What do you do?

I am the Policy Analyst for the ADVISE activity in the Data Services Team at USAID. I work on analyzing the legislation, executive orders, OMB memoranda, and other US Government laws, regulations, and guidelines to craft USAID policies on data governance.

What are 5 things you do almost every day?

  • Read. There is a constant input of information.
  • Attend meetings. There seems to be an abundant supply of these as well.
  • Communicate. Policies are not created in a vacuum (or shouldn’t be). I need to find out from people what is working for them and what is not. We solicit opinions and ideas as much as possible.
  • Write.
  • Research. What has USAID been doing about an issue so far? What did other agencies do when faced with the same guidance and decisions? How does the private sector handle the same issues? What technological change might render the policy moot?

Do you have a morning ritual? Something you do to start your day?

Make coffee. Check the email and the morning newsfeed. Data governance is a rapidly changing field and new policies come frequently. Make more coffee.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

  • Communication, both oral and written.
  • Research skills.
  • The ability to condense a lot of input into a concise summary.
  • Familiarity with the legislative process and administrative law.
  • Patience.

What is one word you would use to describe DevTech’s culture? Why?

Collegial. I have an abundance of resources at my fingertips to help with my work but the single best resource is the range of skills, knowledge, and experience of the people I work with—and their willingness to contribute and share.

What do you like best about your job?

Being paid to think.

What advice would you give to someone looking to become a policy analyst?

It certainly helps to have an academic degree in the subject. I have an MPA with a major concentration in Comparative Social Change and Development and a minor in demography. I also have decades of experience implementing, monitoring and evaluating USAID Global Health activities in Asia and Africa. Together these provide me with a broad view of USAID and its work along with skills to perform rigorous analysis.

Follow the evidence, regardless where it leads. Sometimes my biggest enemies are my own assumptions. Challenge your assumptions. Make mistakes. Learn from them. Use this learning to get better at what you do, and to improve the human condition. I have seen my work, over the years and in various ways, contribute to reducing malnutrition, to greatly reducing malaria infections, and to almost eliminating polio. Triumph follows persistence.