Panel 4 | Uses of Local and National Identification Systems

Friday November 20, 2:00 – 3:30pm

service delivery


This panel explores the use of identification systems in enabling regular service delivery, including health insurance, social welfare services (e.g., food and housing subsidies), voting, education, socioeconomic development programs; and service delivery in extreme circumstances, such as war, natural disasters, and human trafficking. Additionally, drawing on the experiences of two cities — New Haven, Connecticut, and New York City — this panel will highlight the use of alternative identification mechanisms that enable undocumented immigrants to access essential city services previously unavailable to them.  All speakers will touch on opportunities, challenges and best practices for these uses.


Jennifer Leaning, Director, Harvard FXB Center for Health & Human Rights


Jennifer Leaning assumed the position of director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights on January 1, 2010. An expert in public health rights-based responses to humanitarian crises, Dr. Leaning is the FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her appointment followed an international search for a successor to Jim Yong Kim, Harvard FXB’s director from 2006 to 2009. As Steven E. Hyman, then-provost of Harvard University, noted in the Harvard Gazette, “Jennifer’s experience on the ground in hotspots from Afghanistan to Somalia gives her a unique perspective on the connection between human rights and public health. We are excited to think about the ways in which the FXB Center and its commitment to children’s health will evolve under her leadership.”

Prior to her current appointment, Dr. Leaning served as co-director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. From 1999 to 2005, she directed the Program on Humanitarian Crises and Human Rights at here at Harvard FXB. During this time she also served as editor-in-chief of Medicine & Global Survival, an international quarterly. She is faculty associate at the Weatherhead Center, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and the Center for International Development at Harvard University, and is the former senior advisor in international and policy studies at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Dr. Leaning serves on the boards of the Humane Society of the United States, and the Massachusetts Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross. She formerly served on the boards of Physicians for Human Rights (an organization she co-founded), Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Oxfam America. She is visiting editor of the British Medical Journal, serves on the editorial board of Health and Human Rights: An International Journal, and is a member of the Board of Syndics at Harvard University Press. She also serves on the faculty of Harvard Chan’s Department of Global Health and Population, teaching disaster management, human rights, and public health and policy response to humanitarian crises. She edited a seminal textbook on the topic, Humanitarian Crises: The Medical and Public Health Response, published by Harvard University Press in 1999.

Dr. Leaning has documented human rights abuses and provided medical care and public health services on the ground to refugees in almost every crisis over the last twenty years, including humanitarian emergencies in Afghanistan, Albania, Kosovo, Angola, Darfur, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, Somalia, and the African Great Lakes region. She was awarded a special citation for exceptional volunteer service by the American Red Cross and the Humanitarian Rose Award by the People’s Princess Charitable Foundation in the UK. One of the first to identify the conflict in Darfur as genocide after extensive field investigations, Dr. Leaning testified before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the United States Congress, and the United Nations on the plight of women in humanitarian crises, particularly in the case of Darfur. She received her AB degree from Radcliffe College, magna cum laude, a master’s degree in demography and public health from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and her MD with honors from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.


Tilman Ehrbeck, Senior Partner, Omidyar Network, former CEO Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)

ehrbeck1Tilman Ehrbeck draws on a deep understanding of the intersection of business, government policy, and movement building in his role as a partner at Omidyar Network. He oversees the teams advancing three of the organization’s core initiatives: Financial Inclusion and Property Rights, which are important building blocks for economic citizenship and shared prosperity, as well as the cross-cutting effort to support the Impact Investing field.

Tilman’s 25 years of experience in financial services and inclusive businesses include serving as CEO of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a high-profile global partnership of 34 leading organizations that share the common mission to advance financial inclusion for the poor. Tilman also has held leadership positions with McKinsey & Company in the firm’s Banking & Securities and Global Healthcare Practices. He has worked across Africa, Asia, and North America. He started his career at the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Congressional Budget Office.


Tilman holds a Ph.D. in economics from the European University Institute (EUI) and an undergraduate degree from the University of Hamburg.

Mariana Dahan, Coordinator, ID4D (Identification for Development) Working Group, World Bank

mariana dahanAfter starting her career in the telecommunications industry in 1998, Mariana Dahan became interested in the patterns of diffusion of innovations – a topic she has studied extensively in her PhD research work, while being at the European Business School in France and at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the United States. Having worked for mobile operators in both developed and developing countries, Mariana gained valuable insights on new technologies’ impact on economic growth.

Since 2009, Mariana Dahan works with governments from low- and middle-income countries, as part of the global Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) practice of the World Bank, based in Washington, DC.

Mariana Dahan is the Coordinator of the Identification for Development (ID4D) Working Group: a bold initiative that aims at formulating a coherent cross-sectoral approach to civil registration and identification systems in client countries, in close coordination with other development agencies. As part of her previous work at the World Bank, Mariana has also managed the Identity Management (IDM) Experts Group, building strategic partnerships with governments, private sector companies, research labs and civil society organizations across the world.

John DeStefano, Jr, former New Haven mayor

john destefano

John DeStefano, Jr. is Executive Vice President of Start Bank of New Haven, a community development financial institution of which he was an incorporating director and on whose board he continues to serve. Start is a locally owned, governed and managed bank dedicated to serving both its community development and commercial bank mission. Mr. DeStefano also holds appointments as an Instructor at Yale University and Southern Connecticut State University.

Mr. DeStefano served as the 49th Mayor of New Haven from 1994 through 2013. Elected Mayor ten times, Mr. DeStefano is the City’s longest serving Mayor. During his tenure Mr. DeStefano led New Haven’s nationally acknowledged school reform initiative.

In 2007 the City undertook a number of immigration initiatives including the Elm City Resident Card which was made available to all residents of the City for identification and to access city services, irrespective of immigration status. The City also initiated a Living (minimum) Wage program, a Domestic Partner benefits initiative and the State’s first public financing program for elected officials during his tenure.

New Haven experienced robust economic growth throughout this period as the City solidified its position as a major educational and medical center. Collateral growth in life science and entrepreneurial business continue to flourish in the City. Currently New Haven experiences among the lowest vacancy rates in the nation for commercial occupancies. During his time in office Mr. DeStefano served as both the President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the National League of Cities, the oldest and largest association of America’s cities and towns. The National Civic League named New Haven an All America City three times during this time.

Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs


Nisha Agarwal is an accomplished public interest lawyer and a leading voice in immigration reform at the local and national level. She brings to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs an entrepreneurial drive and a proven record of enacting pro-immigrant legislation in New York City and New York State.

Most recently, she worked with Judge Robert A. Katzmann, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to establish the Immigrant Justice Corps, a new nonprofit that will recruit recent law school graduates and partner them with non-profit legal services providers to offer legal representation to undocumented immigrants. She was previously Deputy Director of the Center for Popular Democracy, the groundbreaking non-profit advocacy group dedicated to advancing pro-immigrant, pro-equality and pro-justice policies at the grassroots and national levels, which she co-founded in 2012. Prior to CPD, Agarwal served as Director of the Health Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

Agarwal received her B.A. summa cum laude from Harvard College and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She currently lives in Brooklyn.