Dr. Laura Ahearn is a Senior Technical Director in Social Impact’s Strategy, Performance, and Learning Division. She has extensive experience with USAID’s Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) approach, having been a Fellow in USAID’s Global Development Lab and in the Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Center. In her work developing and managing MEL activities, she has designed and led a range of international research projects focusing on evidence utilization and learning. She has also led research projects employing qualitative, quantitative, and ethnographic methods. During her years with USAID’s LEARN contract, Dr. Ahearn advocated for Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) throughout the Agency.  

While at Social Impact, Dr. Ahearn has served as Technical Focal Point for the Ethiopia Organizational Development Activity and as a learning and CLA advisor for MEL platforms supporting USAID/Tanzania, USAID/Mali, and other Missions. She was also an embedded developmental evaluator in USAID’s Technology Division, providing real-time data and enhancing collaboration to improve the implementation of USAID’s Digital Strategy. Currently, she is the Developmental Evaluation Advisor for USAID’s Powered by the People. 

Dr. Ahearn is an anthropologist by training. After earning her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, she became a tenured faculty member at Rutgers University, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in research methods, language, and agency. Dr. Ahearn has published numerous journal articles on Nepal, language, culture, gender, and development, and her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Ahearn has also published two books: Invitations to Love: Literacy, Love Letters, and Social Change in Nepal and Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology, which has been translated into Polish and Chinese. She is fluent in English and Nepali.