Clara Lipson, Founder & Executive Director

Clara’s professional career includes 25 years of banking, financial services and international development. As a banker, Clara was responsible for corporate finance at an international bank.  Migrating to international development, Clara designed and managed programs that launched credit rating agencies, collateral registries, enterprise reform, and microfinance in Central and Eastern Europe. Spanning the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Clara has also worked on projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America. She is currently a member of the Board of the Microfinance Club of New York, and formerly served on the Steering Committee of Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM)-NY and the Advisory Board of Pro Mujer International.  She holds an MA from CUNY.  Clara is the Founder of the new portal, AboutMicrofinance.com.

Alicja K. Malecka, Senior Advisor

Alicja is an international financial services expert with over 25 years experience in capital markets. She served as the President and CEO of the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union and a global consultant to Price Waterhouse, Deloitte, and USAID. As President and CEO of Pioneer First Polish Trust Co. she launched and managed the first mutual fund in Poland. For the past 10 years she has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Micro Fund, LLC and its successor the FMBank, one of the first microfinance institutions in Poland. Alicja is currently an associate member of the International Institute of Finance and principal of Malecka Capital Formations, Inc., an advisory firm.

Nelun de S. Wijeyeratne, Special Advisor

Nelun is currently a strategic advisor for Corporate Responsibility programs, with a commitment to Financial Inclusion and Microfinance.  She previously worked at Deutsche Bank Microfinance Development Fund, and spearheaded Standard & Poor’s microfinance ratings project. As a senior manager Nelun has led project teams in the corporate, public, and not-for-profit sectors, including affordable housing and micro, small and medium enterprise lending.  Nelun is the co-chair of the Financial Women’s Association’s Impact Investing committee.  She holds an MBA from Yale’s School of Management. 

Laura Giadorou Koch,  Senior Editor Advisor

Laura is the co-owner and director of DOLIUM Wines, a medium size high-end Argentine winery.  She currently teaches microfinance in high schools in NY, DC & CT, and also serves as Communications officer of the YPO/WPO Sustainable Business and Microfinance Networks and Chair of the YPO/WPO Microfinance Forum.  Additionally, Laura is a member of the Economic Club of New York, Women Corporate Directors and 85Broads, and participates in the President’s Counsel for ACCION and Steering Committee for Women Advancing Microfinance. Laura has published articles for the United Nations, Wall Street Journal and Argentine newspapers. Previously, Laura practiced corporate law on Wall Street for over a decade, specializing in cross-border transactions for Latin American clients.  Laura attended the HBS Strategic Leadership for Microfinance, Acumen Leadership and Frankfurt Advance Microfinance Programs. She holds a Masters in Law from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and a J.D. from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 Shreemathi Tumkur, Research Associate

Shreemathi Tumkur is a second year Masters in Public Administration student at School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University. She is concentrating in economic and political development. She completed her undergraduate degree in Instrumentation Engineering from MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore. Later on, she worked as a teacher in a low-income school in Hyderabad as a part of the Teach For India fellowship to understand the systemic challenges in education. Post the fellowship, she worked with The Education Alliance, a nonprofit that enables effective partnerships to improve the quality of education in public schools in Delhi. She is currently interning with the United Nations Fragile Population Fund (UNFPA) as a data analyst. She is also working with a Washington DC-based impact investing firm called Quantified Ventures on innovative finance.

Aparna Singh, Research Associate

Aparna is a second-year,  International Finance Policy graduate student at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Prior to SIPA, Aparna began her career as a Network Engineer with Ericsson India gaining extensive experience in the ICT domain after earning a B.Tech. degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering. Her passion lies at the intersection of technology and financial inclusion which she is pursuing as a Consultant for Columbia Impact Investment Initiative (Ci3) and through statistical analysis as part of her Advanced Quant coursework. When not crunching numbers, Aparna carries out her responsibilities as the Business Director for the Columbia Journal of International Affairs and as the Treasurer of the SIPA Student Association.

Audrey Misquith, Research Associate

Audrey is a Master of Public Administration Candidate specializing in Economic and Political Development at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs(SIPA). She is passionate about  financial inclusion and is keen on exploring the intersection of savings-led and micro-finance approaches in fostering agricultural innovation. Prior to joining SIPA, Audrey worked as a credit manager  at India’s premier bank, State Bank of India. As a volunteer, she designed Science and English workshops and coordinated academic events for underprivileged children. Audrey is currently a consultant for the Columbia Impact Investment Initiative and is advising a woman social entrepreneur in Pakistan to develop a sustainable financial model. Audrey was the runner up at SIPA’s Case Consulting Competition 2016 for  developing a human rights strategy on the failed Colombian peace deal.

Amir Bolouryazad, Research Associate

Amir is a first year MPA candidate at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs with a concentration in International Finance and Economic Policy. He received his BA from Columbia University with a degree in Financial Economics. Prior to starting his BA at Columbia, he worked as an insurance broker in Beverly Hills, California for about two years focusing on property and casualty products. Amir began his insurance career at State Farm, concentrating on life and health insurance, specifically for the young low-income individuals living in the Los Angeles area.

Utsav Dhoj Adhikari, Research Associate

Utsav is an MPA student from Nepal at Columbia SIPA, specializing in global energy management and policy. Prior to SIPA, Utsav worked at Argus Information & Advisory Services, where he provided strategic analytic and consulting support to financial institutions in the US using big data on customer profiles and transaction patterns. He has previously worked on an energy access project in Nepal based on subsidized micro-loans, where he coordinated the partnership with banks, MFIs and solar companies. He received his BA in International Relations from Colgate University.

Bryan Hill, Research Associate

Bryan graduated from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs where he studied international finance and economic policy.  He received his B.A. from the University of Maryland with a degree in economics, and had spent several years living in the developing world, including China and speaks Chinese.  He has worked on emerging market entrepreneurship at Endeavor Global, and has been a writer for the U.S. Federation for Middle East Peace.

Alumns

UCMI – Consulting Team. The University of Chicago Microfinance Initiative (UCMI) is a student-run and advisor-led not-for-profit group that seeks to educate the university community on social finance. The team’s work at AboutMicrofinance focused on social media exposure and leveraging partnerships.

Shruthi Jayaram, currently works at Cornerstone Research, New York.

Kathryn Glynn-Broderick, is currently Manager, Research, Monitoring & Evaluation at Women’s World Banking, and previously worked in the Office of Financial Empowerment, New York.

Chuan Lin, is now Senior Analyst – New York City Office of the Mayor, Office of Management and Budget.

Ioana Tesliuc, is a student at the University of Chicago and currently the Managing Director of Administration for the University of Chicago Microfinance Initiative.

Christopher Zoia, is currently Communications Manager – United States Council for International Business.

John Meyers, Research Associate, is currently an associate at RSF Social Finance (San Francisco).

Min Liu, former auditor with KPMG.

Guillermo Galicia Rabadán, worked at the Mexican Central Bank and headed financial analysis at FINCA (Mexico). Capstone Project Consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton