A Conversation on Politics, Development, and Change

Monday 29 April 2024, 08:30am BST

  • How well do development actors understand the interests and incentives of the elected officials we work with?  
  • What shapes politicians’ views of change and reform? 
  • What are their views on development actors and their goals? 
  • And ultimately, what does it look like to successfully collaborate with those in power to realise meaningful change?   

The TWP Community of Practice hosted this event in partnership with The Asia Foundation, Global Partners Governance and Development Intelligence Lab as part of the TWP CoP’s Global Webinar Series. The event brought together speakers from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Timor-Leste, Australia, the UK and explored these questions in a dynamic and interactive discussion.


Alina Rocha Menocal, Director, TWP Community of Practice and Principal, The Policy Practice

Originally from Mexico, Alina is a well-regarded and internationally recognised expert on politics and governance with two decades of experience in conducting high quality and impactful policy-relevant research. Until June 2022, she was a Principal Research Fellow at the ODI, which she joined in 2005 and where she remains a Senior Research Associate. She was also one of the founding members of the TWP CoP in 2013.From 2016 to 2020, she was Senior Democracy Fellow in Applied Political Economy Analysis (PEA) at USAID. Over the course of her career, Alina has worked to bridge the gap between research and policy in thinking about governance and the politics of change, as well as to inform more effective engagement and ways of working among international actors. Her areas of expertise include democracy/ democratisation and the challenges of multiple dimensions of institutional transformation; political settlements and inclusion; fragility, state- and peace-building and (post-)conflict trajectories; women’s empowerment; citizen voice and accountability; and corruption and anti-corruption efforts.  Alina has published extensively on all these issues and she holds a BA from Yale University in political science, and a MIA on Economic and Political Development and a MPhil in Political Science/Comparative Politics from Columbia University.

Bridi Rice, CEO, Development Intelligence Lab.    

Bridi is an international development expert with a background in government, non-government organisations, private sector and public policy. Before becoming CEO of the Australia-based Development Intelligence Lab, she was Director at the Attorney-General’s Department in Australia, where she oversaw Australian bilateral legal cooperation programmes. She has also been a Senior Manager working on public consultancy projects at Ernst & Young, represented Australia’s leading NGOs to Government as a Director of the Australian Council for International Development, and was an anti-corruption adviser embedded in the Papua New Guinea Department of Justice. She is co-founder of the Asia Pacific Development Diplomacy and Defence Dialogue, a non-resident Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic International Studies, and a Visiting Fellow at Australia National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance


Adérito de Jesus Soares, Member of Timor-Leste’s Constituent Assembly and the Inaugural Commissioner of Timor-Leste’s Anti-Corruption Commission. 

Adérito de Jesus Soares was elected as a member of Timor-Leste’s Constituent Assembly after the country gained independence. From 2010 to 2014 he served in the National Parliament as the first Commissioner of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission. He played a key role in drafting Timor-Leste’s first constitution; and chaired the Systematization and Harmonization Committee in the Constituent Assembly. Adérito is a Human Rights Lawyer and an accomplished researcher and academic.

Dr Harini Amarasuriya, Member of Parliament, National People Power, Sri Lanka

Harini Amarasuriya is a Sri Lankan academic, rights activist, university lecturer and politician who is serving as a National List Member of Parliament for National People’s Power party. She has also served as a senior lecturer at the Department of Social Studies of the Open University of Sri Lanka. Harini is well known for her researches on pressing issues such as youth unemployment, gender inequality, child protection and inefficiencies in Sri Lankan education system. She also currently runs works as a member of the Board of Directors of a Sri Lankan local NGO called, Nest.

Greg Power OBE, Founder and Board Chair, Global Partner’s Governance

An expert on political economy analysis and behavioural approaches to politics and change management, Greg has been involved in political and parliamentary reform since the mid-1990s.  Before co-founding Global Partners Governance in 2005, he was a special adviser to British ministers Rt Hon Robin Cook MP and Rt Hon Peter Hain MP, working on strategies for parliamentary reform, constitutional change and the wider democratic agenda. At the helm of GPG, Greg has worked extensively across the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America providing support to politicians and ministers, developing strategies, helping to implement reform, and advising international organisations and donor agencies. His recent book, Inside the Political Mind: The Human side of Politics, explores how social norms, public expectations and the personal interests of Members of Parliament influence the path of political development, drawing on his experience of working with political leaders in more than sixty countries. 

Minendra Rijal, Member of the House of Representative, Nepal

Minendra Rijal is a Nepali politician and former Defence Minister of Nepal. He is also a member of the House of Representatives. Minendra is a former member of Nepali Congress party Central Working Committee. He served as Minister of Information and Communications during the prime minister-ship of Sushil Koirala. He was one of the architects of the mixed electoral system that ensured better social and gender diversity in the Constituent Assembly.


Anthea Mulakala, Senior Director, International Development Cooperation, The Asia Foundation

Anthea is an accomplished development leader, manager, and policy specialist with more than 25 years of experience living and working in Asia. She has led and managed diverse teams, directly and remotely, to deliver high-impact programs in reproductive health, conflict prevention and peacebuilding, governance, and regional cooperation. Over the last decade, she has honed her expertise on Asian development cooperation, particularly understanding how rising powers, such as China and India, are transforming the 21st-century aid and development landscape. In addition to developing and implementing programs, she also writes, publishes, and speaks extensively on these issues. Mulakala also co-leader of The Asia Foundation’s Future Skills Alliance, a broad coalition of public and private sector partners working together to deliver future skills at-scale to the region’s most marginalized. Prior to the Asia Foundation, she worked for The World Bank, UK DFID, the City of Melbourne, and the South Asia Partnership.

Dr. Ramani Jayasundere, Director, Gender and Justice programs, The Asia Foundation, Sri Lanka.

As the Director for Gender and Justice programs at The Asia Foundation’s Sri Lanka office since 2017, Ramani Jayasundere has been a leading force in law and justice initiatives. Her journey with the Foundation began in 1997, where she managed key projects like the USAID Citizen Participation Project and the Human Rights Initiative. Her expertise spans law reform, strengthening mediation, and enhancing access to justice through legal empowerment. From 2008 to 2016, she also served as a Senior Technical Advisor, focusing on gender sensitization and women’s participation in mediation. Jayasundere’s extensive work outside the Foundation includes collaborations with international bodies like UNDP and ILO, championing women’s equality in law and alternative dispute resolution.