Ushering in the Advisors #2: Larry, Jenny

Following the launch of the FrontlineSMS Advisory Board last month, we’re honoured to announce news of our latest two appointees – Larry Diamond and Jenny Aker. Larry and Jenny join previous recruits Jan Chipchase and Erik Hersman.

Rather than formulate a general board of Advisors, we’re trying to be strategic by appointing individuals in areas we consider key for the ongoing success and growth of the project. Jan and Erik were chosen because of their user focus, and their experience in the field, and Larry and Jenny join us as strong and widely respected members of the academic community. Both have a strong interest in ICTs and their impact around the world. FrontlineSMS has many unanswered questions – not to mention presenting some meaty research opportunities – and we hope they will be able to help us figure those out, and move our analysis and understanding of its impact forward.

Larry DiamondLarry Diamond is based at Stanford University and is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he also directs the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. During the first three months of 2004, Larry served as a senior adviser on governance to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. Since then, he has lectured and written extensively on U.S. policy in Iraq and the wider challenges of post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction, and was one of the advisors to the Iraq Study Group.

During 2004–5, Larry was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Independent Task Force on United States Policy toward Arab Reform. With Abbas Milani, he coordinates the Hoover Institution Project on Democracy in Iran. Larry has been a strong FrontlineSMS supporter over the past two years, and continues to advise, promote and explore the use of the software in the promotion of democracy and the rule of law.

Jenny AkerJenny Aker is an Assistant Professor of Economics at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.  She obtained her PhD in agricultural economics from the University of California-Berkeley, a M.A. from the Fletcher School (Tufts University) and a B.A. from Duke University.  In addition to her work at Tufts, she is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor at the Center for Studies and Research in International Development (CERDI) at the University of Auvergne.

Jenny’s research focuses on the impact of information, particularly information technology, on individuals and households’ behavior, agricultural markets and producer and consumer welfare in low-income countries, with a primary focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Based upon her previous work in Niger on the impact of mobile phones on agricultural markets, she is currently partnering with Catholic Relief Services on Project ABC (Alphabetisation de Base par Cellulaire), a project which uses mobile phones as a platform for functional literacy and for obtaining price information via SMS.  She is also working on a mobile-phone based civic education project in Mozambique. Both of these projects utilise FrontlineSMS, making Jenny – and her focus areas – an ideal Advisory Board candidate.

We’re incredibly excited to be able to draw on the considerable experience of our new Advisory Board members, each of whom will help steer and direct our technical, marketing and organisational development. With software downloads now in excess of 4,000 and the imminent launch of a FrontlineSMS Developer Community, not to mention the emergence of new spin-off organisations such as FrontlineSMS:Medic and FrontlineSMS:Credit, there’s without doubt plenty to be getting on with.

The Board of Advisors will all be profiled on the FrontlineSMS website once all appointments have been made. Two more will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Welcome Larry and Jenny! \o/

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