Knowledge Fellows

The ECDAN Knowledge Fellows program creates opportunities for early career ECD professionals from the Global South to receive professional development, mentorship, and networking connections while working on a project that advances ECDAN’s learning goals. This program launched in 2021 and is now in its third year. Our goal through this program is to encourage talented professionals to invest in the ECD field and generate new understandings on topics related to ECDAN’s collaborative initiatives.

Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2023 cohort of Knowledge Fellows, but please come back soon to learn who was selected and what projects they will undertake. The 2022 cohort of Knowledge Fellows recently celebrated their graduation and presented their projects during a special showcase webinar. Watch the recording, view the master slide deck, and find links to each of their projects below.

Steering Committee

The Knowledge Fellows program is managed by ECDAN’s Secretariat with guidance from a steering committee. Knowledge Fellow steering committee members help to select the Fellows and Mentors, shape the design of the program, and assure its quality. Steering committee members are primarily academics specializing in ECD who are experienced working with students to generate new knowledge in the field. They volunteer their time and without their support, and that of the Mentors, this program would not be possible.

Aisha K. Yousafzai
Associate Professor of Global Health at
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Beatrice Matafwali
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology, Sociology and Special Education at the University of Zambia

Elizabeth Lule
Executive Director
at Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN)

Frances E. Aboud (co-chair)
Professor Emerita at McGill University

Joy Millan Maler
Early Childhood Development (ECD) Specialist
at UNICEF Pacific

Kimberly Boller headshot

Kimberly Boller
Senior Director for Science Affairs at the American Psychological Association

Kim Foulds
Vice President, Content Research & Evaluation at Sesame Workshop

Lucy Basset
Associate Professor of Practice at the University of Virginia

Nirmala Rao (co-chair)
Serena H.C. Yang Professor in Early Childhood Development and Education at the The University of Hong Kong

Steve Lye
Executive Director, Alliance for Human Development at the University of Toronto

Learn more about ECDAN’s Knowledge Fellows program by meeting the impressive individuals in the past two cohorts.

Second Cohort


Giang Le


Project Outputs: The broad aim of the project is to support service provision and capacity building the field of IDD among service providers, professionals and caregivers who support children with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) in low-resourced settings. View her presentation and her report.

Giang Le is currently working as the Project Officer and Disability Technical Assistant at a local not-for-profit organization based in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. She received a BA in Psychology at Bryn Mawr College and a Master in Disability Policy and Practice at Flinders University of South Australia. She has worked as the research assistant in several projects to evaluate the effectiveness of early identification and intervention programs for children with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) in Vietnam and supported the development of training programs to build capacity for health professionals in the field of IDD. She recently completed an independent research project in conceptualization and response to intellectual disability in Vietnam.

Jaqueline Natal

Jaqueline F. Natal


Project Outputs: Understanding the effective expenditure per child in Early Childhood Education by Brazilian municipalities. View her presentation and her report.

Jaqueline is a researcher whose work focuses on understanding the impact of Early Childhood Education on learning and child development with a focus on quality ECE in Brazil. She has five years of experience in researching Early Childhood at the Laboratory of Studies and Research in Social Economics – University of São Paulo (LEPES-USP). The main activities that she held at the LEPES were focused on quantitative analysis, which involved the leadership of the Early Childhood agenda. In addition, she was the coordinator and manager of the development of the First Early Childhood Education Monitoring System in Brazil working with a multidisciplinary team such as policymakers, psychologists, economists, developers, and educators. Jaqueline is also the co-author of the study “Cost of Inaction of the Early Childhood Programs for Brazil” contracted by ECDAN and has presented her work to a variety of audiences including the National authorities and UNICEF. She holds an M. Sc. in Applied Economics and a Bachelor in Economic Sciences from the University of São Paulo.

Pema Thinley


Project Outputs: Status of Pre-Primary sub-sector in Bhutan: Using Pre-primary sub-sector analysis tool. The project aims to study the status, gaps, challenges, strengths and weaknesses of the pre-primary sub sector in Bhutan. View his presentation and his report.

Pema is currently serving as an Assistant Program Officer under ECCD and SEN Division, Ministry of Education. He has a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration and Bachelors in Environment and Climate Studies. As a program officer he has to ensure access and quality of ECCD programs in the country, monitor and evaluate programs, professionalize the early educators, supply teaching and learning materials and facilitate construction of ECCD Centres and encourage private participation in the ECCD program.

Aanchal Kapur

Aanchal Kapur


Project Outputs: Research and develop a narrative review on Understanding Systems Thinking from an Early Childhood Development Perspective. View her presentation and her report.

Aanchal is an ECDE professional and has engaged in projects focused on eliminating the disparity in accessing quality Early learning services and building Foundational learning and numeracy skills in children living in under-resourced communities of India and Africa. She holds a master of Early Childhood Care and Education from Ambedkar University, Delhi and a B.Sc. in Human Development and Childhood Studies from Delhi University. Aanchal has worked with Oxfam India’s inequality campaign team in documenting evidence of inequality in accessing quality early learning services by children living in remote regions of India. Currently, as an Early Childhood Education Associate at Pratham Education Foundation, she contributes to the organization’s work in the early years.

Sai Durgeshwari Rajandiran


Project Outputs: Research, design, and development of a knowledge platform on global parenting programs from infancy to adolescence. View her presentation and the knowledge hub.

Sai Durgeshwari is an early career professional with interests in child development, caregiver-child relationships, and education programme management. She holds a master’s degree in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and English from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Presently, Durgesh is based in Malaysia as an evaluation specialist for a global education consultancy, Cognition Learning Group. She previously trained as an academic researcher in laboratories at UCLA Linguistics and Harvard Psychology to study the acquisition and processing of languages in both children and adults.

Bethlehem Girma

Bethlehem Girma


Project Outputs: Landscape Analysis of Early Childhood Costing Initiatives. The project aims at researching and designing a knowledge repository on costing initiatives and tools for early childhood education. View her presentation.

Bethlehem is a researcher and Early Childhood Action Network 2022 Knowledge Fellow. Her project as a Knowledge Fellow focuses on conducting a Landscape Analysis of Early Childhood Costing Initiatives. Bethlehem areas of work also encompass climate-induced migration and social protection, microfinance, micro insurance, value chain finance, market systems development, and climate change education. She holds a master’s of Science in Development Practice from Trinity College Dublin and a second master’s in Accounting and Finance from Addis Ababa University. Bethlehem is currently a research assistant at Ryan Institute the University of Galway, and previously worked at UNICEF NYHQ (consultant on Climate Education), DAI (Access to Finance Intervention Manager), and Adama University (Lecturer).

First Cohort

Denise Bonsu


Project Outputs: Global COVID-19 Knowledge Platform on Home Visiting Programmes

Denise is an international development practitioner with an interest in early childhood development, maternal and child health, and Francophone Africa. As a Senior Program Associate for Results for Development (R4D), Ms. Bonsu worked extensively with the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative (ECWI) to increase the global knowledge base on early childhood development and provide decision-makers with the tools and resources with which to support the early childhood workforce at scale. Under ECWI, Ms. Bonsu conducted rigorous qualitative research on Ecuador’s efforts to professionalize the early childhood workforce and co-authored a country brief that summarized the findings. She also co-developed a Home Visiting Workforce Needs Assessment Tool to enable policymakers to prioritize areas of focus for supporting community health workers in their countries, and piloted the tool in Siaya County, Kenya. Ms. Bonsu holds a master’s degree in international development and international economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a BA in economics and sociology from the College of William and Mary. She speaks English and French.

Keisha Constantino


Project outputs: Early Childhood Care and Development Responsiveness Local Government Unit Assessment Tool (ERLAT)

Keisha is a faculty member at the Department of Family Life and Child Development, College of Home Economics, University of the Philippines Diliman where teaches undergraduate courses in Child Development from Prenatal Stage to Middle Childhood, Management of Programs for Preschool Children, and Home Management. She is also a candidate for Masters in Public Administration from the National College of Public Administration and Governance from the same University (to be conferred Jan 2022). Keisha studies the governance and administration of early childhood policies and programs, and is engaged in projects with children, families, practitioners and government working in the field of ECD.

Jorge Cuartas


Project outputs: Global Review on Interventions to Reduce Corporal Punishment in Low-and-Middle-Income Countries – Policy Brief and Research Paper

Jorge is a Ph.D. candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a member of the SEED lab, graduate student affiliate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Science and Innovation Fellow at the Center on the Developing Child (2020-2021), Knowledge Fellow at the Early Childhood Action Network (ECDAN; 2020-2021), member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for The Lancet Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Maltreatment of Young People, consultant at UNICEF Latin America & Caribbean, and co-director of Apapacho Colombia. Jorge’s research focuses on early childhood development and parenting in global contexts, the effects of corporal punishment and other forms of violence on children’s neural, cognitive, and socioemotional development, and the development and evaluation of violence prevention programs and policies. He holds an Ed.M in Human Development & Psychology from Harvard University, M.Sc. in Economics from Universidad de los Andes, and a B.Sc in Economics from Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano.

Carlota Nelson


Project outputs: Online Open Source Library of Early Learning Community Radio Programmes.

Carlota is an accomplished Spain-based filmmaker and director of the groundbreaking feature documentary, Brain Matters, a film that explores the development of the brain in early childhood. She is a member of The Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences of Spain, and of the Steering Committee at Karanga – The Global Alliance for SEL and Life Skills –. Her documentary work has spanned global social and cultural topics, including art and apartheid in South Africa, censorship in Kuala Lumpur, and recidivism in America’s women’s prisons. Nelson’s first feature documentary, Anclados, premiered across Europe in 2010 to significant acclaim. The film tells the story of the crew of a Russian trawler quarantined in a Spanish port following the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Tashar Simasiku


Project outputs: Multisectoral Approaches to Nurturing Care Programmes: A case study of opportunities and challenges in Zambia

Tashar holds a Master of Science Degree in Education from Texila American University Graduate School of Education, a Master of Science Degree in Project Management from the University of Bolton, and a BA in Education from the University of Zambia. She is a development practitioner with a passion for Early Childhood Development and Education. Ms. Simasiku has over 10 years of experience in the Management of Early childhood Education programs in Zambia and has actively participated in various national platforms on Early Childhood Education that are focused on increasing access to quality Early Learning and Primary Education services. As Education Advisor for VVOB Education for Development, Tashar’s role contributes to enhancing policy development and implementation through strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Education in Zambia to deliver quality services equitable.

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