New Staff in Operations, Programs, and Research (2021)

Since our last hiring update, we have had a lot of new staff join Open Philanthropy. I’d like to use this post to introduce the new members of our team. We’re excited to have them!

If you are interested in joining our team, check out open positions on our Working at Open Phil page.

Asya Bergal, Program Associate

Asya joined Open Philanthropy in April 2021. Previously, Asya worked as a researcher at AI Impacts and as a trader and software engineer at a cryptocurrency hedge fund. She has a BA in Computer Science and Engineering from MIT.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
I’ve really enjoyed being able to help with foundational thinking around Open Phil’s AI grantmaking. I feel like I have some responsibility for the space, and I get to take a bird’s eye view of it. I like how that combination forces me to try and really understand what’s going on and what would be valuable.

Lisa Briones, Finance Manager

Lisa joined the Operations team in August 2020. She has over 14 years of finance and accounting experience, mostly in the nonprofit sector. She has a BA in Business Economics with a minor in Accounting from the University of California, Los Angeles.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
So far, one of the most interesting things about my work has been leading the consultant onboarding process. Our consultants possess various expertise that allows them to dive deep into our focus areas, conduct research, give feedback, publish papers, advise on grantmaking, etc. Managing their onboarding has helped me learn about all of the interesting and impressive projects that Open Phil is working on. Consequently, I’m regularly reminded of why I joined Open Phil: our mission to give as effectively as we can and thus accomplish as much good as possible.

Saarthak Gupta, Research Fellow

Saarthak joined Open Philanthropy in June 2020. He helps find and prioritize new program areas for future grantmaking. Previously, he worked as a consultant at Dalberg Advisors and as a data scientist at the Lab for Systems Medicine. Saarthak holds a bachelor’s in economics from Brown University and previously attended Deep Springs College.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
At Open Phil, I have the opportunity to work on important questions in a way that feels deeply impactful and aligned with my personal values. In the course of my research, I interact with dedicated people (both inside and outside the org), who work on diverse but equally interesting topics. I’ve had conversations on topics ranging from the impact of trade policies on Vietnamese catfish farmers, to the abundance of backyard housing in South Africa, to the optimal tokamak configuration for fusion reactors. I’m looking forward to engaging with an equally diverse set of questions as I continue my work at Open Phil.

Paige Henchen, Recruiter

Paige joined Open Philanthropy in February 2021. She graduated from Yale University in 2007 with a BA in Economics, and from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2012 with an MBA. Prior to joining Open Philanthropy, she worked at Bain & Company in management consulting, leadership development, and executive coaching.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
The most interesting part of my job is meeting new people. As a recruiter, I get to chat with a lot of folks who are interested in the work that we do at Open Phil. Thanks to Zoom, I can virtually “meet” with people from all over the world in the course of a single day.

Molly Kovite, In-House Counsel

Molly joined Open Philanthropy in January 2021. Before taking this role she was the head of International Humanitarian Law at the American Red Cross. Prior to that she served as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army, where she still serves as a reservist. Molly has a JD from New York University School of Law, and a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
The people here are really conscientious but unorthodox. And brilliant! I learn so much from just lurking on the slack channels! And when I’m curious or skeptical about something I read in the news, I know someone here will be willing and able to provide the context I need to understand it.

It’s also a really fun environment to provide legal advice in. There’s a reason lawyer jokes are a thing — people often get really frustrated that lawyers never give straightforward answers. But here there’s an appreciation for complexity and tradeoffs — and for weird solutions!

Adam Mohsen-Breen, Staff Assistant

Adam joined Open Philanthropy in April 2020. Prior to joining Open Philanthropy, he worked for the Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project of South Texas, where he served child asylum-seekers detained on the U.S.-Mexico border. Adam graduated from Harvard University in 2019 with a BA in Government and Middle-Eastern Studies.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
One of the most interesting parts of my work so far has been the unique structure of the Staff Assistant role. I support both the AI Governance and Farm Animal Welfare cause areas, which has given me a diverse work portfolio over my first year at Open Phil. I’ve enjoyed the mix of projects I’ve worked on so far, which have run the gamut from research and data analysis to administrative support. I’ve also enjoyed getting better acclimated to both areas of grantmaking, both through conversations with peers and colleagues, as well as through my interactions with grantees.

Emily Oehlsen, Research Fellow

Emily joined Open Philanthropy in April 2021. She is also a doctoral student in Economics at Oxford University. Previously, she worked at DeepMind, Uber, and TGG Group. She has a BSFS in International Political Economy from Georgetown University and an MPhil in Economics from Oxford University.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
Part of my work involves speaking with academics about their research and how we at Open Philanthropy might use it to answer questions about new cause selection. I’ve found it gratifying to engage with researchers, ask detailed questions about their work, and think through with them how it can be applied to contexts (and decision-makers) they perhaps didn’t anticipate.

Otis Reid, Research Fellow

Otis works to identify new cause areas where Open Philanthropy could have high impact, particularly in policy and global development. Prior to joining Open Philanthropy in January 2021, Otis was a political donor advisor, and worked at BlueLabs, a campaign analytics firm, managing their Campaign Modeling team. Before graduate school, he also spent a year at McKinsey & Company.

Otis has a PhD in economics from MIT, where he studied the political economy of development, working primarily in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. He also holds a BA in economics and public policy from Stanford.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
One of the things I love about the way we work at OP is the way that we synthesize evidence — we take a really hard-nosed approach, but that includes everything from quantitative analysis to expert interviews and leaning on our own expertise. The distinction, I think, is that we are very clear about where ideas come from, what evidence we are weighting more heavily, and how much we believe it. It’s both very freeing — there’s no rule that only some things count! — and very rigorous.

Eli Rose, Effective Altruism Program Associate

Eli works to support and expand the community of “effective altruists” — people who are interested in using logic and evidence to do good in the world. He joined Open Philanthropy in June 2020. Previously, he was Director of Engineering at Mentor Collective, a Boston educational technology company. He graduated in 2015 from Oberlin College, where he studied computer science and creative writing.

What has been one of the most interesting things about your work so far?
I work on making grants to build EA and EA-adjacent communities. Something I love about this is being in contact with the people in these communities; these are driven, curious people who deeply care about understanding the world and about the effects of their actions on other beings. I’m inspired to be around it.

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