Board of Advisors

Joost Bonsen (MIT)

Joost Bonsen is a Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Joost joined the Advisory Board of Educate Lanka in 2011 when he advised its founder to become a finalist of MIT $100K Elevator Pitch Contest through his course – Development Ventures – at the Media Lab. Joost studies innovation everywhere, from invention in research labs through action in entrepreneurial startups and innovation ecosystems generally. He most recently finished the Management of Technology program at MIT Sloan with his thesis The Innovation Institute: From Creative Inquiry Through Real-World Impact at MIT.

Prior to MIT Sloan, Joost ran the MIT Founders Project which quantified the economic impact of MIT-related entrepreneurs, findings ultimately published by BankBoston as MIT: Impact of Innovation. Formerly an entrant, mentor, judge, and Lead Organizer of the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, he was instrumental in the growth of and recent doubling of the prize fund to include a Development and Social Impact Track. He is co-founder of the Howtoons Project which distributes educational cartoons showing kids everywhere "How To" build things using everyday materials and tools. He is co-founder of the MIT Innovation Club, TechLink and numerous entrepreneurial events and gatherings, including the MIT Chairman’s Salons. Joost was co-creator and founding Teaching Assistant or instructor of several MIT classes and seminars, including the IAP Nuts & Bolts of Business Plans with Joe Hadzima and Developmental Entrepreneurship and Digital Innovations with Sandy Pentland, and most recently Neurotechnology Ventures with Ed Boyden & Rutledge Ellis-Behnke.

He has hosted a weekly television show HighTechFever since 1999 (over 250 unique interviews with inventors, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, professional service providers, and more) and has run entrepreneurial networking VentureNights at the MIT Muddy Charles Pub since the mid-1990s. Joost did his Bachelor's in Bio-Electrical Engineering also at MIT.

Bhaskar Chakravorti (The Fletcher School | McKinsey)

Professor Bhaskar Chakravorti joined The Fletcher School at Tufts University in 2011 as the Senior Associate Dean for International Business and Finance and Executive Director of Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context and the Center for Emerging Markets Enterprises (CEME). He also serves on the Fletcher faculty as Professor of Practice in International Business. Professor Chakravorti joined the Advisory Board of Educate Lanka in 2012 when its founder was a student of his at the Fletcher School.   

Prior to Fletcher, professor Chakravorti was a Partner of McKinsey & Company and a Distinguished Scholar at MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship.  He also served on the faculty of the Harvard Business School and the Harvard University Center for the Environment.  He was a leader of McKinsey's Innovation and Global Forces practices and served on the Firm’s Knowledge Services Committee. In a 20+ year career as consultant and educator, he has advised over 30 companies in the Fortune 500, policy-makers, investors and entrepreneurs. His work has spanned multiple geographies: the Americas, EU, Asia and Africa.  At Harvard, he taught innovation, entrepreneurship management, and new venture formation, co-chaired an immersion program to India, and published research on innovations triggered by adversity and crises.    

Professor Chakravorti’s prior appointments include: Partner and Thought Leader at Monitor Group; game theorist and member of the technical staff at Bellcore (formerly, Bell Labs); assistant professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; officer of TAS, the executive cadre for the Tata Group.  His economics PhD is from the University of Rochester where he was a University Fellow.  He is a graduate of the Delhi School of Economics and in economics with honors from Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College.  Professor Chakravorti and his wife, Gita, live in Brookline, MA with their two children, Tarit and Sahana, and two fairly agreeable cats.

John Hammock (The Fletcher School | Oxford | ACCION)

Professor John Hammock is a Professor of Public Policy at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a Research Fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University. He is the co-founder of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative established to build a multidimensional economic framework for reducing poverty. Professor Hammock joined the Advisory Board of Educate Lanka in 2012 when its founder was a student of his course – Understanding and Managing International NGOs: Ethics and Practice – at Fletcher that used Educate Lanka as a case study.

He was founder and Director of the Tufts University Feinstein Center that undertakes research and technical assistance in humanitarian emergencies. He was President of Oxfam America for eleven years and served as Executive Director of ACCION International that provides credit to micro-enterprises. He was the Managing Director of Global Equity Initiative at Harvard. His work centers around human development and values, with particular focus on policy issues and implementation. Professor Hammock co-authored Practical Idealists: Changing the World and Getting Paid. He is Chair and Acting Executive Director of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. He holds a doctoral degree in International Relations from Tufts University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Denison University.  He was born in Cuba. He has two daughters and two grandchildren.

Raj Melville (Deshpande Foundation | MIT) 

Raj Melville is an Executive Director at the Deshpande Foundation where he develops overall strategy and channels the Foundation’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. Raj joined the Advisory Board of Educate Lanka in 2011 when he mentored the Educate Lanka team to finals at MassChallenge 2011.

Previously, as Principal at Ambient Engines, Raj provided marketing and strategy consulting to emerging social entrepreneurs. He founded the annual Forum for Social Entrepreneurs, organized and moderated numerous panels and workshops on social entrepreneurship, and currently mentors several startups focused on addressing key social issues. Raj has over 25 years of product management, marketing and consulting experience including managing overall product strategy and features as Vice President, Product Management for nTAG Interactive, a spin off from the MIT Media Lab. As V.P. Product Management and Marketing, and later V.P Client Services, at mobile software vendor Vaultus, another MIT spinoff, (now part of Antenna Software) he provided marketing, product management and client services direction. Prior to that he was Sr. Director, Product Management at Be Free Inc. (now Valueclick), a market leading affiliate marketing ad server and e-commerce solution. Earlier he managed the launch of two high-end Internet server products at Electronic Book Technologies (later acquired by Inso). His early career included working at Microsoft Corp., Digital Equipment Corporation, and Booz Allen & Hamilton.

He is an active member of TiE Boston and the India Society of Worcester and co-founded the TIE Social Entrepreneurship Group. He has been a mentor and judge for several entrepreneurial competitions such as MassChallenge, MIT 100K, MIT IDEAS, as well as the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT. Raj has a Doctor of Science in engineering from MIT focusing on optimizing the operation of computerized manufacturing systems; a Master’s from MIT’s Sloan School; and a Bachelor’s from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

Patrick Mendis

Dr. Patrick MendisProfessor Patrick Mendis is a distinguished senior fellow in the School of Public Policy and an affiliate professor of public and international affairs, both at George Mason University. He serves as the founding chair of the Board of Advisors at Educate Lanka.

A former American diplomat and a military professor in the NATO and Pacific Commands during the Clinton and Bush administrations, professor Mendis served as the vice president of academic affairs at the Osgood Center for International Studies and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. In 2012, American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed him as a commissioner to the US National Commission for UNESCO. He is the author of several books, including Commercial Providence, Trade for Peace, and Glocalization, and more than 100 articles.

Dr. Mendis earned his PhD in geography/applied economics from the University of Minnesota, MA in international development and foreign affairs from the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and BS in business administration and economics (first class honors) from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. An alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School, Professor Mendis is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.

He is the founder of the Tsunami Leadership Caring “TLC” Foundation. He has established a number of tsunami scholarships, the Sarvodaya Peace Prize, and two annual awards at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Professor Mendis has also funded over 100 Kiva micro-loan projects in more than 35 countries and established the annual Edward Burdick Legislative Award at the University of Minnesota. He has traveled to and worked in more than 100 countries and visited all 50 states in the United States. He and his family live in the Washington, DC, area.  


Srilal Perera

Mr. Srilal PereraProfessor Srilal Perera is Adjunct Professor of Law and International Research Scholar in Residence at the Washington College of Law of the American University in Washington DC. He retired in 2010 as the Chief Counsel at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank Group after serving there for 21 years. He is one of the Founding Board of Advisors of Educate Lanka and has been a personal mentor to its founders.

Professor Perera has an extensive professional and legal experience with international organizations such as the Colombo Plan, UNDP, and the World Bank. Prior to joining MIGA, he served as an attorney and legal counsel to the president of the Iran–United States Claims Tribunal in the Hague in the Netherlands.

Professor Perera had his legal education at the University of Sri Lanka where he earned an LL.B (1972) and received his licentiate to practice law from the Sri Lanka Law College (1975). He took his oaths as an Attorney at Law in 1975 before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. Thereafter, he earned a Masters Degree in International Affairs (M.A.) at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University, in 1977, with specialization in international law and international economics. He completed his Ph.D. at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. in 1985, with specialization in International Law and International Relations.

An alumnus of Harvard Business School’s Executive Development Program, professor Perera has published a number of journal articles and traveled extensively. He was recently nominated and appointed by the Government of Sri Lanka to the Panel of Arbitrators and Conciliators of Sri Lanka with the prestigious International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington DC. He and his family reside in Virginia, USA.

Fernando Reimers (Harvard Graduate School of Education)

Professor Fernando M. Reimers is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Education and the Founding Director of the International Education Policy Program at the Graduate School of Education and an Affiliated Professor at the Law School at Harvard University. Professor Reimers joined the Advisory Board of Educate Lanka in 2011 when its founder was a student of his course - Educational Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship in Comparative Perspective – that examines the role of entrepreneurs and of public private partnerships to generate and sustain educational innovation.
He is the founding co-chair of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative. He is a member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, a Fellow of the International Academy of Education, Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Education and Member of the Middle East and North Africa Advisory Group of the World Economic Forum as well as a member of the United States National Commission for UNESCO.

Prior to joining the Faculty at the Graduate School of Education in 1997, professor Reimers was Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank. He also worked as Research Associate, Institute Associate and Fellow at the Harvard Institute for International Development and on the faculty at Universidad Central de Venezuela. He has extensive experience in the area of international development assistance with the USAID, the World Bank, the IADB, and other Development Organizations. He has worked in China, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and most countries in Latin America.

He serves on a number of other advisory boards of educational organizations, including the Board of Directors of Room to Read, the Board of Directors of CEDAC in Brazil, the Advisory Board for the Inter-American Program on Education for Democratic Values and Practices at the Organization of American States, the  Board of Overseers of the Boston Museum of Science, the Advisory Board of the World Computer Exchange; the Advisory Board of the Federal Institute for the Evaluation of the Quality of Education in Mexico.

In 2009, he received an honorary degree from Emerson College for his work promoting human rights and the right to education around the world. Professor Reimers is married to Eleonora Villegas-Reimers, Professor of Education at Wheelock College. They have two sons, Tomas and Pablo.

Kim Wilson (The Fletcher School)

Kim Wilson is a Lecturer at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a Fellow with Feinstein International Center, Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University. Kim joined the Advisory Board of Educate Lanka in 2012 when she advised the founder on his thesis on Educate Lanka – “From Educate Lanka to Educate World: Tackling Development through Innovative Educational Solutions, One Nation at a Time”  

Spending time in India beginning in 2001 through 2005, Professor Wilson worked closely with savings groups, connecting them to banks with a particular focus on tribal areas. Prior to joining Tufts, she was Director of the Global Micro-Finance Unit at CRS (Catholic Relief Services), responsible for redesigning strategy for CRS’ global microfinance programming – shifting focus on credit to the poor to savings of the poor. She has also consulted to UNDP, WFP, and many international NGOs including CARE, CRS, and the Aga Khan Foundation as well as commercial financial institutions. She is co-editor of Financial Promise for the Poor, Kumarian Press. Previously, she was in the private sector, occupying senior management positions in finance and franchising.

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