Resources Making adaptive management work


Making adaptive management work

November 16, 2020
Results and measurement, Governance

Making adaptive management work

“Adaptive management” has become a catchphrase that encapsulates a diverse range of concepts, processes and goals. At its heart is the simple exhortation to adjust a project’s strategy to maximize the realization of results given the dynamism of most operating environments. How one does so, however, is not always clear. It involves diverse and carefully honed mindsets, resources, activities and monitoring and evaluation systems, among others, that must themselves be adapted to meet the ongoing needs of the project. 

On November 16, 2020, Pact hosted a one-hour virtual event on Making Adaptive Management Work. At the event, three practitioners from Pact, CARE and USAID discussed how they have tackled this challenge, and Pact introduced its practical new resource for adaptive management that builds from complexity science and program theory. Pact’s Adaptive Management Guide, which includes an introduction to adaptive management and a practical toolkit of examples and templates, can be found here.

RELATED RESOURCE: Adaptive management: A practical guide to mitigating uncertainty and advancing evidence-based programming


Laura Zambrano brings over 15 years of experience in implementation and oversight of conflict management and humanitarian assistance projects in international development, specifically on human rights, access to justice and supporting vulnerable populations. She currently serves as USAID/Colombia’s Chief of Party for the Migrant Human Rights Activity. She was previously the Chief of Party for USAID/Mexico’s Human Rights Public Policy Activity and Deputy Chief of Party for the USAID/Colombia Human Rights Activity (HRA). She received her B.A. in political science from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota and she holds an M.A. in international development from Duke University.

Emily Janoch is the Deputy Director for Research, Innovation, Evaluation, and Learning for the CARE USA Food and Nutrition Security team focusing on ways to better learn from and share implementation experiences on eradicating poverty through empowering women and girls. With 14 years of experience, she is an expert in designing systems to capture and share information across many sources, and facilitating conversations with practitioners and decision makers. With four-years of on-the-ground experience in West Africa and academic publications on community engagement and the human element in food security in Africa, she is especially interested in community-lead development. She is fluent in French and Dogon, and has expertise in food security, nutrition, health, governance, and gender equality/women’s empowerment. She has a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago, and a Masters’ in Public Policy in Internationals and Global Affairs from the Harvard Kennedy School. 

David Jacobstein has been with USAID for 9 years. He serves as a Democracy Specialist in the Cross-Sectoral Programs Division of the Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Center, where he focuses on issues of capacity development, systems thinking, political economy, and cross-sectoral integration, and contributes to the design of programming focusing on civil society strengthening and advocacy, rule of law, and integrated governance. He leads work on capacity development that has promulgated measurement and programming recommendations and help guides, and served as a co-author of the Local Systems Framework. Previously, he worked for Pact and the American Bar Association supporting civil society strengthening and rule of law programming across Africa, Europe, and Asia. He holds an MA (international development and economics) from Johns Hopkins SAIS and a BA (history) from Brown University. 

Lauren Serpe is the Deputy Technical Director for Results and Measurement at Pact. She is a monitoring, evaluation, research and learning (MERL) specialist with 15 years of experience designing, implementing, and evaluating results-oriented democracy, governance and civil society strengthening programs, with a focus on learning and adaptive management. She has piloted innovative complexity-adaptive methods in Pact’s global governance portfolio and led the development of associated handbooks and toolkits. She has expertise implementing a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods in more than 25 countries globally. A regular presenter at the annual conference of the American Evaluation Association, most recently Ms. Serpe has led expert panels regarding learning, adaptive management, “lean data” and “complexity on a shoestring” topics. Previously she served as a Senior Research Specialist at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). She has an MA in International Politics from American University in Washington, DC. 

Alysson Akiko Oakley is the Director for Results and Measurement at Pact. She is an experienced practitioner in the fields of international development, governance, and democratization, and specializes in improving program strategy and demonstrating impact. Her portfolio at Pact includes research, monitoring, evaluation, and learning. She is currently the Program Chair of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Topical Interest Group for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University where she teaches courses on strategy, as well as program design, monitoring and evaluation of democracy assistance and conflict resolution interventions. Dr. Oakley was Associate Editor for the Cambridge University Press Southeast Asia “Elements” series, a principal Asia-Pacific analyst for Freedom House’s flagship publication Freedom in the World, authoring multiple Southeast Asia country reports from 2009 to 2017, and Senior Advisor at the International Republican Institute. Dr. Oakley has a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Arts (MA) from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) from Brown University. 

Kate Byom is a Senior Governance Officer at Pact, where she provides technical leadership to a global portfolio of civil society strengthening, local governance, and peacebuilding programs. She has eight years of experience designing, advising, and implementing democracy, rights, and governance programs, with a focus on human rights. In her current role, she supports Pact’s DRG programs in Myanmar, Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, including by designing and executing Applied Political Economy Analysis (APEA) studies and research. Ms. Byom also led a global learning review of Pact’s APEA practice and spearheaded efforts to operationalize the recommendations. Prior to joining Pact, she managed Freedom House’s East Africa portfolio, with a focus on programs in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. She holds an MA in human rights from University College London. 

Mason Ingram is Global Governance Director at Pact, where he oversees technical assistance to a portfolio of civil society, local governance, and peacebuilding programs. Mason has more than fifteen of experience designing, advising, and managing international development programs, with a focus on civil society and governance programming. He helped lead the development of Pact’s Applied Political Economy Analysis methodology. He has led numerous APEA studies and other participatory governance assessments on topics such as illicit financial in Zimbabwe, social accountability in the health sector in Nepal, and community fisheries management in Malawi. Prior to joining Pact, Mason served as Country Director for International Relief and Development. He also spent 7 years teaching history and politics at the high school level. 



This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.

Stay Updated. Subscribe Now.

Pact's e-newsletter offers the latest on our efforts around the world to build thriving, resilient and engaged communities that are leading their own development.