Highlighting CRS Speakers at the 11th ICT4D Conference: The Global Digital Development Conference

The 11th ICT4D Conference: The Global Digital Development Conference is just around the corner. This conference, founded by CRS, brings together hundreds of public, private, and civil society organizations, eager to share practical insights on applying digital technology to development, humanitarian, and conservation challenges. Topic areas range from agriculture, health, education, conservation, and disaster management to information and communications technology, data management, GIS/mapping, and financial services.

Speaking is a great way to share your experience in implementing ICT4D solutions, stimulate discussion about the challenges and best practices surrounding their use, and introduce people to new ways of doing relief and development work. There will be 250+ speakers whom have been carefully selected from the pool of 850+ speaker applications that were received! Speakers were selected based off of the following criteria: exceptional innovation in ICT4D; credibility and experience; clarity of the submission; relevance to conference themes; verifiable results and impact of the program/project; and, the extent to which the program/project is replicable and scalable.

The Conference was originally created as a platform for sharing and exchanging knowledge on how CRS is using digital technologies in its programs, and even after 10 years this event will still feature numerous presentations by CRS staff. Some of the accepted speakers from CRS are: Ali El Benni, Ben Safari, Kathryn M Clifton, Padma Keshari Sahoo, Sarah Penniman-Morin, and Tapfuma Murove. Read more about these speakers and what they plan to talk about at the conference below!

2019 ICT4D Conference CRS Speakers Include:

Ali El Benni:
Senior Manager, Data Protection and Information Security
Based: Lebanon

Ali is responsible for setting strategic direction of CRS in agency-wide data protection, information security, and identity access and management.  He also manages the teams responsible for operationalizing the strategy for these three domains, ensuring that adequate information security and privacy practices permeate all aspects of CRS’ principles and operations including people, processes, technologies, and data.

His upcoming presentation, A Critical Step Toward Assessing and Mitigating Privacy Risks – Privacy Impact Assessments (PLA), shouldn’t be missed! For anyone involved in ICT4D, this speech’s importance cannot be understated. In this session, Ali will share the methodologies and frameworks created and adopted by CRS for conducting Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs). PIAs are an extremely useful risk management tool that can help organizations manage privacy expectations of individuals when they implement new technology or more invasive ways of collecting, utilizing, and processing personal information.


Ben Safari:
Director – Global Supply Chain Management Unit
Based: Australia

Ben joined the Global Supply Chain Management (SCM) team as Director in January of 2017 and has had a career at CRS spanning almost 20 years. He holds an MA in economics from Adelaide University in Australia and has extensive experience in academic research and policy-making. Furthermore, Ben has proven experience in designing and leading SCM operations for projects funded by CRS’ largest donors, a combination of development and emergency response SCM expertise, and market-based humanitarian response leadership.

In his upcoming presentation, A most unusual Journey: Leaping from a chaotic and incomplete SCM structure to an ERP-supported complete SCM structure at the speed of light, Ben plans to discuss how, previously at CRS, Supply Chain Management has responded to multiple humanitarian disasters and performed SCM heavy development projects by building contextual systems/structures, and subsequently dismantling them, as each project ended (or customizing them to a specific donor requirement) – until now. In 2016, CRS invested in the purchase of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to manage the flow of data for Finance, HR, and Supply Chain. With a strictly mandated implementation timeframe of 3 years (2018-2020), this session will present the CRS story so far!


Kathryn M Clifton:
ICT4D Data and Communications Manager
Based: Mexico

Kathryn is an ICT4D Data and Communications manager for CRS that supports global programming. She is an ICT practitioner who has had long term assignments in the Philippines, Jordan, and Mexico. While working in Jordan, she covered programs in the Middle East and South-East Asia. She has worked on short term assignments in Mongolia, Guatemala, and South Africa. Kathryn started practicing ICT4D in 2006 before even knowing that’s what it was called! She has a PhD in Agriculture from Texas A&M University and a master’s in international development from Tulane. She has worked for ICARDA, FAO, and TAMU.

Her upcoming presentation, Informed Scale: Market and Cost Benefit Analysis, is sure to be highly informative! Solutions can become sustainable or unsustainable in different contexts, which is something all ICT4D practitioners should keep in mind when implementing new solutions. This presentation will explain how to conduct a market and cost-benefit analysis, and present the results of various studies – including a market analysis for the Viamo 3-2-1 Service, Hello Tractor in Mexico, and a cost-benefit analysis for a national bed net distribution project in Nigeria that utilized technology.


Padma Keshari Sahoo:
Watershed Specialist
Based: India

Padma has been working with CRS as a Watershed Specialist for more than two years. He is a post grad in Water Resources Development and Management from the Indian Institute of Technology and has more than twelve years of working experience in the development sector. Padma’s interests include bridging the technical gap between the planning and implementation team by providing simple ICT solutions to field staff and the community.

His upcoming presentation, Use of Open Source Geospatial Tools in Micro-planning of Natural Resource Management in Gajapati, Odisha, India, is sure to be captivating to any and all GIS and geospatial proponents. Padma will touch upon how CRS India uses open source geospatial tools and data to improve the planning processes for soil and water conservation measures in the Watershed Management for Resilient Livelihoods of Tribal Communities in Odisha project. Plot-based planning for micro-level soil and water conservation measures and structures has been challenging in the tribal affected Mohana block of the Gajapati district in Odisha state where there is highly sloped and undulated terrain. Also, there is limited knowledge of land rights and technical skills – so CRS worked with a planning team to develop a digital database of land plot boundaries, drainage lines, slopes, soil depth, texture, and erodibility to develop their NRM plans. All very helpful for farmers in the area!


Sarah Penniman-Morin:
Deputy Director for Global Supply Chain Management
Based: United States

Sarah joined CRS in 2015 after spending most of the last 13 years of her career in the field with PSI and MSF, managing medical and health product supply chains in low-income and emergency settings around the world. She holds a Master of Science in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a Master of Engineering in Supply Chain and Logistics from MIT’s Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence (SCALE) Program.

Her upcoming presentation, Can David and Goliath Get Along? Exploring the Opportunities in Connecting Large ERP systems and Mobile-based Technologies, is certain to be of interest for anyone working in health product supply chains. Particularly so, if you also are interested in incorporating mobile-based technology into your health or medical programming. This presentation touches on the fact that there is risk and reward in the purchase of both long-standing, behemoth ERP systems and more customizable, primarily mobile-based systems. ERP systems promise a robust support team, as well as a lack of bugs and update woes, but can be too rigid to be successful in the contexts in which CRS operates its supply chains. Newer ICT4D platforms that offer affordable, customizable technologies that can adapt to offline environments can seem enticing.  However, they are often specific to a segment of the supply chain, or a particular supply chain modality, and don’t seamlessly interface with other financial, programmatic, and HR systems.  What if they can combine them to get the best of both worlds? You’ll have to head on out to the ICT4D Conference to find out more!


Tapfuma Murove:
Program Technical Director & Deputy Chief of Party for 4Children
Based: Nigeria

Dr. Tapfuma Murove is an international development specialist with 14 years of combined experience in social development and humanitarian work, technical support, social policy, and advocacy. His experience draws from program management, coordination, and technical leadership roles performed at the national, regional, and global levels. These roles called for him to exercise advanced skills in strategic leadership, capacity strengthening, program coordination and management, training and research, advocacy, partnership development, communications and engagement including with Regional Economic Blocs like the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC).

In his upcoming presentation, Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors’ Approach for Listening to the Needs and Preferences of Adolescents Living with HIV in Nigeria, Tapfuma  will discuss how engaging youth living with HIV in testing and treatment is essential to national epidemic control in Nigeria. Even though adolescents can be reluctant to discuss topics of HIV risk behavior or treatment adherence. The CRS program partnered with The Girl Effect in Nigeria to use the Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGA) methodology to explore the enablers and barriers to adolescent girls’ and boys’ HIV testing, disclosure, treatment, adherence and experiences of care and support. This will be a joint presentation that will include his co-presenter: Chinedu Ohanyido (Girl Effect).


But wait… There’s More!

In addition to the wonderful speakers and planned presentations showcased above, there are Karl Lowe, CIO and Jennifer Poidatz, VP of CRS’ Humanitarian Response Department, as plenary speakers. Don’t forget that there are a number of CRS staff who will be grouped together into panels around common themes! Some of the CRS panel speakers are:


  • Apoorv Pal: Senior ICT4D Solution Engineer
  • Axel Schmidt: Agriculture Science & Research Advisor
  • Bryan Sobel: Technical Advisor
  • Daniel Oliver: Director, Evidence Building
  • Kaitlyn Maloney: Project Manager Data Transparency
  • Michelle Ell: Uganda Project Director
  • Mikko San Diego: Learning Manager
  • Stephen Hellen: Director, ICT4D and GIS
  • Troy Hoppenjan: Agricultural Livelihoods Manager


There will be many more speakers at the conference, please visit www.ict4dconference.org/program/conference-tracks-2019/ to learn more! While you’re there, keep in mind that there are a few CRS co-leads of ICT4D Conference Tracks:


  • Agriculture – Shaun Ferris: Technical Director, Prg Impact & QA
  • Health and Nutrition – Thomas Fenn: Chief of Party, 4Children
  • Humanitarian Response and Resilience – Susan Van Duijl: Technical Advisor, Humanitarian Response Dept

So, register NOW and start booking flights and hotel accommodations because the 11th ICT4D Conference is sure to be an enlightening, innovative, and valuable experience for everyone involved – especially attendees!


By Paul S Wiedmaier of Catholic Relief Services