Working Groups

Coversations with Practitioners Working Group

The MD4SG community aims to bridge research and practice, but many researchers have few opportunities to connect with practitioners. The aim of this working group is to learn from practitioners. We want to know their story, understand their main challenges, and discover if tools from mechanism design apply to their domain.

For our purposes, we define a practitioner as any person who works with (or on policy related to) marginalized and disadvantaged communities.

The group is split into two subgroups to cater for group members in different timezones. One subgroup meets in the afternoon for the Americas, and morning for East Asia. The other subgroup meets in the morning for Africa and Europe, and afternoon for West Asia.

At each meeting, a group member will invite a practitioner for an informal live interview with the group (similar to a "fireside chat"). After the interview, we summarise the main insights into a blog post.



Here is a list of practitioners our group has interviewed. Click on the practitioner's name to read the summary blog post of the interview.

Our group is grateful to Salma Belhajali, a journalist based in Morocco, for giving us training on conducting interviews, and to Christian Ramirez for co-leading at the beginning stages.


Swapna Reddy

Co-founder and co-executive director of Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), a non-profit organisation that strives to improve the lives of asylum seekers in the United States.

Katie Bridges

Senior business intelligence analyst for the city of Boulder, Colorado, who has a passion for using data to inform decision making in the public sphere.

Gesine Reinicke

Training Coordinator at SprInt, which is a non-profit program in Germany that trains unemployed migrants to be language and integration mediators for other migrants.


Summaries of the following interviews are coming soon.

Clotilde Giner

Advisor for Social innovation at the Inter-Ministerial Delegation for the Reception and Integration of Refugees in the French Government.

Prasad Dandekar

Head, Radiation Oncology, Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre.

Michela Martinazzi and Josh Komarovsky

Volunteers at the New York Community Action Project (NYCAP), an organization which advocates for community control of the local police service with the aim of preventing policy brutality.

Kristina Koenig

Manages carbon abatement programs working with Indigenous peoples in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia.

Yeukai Chideya

Social worker based in Cape Town, South Africa, that worked with refugees at the The Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture. Yeukai also started an NGO called the Ruremekedzo Project which delivers emergency packs to women and children facing a humanitarian crisis.

Stephen Kalungu

Senior Manager at GiveDirectly's Kenya office. GiveDirectly provide cash grants to people in need in several African countries and in the United States.

Tiasia O'Brien

Founder of Seam Social Labs, an organisation that aims to transform community voices into a valuable data source for equitable design outcomes.

Luke Hohmann

Founder and CEO of FirstRoot, a startup that implements participatory budgeting in schools.

Verity Firth

Former New South Wales Minister for Education and Training (2008–2011).

Dianne Schwartz

Vocational Counsellor and a Registered Clinical Counsellor in British Columbia, Canada. Dianne talked to us about her work with Alexandra Neighbourhood House, which provides a wide variety of community services for people of all ages, abilities, and cultures.

Su Wang

Co-founder of SEED for Social Innovation in China, a nonprofit organization that discovers, trains, and connects China’s young social innovators.

Kelly Bollinger, Benjamin Martin, and Gretchen Schober

Leaders of the Clemson All-In Recovery (CAIR), a student organization aiming to support students interested in recovery from addictions, allies of recovery, or anyone affected by addiction.


Working Group Organizers

Matthew Olckers Postdoctoral Researcher UNSW
Kristen Scott Graduate Student KU Leuven

Working Group Members

Tayo Fabusuyi Research Faculty University of Michigan
Michelle Feng Postdoctoral Researcher Caltech
Jessie Finocchiaro Graduate Student Affiliation
Saikrishna Muralidaran Undergraduate Student Sardar Patel Institute of Technology
Di Nguyen Graduate Student Clemson University
Frank Ojwang Graduate Student University of Lapland
Lorenn Ruster Graduate Student Australian National University
Emil Temnyalov Senior Lecturer University of Technology Sydney
Kentaro Tomoeda Senior Lecturer University of Technology Sydney
Jeremy Vollen Graduate Student UNSW Sydney
Wendy Xu Postdoctoral Researcher HKUST