As the Director of Community Finance at Oxfam America, Jeffrey Ashe pioneered his innovative savings-led microfinance program, Saving for Change (SfC). Partnering with ‘Freedom from Hunger’ and the Stromme Foundation, Saving for Change has trained 30,000 savings groups with 680,000 members in five countries.
Ashe currently teaches at the Heller School of Social Policy at Brandeis University and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He also serves as a Research Fellow at the Global Development and Environmental Institute at Tufts University and Carsey Institute Fellow at the University of New Hampshire.
He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador between 1965 and 1968 where he launched ‘Campesino Leadership Training’ in order to ensure that Campesinos received land to which they had rightful claim. This initiative involved fellow PCVs and stakeholders ranging from religious leaders to government officials.
Between 1979 and 1984, he headed the first worldwide study of microfinance which helped launch the microfinance movement. He has held leadership positions as Senior Associate Director at ACCION International, Director of the PISCES Project and Founder of ‘Working Capital,’ once the largest microfinance institution in the United States. At a White House celebration, President Clinton awarded Ashe with the first Presidential Award for ‘Excellence in Microfinance.’
Ashe received his BA in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley and his MA in Sociology from Boston University in 1974.
Kyla Jagger Neilan is a researcher, practitioner, and activist for social justice and food sovereignty. She holds an MPA in international development from Cornell University and a BA from Oberlin College in Third World studies, with minors in environmental studies and French. Kyla is the recipient of awards for gender and environmental research and fellowships from myAgro, the Cornell Institute of Public Affairs, and the Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center. She has worked for Oxfam America, the United Nations World Food Program, Catholic Relief Services, and journalist Naomi Klein. Her research on women’s and farmer’s organizations, with fieldwork in Mali, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, focuses on gender and food systems at the margins. Her work in humanitarian emergencies supports people in crisis, while writing and activism allow her to be in solidarity with social movements that address root causes of crisis. At home in the northeast US, Kyla lives in co-ops, goes to punk shows, and keeps a permaculture vegetable garden. Currently, Kyla is a humanitarian aid worker in Central Africa, helping farmers to recover their livelihoods after conflict. For more information, you can visit Kyla’s website at kylaneilan.com.