McNerney & Yijie

Frank McNerney and Yijie Zhao, husband and wife graduates of the Center, are now both in Washington,D.C. Yijie is teaching Chinese at the Foreign Service Institute. After working at AIR for awhile, Frank is now a freelancing consultant and a volunteer development worker.


Frank describes some of his consulting work:


I have been working in Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar for the past five years, mostly as a volunteer/consultant with the Partnership for Transparency Fund based in Washington DC.  We have been strengthening CSOs in these countries to interact effectively with local governments. 


In Myanmar, with funding from the EU,  we use a small grants mechanism that allows CSOs in remote areas—especially those who never received any kind of funding before—to apply and undertake small projects in areas of their interest.  The purpose of these projects is not only to improve the government’s delivery of services, but to establish constructive modes of communication between governments and CSOs that have historically distrusted each other. 


CIE would be proud of our approach: we fully believe in learning-by-doing, suppling advice and help, but letting the nascent CSOs structure their work. 


The results have been encouraging.  In Nepal and Bangladesh we worked with the World Bank to enable local communities to evaluate the WB projects implemented in their localities.  The WB is more committed to citizen engagement in their projects, and was experimenting with ways to involve citizens and get more objective feedback from individuals in communities using a third-party.   Using funds from the JICA, we provided medium-size grants to CSOs who made proposals to evaluate a WB project currently in progress.  As always, we also provided advice and mentoring support, while facilitating CSO discussions with local government to find solutions to their problems. [10-18]




Graduation Year: 
5-year span: 
CIE Graduate