Meet the Team

The Transfer Project relies on researchers, policymakers and programme implementers to work together to improve social cash transfers. By providing rigorous evidence, findings from our research and impact evaluations can inform policy decisions and improve programme effectiveness. As a team, we work together from different institutions, utilizing expertise and insights of colleagues across several continents. Click on the links below to view the staff working in different areas:

Staff based at the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti

Tia Palermo, PhD
Social Policy Specialist
Tia joined UNICEF's Office of Research – Innocenti in November 2014 from Stony Brook University (State University of New York), where she was an Assistant Professor. She oversees projects relating to social protection and equity in low- and middle-income countries focusing on cash transfers and impact evaluations of interventions to combat poverty and exclusion of children. Her research agenda and publications to date focus on social policy, gender-based violence, and transitions to adulthood. As part of the Transfer Project her work examines the process and impact of social policy aimed to improve outcomes among children and adolescents, including schooling, food security, sexual behaviour, mental health, and other indicators of well-being. Click here for Dr. Palermo's CV. @TiaPalermo

Amber Peterman, PhD
Social Policy Specialist
Amber joined the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in February 2015 and focuses on adolescent well-being and safe transitions to adulthood. Amber brings significant experience in large-scale surveys and impact evaluation in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. With a background as a quantitative public health researcher, Amber is interested providing policy-relevant evidence related to the intersection between gender, health and human rights including linkages between gender-based violence and reproductive health to economic empowerment. Amber previously worked as a Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington DC, and as an Assistant Research Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. Click here for Dr. Peterman's CV. @a_peterman
Jacobus (Jacob) de Hoop, PhD
Social Policy Specialist
Jacob joined UNICEF’s Office of Research in August 2015. Jacob’s research focuses on the effects of public policy in developing countries on child labor, education, youth employment, family wellbeing and functioning, and the intersection between these areas. He has experience in the evaluation of cash transfer programs, public works programs, and employment programs in Asia, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to joining UNICEF, Jacob worked as a research economist at the International Labour Organization, as a post-doctoral fellow at the Paris School of Economics, and as a consultant at the World Bank.
Richard de Groot, MS in International Economics
Research Analyst
Richard has experience implementing evaluations and quantitative research in collaboration with organizations such as Plan International, UNICEF Cambodia, and the World Bank on topics related to poverty alleviation, human development, and children’s nutritional status. He has extensive experience in quantitative research methods. He started at UNICEF's Office of Research – Innocenti in February 2015.
Leah Prencipe, MPH (Master’s in Public Health)
Research Analyst
Leah has experience providing support to large-scale impact evaluations (including on social cash transfers) related to children’s education and nutrition in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. She joined UNICEF's Office of Research – Innocenti in March 2015. Click here for Ms. Prencipe's CV.

Audrey Pereira, MSPH (Master’s of Science in Public Health)
Research Analyst
Audrey's research focus has been on international health systems and economics. She has experience supporting research on maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition programs in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. She joined UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti as a consultant researcher in July 2015.
Luisa Natali, PhD Candidate in Development Economics
Research Analyst
Luisa joined the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in January 2016. She holds a Master’s in Development Economics and has previously worked as a research consultant for ODI, IDS, DfID as well as four years at Innocenti. Her main research fields are Development Economics and Policy Impact Evaluation; her research interests lie in social policy and social protection, and in particular in the evaluation of cash transfer programmes, child well-being, poverty and vulnerability analysis, and the economics of gender. She has gained field experience in Zambia, South Africa and Bangladesh. e9686df9-751d-44ab-9e30-97d4d79ac57b @luisanatali

Valeria Groppo, PhD in Economics
Research Analyst
Valeria joined the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti in November 2016. She is contributing to assessing the impact of cash transfers in Sub-Saharan Africa on children’s schooling outcomes and participation in child labour. In particular, she is working on the collection and analysis of new data on children’s schooling and work in Tanzania. She is also supporting the preparation of a mixed-method paper examining the effects of Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) on children’s participation in economic activities and household chores. She previously worked as Research Associate for the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, and prior to this assignment she has worked for the WTO and the ILO in Geneva, and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Elsa Valli, PhD Candidate in Economics
Research Analyst
Elsa started at UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti in January 2017. She is a PhD candidate at University of Sussex where she also obtained a Master’s in Development Economics. Her research interests lie in poverty and vulnerability, children’s health status, and in the impact of social programmes on households and children outcomes. In the past she worked as a consultant on research projects for ODI, Scaling Up Movement, EU, UNRWA, USAID, and IDS on poverty dynamics, food security, nutrition, agriculture, social protection and education mostly on Sub-Saharan countries but also Middle East, India and Latin America.
Michelle Mills, MA in International Education Policy Analysis
Research Uptake Sepcialist
Michelle's research at Stanford University focused on child poverty, rural education and social protection measures in sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on child labour and decent work. In July 2015, she joined UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti and is responsible for the dissemination and uptake of research through the Transfer Project.

Staff based at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Sudhanshu (Ashu) Handa, PhD
Principal Investigator
Ashu is Lawrence I. Gilbert Distinguished Professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, and is a human resource economist specializing in household behaviors in developing countries. He has 20+ years’ experience assessing impacts of government poverty alleviation programs in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. He previously served as Chief of Social Policy and Economic Analysis, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti from 2013-2016 while on leave from UNC. Click here for Dr. Handa's CV. @ashudirect


Young Ashu ~ 1966 in Tema, Ghana

Clare Barrington, PhD
Senior Research Advisor
Clare is an Associate Professor of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC. She is a social scientist with expertise in qualitative and mixed-method research in diverse settings, including Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Her research examines social and structural influences on health and health behaviors, in particular HIV. Dr. Barrington has a Ph.D. in International Health from Johns Hopkins University. Click here for Dr. Barrington's CV.
Gustavo Angeles, PhD
Senior Research Advisor
Gustavo is Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC. He is a health economist with experience in program impact evaluation, household and facility surveys, and socioeconomic measurement. For over 20 years he has provided technical assistance to evaluate social and health programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Previously he was Director of the Center for Evaluation Research and Surveys of Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health, and Deputy Director of the MEASURE Evaluation project. Click here for Dr. Angeles' CV.

Garima Bhalla
Research Assistant
Garima is a PhD candidate in Public Policy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her primary research interests are in the field of poverty reduction and wellbeing. Garima earned her MPP from Georgetown University and earned her BA in economics from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University, India. Prior to joining the PhD program, Garima worked as an Associate at the Drug Access Team of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and she has over five years work experience in the private consulting sector. For more, visit:
Adria Molotsky
Research Assistant
Adria is a fourth-year doctoral student in Public Policy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Since 2014 she has supported multiple Transfer Project cash transfer evaluations including those in Malawi and Zimbabwe, and plans to use data from the Malawi Social Cash Transfer Program for her dissertation. Adria’s main research interests include behavioral economics as it relates to household decision-making as well as the human capital accumulation of youth in the household. Prior to pursuing her PhD, she worked as a Research Associate with the International Development Evaluation and Research division of American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC.
Susannah Zietz
Research Assistant
Susannah is a third-year doctoral student in Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Susannah supports the Transfer Project qualitative research in Malawi. Her primary research interests are child and adolescent health and well-being in sub-Saharan Africa. Her dissertation is using mixed methods to examine the pathways between experience of child maltreatment and perpetration of violence in adulthood among men in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Susannah is also a Research Associate at PIRE where she works on studies of HIV testing and care among adolescents in Kenya.
Amelia Rock
Research Assistant
Amelia is a third-year doctoral student in Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She works on the qualitative component of the Malawi Transfer Project, in particular examining how poverty and gender influence the social networks of youth. Her research interests are in the social and structural determinants of health, especially gender and economic opportunity; HIV prevention, treatment, and care; and evaluation of social and structural interventions. She is a predoctoral trainee at the Carolina Population Center and a research assistant on the USAID LINKAGES project. Her dissertation will focus on experiences of intimate partner violence among female sex workers living with HIV in the Dominican Republic.
Gean Spektor
Project Manager
Gean joined the Transfer Project in September 2016 after completing a Masters of Public Health in Maternal Child Health from UNC Chapel Hill. Gean has 6 years of global program evaluation experience, with a focus on randomized control evaluations. Gean’s work and research have primarily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and she has previously managed a cash transfer research project in Uganda. Her main research interests are in gender equity, gender based violence, and family planning. Gean manages the Transfer Project work at UNC Chapel Hill, providing evaluation support and overall partner coordination.

2016-2017 Research Fellows

Ramaele Moshoeshoe, PhD
Research Fellow
Ramaele Moshoeshoe (PhD) is a lecturer of economics at the National University of Lesotho. He obtained his PhD in Economics from the University of Cape Town in 2015, and visited the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in February 2016 as a Research Fellow to work on the Transfer Project. Since then, Ramaele and the Transfer Project team have been working on the effects of unconditional cash transfers on schooling and child labour in sub-Saharan Africa. Ramaele’s research interests include education economics, labour economics, health economics, and impact evaluation.
Jacob Novignon, PhD
Research Fellow
Jacob Novignon (PhD, Economics) joined the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti as a research fellow to work on the Transfer Project. Jacob’s research focus over the period will be on the impact of cash transfers on maternal and child health and health seeking behaviors. The research will seek to present cross country evidence from countries such as Zambia and Malawi. Jacob also currently works as a lecturer at the department of Economics, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi-Ghana. Jacob’s broad fields of specialty include heath economics and public sector economics.
Fidelia Dake, PhD
Research Fellow
Fidelia Dake (PhD, Population Studies) is a postdoctoral researcher with research interests in population health, nutritional outcomes, socio-environmental determinants of obesity and non-communicable diseases, social protection (particularly universal health coverage) and health statistics including vital statistics. Over the period of the fellowship with the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, Fidelia will work with the Transfer Project team to examine the impact of unconditional cash transfers on early pregnancy and marriage of youth.
Idrissa Ouili, PhD
Research Fellow
Idrissa Ouili (PhD, Economics) is an assistant professor at the High Institute for Population Sciences at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. He also holds a M.Sc. in Statistics and Econometrics and an engineering degree in Statistics. He previously worked for seven years as researcher at the Higher Institute of Population Sciences (ISSP), University of Ouagadougou. His research interests include methods to assess the determinant and inequality of well-being and their effect on education, health and family planning in both developing and developed countries. With UNICEF Office of Research and the Transfer Project, he works on cash transfers and multidimensional poverty of children. Dr. Ouili's CV.

Global Partners & Brain Trusts

Jennifer Yablonski, UNICEF

Social Protection Specialist

Benjamin Davis, FAO

Senior Economist

Natalia Winder Rossi, FAO

Senior Social Protection Specialist

Nicola Hypher, Save the Children UK

Economic Advisor - Social Protection

Fabio Verras Soares, IPC – UNDP

Research Coordinator