Recognition: J-Stars

J-Stars for Outstanding Performance
The J-Stars award acknowledges the extraordinary efforts made by our staff worldwide who work toward fulfilling the mission of J-PAL. These recipients demonstrate values such as hard work, innovation, teamwork, collegiality, and exceptional technical skills. We have 3 award categories.

Innovative Solutions Award

This award is for teams and/or individuals who:

  • Creates new and sometimes unexpected solutions in a face of a specific challenge and/or that are in the best interests of J-PAL, e.g. developed solutions to effectively work together during the pandemic 
  • Embraces change as an opportunity for growth and innovation
  • Takes a future-oriented approach to short and long-term challenges
  • Participates in collaborative problem-solving, breaking down boundaries and/or creating new relationships to improve the way work gets done

2022 Winners

Srinivasa Rao Mittapally (South Asia)

Srinivasa Rao Mittapally is recognized for being a great innovator and problem-solver. He has a wealth of operational experience and has been with J-PAL since 2016. He helped uplift the procurement process in the South Asia office, where he worked with the data team to create a coded process that helped staff seamlessly move across the various stages of procurement in a natural and intuitive manner.

Kevin Wentworth (North America)

Kevin Wentworth is recognized for his phenomenal work this year as co-chair of J-PAL North America’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group, in which he oversaw the implementation of a new future- and action-oriented structure that collaborates with staff to identify challenges and creative solutions. For example, he led the North America office in exploring how to accommodate employees who observe religious or cultural holidays that MIT does not include in their holidays, resulting in a calendar of holidays observed by staff who may require accommodations to work.

Social Champion Award

This award is for teams and/or individuals who: 

  • Displays behavior and takes actions that help teams step out of work silos
  • Initiates forums/activities/gatherings that help J-PAL socialize beyond work
  • Promotes an inclusive workplace, e.g. welcomes and integrates new staff members and/or helps us connect with one another
  • Appreciates, encourages, and motivates others to be their best at J-PAL

2022 Winners

Adam Farah (North America)

Adam Farah is recognized for being the force behind social events and gatherings both in person and online, on campus and off. Not only was he creative about getting people together and keeping them engaged, but he thought through all the contingencies and is incredibly diligent and thoughtful throughout the planning process. He also demonstrated immense knowledge in event planning and all of the necessary logistics that are required to hold one successfully, which made him an invaluable part of the process. 

Margaret Andersen (Global)

Margaret Andersen is recognized for constantly taking initiative to improve team cohesion and morale through a multitude of approaches. For instance, she expresses willingness to take on efforts to improve team bonding, like leading the first Policy and Communications Town Hall, and comes up with innovative ideas to improve the way we work together, such as suggesting management host office hours to increase accessibility to certain teams. Margaret is also an incredibly valuable problem-solver who always asks for others’ opinions, listens intently, and follows up with thoughtful questions in a supportive way.

Sara El-sarrag (Middle East and North Africa)

Sara El-sarrag is recognized for her high quality performance on many research projects, along with her willingness to help her colleagues with tasks related to surveyCTO, data analysis, and enumerator training. She also collaborates flawlessly with J-PAL partners like NGOs, data collection firms, and social development institutions.

Outstanding Contributor: Working Behind the Scenes Award  

This award is for teams and/or individuals who:

  • Provides consistent excellence; goes above and beyond without fanfare
  • Fills in when and wherever needed and always performs at a high level
  • Takes initiative to solve problems and improve work situations without being prompted
  • Demonstrates reliability, perseverance and a focus on results
  • Helps others by sharing knowledge

2022 Winners

Teresa Lezcano Cadwallader (Africa)

Teresa Lezcano Cadwallader is recognized for her work creating new seminal research projects on digital IDs in sub-Saharan Africa and going beyond her mandate to not only create projects, but also help team members and share knowledge. Teresa’s work will have tangible and potentially transformational research and policy impact by contributing to J-PAL’s overall mission and the knowledge base on digital IDs, along with the millions of lives affected by new digital ID programs.

Abdoulaye Ndiaye (Europe)

Abdoulaye Ndiaye is recognized for working tirelessly to ensure that important events and trainings were a success, including the summer school for researchers and policymakers from across Africa, held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in 2022. His attention to the welfare of participants at all levels was impressive: from making sure that protocol was working smoothly for attending ministers and that the teaching team knew where to be at any given time, to making sure that the minibus drivers were able to find time for lunch. Abdoulaye’s commitment did not go unnoticed.

Domingo Navarro (Latin America and the Caribbean)

Domingo Navarro is recognized for leading his team with confidence and steadiness, while also going above and beyond to solve problems through innovative new approaches. He was able to identify errors in the accounting system and identified an alternative form to consolidate financial reports. Domingo also finds mental space and time to be able to go beyond the urgent and take care of strategy too, making him an invaluable team leader.

Nadia Rayhanna (Southeast Asia)

Nadia Rayhanna is recognized for navigating obstacles in her projects with a keen eye and a full understanding of potential roadblocks and bottlenecks, while also providing significant contributions to the knowledge base of the entire office. Over the past couple of years, Nadia faced complex partnerships with difficult demands, and had to handle seemingly insurmountable challenges such as delayed data requests from 2020. Because of her hard work, she came out with stronger partnerships than ever before.

Bhakti Bhowmik (South Asia)

Bhakti Bhowmik is recognized for enabling her team to function smoothly and seamlessly, and working hard to contribute toward advancing the J-PAL mission during interactions with the public. She is also a master at coordinating with people of all sorts—wily vendors, excited participants, new support staff, and more. Bhakti thinks on her feet to come up with quick solutions to sudden problems and tackles them with ease.

Vidita Priyadarshini (South Asia)

Vidita Priyadarshini is recognized for consistently contributing to driving team goals forward and providing sound guidance to others. She manages high-level communication products like donor reports effortlessly. Vidita also has the unique ability to produce high quality work during moments of ambiguity and uncertainty, all without fanfare. She always strives for excellence in whatever she does and is a huge asset to J-PAL South Asia.

Nadeen Elashmawy (Middle East and North Africa)

Nadeen Elashmawy is recognized for taking on the vast responsibility of a partnership with UNICEF and for taking the lead on communications for the office, among many other projects. As the lead on J-PAL MENA work in the gender and health sectors, she has shown tremendous drive and creativity, as well as a nuanced understanding of the evidence and policy lessons in her sectors, all of which she brings to exploring new partnerships to share or generate evidence.

Gabrielle Hauray (Global)

Gabrielle Hauray is recognized for being an incredibly proactive and effective problem solver. Not only does she adeptly respond to any questions that come to her, but she proactively identifies bottlenecks and identifies response paths. As the African Scholars program has grown, Gaby worked with colleagues to identify a key challenge in order to administer grants to scholars and coordinated across verticals to build consensus about the nature of the problem and how to best respond.

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