New Staff in Communications, Grants, Operations, Programs, and Research (2020)

In this post, “we” refers to Good Ventures and Open Philanthropy, who work as partners.

Since our last hiring update, we have had a lot of new staff join Open Philanthropy. I’d like to use this post to introduce the new members of our team. We’re excited to have them!

Rinad Al-Anakrih, Operations Assistant

Rinad joined Open Phil in August 2019. She recently graduated as part of the first class of Minerva, a new liberal arts college, where she studied Psychology and Biology. During her time at Minerva, Rinad studied in San Francisco, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul, Hyderabad, and London. She has held a variety of research assistant roles and most recently worked as an intern at 500 Startups, where she focused on business development.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
My most interesting projects often involve some sort of event planning and coordination. I generally enjoy taking projects from ideation to implementation, and events are a perfect domain to exercise that: from finding a suitable event venue, curating a food and drinks menu, and communicating with our staff, to putting the event together and ensuring that everyone is happy and satisfied. It’s a long process, but it’s ultimately super rewarding to look around and see that everything is going as planned!

Tom Davidson, Research Analyst

Tom joined Open Phil in January 2020. He’s currently working on assessing arguments that transformative artificial intelligence might be developed relatively soon, which is an input into how much capital should be allocated to the potential risks from advanced AI relative to other areas. Prior to joining Open Philanthropy, Tom worked as a Data Scientist for education technology start-up BridgeU and taught science at a UK comprehensive school. He has a Masters in Physics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
I’ve really enjoyed evaluating arguments for expecting transformative AI systems to be developed in the next few decades. Trying to disentangle the complex mix of empirical claims, machine learning theory, and broad methodological principles is difficult but rewarding! It’s been especially fun discussing topics like these with my colleagues at Open Phil.

Povneet Dhillon, Grants Associate

Povneet joined Open Phil in April 2019. Prior to joining Open Philanthropy, she worked as a Project Management Analyst. She has also worked as a Programs Manager with Chisom Housing Group, an affordable housing provider, and interned with the Justice Policy Institute. Povneet graduated from George Mason University with a BA in Criminology and a minor in Nonprofit Studies.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
I have particularly enjoyed working on projects that involve further streamlining our grantmaking process, such as transitioning email templates to Salesforce. When I joined the grants team, all of our email templates communicating with potential grantees were stored in a single document, and the grants team would have to copy, paste, and significantly edit those templates in order to send each email. My project was to build all of our templates in Salesforce so that information can automatically merge from Salesforce records, time spent on manual edits can decrease, and we can improve the accuracy of our communication.

Peter Favaloro, Research Fellow

Peter joined Open Phil in November 2019. He works to identify new issue areas where Open Philanthropy could have high impact, and to prioritize Open Philanthropy’s giving across causes in policy, scientific research, and global development. Prior to joining Open Philanthropy, Peter was a graduate student at the London School of Economics (LSE) and a researcher at Stanford and MIT Sloan, focusing on the economics of public goods. Before that, he analyzed currency markets in Bridgewater Associates’ research department and was a product manager in Bridgewater’s “Systemized Intelligence Lab.” Peter holds an MSc in Economics from LSE and a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Princeton.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
Cause selection at Open Phil is a cool mix of quick-turn practical research and interesting abstract questions. For example, we start with a question like: what is the welfare burden of air pollution in South Asia, and how much of a difference could our grantmaking accomplish there compared to other issue areas? We can read the key papers, talk to experts, and build some simple models. But we also need a method for valuing health improvements relative to, say, income improvements, and a view on how that tradeoff applies across different countries. So we end up working on that methodology along the way. That combination is really fun.

Leena Jones, Grants Associate

Leena joined Open Phil in April 2019. Prior to joining Open Philanthropy, she worked at Blackbaud, Inc., as a sales Account Executive, where she helped nonprofit organizations marry strategy with technology to achieve strategic initiatives. She also served the nonprofit sector as a consultant, software instructor, and database administrator. Leena graduated from Middlebury College with a BS in Psychology.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
As a grants associate with the responsibility of processing grants, I appreciate how our grantmaking is very diverse, meaning that the majority of my time does not consist of repetitive tasks. Although we have clearly established grant processes, new situations pop up daily, and we are often challenged to think outside the box. I also value our grantee-centered approach, which reduces the paperwork burden on grantees’ end so that they can focus on what they do best.

Kira Maker, Operations Associate

Kira joined Open Phil in April 2019. Prior to joining Open Philanthropy, she worked as a Biology teacher at Envision Academy of Arts & Technology in Oakland. Before that, she served as an associate at Close Concerns, a health news service focused on diabetes and obesity. Kira has an MA in Education and a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to be surrounded by really smart colleagues. Every few weeks, we have roundtable discussions where we get to learn about individuals’ program area strategies, and I always walk away feeling inspired, interested, and grateful to work at Open Phil.

Eli Nathan, Operations Assistant

Eli joined Open Phil in August 2019. He has a Master’s in Chemistry from the University of Oxford, where he was involved in various roles in the Effective Altruism community, including helping to run the EAGxOxford conference in 2016. Throughout university, he also worked as a contractor for the Centre for Effective Altruism and the Future of Humanity Institute.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
One of my most interesting projects so far has been helping to improve the office space—building out video conference rooms, improving our room booking system, and thinking about renovations. It’s been great working with vendors in different industries—seeing how they approach and solve problems, as well as how the different sectors overlap. We’re hoping to revamp our office in 2020, and I’m excited to supervise this project and see how it turns out!

Matthew Poe, Salesforce Architect and Senior Administrator

Matthew joined Open Phil in June 2019. Before joining Open Philanthropy, Matthew served as CRM Product Manager at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), where he oversaw Salesforce system architecture. Prior to that, he coordinated Columbia Law School’s pro bono program, and helped nonprofit clients get the most out of Salesforce as a consultant at Cloud for Good. Matthew enjoys participating in the open source community, and serves as a leader of the NYC Salesforce Developer Community Group. In 2019, Salesforce awarded him MVP status for his community contributions. Before working with Salesforce, Matthew spent over a decade in the field of performing arts administration. Matthew holds a BA in Political Science and Philosophy from West Virginia University, and lives in New York City, where he enjoys vegan junk food and seeing almost any kind of live performance.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
I work with our grants database, and there’s never a day where I am not amazed at the breadth and depth of expertise my colleagues bring to this work. Our staff and grantees are doing such interesting, important things, and it is a joy to be able to support my colleagues in this work by striving to create great tech tools.

Zachary Robinson, Research Fellow

Zach joined Open Phil in November 2019. He works to identify and prioritize new cause areas for Open Philanthropy’s giving. Prior to joining Open Philanthropy, Zach was the director of product and strategy for Ivy Research Council and worked as a management consultant with Bain and Company. Zach is an alumnus of Deep Springs College and graduated from Stanford with a BS in mathematical and computational science.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
Part of my work has focused on immigration and housing policy. It has been interesting to me to learn about the parallels between the two policy areas and realize that in some ways, solutions address a similar problem—both housing zoning restrictions and barriers to migration can keep people from areas where they can earn higher wages and improve their quality of life.

Gabriela Romero, Communications Associate

Gabriela joined Open Phil in October 2019. She recently graduated from Stanford University with a BA in American Studies and a minor in Political Science. Prior to joining Open Philanthropy, Gabriela worked as a communications intern in the office of U.S. Senator Tom Udall and served as editor in chief of Stanford’s undergraduate history journal, Herodotus.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
I’ve been helping to set strategic goals for Open Phil’s communications team, specifically by thinking through what our online presence should look like. It’s been interesting to approach my research into potential tactics with the guiding question of “How can Open Phil’s online presence help it to more effectively carry out its mission?” With this question in mind, I look forward to helping to craft digital strategies that are purposeful, effective, and mission-based.

Andrew Snyder-Beattie, Program Officer, Biosecurity and Pandemic Preparedness

Andrew joined Open Phil in April 2019. He was previously Director of Research at the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI), University of Oxford, where he managed a number of research, recruitment, and fundraising activities. Before that, he was a project manager at FHI, and a researcher at a personalized medicine startup. He holds a PhD/DPhil in zoology from the University of Oxford, an MS in biomathematics from North Carolina State University, and is an alumnus of the Johns Hopkins Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
One interesting aspect of the work has been experiencing firsthand the inadequacies of the world’s response to SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus). I’m grateful to be able to learn from and support so many hardworking grantees that are aiming to reduce the humanitarian impact of this pandemic and prevent the next one.