Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
Filter by Categories
#GlobalPOV Blog
Annual Report
Big Ideas
Current Student Stories
Global Poverty & Practice
Past Student Stories
Student Stories



S. Shankar Sastry
Faculty Director

S. Shankar Sastry is Dean of the College of Engineering, and the NEC Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. He also holds faculty appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering. He was formerly the Director of CITRIS (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society) and the Banatao Institute @ CITRIS Berkeley. In 2000, he served as Director of the Information Technology Office at DARPA. From 1996-1999, he was the Director of the Electronics Research Laboratory at Berkeley, an organized research unit on the Berkeley campus conducting research in computer sciences and all aspects of electrical engineering. Prior to joining the EECS faculty in 1983 he was a professor at MIT.

(510) 642-5771 |

Alice M. Agogino
Education Director

Alice M. Agogino is the Roscoe and Elizabeth Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering and serves as the Chair of the Graduate Group in Development Engineering and Education Director of the Blum Center for Developing Regions.  Agogino has served in a number of other administrative positions including Chair of the UC Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, Associate Dean of Engineering and Director of the Instructional Technology Program. She also served as Director for the Synthesis Engineering Education Coalition and continues as PI for theDesignExchange educational portal. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and has served on a number of committees of the National Academies, including the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine.  With over 280 peer-reviewed publications, Agogino has supervised 157 MS projects/theses, 50 doctoral dissertations and numerous undergraduate researchers. She has won numerous teaching, best paper and research awards, including 2017 ASME Design Theory and Methodology Award, 2015 ASME Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award “, AAAS Lifetime Mentoring Award, 2013; Pi Tau Sigma Professor of the Year, 2011; Chancellor’s Community Service Award, 2010; Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring, 2007.

(510) 642-6450 |

Maryanne McCormick
Executive Director

Maryanne McCormick is the Executive Director of the Blum Center and the Executive Director of the Big Ideas@Berkeley initiative. In that capacity, she is responsible for the strategic vision and overall operation of these multidisciplinary, multi-campus research and education efforts. In addition, she is Special Advisor at the Development Impact Lab, a global consortium of research institutes, non-governmental organizations, and industry partners, headquartered at UC Berkeley, committed to advancing international development through science and technology innovations. She holds an academic appointment at Berkeley Law School. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, she spent a decade in Washington, DC, serving on the staff of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, as advisor at the Federal Communications Commission, and as public policy manager for Corning Incorporated. McCormick has a JD from Catholic University, graduating first in the class, an MBA from George Washington University, and a BA from the College of the Holy Cross. She is a member of the California Bar.

(510) 847-6851 |

Chetan Chowdhry
Director of Student Programs

Chetan Chowdhry manages and serves as the Academic Advisor for the Global Poverty & Practice Minor. Prior to joining the Blum Center team, Chetan served as a Graduate Coordinator with the University of Maryland Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy Office. He holds a Master’s degree in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Environmental Analysis & Design from UC Irvine.

(510) 664-4423 |

Adrienne Chuck
Program Manager, Big Ideas Contest

Adrienne Chuck joined the Blum Center in 2014 and currently serves as the Program Manager for the Big Ideas Contest. She recently received an MPP from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, where she focused on international development, program evaluation, and agricultural development. Prior to joining the Blum Center, she worked on food security, governance, and US-Africa foreign policy-focused programs at Land O’Lakes International Development, Innovations for Poverty Action, the World Bank, and the Atlantic Council.

Claudia Cohan
Director of Project Development

Claudia Cohan directs project development at the Blum Center, serving to build resources for the Global Poverty and Practice Minor, Big Ideas@Berkeley, Development Impact Lab, and Social Impact initiatives. Previously she spent ten years in the Haas School of Business, where she helped strengthen fundraising capacity for the school through a variety of new programs. Her specializations in nonprofit management and fundraising were developed during her many years working in environmental organizations including as executive director of Lindsay Wildlife Museum and development directors of Sustainable Conservation and The Nature Conservancy. She holds a MBA from the Haas School of Business and a degree in plant science from UC Davis.

(510) 642-6267 |

Phillip Denny
Phillip Denny
Director, Big Ideas Contest

Phillip Denny serves as the Senior Program Director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies, a position he assumed shortly after the Center was established in March 2006. He manages the Big Ideas Contest–one of the oldest and most respected student innovation competitions in California. In this capacity, he has encouraged and supported approximately 1,400 interdisciplinary teams to develop creative solutions to today’s most pressing social challenges. Under Phillip’s direction, the Big Ideas Contest has helped secure millions of dollars in seed funding for student start-ups, expanded the contest to 18 campuses, and recruited over 1,000 industry, government and non-profit experts to judge ideas and mentor participants. He has also been integral in developing key partnerships across academia, private sector organizations, and entrepreneurship networks to strengthen social innovation initiatives on campus. As recognition for his leadership of Big Ideas, he received UC Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award in 2015. Prior to joining the Center, Denny held leadership roles in multiple successful grass-roots and political campaigns, specializing in research and communications strategies for both candidates and organizations.

(510) 666-9120 |

Gladys Khoury
Director of Finance

Gladys Khoury directs all financial aspects of the Blum Center including accounting practices, budgeting, financial planning, financial analysis, and monitoring of financial performance. From 2006 through 2009, Khoury was a Senior Research Administrator and Program Manager for the TRUST Center in UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering. From 2001 through 2006, she was Senior Contracts and Grants Officer, at UC Berkeley’s Controller’s Office, and from 1989 through 2001 she was Controller and Office Manager for California Engineering in San Francisco. Gladys holds an MBA in Finance, with a BA in Accounting and Finance from the University of California, Berkeley. She is also an active member with the California Association of Realtors as a Real Estate Broker licensed by the state of California.

(510) 664-4880 |

Heather Kinlaw Lofthouse
Director of Special Projects

Heather Kinlaw Lofthouse is the Director of Special Projects at the Blum Center, managing the operation and progress of the Center’s ongoing work and new projects, including its expansion to all 10 UC campuses. Heather recently served as the founding Managing Director for Inequality Media, a new non-profit founded by Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich. Previously, she developed health and education programs for children in the US and Latin America as Managing Director of Absolute Return for Kids US, and managed and contributed to a body of research on social franchising as Program Manager for the Private Sector Healthcare Initiative at UCSF’s Global Health Group. She has a Master’s in Public Policy and a Master’s in Public Health from UC Berkeley and a BA in Philosophy and Religion (Islamic focus) from George Washington University.

(510) 666-9135 |

Sophi Martin
Innovation Director

Dr. Sophi Martin is the Innovation Director at UC Berkeley’s Blum Center for Developing Economies, where she mentors and teaches students, faculty, social startups, and entrepreneurs the skills needed to grow their impact. An expert in technology scaling strategies, Dr. Martin designs and leads innovation bootcamps with academic institutions, mission-oriented enterprises, and government agencies. She is the staff lead for UC Berkeley’s new Development Engineering program, an interdisciplinary research-based training program that transforms development projects with new technologies and approaches. She has a PhD & MS in Materials Science and Engineering as well as a BS in Engineering Physics, both from UC Berkeley.

Rachel Dzombak
Innovation Fellow

Dr. Rachel Dzombak is an Innovation Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Haas School of Business. She researches methods for interdisciplinary collaboration in higher education and teaches classes and workshops on how to use design and systems thinking to address critical societal issues. Rachel holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation work in conjunction with the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability focused on the roles of product design, remanufacturing, and reverse logistics in enabling sustainable supply chain decisions. Rachel also holds a BS from Penn State University in Bioengineering. While at Penn State, Rachel co-founded a company in Nyeri, Kenya that introduced preventative health services in rural communities. She also led the editing team for a book titled, ‘Solving Problems that Matter (and Getting Paid for It!)’ that helps students navigate impact-driven career paths.

Chloe Gregori
Innovation Program Coordinator

Chloe serves as the Innovation Program Coordinator where she supports The Blum Center’s  innovation support ecosystem through designing and implementing both new and existing student and faculty facing programs. She also serves as an advisor for the Global Poverty & Practice Minor. Chloe graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016 with a degree in Peace & Conflict Studies and minor in Global Poverty and Practice. During her undergrad, she focused on anti-trafficking advocacy and served as the Minh Dang Fellow for Human Rights at the UC Public Service Center. 


Each semester, the Blum Center is fortunate to work with many talented students at UC Berkeley. Since the Center began in 2006, we’ve supported over 250 graduate students and 90 undergraduate students — who’ve worked with us as researchers, instructors, designers, writers, peer advisors and office assistants. We are grateful to all the students who have chosen to work with us in Blum Hall.

Undergraduate Students

Joseph Kim
Web Developer/Designer

Joseph joined the Blum Center as a student Web Developer and Designer in May 2017 as a sophomore. Joseph was initially brought onto the team to maintain and regularly update the current Blum Center website, but has since completed a full site overhaul and redesign, and is currently centralizing the Blum Center’s satellite websites. Joseph is an Interdisciplinary Studies Field major with interests in ethical leadership, politics, and communications. Joseph is also currently working as a Teaching Assistant for UGBA 155: Leadership. He loves his church fellowship Passion Livingwater, playing guitar, and the Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition trilogy.

Tina Ye
Web Developer/Designer

Tina is currently a sophomore at UC Berkeley and assists the Blum Center as a Web Developer/Designer. She enjoys coding, designing things, and taking photos. Tina has always been captivated by the strength and capabilities of computer technology and its impact on our society. She is also fascinated with how design, especially web design, can communicate ideas with beauty and efficiency, and she has done web design for various clubs and organizations. Tina is passionate about helping others and has dedicated hundreds of hours to serving her community, including teaching & tutoring her peers and children of different ages, volunteering at community events, visiting convalescent homes, and serving at homeless shelters in downtown San Diego. She also enjoys traveling around the world to learn new things and experience different cultures. In her free time, she likes gathering aesthetic things on Pinterest, tending to her succulent babies, playing piano, and pampering her dog.

Francesca Munsayac
Writing Assistant

Francesca is currently a junior and is a writer for the Blum Center. As a Political Science major with a minor in Human Rights, her interests include politics, international affairs, and journalism. More importantly, Francesca is interested in the formation of identities through the intersections of race, class, and gender and how society can be altered to be more inclusive. In the future, she hopes to pursue journalism or law and be an advocate for women’s rights. Alongside her writing job here at Blum, Francesca is a Student Life Reporter for the Daily Californian, Berkeley’s independent, student-run newspaper. In her free time, she enjoys catching up on sleep, wasting too much money on food, and going to rap concerts.

Priyasundari (Priya) Natarajan
GPP Peer Advisor and Student Assistant

Priya is a senior year at Cal studying Linguistics and minoring in Global Poverty and Practice. She currently interns at Kiva US, a microfinance organization based internationally, based in San Francisco. Priya hopes to pursue development work in the future and a career with a strong social impact. In her free time she loves to put service above self with my Rotaract buddies, promote safety with American Red Cross, capture snapshots of her friends and beautiful landscapes around her, and hang out with her friends and family.

Annie Zheng
Design Assistant

Annie Zheng is currently a sophomore studying Civil Engineering. Her passion for architecture and structural design was what inspired her to study this subject. She initially took up graphic design as a hobby and has been trying to broaden her experience. Since then, she has designed for the Berkeley Advertising Agency and has worked on design projects for other organizations and research labs. During her free time she enjoys exploring big cities, doing photography, and drinking coffee in aesthetic cafes.

Jana Guan
Design Assistant

Jana is a senior at UC Berkeley studying Cognitive Science. Wanting a blend between social science and technology, Jana decided that this major was the best choice for her. Jana initially took up graphic design after watching her friends do it and fell in love with design. Since then, Jana has designed for her church fellowship A2F and for other organizations. After graduating, she hopes to specialize in UI/UX and/or universal design where she can do the work that she loves and help those in need through design. In her free time, she enjoys handlettering, playing volleyball, learning new instruments, and cafe hopping.

Julie Wong
Design Assistant

Julie is a junior majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in Computer Science at Berkeley. After exploring various fields, she discovered a strong interest in people, technology, and innovation through design. She has since pursued various projects on her own, designing the experience for an e-learning business simulation and collaborating with clients on graphic design projects in Innovative Design. Most recently, she worked as an Experience Design Intern on the Document Cloud team at Adobe. Julie hopes to continue learning as much as possible and advocates for making a larger social impact as a creative-driven generation. She currently works at the Blum Center as a Design Assistant, supporting the Center’s initiatives through graphic design and photography. In her spare time, she enjoys making too many Spotify playlists, hiking, re-watching Rush Hour, and eating stroopwafels.

Victor Zhang
Design Assistant

Victor Zhang is currently a senior majoring in political economics who assists the Blum Center with its design needs. He’s interested in graphic design, primarily in UX and User Research and likes being able to innovate and learn about the design of everyday things and how they can be made even more user friendly. He also enjoys photography and video production, and most importantly petting dogs. He is a member of Delta Phi Epsilon, the foreign affairs and international relations fraternity at Cal and has been involved in the student government and the dance community in the past. He hopes to continue growing as a graphic designer and as a person during his final year at Blum and Cal.

© 2017 Blum Center for Developing Economies

Design by Joseph Kim