DENISE BROWN Director of Emergencies, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Denise Brown is currently the World Food Programme's Director of Emergencies in the Emergency Preparedness & Support Response Division (OSE). She’s moved to Rome after having served as Regional Director in West Africa since 2013. In West Africa, she was responsible for WFP operations across 20 countries, as well as a number of regional crises and corporate emergencies including the response to the Ebola Virus pandemic. Ms. Brown joined WFP in 1998 as field monitor in Iraq. She has worked in challenging environments including Afghanistan (1999 – 2002), Kenya (2002 – 2007) and Somalia (2007 – 2009) where she was Deputy Country Director. From 2009 to 2011, she was based in New York as Senior Liaison Officer in the WFP liaison office. From 2011 to 2013, she served as WFP Country Director for Niger where she successfully coordinated an early response to the food security and nutrition crisis of 2012. Before joining WFP, she worked for nongovernmental organizations in Cambodia and Haiti. Denise is a national of Canada. She holds a Master’s of Science in research in children’s development from Purdue University in the United States and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia. Denise’s main focus as WFP Director of Emergencies is on providing systematic and effective operational and strategic support to corporate emergencies as well as strengthening emergency preparedness of WFP teams as well as partners and governments.

JAMES EILOART Senior Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Tableau Software

James Eiloart is Tableau Software’s SVP EMEA. James has spent the past 4 years with Tableau leading the business in EMEA.
With more than 28 years in the software industry, building and leading international sales teams and strong partner ecosystems, James has held executive positions in sales, channel, strategic alliances, and marketing. Prior to Tableau, James was SVP Global Sales at Alterian. He has also served in executive positions at E.piphany and Remedy and crafted his sales skills at Compuware.
James is a graduate of the University of Leeds and holds a BSC (Hons) in Data Processing. When he can escape the demands of his wife and 4 children, James plays golf, badly.

DR. MATHIAS FIRCHOW Senior Manager, Data Science, Germany & Alpine of Nielsen

Senior Manager, Data Science, Germany & Alpine of Nielsen, the world’s largest information, data, and measurement company with headquarters in the United States. Dr Firchow joined Nielsen 4 years ago. He represents the Data Science team of Nielsen in this forum. Data Science is at the core of Nielsen’s work. Their researchers come from diverse disciplines, and they drive innovation, new product ideation, experimental design and testing, and complex analysis and delivery of data insights.

ARIF HUSAIN Chief Economist and Deputy Director, Analysis and Trends, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Dr Arif Husain is Chief Economist and Director of the Food Security Analysis and Trends Service at United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome, Italy. Arif joined WFP in 2003 and since then he has served in many senior positions both in the field and the headquarters. He has also worked for the World Bank and taught at the Hubert H Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Arif’s work focuses on analysing food security and welfare conditions in developing countries to inform humanitarian response. His research interests include application of information technologies to improve humanitarian response; understanding linkages between poverty, hunger, conflict and migration; and analysing how global economic shocks impact food security, social protection and emergency and development assistance. Arif has a Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics with a minor in forestry from the University of Minnesota.


Bruce Isaacson is an Agricultural Economist and currently manages USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), a leading provider of independent, objective, evidence-based and forward looking food security and early warning analysis. Bruce has over 20 years of field experience in Africa, SE Asia, Central America and the South Pacific, including 15 years with the United Nations, supporting development and humanitarian initiatives. Working with governments, international organizations and technical assistance projects, Mr. Isaacson has broad technical expertise in agricultural and food security research, information and analysis, planning and policy.

BENJAMIN KOETZ Application Scientist, Earth Observation Directorate of the European Space Agency

Benjamin Koetz works as Application Scientist in the Earth Observation Directorate of the European Space Agency. His tasks focus on the development of Earth Observation (EO) applications in close collaboration with relevant user communities, scientists and EO service providers. In particular he is responsible for the TIGER initiative dealing with EO for water resources management in Africa and is involved in the GEO-Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM) launched by the G20 Agricultural ministers. Benjamin received his M.S. degree in Environmental Sciences with a major in Remote Sensing from the University of Trier, Germany. He also holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in Earth Observation from the University of Zürich, Switzerland. His scientific expertise focuses on the development of physically-based methodologies to derive geo-biophysical EO products with a total of 15 years’ experience in the field.

ELISABETH MINNEMANN Director of International Affairs, The Hague

Dr. Elisabeth Minnemann is the Director of International Affairs at the municipality of The Hague since September 2015. From 2009 to 2015, Elisabeth Minnemann served as director for the Institute for Management Education, and the Institute for Business Education at Rotterdam University. Within the municipality, she is responsible for advancing the city’s identity and profile as the international city of peace and justice.
Her ambition, is to make The Hague an attractive location for all organizations involved in peace, justice, and humanitarian efforts by stimulating innovation in those sectors. One of the many projects she is responsible for is The Hague Humanity Hub. The Hub is a physical meeting place for innovative and data-driven humanitarian aid solutions. With partners in the hub who start innovative projects the Hub will make emergency aid ready for the future.

THIERRY NEGRE European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC)

Thierry NEGRE is Team Leader, Food Security Group in the Food Security Unit of the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC). A French national, Thierry NEGRE was born in Limoges in 1963. After graduating from the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon in 1987, he worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on the development of national food security information systems in Africa and Asia. He joined the European Commission in 1997 and was the initiator of food security information activities in JRC in 2001. Subsequently, Thierry NEGRE served as scientific counsellor in the European Union Delegation to the Holy See, the Order and Malta and the United Nations Organisations in Rome.

CHRISTINE PIRENNE Head of Humanitarian Aid, Netherlands

Christine Pirenne is leading the humanitarian aid team of the Netherlands Foreign Ministry as of September 2015. Before taking up this position she has been working in different areas of foreign policy and development cooperation. Focus has been on: Human Rights, while working at the Netherlands Embassy in Beijing; food security and private sector development, while working at the Netherlands Embassy in Zambia and Mozambique; and climate change adaptation being the lead negotiator for the EU on the agenda for the least developed countries. In addition, and in order to better liaise with the private sector and its role in development, Christine has been seconded to Rabobank where she worked in an advisory team for banks in developing countries to support investment in agriculture and improve access to financial services for the poor.

NATHANIEL RAYMOND Director of the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health

Nathaniel Raymond is the Director of the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. He has over fifteen years of experience as a humanitarian aid worker and human rights investigator. Raymond was formerly director of operations for the George Clooney-founded Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) at HHI. Raymond served in multiple roles with Oxfam America and Oxfam International, including in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, and elsewhere. He has published multiple popular and peer-reviewed articles on human rights, humanitarian issues, and technology in publications including the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, the Lancet, the Annals of Internal Medicine, and many others.
Raymond served in 2015 as a consultant on early warning to the UN Mission in South Sudan. He was a 2013 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow and is a co-editor of the technology issue of Genocide Studies and Prevention. Raymond and his Signal Program colleagues are co-winners of the 2013 USAID/Humanity United Tech Challenge for Mass Atrocity Prevention and the 2012 U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation Industry Intelligence Achievement Award. He is a co-editor for technology with Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal.

LUCA RUSSO Senior Strategic Advisor (Resilience), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Luca Russo is an agricultural economist with a wide field experience, particularly in Africa. His main area of expertise is food security and resilience in protracted crises and related policy and analytical frameworks. He has published extensively on the topic. Luca currently works at FAO as Senior Strategic Advisor (Resilience), where he leads major food security and resilience related analytical works such as the Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) and Cadre Harmonisé and the Resilience Index for Measurement and analysis (RIMA) which are particularly relevant to evidence based resilience and food security programming.

STANLAKE SAMKANGE Director, Policy and Programme, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Stanlake Samkange serves as the Director of the Policy and Programme Division of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), a position he assumed on 1 February 2013. From April 2011 to January 2013, he served as Regional Director for East and Central Africa, WFP’s largest regional bureau accounting for over 36% of WFP’s total operations. From 2008 to 2011 he was the WFP Representative and Country Director in Uganda, managing an operation that included emergency, transition and development responses. From 2003-2007 he served in Rome as WFP Director for Policy, Strategy and Programme Support. Prior to that he served as Director of Research for the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (which coined the "Responsibility to Protect"), and was a Member (Rapporteur) of the Security Council's Panel of Experts set up to investigate the violation of sanctions against UNITA in Angola. Mr. Samkange served in the Office of the Secretary-General as a speechwriter from 1993-1996, and as a Political Officer in the Department of Political Affairs from 1996-1998. He practiced law in Washington DC with Covington & Burling, and was educated at Harvard University (A.B.), Oxford University, and Stanford University Law School (J.D.). He is a national of Zimbabwe.

GIDEON SHIMSHON Director, Centre for Innovation, Leiden University

Gideon Shimshon is the director of the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University, a university think tank that both explores and executes enterprising projects at the juncture of education, research, technology and society.
Motivated by his passion for learning and innovative research practices, Gideon manages a diverse portfolio of projects that examine both the future of education as well as non-traditional applications of up-and-coming technologies.
Over the course of the past few years, Gideon has co-founded the Leiden Online Learning Lab – which considers how online learning environments can enhance and extend the university’s reach as well as foster new learning landscapes – and HumanityX – a knowledge hub for scientists and practitioners interested in applying Big Data analytics to the fields of peace, justice and humanitarian intervention.
Before joining Leiden University, Gideon was a consultant and project manager at Accenture. He began his career in the realm of political economy, working at the World Bank on governance issues, subsequently setting up a foundation for serious gaming and simulations in international relations and conflict management. He received his MSc from the University of Amsterdam and lives in The Hague.

KARIN TUXEN-BETTMAN Google Earth Outreach, Google

Karin has been with Google since early 2008, and has since worked on the Google Earth Outreach team, helping nonprofit and public benefit organizations use Google's mapping tools for their work. Karin's background includes work in GIS and remote sensing technologies, which she applied to her PhD in environmental sciences, received from the University of California, Berkeley. Since joining Google, she has trained numerous nonprofits to using the Street View Trekker backpack to collect imagery of the ecosystems they are working to conserve. More recently, she led the effort at Google to measure air quality using Street View cars, through a partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund.

PIERRE GUILLAUME WIELEZYNSKI Deputy CIO, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Pierre Guillaume Wielezynski (call him PG) is the Deputy CIO at the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian agency, operating in over 80 of the most difficult countries worldwide. PG works with the global IT network to implement the organisation’s strategic priorities, ensuring IT delivers technology solutions in an ever changing humanitarian context. His particular focus is on Business Engagement, Architecture and Solutions Delivery. PG has spent the past 15 years at the intersection of human development, marketing and digital technologies. Before joining WFP, PG was a victim of the first dot com bubble crash and found refuge at the World Bank in Washington DC where he spearheaded a number of initiatives in online marketing and digital product development.
PG lives in Rome, Italy with his wife and two children.


Andrew represents Planet Labs, a breakthrough global sensing company that is deploying the largest constellation of Earth-observing satellites in human history. On Feb 3, they launched the largest record number of satellites in history into space. Now operational, over 88 satellites captures a complete picture of the Earth's surface, every day, in high resolution, and makes it universally accessible via the Web. This data has transformational potential as a tool for climate finance, disaster response, ecosystem management, land rights management, smallholder agriculture, peacekeeping, and countless other global challenges. It is also essential as a monitoring, evaluating and reporting of progress on many of the Sustainable Development Goals. Planet Labs is currently working with a host of leading foundations, social innovators, and technologists in these and many other fields to empower entirely new approaches to complex challenges.