In her role as director, Amber is responsible for Peace Rising’s overall success in meeting our mission. She provides support to all projects and bottom-lines maintaining Peace Rising’s general operations and finances. She is accountable to a number of board members in various aspects of her role. Amber Houghstow also founded Peace Rising, which was inspired by her graduate research. Peace Rising’s methodology builds on thesis research conducted during her master’s in international relations at Harvard. Previously, Amber organized a program for tech entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka, conducted design research for the MIT D-Lab program, advised the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation in its development of a climate grants portfolio, and taught junior high math through Teach for America. Amber earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT.
Senior Research Fellow
Nai Kalema is a Senior Research Fellow with Peace Rising. Her research focus looks at the political economy of climate change and development, and it investigates critical issues surrounding climate change: international governance infrastructures, socio-political constraints, and global power relations. Her research interests include sustainable urban development, innovation policy, and critical perspectives on climate change adaptation. Her current project investigates climate change and state fragility in the Global South. From Harvard University, Nai earned her Master’s degree concentrating on international relations and a graduate certificate on social justice. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts from George Washington University.
Policy Research Lead
Celina leads Peace Rising’s policy research on preventing violent conflict using sustainable development and other peacekeeping initiatives. Drawing on her highly interdisciplinary background in the natural and social sciences, she aims to make this research accessible and relevant to policymakers. Her experience in non-profit management has also allowed her to help guide Peace Rising’s organizational structure. Celina is finishing up graduate studies in Atmospheric Science at Cornell University. She also holds a bachelor’s from Cornell in Earth Systems Science & Environmental Justice through the College Scholars Honors Program.
Asia-Pacific Research Lead
As Peace Rising’s Asia-Pacific research lead, Sachini builds relationships with research institutions studying climate change’s human impacts and ensures that relevant regional issues and perspectives are incorporated into Peace Rising’s analyses. Drawing on her background in software engineering and her fluency in multiple languages, Sachini integrates information from a variety of international projects and initiatives to ensure that local perspectives and experiences are properly represented in Peace Rising’s work. In her past work, Sachini has developed information management systems for health event monitoring, bus ticketing, and hospital management; developed an ML-based online course recommendation system; and coordinated travel for international individuals and organizations visiting Sri Lanka. Sachini completed her Bachelor’s in Software Engineering from the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology.
Botong (Bo) Ma
As Peace Rising’s technical lead, Bo develops best practices for technical research, documentation, and data management; sets research goals and manages our global conflict mapping project; and trains and mentors new members of the technical team. A skilled computer scientist, Bo’s past work has included mentoring teams in both hardware and software, development of low-cost mobile toolkits that screen for cardiovascular ailments using machine learning, building live systems to detect equipment failure, and development of an application to monitor trade and regulatory compliance. She previously worked at Five Rings Capital, Accenture, Sanofi, and the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Bo studied at MIT, where she earned her Master’s degree in Computer Science and a dual Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics.
Grant Writing Lead
Dan Tatar serves as Peace Rising’s Grant Writing Lead. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown, where he studied history, economics, and religion. His professional experience as a researcher and writer, combined with his background on the relationship between economics, history, and conflict have been valuable in guiding Peace Rising’s ongoing work.