As the Director of YouthPower Learning, a USAID-sponsored program, Cassandra Jessee leads efforts to generate and disseminate knowledge about the implementation and impact of positive youth development (PYD) and cross-sectoral approaches in international youth development. She oversees the research, evaluations, events, and the knowledge platform designed to build the evidence base and inform the global community about how to successfully transition young people into productive, healthy adults.
Over the past 20 years, Cassandra has gained extensive experience managing large implementation programs and evaluations for USAID, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors. Her management and M&E experiences span youth, social protection, education, health and nutrition in schools, community development, workforce development, and agriculture. She is committed to ensuring development work and evaluation or research around that work is relevant, practical and useful and has long reaching benefit for the end users or beneficiaries.
Prior to joining ICRW in 2015, Cassandra led the implementation of two impact evaluations for social cash transfer programs in Zimbabwe and Zambia for the American Institutes for Research. Previously, as the Deputy Director for the Education Quality Improvement Program 1 (EQUIP1) mechanism, she managed the research, evaluation and information dissemination activities on education and international development issues. As Deputy Chief of Party for a USAID/Malawi project, Cassandra managed in-country operations and led M&E activities for a holistic school reform effort with a strong focus on increasing resources and access for girls and OVCs as part of its congressionally mandated pilot to inform programming under the school fees abolition movement. She oversaw other development programs in Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Zanzibar leveraging data to improve sector quality and system level processes. She also served as M&E technical advisor for education, health and agriculture projects and proposals in Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, South Africa, Malawi, and Zambia, using lessons learned to improve program implementation and build local capacity.