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Derek Willis
Consultant , Development Organization
Hickory, North Carolina, United States
Development economist with PhD from Princeton University. Master’s in International Development from Harvard’s Kennedy School. Published in peer-reviewed journals. Consulting experience with World Bank, USAID & IVCC. As OnFrontiers’ International Development Lead, led the development & implementation of the Ukraine SME Knowledge Network to support Ukrainian SMEs before & during the war.
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Area of Expertise:
  • Health, Doctors, Nurses, HIV/AIDS
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, Policy, Research, Analysis
  • Private Sector, Social Enterprise, Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Social, Education, Gender, Youth, Child
  • Trade, Finance, Economics, Cooperation, Global
Professional Experience:
I have professional experience leading the implementation of international development initiatives, consulting on international development and global health projects, and publishing research articles in peer-reviewed journals.

As the International Development Lead at OnFrontiers, I led the development of the Ukraine Knowledge Network for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). This initiative was funded by USAID and supported dozens of Ukrainian SMEs (before and during the war with Russia) by providing them with consultations with experts around the world. Experts were selected based on the specific needs of each SME and the initiative was implemented in collaboration with the Ukrainian government and the USAID Competitive Economy Program in Ukraine.

As a Senior Public Health Specialist with The World Bank, I worked as a consultant with the Sint Maarten Emergency Debris Management Project. This work included developing a Vector Control Management Plan to overcome the challenges of controlling vectors in Sint Maarten. I also worked as a consultant in an evaluation of an anti-malaria campaign to evaluate how increasing gender equality within the campaign’s workforce affected the impact of the campaign. I contributed to a USAID Grand Challenge for Development initiative as a member of an Expert Scientific Advisory Committee.

Finally, as a consultant with IVCC (Innovative Vector Control Consortium), I published a series of peer-reviewed research articles in the Gates Open Research journal that provided the evidence base for the ZERO by 40 initiative ( This initiative is a partnership among some of the world’s leading agricultural companies to develop innovative tools to achieve the ambitious goal of eradicating malaria by 2040.
I have a PhD from Princeton University in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy and a Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPAID) from Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Following my PhD, I was an Earth Institute Fellow at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. During this research fellowship, I was awarded two grants to explore the role of web-based malaria decision support systems to increase the impact of malaria elimination initiatives (

For my PhD dissertation (‘A Systems Thinking Framework for Assessing and Addressing Malaria Locally: An Alternative to the Globalization of Anti-Malaria Policies’), I developed an algorithm for identifying the most appropriate evidence-based vector control strategy to implement in a district based on the community’s ecology and available resources. This algorithm was developed based on an analysis of the successful suppression of malaria in British Malaya in the early 1900s.

My PhD coursework included classes in econometrics, epidemiology, and ecology. I was the recipient of a Princeton University Fellowship for four years as well as a Dissertation Writing Grant from the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.

My master’s thesis (‘Maximizing the Health Benefit of Public Funds for Malaria Control in Tanzania’) at Harvard’s Kennedy School was based on a three-month experience in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania analyzing the challenge of suppressing malaria withing the city. Coursework for this MPAID degree included PhD-level courses in microeconomics, macroeconomic and econometrics as well as courses focused on the history of economic development (taught by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs).

Before starting the MPAID program, I took courses at Australia National University’s National Centre for Development Studies and received a certificate from the University of Hawaii’s Pacific Asian Management Institute. Coursework for the certificate included courses in international management and entrepreneurship.

I received a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business (with concentrations in Finance and Spanish) from the University of Georgia.
Available for:
  • Consulting assignments
  • Job opportunities
  • Being headhunted – make me an offer

    Years of Experience:
    15-20 years
    Highest Qualification:
    English, Spanish
    United States
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