Marty Chen

A renowned development scholar, Marty steered WIEGO from its 1997 inception until 2017, turning the research, policy and action network into one of the world’s leading organizations focused on the informal economy. Her specialization includes employment, gender, and poverty with a focus on the working poor in the informal economy. Marty’s expertise is sought globally by a range of major institutions, from the European Commission and the International Labour Organization to the World Bank and the United Nations.

Marty served as International Coordinator for two decades and is currently a Senior Advisor at WIEGO. She is also a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and an Affiliated Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Before joining Harvard in 1987, she worked for two decades in South Asia: in Bangladesh, working with BRAC (now the world’s largest non-governmental organization) and in India, where she served as field representative for Oxfam America. She received her PhD in South Asia Regional Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

She was awarded a high civilian award, the Padma Shri, by the Government of India in April 2011; and a Friends of Bangladesh Liberation War award by the Government of Bangladesh in December 2012.

Marty’s lifelong work as a champion of the working poor was featured in the alumnae magazine of her alma mater, Connecticut College. Marty’s mother, Barbara « Barry » Beach Alter, also a Connecticut College alum, was honored in a separate story for her 35 years of missionary work in India. Read both interviews. At the 50th anniversary reunion of her graduation from Connecticut College, Marty was awarded the Connecticut College Medal, the highest alumni award, and gave a keynote address entitled “From India to Connecticut College - and Back” which traces her life’s journey as a third generation member of a missionary family in India.

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