Staff and Board
Board of Directors
David Whittlesey, Board Chair
David Whittlesey is a Senior Advisor with Interpeace and founder of MaineStreams Finance. In the span of the past 30 years, David has worked as a Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State as a Consular Officer and in the Bureau for Refugee Programs; as Head of the Refugee and Humanitarian Assistance Division and subsequently as Director for Strategic Planning and Human Resource Development at the International Organization for Migration (IOM); and as Director of Operations and Senior Advisor with Interpeace. Now living in Maine, he is focusing his attention more locally through serving in local town government and spearheading local development initiatives, while continuing to consult with Interpeace.
Richard (Dick) Harter, Board Treasurer
Dick Harter serves as a director, trustee or advisor for affiliates of the United Church of Christ and other non-profit organizations. Dick serves as a Trustee of Chicago Theological Seminary and served as its interim president in 2002. He also previously served as President of the Massachusetts Council of Churches and as a director of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay. In addition, he served as President of the Union Club of Boston. Dick retired from serving as a partner in the large law firm Bingham McCutchen LLP.
Jenny C. Aker, Board Member
Jenny Aker works on economic development in Africa, with a primary focus on the impact of information and information technology on development outcomes, particularly in the areas of agriculture, agricultural marketing and education; the relationship between shocks and agricultural markets; the determinants of agricultural and environmental technology adoption; and impact evaluations in the area of social protection (cash transfers and vouchers). Jenny has conducted field work in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Haiti and Guatemala. Jenny is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Fletcher School and Department of Economics at Tufts University. She is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development, a member of the Advisory Board for Frontline SMS and the Boston Network for International Development (BNID). She also serves as the Deputy Director of the Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs.
Maxine Hart, Board Member
Maxine Hart brings extensive human resources and organizational development expertise to the CDA Board. She is currently Chief Human Resource Officer for Reading Cooperative Bank and has held senior level human resource positions with for-profit and non-profit organizations in the Boston area since 2003. She is a trained mediator and negotiator and previously worked in change management with governmental and private sector organizations in South Africa and as an independent consultant in Mexico.
Elizabeth D. Gibbons, Board Vice-Chair
Elizabeth Gibbons’ career in social development and humanitarian affairs has spanned more than three decades, during which she lived and worked in Togo, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. She is currently a Visiting Scientist at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights in the Harvard School of Public Health, and a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Kozmetsky Center of Excellence in Global Finance at St. Edwards University. Prior to these academic appointments, Elizabeth enjoyed a lengthy career in the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and served as head of UNICEF’s offices in Haiti and in Guatemala. Elizabeth is the author of Sanctions in Haiti: Human Rights and Democracy under Assault, and a contributing author to several other books.
Ruth Allen, Board Member
Ruth Rhoads Allen joined CDA’s Board in 2017 after collaborating as an advisor, trainer, or consultant with CDA for over 15 years. Ruth brings her passion for fostering community resilience in the face of inevitable social, political, and environmental systems-level challenges, as well as her expertise in strategic organizational change processes. From 2004-2013 Ruth served in multiple positions at Mercy Corps, including leading the agency’s global technical portfolio as Director of Governance and Partnerships, and sat on Mercy Corps’ Leadership Council. As Founder of ViewFinder International in 2013, Ruth enjoys integration of governance, social inclusion, and peacebuilding through long-term engagements with INGOs and UN agencies. As Senior Advisor at Mercy Corps and in other consulting, Ruth focuses on strategic planning in sensitive environments. Ruth began her career in South Africa as an international observer for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and lived in Kenya while a Rotary Foundation Scholar at the University of Nairobi and researcher at Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai’s Greenbelt Movement. Ruth is a Department Instructor at Clark University’s International Development, Community, and Environment program and guest lecturers elsewhere. Ruth holds an MSc from the same department at Clark University and a BS in Geology/Environmental Sciences from Dickinson College.
Dan Connell, Board Member
Dan Connell is a researcher and writer whose primary focus over the past 40 years has been Eritrea. He is currently working on a book on refugees and migration routes for which he has interviewed more than 500 Eritreans in camps and communities in nineteen countries across five continents since 2014. Dan is a visiting scholar at Boston University’s African Studies Center and a retired senior lecturer in journalism and African studies at Simmons College. His reports and commentary on Africa were carried by the BBC, Reuters, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Washington Post and other media, and he’s the author or editor of ten books. He is also the founder and former director of Grassroots International, the chair of the Cape Ann Forum, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Middle East Research and Information Project.
Polly Byers, Executive Director
CDA is not currently hiring.