Senior Experts

Sarah Sladen

Director, Youth Economic Opportunities Network (YEO Network)

Sarah brings to her role 14 years of experience in international program management, implementation, and coalition building. She has a background in workforce development, education, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution. Sarah oversees the YEO Network’s strategy and innovation as well as key initiatives to advance the field, including the Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit, the YEO online learning hub, and year-round convenings and virtual learning events. She also co-chairs YouthPower Learning's Youth Engagement community of practice. Sarah holds a Master's Degree in International Development with a focus on youth and conflict from the School of International Service at American University.

Maria Brindlmayer

Senior Knowledge Management Specialist

Maria serves as Senior Knowledge Management (KM) Specialist for the USAID-funded YouthPower Learning project. In this capacity, she leads the online learning hub, communities of practice, and grant components and co-chairs the Youth in Peace and Security community of practice. Since 2013, she has also served on the Secretariat for the Building Evidence in Education (BE2) donor working group. Maria is a trained economist and KM expert recognized for developing and deploying high-impact KM systems and processes for public and private sector clients, including USAID, DFID, the European Commission, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. In her free time, Maria is a fan of classical music and enjoys singing in a choir.

Paul Bell

Senior Advisor, Youth, Entrepreunership, and Conflict

Paul is a senior expert in entrepreneurship, conflict, CVE, livelihoods, and community development. He has significant experience managing large-scale, high-impact projects, including as Chief of Party on two $100+ million projects funded by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and as Director of The World Bank/IFC business training project at Kabul University. At Making Cents, Paul leads assessments and builds technical and organizational capacity of local organizations around the world. Prior to working internationally, he owned successful small businesses and mentored and trained at-risk youth in some of London’s toughest inner-city districts. As founder of the International Development Angels investment group, Paul is also Lead Investor and Financial Advisor to Shelf.io a major KM software-as-service start-up based in the US.

Chelsea Pallatino

Research, Evaluation, and Learning Specialist

Chelsea brings over ten years of research and project management experience in the U.S. and abroad related to gender and development. Her primary areas of expertise include gender equity, women’s empowerment, and gender-based violence. At Making Cents, she is responsible for guiding qualitative and quantitative research activities and program design, implementation, analysis, evaluation, and dissemination that integrates community-based participatory approaches. Prior to joining Making Cents, Chelsea worked with the United Nations Development Programme on their Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) initiative and served as a Commissioner on the City of Pittsburgh’s Gender Equity Commission under the Office of the Mayor. Chelsea holds a Ph.D. in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh. 

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