DPGA Welcomes Governance Board

At its formation, the Digital Public Goods Alliance was governed by an interim strategy group (ISG) made up of co-founding members. They included iSPIRT; the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad); Sierra Leone’s Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI); and UNICEF. 

In 2021, the decision was made to evolve the ISG to a governing board, and expand its membership. The board functions as a strategic decision-making and oversight body for the DPGA Secretariat, and consists of member-organisations who demonstrate a strong commitment to digital public goods and are committed to supporting the DPGA’s mission and mandate. 

Beginning 1 January, 2022, the governing board of the DPGA includes: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); iSPIRT; the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad); Sierra Leone’s Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI); UNDP; and UNICEF. 

The culmination of expertise and diversity of experience across the organisations and individuals on the board will be beneficial in the next phase of growth for the Digital Public Goods Alliance. Please join us in welcoming the new governing board.

German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is represented by Björn Richter, Head of Global Digital Transformation programme, and Max Schumann, an advisor within the GIZ Digital Transformation team. 

Björn manages German Development Cooperation flagship-projects fostering human-centred digital transformation with the digital ecosystem all over the world. Previously, he managed the “Support to Good Governance” programme in Pakistan and the flagship “Regional Capacity Development” programme for GIZ in Afghanistan. 

Max works on innovation and digital-health, as well as providing policy advice to the German development cooperation on topics in the context of resource mobilisation and donor convenings on digital public goods, digital public infrastructure and GovStack. Before joining GIZ, Max worked in strategy consulting with a focus on technology.

iSPIRT is represented by Tanuj Bhojwani and Arun Sukumar, both volunteers at the iSPIRT Foundation. 

Tanuj works on technology and policy issues related to data, financial inclusion and drones. He is also the co-author of The Art of Bitfulness: Keeping Calm in the Digital World, along with Nandan Nilekani.

Arun is a post-doctoral research fellow at The Hague Program for International Cybersecurity at Leiden University. He previously headed the Cyber Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, India. His first book, Midnight’s Machines: A Political History of Technology in India, was selected among Bloomberg’s Best Books of 2020, and won the Ramnath Goenka Award for Best Book (Non-Fiction) that year. He was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Digital Economy and Society (2016-2019), and a vice chair of the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (2015-17). Arun is a lawyer by training.

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation is represented by Per Pharo, the Director of Partnerships and Shared Prosperity, and Kari Jacobsen, Program Coordinator for the Digitalisation for Development programme. 

Previously, Per served as the Director for The Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative, Assistant Director General for the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, and an Associate with McKinsey & Company.

In addition to her role, Kari is also a visiting scholar at the Erasmus Mundus PIONEER programme (MSc in Public Sector Innovation and e-Governance). Kari holds a PhD in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the International School of Management and an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge.

Sierra Leone’s Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation is represented by PJ Cole, the Head of Project Design & Delivery, and a Technology and Digital Strategy Advisor with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI). 

PJ is working shoulder to shoulder with the Chief Innovation Officer and the Director and Chief Operations Officer, leveraging expertise and network of TBI and supporting the leadership team from within to make the most of his position for Sierra Leone’s development. He has over 13 years of experience working on award winning health, education and training programs.

Update: In mid-2022, Michala Mackay joined the board to represent DSTI. Michala is the Director and Chief Operating Officer at DSTI where she drives the organizational vision, operational strategy, and talent acquisition.

UNDP’s representatives are Robert Opp, Chief Digital Officer, and Keyzom Ngodup Massally, Senior Advisor at the Chief Digital Office. 

Robert leads UNDP’s digital transformation, an organisation-wide effort, to harness the power of new technology to improve the lives of those furthest behind. Prior to this role, Robert served as Director of the Innovation and Change Management Division within the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) where he established an in-house ‘Zero Hunger’ innovation accelerator and created an award-winning crowdfunding smartphone app, ShareTheMeal.

Keyzom leads UNDP’s work on global digital public goods for development. She was also co-lead of the UN Principles for Responsible Digital Payments convening high-level country and regional dialogues on the next billion users. Previously, Keyzom led technical assistance teams in various markets, including West Africa, the Pacific and South Asia at the UN Capital Development Fund, where she advised Central Banks and Ministries of Finance as a senior advisor. She is also a co-founder of OpenG2P, a DPG focused on digitising government and humanitarian cash transfers. Keyzom is a former refugee and has lived in refugee settlements in India. Keyzom holds a M.A. and B.A. from Cornell University.

UNICEF is represented by Thomas Davin, Director of Global Innovation, and Sunita Grote, who leads the Ventures team within UNICEF’s Office of Innovation. 

Thomas’ current focus is spotting innovations that offer transformational potential for children and advance humanity, from data science to AI, machine learning, and blockchain. Thomas has held Country Representative positions in UNICEF Thailand and Algeria, worked as Regional Chief for Disaster Preparedness, Resilience Building and Emergency Response for the Middle East and Northern Africa Region, and as Deputy Representative for UNICEF Djibouti. Before joining UNICEF, he worked with UNHCR, the OSCE, IRC and a few community‐based French NGOs in Kosovo, Romania, Burkina Faso and France. Thomas holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Political Science. A French national, he is married and father to two beautiful little tornadoes. 

In addition to her role, Sunita Grote co-founded UNICEF’s Venture Fund and CryptoFund. Sunita has also led UNICEF’s engagement since the launch of the Digital Public Goods Alliance. She has a background in innovative financing designing, launching funds and models, and advising executive teams on financial sustainability and business models. Previously, Sunita spent 10 years working in the global HIV and health response, engaging in global human rights bodies and advocacy, and building capacity of community organisations in emerging markets. She holds an MBA from INSEAD and lives in NYC with her partner and daughter.

Update: In Q3, 2022, Bo Percival joined the board to represent UNICEF. Bo is the Senior Advisor, Innovation for UNICEF Ventures.