Team Bios

Eleanor (Nora) Sohnen, MA, Project Director

Nora is a specialist in workforce development and labor market and migration policy analysis. Recent clients include the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Inter-American Foundation, and Internews. She also served as a policy analyst for the Migration Policy Institute.

Prior to her career in international development and policy work, Nora spent several years working in journalism and communications, serving on the editorial staff of an alternative newsweekly and as a freelance arts writer and editor. She has an MA in International Relations and International Affairs from Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a BA in Latin American Studies from Oberlin College.Nora_final_.jpg


Monika Aring, MA, Senior Technical Advisor

Monika.jpgMonika has deep expertise on the policies, strategies, and programs needed for developing a country's workforce, focusing on topics such as skills needed for sustainable economic development and skills gaps and assets.

Her work has also looked at where development and business goals overlap to provide opportunities for strategic partnerships, what investment strategies are most effective for skill development, and what institutional arrangements are most effective to sustain progress. She has consulted for clients including the Asian Development Bank, ILO, The Aga Khan Foundation, UNESCO, Multilateral Investment Fund (IDB), the Conference Board, the World Bank, IADB, USAID, Swedish Development Agency, and U.S. States and federal agencies. She has worked in 42 countries and is a graduate of Harvard’s John F Kennedy School of Government.

Alec Hansen, PH.D, Chief Economist

Alec_final_1.jpgAlec Hansen specializes in competitiveness strategy development. He has directed competitiveness initiatives in 25 countries, using value chain analysis and collaborative methods to involve stakeholders in cluster identification and growth. His experience is evenly split between advanced and emerging economies, working in aerospace, biotechnology, electronics, food processing, healthcare, information technology (ICT), metals and machinery, tourism, textiles and apparel, and transportation industries, among others. Much of his work focuses on small business development, improving industry-university linkages, and the demand side of workforce development. He has front-line experience implementing economic strategies with specific emphasis on the knowledge economy, small enterprise development and clustering. He has worked in Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Eastern Caribbean, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States, and Zimbabwe. He served most recently as Chief of Party of the USAID Jordan Competitiveness Program.

Dr. Hansen is a former president, and currently serving on the Board of Advisors of The Competitiveness Institute, a nonprofit network of cluster practitioners world-wide, dedicated to improved understanding of competitiveness. He speaks Spanish, French, Danish, Swedish, Bahasa Indonesia, and Farsi. He has lectured on competitiveness at U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, and the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings.

He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Boston University, and a economics from the University of California at Berkeley.


Obed (Obie) Diener, MS, Technical Specialist

Obie.jpgObie is a youth livelihoods specialist with extensive field management and independent consulting experience in the Middle East and East Africa, and long-term experience in Latin America.

Technical areas of expertise span workforce development, financial inclusion, and economic strengthening for vulnerable populations, particularly in conflict-affected environments. He has written or edited numerous practitioner-oriented publications for FHI360 projects on topics including youth financial inclusion and the effects of economic strengthening activities on children and youth. He holds an MS in International Development from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a BA in English from Goshen College.

Elebthel (El) Gebrehiwot, Program Officer II

Elebthel has experience in global business and policy. She has worked on multiple projects including financial inclusion, private sector development, entrepreneurship and workforce development.

Currently, she is working on a program designed to support Latin American entrepreneurs, and also supporting African Union Partnership project. Elebthel has a MS from George Mason University in International Commerce and Policy, and a BS from St. Cloud State University in Accounting.