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William Ford (MPP Candidate ’18)

William Ford

William came to graduate school after working for 5 years in international development, including three years living in Southeast Asia. Immediately before coming to GSPP, he served as the Yangon-based Myanmar Country Representative for Freedom House, an international human rights watchdog. He studied Eastern Religions as an undergraduate at Hamilton College and became interested in human rights while studying Buddhism in Vietnam. Upon graduation from Hamilton, he accepted a posting as a Fulbright Fellow in the conservative Muslim-majority city of Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, where he taught at a secondary school and learned about the relationship between Islam and Malaysian politics.

He subsequently returned to the US and took a position at Freedom House, where he worked on a program to provide emergency assistance to survivors of egregious religious persecution. At Freedom House, his interests expanded to broader civil and political rights and began to focus more on Myanmar. Since 2012, Myanmar has been the primary focus of his work, which has included efforts support to human rights defenders, research and policy advocacy initiatives on anti-discrimination legislation and land governance, and think tank development programming. Although the work was extremely fulfilling, he grew frustrated by the lack of rigorous analysis in program design across the development industry. Too often, programmatic decisions were dictated by intuition, the status quo, or elementary analysis.

William came to graduate school with the hope of developing quantitative analytical skills so that he could return to the field to support design, implementation, and evaluation of interventions using rigorous empirical methods. He has spent his time at GSPP building skills in statistics, econometrics, and program evaluation, and learning about international economic development theory and practice. While at GSPP, he has served as a TA for a Southeast Asian Politics, interned with the Center for Effective Global Action, and worked part time for an international development consulting firm. He spent his summer between his first and second years conducting a program evaluation of a Myanmar government initiative to return land that had been confiscated from farmers by the military, businesses, or the government. William hopes to return to Southeast Asia upon graduation to put his newly developed skills to work.