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Jessica Seddon
Founder and Board Member

Dr Jessica Seddon is the Founder of Okapi, an India-based strategy group focused on institutional design for social innovation. Okapi is incubated by IIT Madras and works with government, corporate, and philanthropic clients to understand and shape the ecosystems around complex social and environmental challenges. Dr. Seddon is also a Visiting Fellow at IDFC Institute and Adjunct Faculty at IIT Madras, where she works on institutional design for infrastructure governance, pollution mitigation, risk management and other aspects of a transition to a more sustainable relationship with the environment. She is on the advisory boards of the Wilderhill Global Clean Energy Index (NEX), Prakti Design Labs and Vidyartha. Prior to founding Okapi, Dr. Seddon served as Head of Research at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (Bangalore), Director of the Centre for Development Finance at IFMR, Chennai, and Assistant Professor, UC San Diego. She was also a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Seddon earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and her B.A. from Harvard University.

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Ashwin Mahalingam
Co-founder and Board Member

Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam is Associate Professor at the Building Technology and Construction Management division of the Civil Engineering Department at IIT-Madras. Dr. Mahalingam’s current research interests include Public Private Partnerships in Infrastructure, Megaproject governance and management, IT based Innovation in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, and ways in which organizations react to the globalization of engineering services. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Civil Engineering from Stanford University and a B.Tech from IIT Madras. Ashwin is a Director on the boards of several infrastructure project companies and is also involved in setting up the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at IIT-Madras.

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Charis Idicheria
Lead Researcher, Resilience

Charis is interested in studying and designing scenarios for equitable work. Having worked and studied across 4 continents, she is motivated to identify solutions that create sustainable and resilient business solutions, particularly for workers and entrepreneurs in India's informal economy and MSME sector. Charis has worked on consulting and research projects on urban livelihoods; poverty; e-governance; and participatory urban planning. She holds a Master of Public Administration from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School of Governance.

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Rajesh Rangarajan
Lead Researcher, Energy and Environment

Rajesh is an environmental sector professional having more than fifteen years of work experience engaging in programmes and projects on environmental pollution and sustainability, coastal and urban environmental protection, climate change and environmental governance. Rajesh has experience working in different kinds of organisations including government, non-government and international development organisations, think-tanks and research organisations Rajesh’s domain expertise is interdisciplinary, encompassing environmental quality, sustainability and environmental governance with project experience in environmental management, energy efficiency, climate change adaptation, waste management and pollution prevention. His interests lie in employing policy & social entrepreneurship abilities in collaborative problem solving for better environmental outcomes and sustainable development.

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Parama Roy
Lead Researcher, Urban Transformation

Dr. Parama Roy is the Lead Researcher of the Urban Transformations portfolio at Okapi. Parama is interested in the multifaceted and complex nature of urbanization process and its social and environmental implications. She has over 10 years of research experience relating to contemporary urban planning processes and associated possibilities and challenges across varied socio-political contexts. Parama’s work is specifically motivated by principles of socio-environmental justice and sustainable development and guided by political-economic and political-ecological theories, and mixed research methodologies. Her most recent publications are based on her work on Danish urban renewal planning in Copenhagen. Parama completed her PhD from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has worked at Georgia State University and State University of New York-Binghamton in the US and University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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Smylie Patric
Head of Administration

Smylie Angeline Patric is the Head of Administration at Okapi. She comes with 22 years of experience in trouble shooting regular and administrative activities. Smylie loves music, reading, and spending time with her family (in addition to keeping Okapi on track!)

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Aditi Agrawal
Associate, New Initiatives

Aditi joined Okapi in December of 2016 after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles where she earned a B.A in Political Science and Public Affairs. Passionate about driving social impact, Aditi has had diverse internship experiences ranging from the 321 Education Foundation to Brookings India and Elevar Equity. At Okapi she works closely with our lead researchers and the administration to identify and develop new product and service areas, vet new project partners and support growth and scale of our organizational impact.

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Ayushman Banerjee
Senior Research Associate

Ayushman’s interests span a wide variety of issues involving urban governance and policy. His current pursuits at Okapi include working on governance of resilience and pollution control projects in Chennai and Bangalore. Past experiences include producing conferences on urban development; risk analysis at a sub-national level government housing department in Canada; contributing to research on municipal finance and governance in developed and emerging economies; supporting urban conservation initiatives; and a number of endeavours in program evaluation. Ayushman holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto. He also completed his undergraduate degree in Urban Studies and Sociology from the University of Toronto. Lived experiences in metropolises ranging from Bangalore to Toronto have complemented his multidisciplinary background.

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Krishna Kumar
Senior Research Associate

Krishna Kumar holds a Masters in Sustainable Energy Supply from Brandenburg Technical University, Germany. He has worked on last mile energy access projects in India and Africa, with particular emphasis on microgrids and community ownership models, while promoting sustainable development and strong ecosystem for rural entrepreneurs