Meet the team

The ALIGN project is led by the ODI, and our core team consists of: 

Caroline Harper

As Principal Research Fellow and Director of the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Programme at ODI, Caroline has worked on issues of inclusion, gender, age and poverty for over 30 years, including 16 years with ODI, 10 years residence in East and S.E Asia, and previous employments as a consultant and with Save the Children as head of research and policy. She has a PhD in Social Anthropology and her publications include: Empowering Adolescent Girls in developing countries: Gender Justice and Norm Change. Routledge (2018); Children in Crisis: Seeking Child-sensitive Policy Responses. Palgrave Macmillan (2012); Gender Inequality and Restrictive Gender Norms: Framing the Challenges to Health, The Lancet (2019), and Gender, power and progress: how norms change (2020). 

Caroline says: "My training in anthropology enriched my own understanding of how we all experience our own ‘normal’ and how hard it is to step outside what we believe to be the ‘natural order of things’ within our societies. But we have to push down these walls of discrimination and oppression to make for equitable change. The ALIGN project has bought all this together for me, as I continue to learn about the personal and the professional and the pathways to equality and social justice through gender norm change".

Rachel Marcus

Rachel Marcus, ALIGN Senior Technical Advisor, leads ALIGN’s education and economic empowerment workstreams. Before joining ODI, she worked for Save the Children, DFID and as a consultant on approaches to gender equality and social inclusion. In recent years she has led evidence synthesis projects on issues including anti-discrimination policies and programmes, gender-equitable masculinities and girls’ empowerment programmes. 

Rachel says: "In my life time I’ve seen major shifts in gender norms but also a growing backlash against change. I’m particularly interested in the role that education, social movements and the media can play in changing norms, and what makes changes stick. ALIGN is a space for sharing ideas and experiences around long-lasting norm change – we look forward to hearing from you".

Carmen Leon-Himmelstine

Carmen Leon-Himmelstine has a PhD in International Development with a focus on social protection and migration. She has extended research and fieldwork experience in East and West Africa, South America and the Caribbean, and East Asia. Topics of interest include: social protection, migration, rural livelihoods, health and childhood poverty, from a gender norms and intersectionality lens.

She has extensive research skills collecting secondary and primary data using a variety of research methods including: in-depth and life history interviews, focus group discussions, and a range of participatory rural appraisal techniques.

Carmen has considerable experience of working with a wide range of donors, managing and delivering multi-year research programmes, with a strong publication record ranging from academic articles, reports and literature reviews, to policy briefs and conference papers. She is fluent in English, Spanish and French.

Aatif Somji

Aatif Somji is a Senior Research Officer in the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion team at ODI. His research interests and experiences are focused on the care economy, women’s economic empowerment and inclusive value chain development.

Prior to joining ODI, Aatif worked as an independent research consultant supporting organisations including the ILO, UN Women and the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development on how to incorporate unpaid care work into their programming, with a particular focus on childcare. Prior to this, he was a Technical Officer at the ILO, focusing on improving decent work outcomes for micro, small and medium enterprises; and a Senior Associate Consultant at PwC, working in the International Development team.

Diana Jiménez Thomas Rodriguez

Diana Jiménez Thomas Rodriguez is a researcher with 5+ years research experience, focusing primarily on Latin America. Her research interests include: environmental justice, social movements, citizenship, gender-based violence, gender norm transformation, decolonial and feminist methodologies, and social justice more broadly. She has authored published research, as well as various academic book reviews. Diana is also a co-founder of two feminist initiatives in Mexico.

She is a PhD candidate in International Development at the University of East Anglia and the University of Copenhagen. She also holds an MPhil degree (with distinction) in Development Studies from the University of Oxford, where she was a Weidenfeld-Hoffman Scholar.

Emily Subden

Emily Subden is the ALIGN Communications Manager working to ensure ALIGN reaches audiences both on and offline through the digital platform, social media, convenings, events, webinars and publications. Before joining the ALIGN team, in Summer 2018, Emily worked for the United Nations for six years focusing on education and children's rights. 

Emily has a keen interest in gender equality and how norm change can be the catalyst for empowering people to make positive steps towards equal and equitable rights. Emily has an MA in Education and International Development from University College London and focused her dissertation on the role gender plays in education and development.

 

Emilie Tant

Emilie Tant is a Senior Communications Officer at ODI and joined the ALIGN team to lead on strategic communication in 2021, bringing specific experience from feminist movements in the Global South. Emilie's expertise covers high-level convening, policy influencing and harnessing digital engagement through intersectional content.

Before joining ODI, Emilie worked across a range of international environments, first in policy and research for the Gender Affairs Division at the United Nations in Santiago, Chile (ECLAC), and later as a consultant for UN Women. More recently she supported advocacy work and youth-led initiatives at the YWCA in Palestine. They has a particular interest in strategic media and research communications to promote global gender justice, peace, and youth-led social movements. Emilie holds a distinction in International Relations MSc from LSE, and a first class degree in Geography from UCL.

Also in the team

  • Programme Manager - Abdul Walid Shahab
  • Programme Officer - Natasha Wright
  • Research Fund Manager - Paola Pereznieto

We work with consultants and members of the ALIGN Community of Practice to develop the platform and welcome suggestions for content.