Subject Matter Experts

NetHope’s staff and key contractors have decades of combined experience in a variety of disciplines. To set up an interview with one of our subject matter experts, please contact our communications team at

lauren woodman, ceo

Lauren Woodman is the Chief Executive Officer of NetHope, where she drives the organization’s aggressive movement to put advanced connective technologies in the hands of nonprofits whose work can be magnified by its power. It is her primary goal to spark the tech world’s interest in the NGO community and the developing world, all in the name of harnessing technology to advance humanitarian work worldwide. 

Lauren’s entire career has been defined by the intersection of tech, development and policy, driven by a passion to use technology to solve difficult international problems. With a graduate degree in foreign policy from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Lauren has worked in a variety of high-level positions: in policy at the United Nations, as an executive at the Software and Information Industry Association, and, for more than a decade, running Microsoft Corporation’s global education and government programs, all leading her to her leadership role at NetHope in 2014.

Frank Schott, Managing Director, New Program Development

Subject matter expertise: Energy solutions

Bio: Frank Schott joined NetHope in 2005, and served as Managing Director of Global Programs for 11 years. In 2016, he took on the role of Vice President of Global Programs, where he oversaw Field Programs and became Managing Director of New Program Development in 2018. During his time with NetHope, Frank has worked closely with member agencies, corporate partners, and NetHope staff to design, develop and deliver ICT related programs which are shared by the humanitarian sector.

Prior to joining NetHope, Frank worked with public and private sector clients developing programs and solutions around the use of technology in the developing world. His client list includes UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), the University of Washington, Naguru Teenage Medical Centre and Microsoft Corporation. Frank has also spent hands-on time in the developing world, with time spent on programs in Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America and Eastern Europe.

RAMI SHAKRA, Global Programs Director, Field Operations

Subject matter expertise: Field connectivity

Bio: Rami is the Director of Field Connectivity at NetHope, and brings with him 15 years of experience delivering ICT services in emergency response as well as field offices in developing countries.   

Prior to joining NetHope, Rami was responsible for the delivery of telecommunications services in emergencies to UN agencies and NGOs with UN WFP Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC).  The emergencies included a natural disaster in the Philippines, Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa and a war conflict in Iraq.   

Rami was also responsible for the implementation of global ICT projects for international NGOs, Plan International and Save the Children.

Rami holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics Engineering and Communications from Texas A&M University. 

shelley spencer, payment INNOVATIONS

Subject matter expertise: Digital financial services

Bio: Shelley is an integral part of NetHope’s Payment Innovations team, which is focused on promoting mobile money and e-payment use globally and in Indonesia.

Shelley started her career practicing telecommunications regulatory law in Washington, D.C. In the 1990s she landed in the mobile space and became an accidental entrepreneur founding several successful mobile companies. Her legal and business experience in the mobile industry as well as her mobile start-ups prompted her to create Strategic Impact Advisors to pursue expansive opportunities to participate in the digital revolution as it continues to spread across the globe.

After being asked to tackle the mobile money space in 2011, she has supported market developments in Indonesia and the work of NetHope and USAID to advance the digital payments movement.  Shelley received her law degree from Georgetown and a B.A. in Economics from Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio.

leila toplic, emerging technologies and NLG Tech Task Force 

Subject matter expertise: Technology in refugee education

Bio: Prior to NetHope, Leila served as the Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at LRNG, where she oversaw marketing communications and partnerships for the organization. She also worked at Sama Group as the Vice President of Marketing and Partnerships for three programs — Samasource, Samaschool, and Samahope. Before joining Sama Group, Leila spent over 13 years in the tech sector leading global marketing for Fortune 500 companies. 

Leila’s passion for social causes is rooted in her life experience as a refugee from Bosnia and has manifested itself in a number of ways since Leila and her family fled Bosnia in the mid-90s. This included teaching English and art at the Bosnian Refugee School in the Nagyatad Refugee Camp.



Subject matter expertise: Connectivity technologies and strategies, telecom policy 

Forrest Wilhoit is Africa Broadband Coordinator for the NetHope-USAID GBI Alliance. With 15 years of ICT sector experience, he has managed programs, coordinated research, and disseminated analysis related to ICT policy, strategy, and economic development. He has managed projects related to ICT in health and education in rural and underserved communities. Additionally, he has conducted and managed research projects in the US and abroad, including survey-based field studies and analysis.

Forrest has extensive experience in policy analysis, production of technical reports and field assessments, project management and stakeholder coordination. He has a keen understanding of technologies and the business practices, market forces, project methodologies and management techniques that successfully link ICT and its applications with learning, enterprise and social development worldwide.