GDI WAS BORN TO BUILD

Anyone can create an impact on their own, but those who want to drive system-level change work with a team.

We match ambitious leaders, strong concepts, and capital with the executional power required to launch and scale transformational development ventures.

More than ever before, the world needs meaningful and transformational action.

Our Unconventional Approach

GDI is an incubator for transformational development ventures, working to build and scale the next generation of social impact solutions.

Whether these concepts originate from sector experts, or are developed and tested ourselves, we create new approaches to address persistent global issues.

Break Silos

We listen closely, interrogate the process, and bridge sectors to arrive at the best solutions to specific problems.

Hold Ourselves Accountable

We work closely with our partners every step of the way and measure our success by the real-world impact we create, not simply the advice we deliver.

Make the Connections

We catalyze potential partnerships and connect opportunities for funders, individuals, and organizations to work together towards common goals.

Think Long Term

We engage and empower organizations and initiatives to stand on their own as influencers in their fields.

We provide our partners intensive and comprehensive collaboration throughout the life-cycle of a new venture.

Our Growth Engineering Process

Over 12-36 months, we deploy our functional teams to help early-stage initiatives design their business strategy and model, develop their brand identity, hire and retain talent, and construct their financial and operational infrastructure.

Discover

Design

Build

Exit

Conduct a thorough and thoughtful review to understand the root problems and a hypothesized solution. Develop key business plan questions and refine an early concept note.

Collaborate with partners and funders to align on theory of change, validate the approach, build a governance system, and shape a powerful brand.

Develop leadership teams, pilot interventions with emerging results, build core operating infrastructure, and establish a strategic plan.

Launch entrepreneurs and incubated initiatives into the next phase of growth. Set future milestones and transfer knowledge to ensure the initiative’s long-term success.

For social impact pioneers, GDI serves as both a guide and implementer, looking to elevate our ventures and the broader causes they represent.

Our Work and Featured Initiatives

From a venture’s discovery to its operational building blocks, we leverage our outsider experience and insider commitment to turn big ideas into action. We are committed to working with our partners for the long-haul, crossing sector boundaries to forge critical relationships between traditional and non-traditional development actors.

Browse our incubated initiatives to see how we design and build transformational development ventures.

GDI is your trusted advisor when you need guidance, your “start-up team” when you need to get stuff done, and a mentor when you need a push in the right direction.

GDI's Leadership Team

The GDI team comes from a diverse array of backgrounds and experiences, but we’re united by a proven track record of entrepreneurship, deep social sector expertise, and a culture of doing whatever it takes to get things done. Below is a snapshot of GDI’s leadership team.

  • Alice Gugelev
    Alice Gugelev
  • Andrew Stern
    Andrew Stern
  • Warren Ang
    Warren Ang
  • Thomas Carroll
    Thomas Carroll
  • Darin Kingston
    Darin Kingston
  • Chintan Maru
    Chintan Maru
  • Danielle Maxwell
    Danielle Maxwell
  • Jon Shepard
    Jon Shepard
  • Stuart Symington
    Stuart Symington
  • Elizabeth VanDerWoude
    Elizabeth VanDerWoude
  • Jason Wendle
    Jason Wendle
Alice Gugelev

Alice is a Managing Director of GDI US and the CEO of GDI Africa, where she works with large corporations, commercial investors and INGOs to integrate social impact, innovation and social entrepreneurship efforts into their portfolios, and helps philanthropists and social enterprises more effectively create systems-level change. Prior to joining GDI, Alice worked at Bridgespan, Bain & Co, the World Bank and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. She is the co-founder and executive director of The Muskoka Foundation, as well as the co-founder and chief strategy officer of AppMkr. Alice earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and has a double major BA in International Economics and East Asian Studies from Columbia University and Stanford Japan Center. Alice enjoys spending time at her cabin in Canada with her family – and lots of uninvited black flies.

Andrew Stern

Andrew is the Founder and CEO of GDI, and also serves as an ex-officio member of GDI’s US Board and a member and the Chair of GDI’s Hong Kong Board. He shapes new opportunities for GDI to drive the global development sector forward and provides strategic guidance to select incubated initiatives. Andrew has played many roles within GDI initiatives, including Interim CEO of Convergence and of Emerging Public Leaders, and currently serves on the Boards of Aceli Africa, citiesRISE, the Institute for Transformative Technologies, and the Refugee Investment Network, and the advisory board of Upstart Co-Lab.

Prior to founding GDI, Andrew was a Global Operating Partner at Dalberg Global Advisors. During that time, he helped design and launch ANDE and served as the founding chairman of mothers2mothers. Andrew holds a joint MBA/MPP from Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School and a BA in Economics from Princeton University. When he isn’t urging nonprofits toward their “endgames,” Andrew can be found pruning cedar groves in his backyard.

Warren Ang

Warren is the Managing Director, East Asia at GDI, where he spearheads GDI’s work in East Asia from Hong Kong. He works alongside the leadership of mission-driven businesses, non-profits and initiatives, as a long-term partner to design, incubate and implement strategies that achieve large-scale social impact. Warren brings strategic consulting and nonprofit management experience to GDI. He has worked at Dalberg Global Development Advisors (Asia), PwC Strategy (Australia), and was the Executive Director of a 170+ employee NGO in Yunnan, China. Warren holds an MBA with distinction from INSEAD. He has also developed a comprehensive personality assessment that he can occasionally be persuaded to administer to his colleagues.

Thomas Carroll

Tom is a Senior Advisor at GDI, where he works directly with rural enterprise development efforts. Tom focuses on GDI’s incubated initiatives in this space: ISF Advisors, Aceli Africa, the Rural & Agricultural Finance Learning Lab, and the Council on Smallholder Finance (CSAF). This includes the development and application of products and services for small agricultural enterprises, including finance, digital technology, and education. His efforts aim to make the economics of environmentally sound, community-led rural enterprise development sustainable. 

Previously, Tom was a Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors where he led a strategy consulting portfolio that included efforts such as comprehensive investment/market entry analyses of global and regional commodity markets; the development of public-private partnerships across a host of those markets; the commercialization of agriculture technologies; and the design of innovative financing mechanisms in frontier markets. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Aceli Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya, and EarthEnable, based in Kigali, Rwanda. Tom holds an MBA from Yale School of Management and a BA in government from the University of Notre Dame.

 

Darin Kingston
Darin is Managing Director at GDI, where she works closely with the Development Frontiers focus area on building multi-stakeholder initiatives. She currently serves as the interim Director of Operations for the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. At GDI, she has also served as the Interim COO of Convergence, and an advisor to Unorthodox Philanthropy and Emerging Public Leaders. Darin co-authored “More than the Sum of Its Parts: Making Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives Work.”
Darin has experience designing and implementing social performance strategies at a range of mission-driven organizations, specializing in monitoring and evaluation and economic development. Before joining GDI, she led the social impact measurement work of the top solar energy provider for developing markets, d.light. Darin earned a MA in International Affairs from Columbia University and a BA in International Relations from Brown University, and is a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member. Darin loves fireworks and is pretty good at Knock-out.
Chintan Maru

Chintan is the Founder and Executive Director of Leapfrog to Value which is advancing the field of value-based care in low- and middle-income countries. He is also Director at GDI, leading a portfolio of initiatives aimed at improving the value of health systems. Chintan is a medical doctor and public health advocate. Prior to founding L2V, he was a consultant in McKinsey & Co’s health systems practice, where he led value-based care reforms for payers, providers, and state governments in the United States; and advised on public sector delivery transformations in Africa. He also co-wrote a report for WHO/PAHO on financing primary care in Latin America. Chin is a graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and majored in political science at Duke University. He was a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at Princeton University and a Fulbright Scholar to Jamaica. When he isn’t geeking out on health systems, he plays Capoeira Angola.

Danielle Maxwell

Danielle is GDI’s Talent Manager. She has spent her professional career working at nonprofits in various roles, including human resources, administrative operations, event planning, fundraising, donor relations and finance management. Before joining GDI, Danielle was Director of Talent and Administration at Independent Sector and Deputy Director of Human Resources and Operations at New America. She has also worked at the Employment Policy Foundation, College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Close Up Foundation. Danielle has a BA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and an MPA with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from American University. When she’s not in the office, you can find Danielle on her yoga mat, watching the Premier League football, or playing tennis.

Jon Shepard

Jon leads GDI’s Climate and Ecosystems work. He acts as the Chief Strategy & Operations Officer of Emergent, a non-profit market catalyst incubated by GDI which is focused on the protection of tropical forests at national scale and backed by the Government of Norway, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Environmental Defense Fund. Jon also leads our exploration of game-changing initiatives in waste plastic and alternative fuels. Before GDI, Jon conceived and set up a global non-profit unit at EY that worked with leading impact entrepreneurs in low and middle-income countries. Earlier in his career, Jon worked for Accenture, The Prince’s Trust – a leading youth development NGO in the UK – and was an infantry officer in the British Army.

Stuart Symington

Stuart is the Senior Manager of Brand, Marketing, and Communications at GDI. His passion for social impact was ignited by experience across Latin America, Africa, Europe, and East Asia. Stuart launched his career in East Africa by leading social impact projects in Djibouti, working with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and researching the post-genocide legal system in Rwanda.

After a successful career in tech startups, he joined National Public Radio (NPR) to lead marketing, brand and digital strategy. Stuart partnered with the Programming, Digital, and Partnership divisions, among others, to serve 165 million monthly listeners. Highlights included launching new podcasts (Life Kit, Throughline, White Lies, and Peabody-winning Believed), along with key projects for the NPR newsroom and NPR Music’s Tiny Desk. In recognition of his work, Adweek selected Stuart for their inaugural Executive Mentor Program cohort.

Stuart is a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, leading digital initiatives for D.C.’s official Capital Pride which has over 400,000 people attend annually. He grew the community online by partnering with platforms like Instagram, Giphy, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. Stuart volunteers on the boards of the Foreign Service Youth Foundation and Seven United in Rwanda. He also served on the DC Board of Indego Africa.

Stuart earned his BA degree from Yale University in East Asian Studies. He is from Missouri and has lived, studied, and worked in Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, Spain, Niger, Djibouti, Rwanda, Nigeria, China, and Japan. He is fluent in Spanish, conversational in French and rusty in Japanese. After hours, Stuart enjoys eclectic live music, iced coffee, traveling with friends, and writing about pop culture.

Elizabeth VanDerWoude

Elizabeth is GDI’s Director of Finance and the Treasurer of GDI U.S. In addition to leading finance and general operations across GDI, she also supports initiatives in building policy, procedure, and systems to effectively run their organization.

Elizabeth has experience managing finance, accounting, compliance, human resources, and planning at a range of non-profit organizations in positions focused on capacity development. Before joining GDI, she served as Senior Director of Finance and Accounting at NASTAD and as Vice President of Finance and Administration at Education for Employment. Elizabeth received her MBA from Georgetown University and studied both International Development and Accounting as an undergraduate. Elizabeth aspires to grow a flourishing garden.

Jason Wendle

Jason Wendle has been a Director at GDI for the past five years, designing and building initiatives in the AgEnterprise and Development Frontiers portfolios. In this capacity, he has most recently been acting as Director of Strategy and Programs for the recently launched Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. Jason has focused on the Fund’s overall organizational strategy, how to effectively deploy over $80M in seed funding from donor countries, and designing new programs that can secure additional funding. The fund prioritizes private sector engagement to develop ethical alternatives in sectors affected by forced labor, and its largest area of programming is in the area of forced labor among vulnerable migrants. Previously at GDI, Jason launched and directed the Mastercard Foundation Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab, which advances the knowledge frontier in smallholder finance and advises the directors of $175M worth of programs on how to capture actionable learnings. Jason started designing the Lab as an Associate Partner in the Nairobi office of Dalberg Advisors, where he spent seven years providing strategic advice to clients across a broad range sectors – such as impact investing, agricultural development, energy, technology for development, and access to finance. His clients have included the world’s largest private foundations, bilateral and multilateral donors, African governments, and Fortune 100 firms. He also provided leadership to Dalberg’s evaluation work on the continent. Jason holds a Masters in Public Administration in International Development from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and has published and presented work on smallholder finance, SME banking, modern slavery, and impact measurement.

For us, scalability and impact aren’t just a metric of success, they’re a criteria for support. We make big bets that can push the limits of our current systems, or outright transform them.

Our Funders

The first step to creating real change is believing that it’s possible. GDI appreciates the contributions from its funders whose support is instrumental in bringing innovative ideas to life.

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