR’s global portfolio. She has worked with a number of for-profit and nonprofit organizations in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa, including Accion International, Mercy Corps, the Inter-American Development Bank’s Inter-American Investment Corporation, d.light design, InterAction’s Alliance for International Youth Development, HelpAge International, Tomorrow’s Youth Organization, and others.
Lauren holds a master’s from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Global Human Development, with certificates in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies and Global Social Enterprise and Development, and a bachelor’s from Princeton University in Spanish & Portuguese, with minors in Latin American Studies, Near Eastern Studies, and Theater & Dance.
Senior Technical Specialist
Before joining BRAC USA, Julie worked with CARE International in Sri Lanka to develop and implement a handloom weaving entrepreneurship program for women-headed households in post-conflict regions. She also worked with the International Water Management Institute in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to design a livelihoods survey and participatory mapping project for smallholder farmers.
Cait O’Donnell is a Technical Officer for the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative at BRAC USA, where she promotes global advocacy, technical assistance, and research around the Graduation Approach.
Cait has over five years of experience with expertise in inclusive development, rural livelihoods, and environmental policy. Prior to joining BRAC, she was a specialist on the World Economic Forum’s Food Security and Agriculture initiative, where she led stakeholder engagement and strategy development to promote public-private cooperation. She researched emerging trends in technology innovation and their impacts on smallholder farmers, consumers, and the planet.
She previously worked with the World Wildlife Fund on energy access and rural electrification in Myanmar. She also has experience supporting corporate climate leadership with the Carbon Disclosure Project, and with World Resources Institute to promote access to environmental information, public participation, and justice. Cait served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine and has worked in multiple countries in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Cait holds a Master of Arts in International Affairs with a focus on energy and environmental policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Global Poverty and Practice from the University of California, Berkeley.
As a Technical Officer for the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative, Miriam supports global advocacy, technical assistance, and research around the Graduation Approach. Miriam brings over four years of experience in the fields of youth employability and urban housing upgrading. Prior to joining BRAC USA, Miriam worked with FHI 360 in Morocco, where she supported planning, coordination, and Monitoring & Evaluation for a youth employability program. Previously, as a Fulbright Researcher and Boren Scholar in Morocco, she conducted qualitative research on the impact of a slum upgrading program and its effectiveness in engaging beneficiaries.
Miriam holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from DePaul University.
As a Technical Officer for the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative, Shanti supports the delivery of high-quality technical assistance to government partners seeking to implement the graduation approach on a national level.
Prior to joining BRAC, she worked in strategic planning and business development at Trickle Up, where she supported graduation projects in Burkina Faso, Guatemala, and India. She previously interned at One Acre Fund and at the sub-regional office for Central Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO). Shanti has designed and led agricultural research projects in Colombia, Gabon, Madagascar, and Trinidad and Tobago. Her research focused on the obstacles farmers face in adopting sustainable methods and recommendations for improving training programs. She has facilitated trainings and supported Monitoring & Evaluation for projects that use innovative mobile technologies to better reach underserved populations.
Working to expand the graduation approach has instilled in Shanti a commitment to improving the inclusivity, adaptability, and scalability of development work. Shanti holds a Master’s Degree in Global Affairs from the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University.
Special Assistant for Strategy
As Special Assistant for Strategy on the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative, Isabel works closely with leadership on aligning the technical advisory practice and advocacy work stream with strategic objectives and opportunities. During her time on the team, she has also supported on technical assistance delivery and business development.
Before joining UPGI, Isabel spent two years based at BRAC’s headquarters in Dhaka, where she led communications and knowledge management for the microfinance program, with a focus on innovation. During that time she conducted several field assignments for BRAC in Myanmar, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Externally, she represented BRAC on the Microfinance CEO Working Group’s Microfinance Communications Council as co-Chair, and served as Director of the Microfinance Network. She has previously worked at various institutions including UNESCO, UK Parliament, and CARE Bangladesh.
Isabel possesses formal competencies in management, knowledge management and human-centered design, and has participated in the Boulder Microfinance Training program. Isabel completed her undergraduate degree in Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and earned a master’s in International Public Policy from University College London.
Contracts and Grants Officer
As the Contracts and Grants Officer for the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative, Shaili supports the technical assistance team in ensuring efficient and orderly systems for contract and grants administration. Her work in contract coordination and business operations supports the Initiative’s rapidly growing consulting practice.
Before joining BRAC USA, Shaili earned her Master’s degree at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, specializing in Population and Family Health and Global Health. During her time here, she completed an internship at charity: water, where she synthesized program outcomes and evaluation data on active and previously funded water projects. She also completed her practicum in SNEHA, a maternal and child health NGO in Mumbai, India, conducting a validation study for the Monitoring and Evaluation team.
Prior to completing her graduate studies, Shaili has held several roles across local non-profits such as the Food Bank for New York City and the Neighborhood Charter School of Harlem working in program operations.
As an Associate for the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative, Isaac supports the Graduation team through knowledge management, business development, and administration. His work enables an ever-growing pipeline of contracts with governments and NGOs to operate smoothly and furthers global adoption of the Ultra-Poor Graduation approach.
Isaac brings experience from a variety of NGOs in the New York area. At the Catholic Medical Mission Board, he designed a recruitment strategy to increase the number of French-speaking medical volunteers. At Global Health Corps, he improved safety and security for international fellows through programmatic and operational support. At Impact Network, he designed and implemented communications strategies and supported business development efforts through grant writing and research.
A recent graduate of Fordham University, Isaac holds a dual Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and French Studies. His senior thesis explored sociomedical norms in Senegal through the lens of disease management, and he studied abroad in both Senegal and France. In his free time, you can find Isaac at thrift shops, indie and electronic concerts, or improv theatres.
Senior Advocacy Manager
Rasha is the Senior Advocacy Manager for BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative where she oversees efforts to influence key decision-makers and promote policy change that better serve the extreme poor. She has over 12 years of experience in the non-profit sector, including work in Palestine, Mauritania, and in the U.S. with underserved and refugee communities. Before joining BRAC, Rasha worked with CARE in various functions related to organizational strategy development, advocacy, knowledge management, and research and communications. Rasha holds a Master’s in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and received her Bachelor’s in Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies from Wayne State University.
Senior Communications Manager
As Senior Communications Manager, Courtney Calardo oversees the overall development and implementation of BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative (UPGI) communications strategy. Prior to joining BRAC UPGI, Courtney was the Communications Manager at Family Planning 2020, where she worked to promote greater access to and information on sexual and reproductive health for women and girls around the world. Courtney brings 10 years of experience in strategic communications with a primary focus in international development. Courtney has provided strategic communications and partnership development support to social entrepreneurs with innovative, evidence-based solutions for major global issues, as well as key implementing partners, and she worked to promote the integration of innovation in development programming overall during her time at USAID. With additional experience in the private sector as a consultant, Courtney has supported the development and execution of communication strategies for academic institutions, international governments, NGOs and the private sector. Courtney graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a B.A. in Journalism and International Studies, focusing on human rights and photojournalism.
As a Communications Officer for the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative, Bobby provides communications support for the Graduation Approach, promoting global advocacy efforts and contributing to technical assistance for its implementation.
Before joining BRAC USA, Bobby lived in Thailand, working on a variety of issues, including human rights, climate change, and migration. Previously with the Center for Social Development Studies, where he focused on policy and research projects in Southeast Asia, Bobby developed communications and engagement strategies to create opportunities for local activists and researchers to better engage with the public, sharing their knowledge to improve impact and drive change. Prior to that, he worked at a learning and development organization in New York and for the 2010 World Exposition in Shanghai.
Bobby holds a master’s degree in International Development from Chulalongkorn University as well as bachelor’s degrees in Chinese and Political Science, with a focus on International Relations, from Rutgers University.
Bobby is a passionate advocate for the underrepresented, and his experiences learning about and working with marginalized communities around the world deeply informs his approach to communications. Happy to once again reside in New York, you might find him playing volleyball or dancing to funky beats on the weekends.
As a Communications Coordinator with the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative, Max supports the communications team in raising public awareness and advocacy for the Graduation approach, especially through digital media. He specializes in social media strategy, digital advertising, and content creation.
Prior to joining BRAC, Max led advertising strategy for Mckayla Wilkes, a progressive primary candidate running for Congress in his home district. Before working on the campaign, he lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, developing content strategy for social media startup Falcon.io and contributing to marketing efforts ranging from managing client case studies to optimizing organic search traffic. He moved to Denmark from the Czech Republic, where he completed a year-long Fulbright Grant as an English Teaching Assistant. His interest in international development began with an internship at Results for Development where he worked at the Center for Education Innovations.
Max holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs with a focus in Conflict and Cooperation.
Elaina Conrad is a Communications Associate on the UPGI team and is responsible for supporting the development and execution of communications strategies through research and monitoring of key stakeholders and activities, drafting content, supporting administrative work and logistics, tracking ongoing communications efforts, program communications, and advocacy and public relations activities. Elaina holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Iowa State University with a concentration in Global Resource Systems, Agriculture and Society, and Spanish.
Ultra-Poor Graduation Programme (formerly TUP) – Bangladesh
Manager, Global Advocacy
Program Quality Manager