In Nigeria, with support from, Airbel Impact Lab, IRC and IFPRI piloted a climate resiliency project through which Faiza Habibu was able to expand her fish farming business.
In Nigeria, with support from, Airbel Impact Lab, IRC and IFPRI piloted a climate resiliency project through which Faiza Habibu was able to expand her fish farming business.

About Us

Research and Innovation at the International Rescue Commitee

A group of artists with Varian Fry (center with glasses) at the Villa Air-Bel outside Marseilles, France, 1941.
A group of artists with Varian Fry (center with glasses) at the Villa Air-Bel outside Marseilles, France, 1941.

Why Airbel

Airbel is named for Varian Fry, who arrived in Marseilles in 1940 with $3,000 and a mission: to help people escape occupied France. There he established the Air-Bel Villa, a secret safe house that helped thousands of people escape to freedom.

Like all heroes of the early International Rescue Committee, Fry had no playbook or standard operating procedure to guide him. He learned by doing, applying ingenious methods, embracing inventive thinking, taking calculated risks, and building on success. This spirit has persisted for over 75 years and echoes throughout all of our programs worldwide.

Our Team

More than 100 people from 12 countries around the world

Jeannie Annan
USA, Remote
Jeannie Annan

Senior Vice President, Chief Research and Innovation Officer

Jeannie Annan, PhD, is the International Rescue Committee’s Chief Research and Innovation Officer, leading the agency’s efforts to design, test, and scale life-changing solutions for people affected by conflict and disaster. Jeannie co-founded the Airbel Impact Lab, a team of researchers, designers, behavioral scientists and analysts working with technical experts, frontline staff and partners to find high impact and scalable products and services in more than 30 crisis-affected countries around the world.

Dr. Annan’s own research focus has been to develop and test economic, behavioral, and mental health interventions to prevent violence and to mitigate its psychological and social consequences on women and children. She started her career leading education and psychosocial programming in Kosovo, northern Uganda and South Sudan. She is an Associate at the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts at the University of Chicago. She is also a research affiliate at Innovations for Poverty Action and academic lead on their initiatives on humanitarian and forced displacement and on intimate partner violence. She holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University-Bloomington. She was a post-doctorate fellow at Yale University and NYU and a visiting scientist at the Harvard T.C. Chan School of Public Health.

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Full Team

Abel Khisa
Abel KhisaResearch Analyst
Kenya, Nairobi
Aimee Whitehall
Aimee WhitehallEQUAL Project Deputy Director
UK, London
Alicia Adler
Alicia AdlerEQUAL Senior Research Uptake Advisor
Amey Bansod
Amey BansodClimate Resilience Designer
Kenya, Nairobi
Amy Passaro
Amy PassaroSr. Program Coordinator, Nutrition Research & Innovation
USA, Remote
Amy Watson
Amy WatsonSenior Officer, People Operations
USA, Remote
Andrew Wilcox
Andrew WilcoxInnovation Strategy Lead
USA, Remote
Anjini Mishra
Anjini MishraSenior Advisor, Evidence to Action
USA, Remote
Anne Patridge
Anne PatridgeInnovation Fund Lead
Kenya, Nairobi
Anne Smiley
Anne SmileyDeputy Project Director of PlayMatters Research
Kampala, Uganda
April Somboun
April SombounEducation Research & Innovation Officer
Areba Morang'a
Areba Morang'aGrants & Budget Manager
Kenya, Nairobi
Ariana Schrier
Ariana SchrierPortfolio Lead, Climate R&I
Ariana Youn
Ariana YounPolicy and Communications Advisor
UK, London
Athena Haywood
Athena HaywoodBest Use of Resources Advisor, Education
Aya Darwazeh
Aya DarwazehDirector, Partnerships for Research and Innovation
Bernard Thuo
Bernard ThuoResearch Manager
Kenya, Nairobi
Brenda Nyakoa
Brenda NyakoaSenior, Coordinator, Education Research & Innovation
Kenya, Nairobi
Caitlin Mannering
Caitlin ManneringResearch Program Manager, SRMNH
Washington DC, USA
Camilla Fabbri
Camilla FabbriChild Protection Researcher
UK, London
Catherine Lee
Catherine LeeHealth Researcher
USA, Remote
Cecelia Scheuer
Cecelia ScheuerBest Use of Resources, Education Analyst
Christine Onyancha
Christine OnyanchaGrants & Budget Manager
Kenya, Nairobi
Clare Clingain
Clare ClingainResearch Coordinator, Economic Recovery
Claudia Griselda Valdez Martinez
Claudia Griselda Valdez MartinezGrants & Budget Manager
Cynthia Onyango
Cynthia OnyangoGrants & Partnerships Lead
Kenya, Nairobi
Danielle Falk
Danielle FalkEducation Researcher
David Musiime
David MusiimeRe:BUiLD Research Coordinator
Kampala, Uganda
Dennis Kembero
Dennis KemberoBehavioral Insights Coordinator
Kenya, Nairobi
Dennis Odhiambo
Dennis OdhiamboSenior Contracts Finance Coordinator
Kenya, Nairobi
Derek Lee
Derek LeeBest Use of Resources Nutrition Advisor
Washington DC, USA
Duncan Lawrence
Duncan LawrenceSenior Director of Innovation
Emilia Larach
Emilia LarachOfficer, Research & Innovation
USA, Remote
Evelyn Mwara
Evelyn MwaraContracts Manager
Kenya, Nairobi
Fides Kirimi
Fides KirimiEvidence to Action Climate Specialist
Kenya, Nairobi
Grace Heymsfield
Grace HeymsfieldNutrition Researcher
Grace Kimemia
Grace KimemiaResearch Coordinator
Kenya, Nairobi
Htet Thiha Zaw
Htet Thiha ZawEducation Researcher
USA, Remote
Idalia Rodriguez Morales
Idalia Rodriguez MoralesResearcher
Karumba Kinyua
Karumba KinyuaInvestment Lead
Kenya, Nairobi
Ismael Hammoudi
Ismael HammoudiEducation Research in Conflict and Protracted Crisis (ERICC) Senior Research Programme Coordinator
James Wainaina
James WainainaClimate Resilience Designer
Kenya, Nairobi
Jane Lim
Jane LimSenior Officer, Design and Innovation
Kathryn Holbert
Kathryn HolbertInnovation Strategy Advisor
USA, Remote
Katie Nilsen-Johnson
Katie Nilsen-JohnsonEvidence to Action Manager
USA, Remote
Katja Starc Card
Katja Starc CardGovernance Researcher
Kayla Hoyer
Kayla HoyerLead, Best Use of Resources
Kazim Habib
Kazim HabibSenior Officer, Board and Innovation
Ligia Aguilar
Ligia AguilarSenior Advisor, Evidence to Action
Lucian Lee
Lucian LeeLead, Best Use of Resources Organizational Support
Kenya, Nairobi
Maku Obuobi
Maku ObuobiDeputy Programme Director, Education Research in Conflict and Protracted Crisis
UK, London
Mamothena Mothupi
Mamothena MothupiHealth Researcher
Kenya, Nairobi
Mariana Lara Valencia
Mariana Lara ValenciaProject Manager, Research & Innovation
UK, London
Marie Stege
Marie StegeBehavioral Insights Associate
UK, London
Marina Santos Piacente
Marina Santos PiacenteInvestment Lead
Marlana Salmon-Letelier
Marlana Salmon-LetelierEducation Researcher
Martin Amollo
Martin AmolloGrants & Budget Manager
Kenya, Nairobi
Martin Kiboi
Martin KiboiContracts Finance Manager
Kenya, Nairobi
Mary Mwikali
Mary MwikaliEvidence to Action Manager
Kenya, Nairobi
Matthew Hayto
Matthew HaytoProduct Management Consultant
USA, Remote
Mbangsi Zithem
Mbangsi ZithemEvidence to Action Manager
Mercy Kanyari
Mercy KanyariInnovative Finance Advisory Model Analyst
Kenya, Nairobi
Meru Vashisht
Meru VashishtSexual and Reproductive Health Design Lead
Kenya, Nairobi
Mihai Nia
Mihai NiaERICC Programme Manager
Mikaela Cochran
Mikaela CochranAdvisor, Best Use of Resources
USA, Remote
Nathaly Spilotros
Nathaly SpilotrosSexual and Reproductive Health Lead
Nelly Muturi
Nelly MuturiResearch Ethics & Systems Manager
Kenya, Nairobi
Nina Liew
Nina LiewStrategic Initiatives Lead
Nitya Kuthiala
Nitya KuthialaDigital Project Manager
Nyokabi Waweru
Nyokabi WaweruGrants & Budget Manager
Kenya, Nairobi
Omar Al-Qadhi
Omar Al-QadhiCoordinator, Strategic Operations
Jordan, Amman
Opeyemi Tanimowo
Opeyemi TanimowoFinance and Contract Coordinator
Phoebe Sloane
Phoebe SloaneResearch, Monitoring and Learning Technical Lead
Jordan, Amman
Rachel Douglas
Rachel DouglasProject Manager, Maternal & Newborn Health
UK, London
Ramzy Magambo
Ramzy MagamboPerformance Improvement Advisor
Kampala, Uganda
Robert "John" Montgomery
Robert "John" MontgomeryConstrained Optimization Fellow, Research & Innovation
USA, Remote
Robert Rutherford
Robert RutherfordSenior Program and Finance Coordinator
Samantha Alkola
Samantha AlkolaDepartment Manager
Samantha Zouankouan
Samantha ZouankouanProject Manager, Climate Research & Innovation
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
Selamawit Alemayehu
Selamawit AlemayehuEducation Facility Advisor
Kenya, Nairobi
Sheila Burkhardt
Sheila BurkhardtaprendIA's Global Design & Tech Lead
Teresia Macharia
Teresia MachariaResearch Coordinator
Kenya, Nairobi
Vaidehi Uberoi
Vaidehi UberoiBehavioral Insights Advisor
Zachary Tausanovitch
Zachary TausanovitchData Science Lead, Nutrition
Zoë Windle
Zoë WindleProgramme Coordinator, EQUAL Research
UK, London

Board & Advisors

  • Laurent Desmangles

    Board Chair - Investor, Advisor, Board Member, Ex Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group

  • Leah Joy Zell

    Board Advisor - Founding Partner, Lizard Investors, LLC

  • Sarah R. Cannon

    Board Advisor - General Partner and Head of Europe, Coatue

  • Kerwin Charles

    Board Advisor - Professor of Economics, Policy, and Management at the Yale School of Management.

  • Alan Batkin

    Board Advisor - Chair Emeritus of IRC

  • Ben Cushman

    Board Advisor - Senior Board Volunteer

  • Mehmood Khan

    Board Advisor - CEO, Life Biosciences Inc.

  • Arnold Chavkin

    Board Advisor - Senior Advisor, Pine Brook Road Partners

  • Alex Laskey

    Board Advisor - Founder, Executive Chair Rewiring America; Founder, CEO Carecubes

  • Stephanie Mehta

    Board Advisor - Editor-in-chief, Fast Company

  • Joseph Tabarani

    Board Advisor - Founder and Chief Executive of Principia Analytica

  • Amel Najjar

    Board Advisor - Founding Executive Director of Children of War Foundation

  • Sarah LaFleur

    Board Advisor - Founder and CEO, MM.LaFleur

  • Nick McKeown

    Board Advisor - SVP and Senior Fellow, Network and Edge Group at Intel, Professor at Stanford University

Airbel In Media

  • Reuters: OpenAI offers nonprofits discounts on corporate ChatGPT product

    OpenAI has granted $250,000 to the IRC, a New York-based nonprofit that helps those affected by humanitarian crises, such as the war in Ukraine. The funds will go towards developing an education chatbot built on OpenAI technology to assist educators in crisis zones.

    External link
  • Toronto Star: More funding to tackle humanitarian crises is vital. But so too is leadership in how aid money gets spent

    By being more intentional about how its humanitarian funding is used, Canada can shift the way that other countries operate too.

    External link
  • FORTUNE: How the private sector can scale humanitarian action

    The bottom line: If we’re going to solve the world’s big problems and scale solutions, we need all hands on deck. Because current funding frameworks are unsustainable, we need investment capital and finance, and the inherent efficiency and sustainability they bring. Philanthropy, government, and NGOs are part of the solution, but they can’t do it all and can’t do it all separately—we need to better link private sector dollars to the work of these partners, even in the most challenging contexts.

    External link
  • PODCAST: Applying BI in Humanitarian Settings

    Britt Titus interview with UBC’s ‘Calling Dibs’ podcast applying BI to wicked problems in humanitarian settings around the world. These problems and settings require modifications to the standard BI approach to problem-solving. Britt walks us through how her team at the IRC has expanded the problem scoping phase to spend time: (1) validating assumptions with a variety of involved parties and (2) identifying leverage points that maximize impact and feasibility.

    External link
  • Devex: Climate-resilient seeds offer farmers in Syria a path to food security

    In Syria, almost 14 years of conflict and the increasing impacts of climate change have ravaged the land, creating an increasingly difficult place for farmers to cultivate. It’s taken a particular toll on seeds. Improving seed quality is a key part of the solution, and a pilot project to boost farmers’ access to high-quality, climate-resilient seeds could offer some hope — and the positive effects could reach far beyond farmers.

    External link
  • Devex: How a new collaborative investment model can scale humanitarian funding

    The International Rescue Committee is running pilots in several countries to show how a fresh model can get investors and humanitarians working better together. IRC’s Ellen Brooks Shehata explains what it means on the ground.

    External link
  • PBS: New aid delivery method aims to send help ahead of disasters

    Africa’s first climate summit begins Monday in Kenya with the goal of better preparing the continent for climate disasters. When these disasters strike, aid often pours in from around the world. A new method of delivering aid uses technology to help predict the greatest need and send it in advance. Babatunde Ojei, Nigeria director for the International Rescue Committee, joins Ali Rogin to discuss.

    External link
  • Washington Post: David Miliband and Sherrie Westin on helping children in conflict zones continue to learn

    “If you invest in children earlier it has outsized benefit… When you do combine in-person services, even if delivered remotely, tailored services, but also the wraparound of a fantastic media TV series you get… fully a year’s worth or pre-educational progress in the space of 11 weeks.”

    External link
  • PODCAST: Can technology help rebuild after disasters?

    Airbel's Atish Gonsalves is interviewed by podcast 'Technology Untangled' on EdTech solutions at the IRC.

    External link
  • Devex: Why the world needs to 'wake up' to the malnutrition crisis

    A global plan to scale access to ready-to-use therapeutic foods is among solutions needed, says International Rescue Committee’s David Miliband in a call for a stronger global response to hunger.

    External link
  • Newsweek: A Simple Solution to Save Millions of Children From Wasting Away

    The alarm has sounded: Famine is stalking the Central Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Across both regions, UNICEF projects that some 6.4 million children will experience severe wasting, the painfully accurate term for what happens to children experiencing severe acute malnutrition. Globally, severe wasting is responsible for one in five deaths among children under age 5, making it one of the most serious threats to children in the world today. But unlike many global problems, the solution to child wasting is staring us in the face. A daily dose of low-cost, ready-to-use therapeutic food – RUTF – will save the vast majority of children suffering from wasting, if we reach them in time.

    External link

Partner with us

We collaborate closely with hundreds of partners on our research and innovation projects. Work with us to tackle the world's most pressing humanitarian challenges.

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Maiduguri, Nigeria: IRC staffs at Sulumburi Health Clinic, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Borno State
Maiduguri, Nigeria: IRC staffs at Sulumburi Health Clinic, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Borno State