My Life as an American, Woman, Development Economist

Introducing myself

For readers who don’t know me: After almost 20 years at the World Bank and Inter-American Bank, the latter as the executive vice-president, I have spent another 20 years in think tank life—a few years at the Carnegie Endowment, and the rest as founding president of CGD. Go here for the standard education/work bio; here for many outdated photos, including one with Bono and CGD co-founders in 2002); and here for research publications. Equally important, I’m a lucky and proud mother (of three), grandmother (of five), wife (second husband, now of 40 years); and a serious friend to a dozen college schoolmates and former work colleagues. I have lived in Washington, DC, for almost all my adult life.

These episodes are meant to capture the role of luck and privilege in my life, as an American during America’s near-hegemon years, and as a woman in a period of growing opportunities for women. They reflect a surprising and unusual path to a career as a development economist, mixing management, research, and advocacy. I am asking myself: Beyond luck and privilege, what mix of curiosity, ambition, hard work, and all-female Catholic schooling has mattered? They are meant to illustrate, indirectly—no preaching—how being a development economist gradually awakened me to the deep responsibility of the rich (those of us with luck and privilege) to rectify the injustices we visit on the poor, abroad and at home. I hope they help inspire young people to find their own paths to assessing and addressing those injustices—in their own way.

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More from the Series

Episode 1: Born in America
April 28, 2022
The situation in Ukraine today, with over a million people fleeing the Russian advance, reminds me of Emil. I was in sixth grade, 10 years old, in a Catholic parochial school in New Jersey, when Emil joined our class. It was The situation in Ukraine today, with over a million people fleeing the Russ...