Skip to main content
Logo of GPL Procurement Excellence Network

An initiative of the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab

Meet the GPL Procurement Team

GPL team members support public sector leaders in solving pressing social problems and improving how governments operate. An important part of this research model involves providing hands-on technical assistance to state and local governments. Our role in the Procurement Excellence Network is to be:

  • Connectors – linking you with peer governments who have tackled similar challenges
  • Technical experts – pointing you to resources and sharing approaches that may work for your state or local government
  • Coaches – guiding you and leveling up your skills and knowledge

Our GPL team members listed below directly support the Procurement Excellence Network. The GPL’s full team supports a variety of policy areas, including behavioral health and homelessness, children and families, criminal justice, and economic mobility. Learn more about our full team on the GPL website.

 

For more information or to request support or office hours, reach out to gplpen@hks.harvard.edu and we’ll help you get connected.

GPL Procurement Excellence Network Team

Kailey Burger Ayogu

Managing Director

View Bio

Kailey Burger Ayogu is the Managing Director at the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab where she oversees the GPL’s procurement practices. Prior to joining the GPL, Kailey served as Assistant Commissioner at New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services where she led strategy, planning, and design of the city’s child abuse prevention services continuum.

Favorite procurement experience: In 2019, I was responsible for leading the redesign of NYC’s child abuse prevention continuum and resulting $660 million RFP. We were able to use a participatory process that incorporated the ideas and goals of the families we hoped to serve and the frontline providers who would serve them into the planning and that really opened my eyes to how procurement could be used to improve both equity and service outcomes.

Passionate about: using procurement as a tool to enable government to achieve the best possible outcomes for community members, and developing tools and resources for government that are easy to use and meet an actual need - I'm always thinking "would I have used this in government?"

Elena Hoffnagle

Director

View Bio

Elena Hoffnagle is a Director at the Government Performance Lab, where she leads projects to help local governments elevate the role of procurement and leverage their spending to deliver better and more equitable results for residents. Prior to the GPL, Elena worked at the National League of Cities, providing technical assistance to city governments across the U.S. In that role, she managed Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties, a key part of former First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to build healthier communities. Elena holds a BA in Political Science with Distinction from Yale University and a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Favorite procurement experience: Helping the City of Glendale, AZ set up a Strategic Procurement Team to identify the City's highest priority contracts each year

Passionate about: mapping and improving processes, writing better RFPs, and making procurement fun

Colin Erhardt

Assistant Director

View Bio

Colin Erhardt is an Assistant Director at the Government Performance Lab, where he leads the Procurement Excellence Network (PEN), a virtual community built by and for procurement professionals offering completely-free tools, training events, and other resources designed to help governments take their procurement practice to the next level.

Prior to the rejoining the GPL (Colin previously served as a Fellow and Project Leader from 2019-2022 supporting procurement projects in Connecticut and Pennsylvania), Colin worked at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts overseeing a team responsible for leveraging procurement, contracting, and operational changes to overhaul the front door to its Emergency Assistance Program (Family Shelter). Colin has also worked for a corporate governance consulting firm, a criminal justice non-profit, and as an IT consultant. Colin holds a BA in Political Science from Boston College and a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Favorite procurement experience: Helping the State of Connecticut procure for a new portfolio of early-childhood support services.

Passionate about: Elevating the status of procurement, using procurement as a tool to implement systemic change in government, writing better RFPs, making procurement processes more efficient, and helping to more effectively manage contracts.

Maja Gray

Project Leader

View Bio

Maja Gray is a Project Leader at the Government Performance Lab, where she works with the Procurement Excellence Network to assist state and local governments incorporate best practices into their procurement processes. Prior to the GPL, Maja worked at the California State Department of Parks and Recreation, where she managed the reservations and parks passes programs, and for New York State's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, where she brought connectivity and modern technology to state parks. Maja graduated magna cum laude from Smith College with a degree in Government and received a Masters of Theological Studies in Religion and Politics from the Pacific School of Religion.

Favorite part of the procurement process: drafting business requirements to clearly convey business problems without overly constraining potential vendor solutions. (For example: helping draft the RFP for the next iteration of New York State Parks' reservations system, in collaboration with two other state agencies).

Passionate about: Making government services easier to access, using data to drive decision-making, and modernizing government techology.

Hope Patterson

Project Leader

View Bio

Hope Patterson is a Project Leader at the Government Performance Lab. She helped design, develop, and now lead the Procurement Excellence Network, a free online hub and collaboration space for those transforming the procurement function within their governments. She now assists in running PEN and providing strategic support to its members. Before joining the GPL, Hope served as the Deputy Director of Stakeholder Engagement and later as the Governance Operations Officer at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), where she led a project management team overseeing an organization-wide effort to improve system safety. Hope holds an AB in English and Classics from Harvard College.

Favorite procurement experience: helping coordinate Leading City Procurement Reform, a program offering a tailored curriculum encompassing both procurement-specific topics and strategic management frameworks for procurement leaders from across the country

Passionate about: breaking down silos and building collaboration across teams, writing better RFPs, and public transit systems

Isabel Garcia

Project Leader

View Bio

Isabel Garcia is a Project Leader at the Government Performance Lab, where she is supporting the development and implementation of the Procurement Excellence Network (PEN) and other initiatives to support public sector leaders make their procurement practices more efficient, results-driven, and equitable. Isabel is a recent graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School where she earned her Master in Public Policy. While in graduate school, Isabel worked part-time with the Boston Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, supporting women- and minority-owned small businesses recover from the pandemic. Isabel holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Policy and International Studies from Northwestern University.

Favorite procurement experience: launching the Restaurant Spotlight program where we invited local restaurants and food businesses to vend at Boston’s City Hall Café for short-term engagements. Resulted in Zaz, a Black-owned restaurant in Hyde Park, being awarded a 5-year contract to operate in Boston City Hall.

Passionate about: leveraging procurement strategies to support state and local governments to increase investments in historically marginalized communities and deliver services more equitably.

Amanda Jaffe

Government Innovation Fellow

View Bio

Amanda Jaffe is a Government Innovation Fellow at the Government Performance Lab. In partnership with the Bloomberg Philanthropies City Data Alliance, she helps cities across the United States make their procurement practices more efficient, effective, and equitable. She has experience supporting both state and city governments in strengthening their procurement systems and solving operational challenges through her previous work as a Michael S. Dukakis Fellow and as a government procurement consultant. Amanda holds a Master in Public Policy with a concentration in Social and Urban Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy with Honors in Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law from Stanford University.

Favorite procurement experience: meeting the families that benefited from an early childhood education expansion grant program that I helped organize

Passionate about: using procurement as a tool to strengthen communities

Damonique Sonnier

Government Innovation Fellow

View Bio

Damonique Sonnier is a Government Innovation Fellow at the Government Performance Lab. Prior to joining the GPL, Damonique worked for JP Morgan Chase leading innovative strategic projects and programs enhancing the customer experience and employee productivity. Shifting into public service, she spent 2 years embedded in a municipality in Namibia collaborating with city officials on implementing economic development revitalization strategies, social welfare programming and equitable procurement practices. She has since provided research, grant, and program facilitation support to nonprofits working on housing affordability, social justice, education, and healthcare equity.

Damonique graduated with a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration (MSNPA) from Louisiana State University-Shreveport and holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business from Howard University in Washington, DC.

Favorite procurement experience:  Providing technical assistance for the city of Saint Paul, MN to develop a strategic implementation guide to aid in development of a community grants targeting violence prevention.

Passionate about: Identifying innovative opportunities to reach those within historically marginalized populations within the procurement process, especially business owners and/or service providers led by BIPOC, youth, formerly incarcerated citizens, elderly, immigrant/refugee communities.

 

Christiana Kim

Procurement Excellence Network Coordination Fellow

View Bio

Christiana Kim is a Procurement Excellence Network Coordination Fellow at the Government Performance Lab where she provides support to members of PEN. Prior to joining the GPL, Christiana served as a Strategy and Operations Associate at the NYC Administration for Children’s Service (ACS). Before joining NYC ACS, she worked as the Director of Team Operations for a tech start-up focused on providing civic software solutions for governments and non-profits worldwide using open-source technology. Christiana holds a BA in Psychology from The New School University.

Favorite procurement experience: evaluating RFP submissions from community-based organizations and learning about their innovative plans to improve foster care prevention services for the children of NYC

Passionate about: supporting initiatives that are centered around open data, transparency, inclusivity, and accessibility

GPL Procurement Team

Kate Mertz

Director

View Bio

Kate Mertz is a Director with the Government Performance Lab, where she helps lead the GPL’s portfolio of procurement-focused work, assisting cities and states in using the contracting process to improve the performance of government programs and services. Kate has worked on procurement projects in Rhode Island, Chicago, and many other US and Latin American cities through the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities and City Data Alliance initiatives. Kate holds an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School, as well as BAs in Economics and Political Science from Macalester College.

Favorite procurement experience: Helping the City of Chicago's Department of Family and Support Services improve how they contract with social service providers to improve outcomes for Chicago's most vulnerable residents.

Passionate about: Testing innovations to the procurement process and RFPs, using procurement to advance equity, noodling on complex problems.

Evelyn Garcia

Assistant Director

View Bio

Evelyn Garcia is an Assistant Director at the Government Performance Lab, where she leads efforts related to the Opportunity Accelerator, a national, five organization collaboration to help governments promote economic mobility, reduce racial disparities in outcomes and improve the wellbeing of their residents. Prior to joining the GPL, Evelyn was the Director of Economic Mobility at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, leading initiatives focused on stabilization and wealth building for low-income families in the county. She has also worked for the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission, California State Auditor, former US Senator Barbara Boxer, and is a past recipient of the Leon Panetta Congressional Fellowship. Evelyn holds a BA and MA in Political Science from California State University, Fullerton.

Favorite procurement experience: Leading the development and award disbursement of a $30M RFP focused on supporting the emergency food and shelter needs of residents and workers in Los Angeles County impacted by the pandemic.

Passionate about: Strengthening the connection between government resources and functions, including procurement, to the stability and well-being of all residents.

Rebecca Graffy

Assistant Director

View Bio

Rebecca Graffy is an Assistant Director at the Government Performance Lab where she works with city governments to undertake top-to-bottom procurement transformation initiatives. She came to the GPL after almost a decade in the global public health space. Over this time Rebecca managed initiatives to make high quality medicines, diagnostics, and prophylactics available in the developing world at affordable prices, including negotiation of three agreements that are collectively projected to save $250 million for public sector buyers. She also led a team embedded within the South African government to advance the country’s malaria elimination campaign. Rebecca holds a BA in Philosophy from Tufts University.

Favorite procurement experiences: working with the City of Long Beach, CA on a multi-year “Extreme Procurement Makeover;” working with the government of South Africa to negotiate a ceiling price for HIV diagnostics that halved prices for other countries in the region

Passionate about: elegant systems, process, and tools; empowering others to be excellent

Neha Gupta

Senior Advisor

View Bio

Neha is a Senior Advisor at the Government Performance Lab. Neha previously served as Associate White House Counsel to President Biden, where she was responsible for driving the Administration’s legal strategy on a portfolio of civil rights and equity policy issues. She also served as counsel on the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition Team through the 2020 presidential election. Prior to that, Neha was a Deputy City Attorney at the San Francisco City Attorney's Office where she wore several hats, as General Counsel to agencies including the city's Police Commission and Fire Department; lead litigation counsel in cases challenging city laws; and as a member of the City Attorney's Affirmative Litigation Task Force. During her tenure in city government, Neha helped architect and lead legal-policy efforts to reform San Francisco’s cash bail system; to protect its sanctuary city status; and to craft and implement landmark environmental health initiatives. She also instructed law students in using San Francisco’s legal authorities to protect residents’ civil and consumer rights via a partnership with Yale Law School’s Affirmative Litigation Project. Prior to her legal career, Neha worked in global health policy. She has co-authored several publications on strategies to advance need-based medical innovation and affordable access to medicines around the globe and worked with Partners In Health to escalate an integrated response to cholera in Haiti.

Neha graduated from Harvard College with a B.A. in Social Studies and received her J.D. from Stanford Law School. She completed judicial clerkships at both the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Neha is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Urban Institute.

Greg Wass

Senior Advisor

View Bio

Greg Wass is a Senior Advisor at the Government Performance Lab. He has worked with more than 25 cities and states on improving contracting outcomes for capital projects, social services, parks and recreation, environment, transportation, and technology. Greg co-led the development of GPL procurement methodologies and standards, and launched the GPL’s state-level procurement research. Prior to working at the GPL Greg served in executive positions in state and local government in the U.S. spanning budget, finance, and technology, most recently as Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the State of Illinois and CIO for Cook County (IL). He has a BA in Economics from Northwestern University and an MA in Economics from the University of Illinois.

Favorite procurement experience: Determining the root causes of and resolving procurement and contracting issues using process mapping, vendor surveys, design thinking, active contract management, and other tools. Planning and leading meetings between contract managers and service providers (often for the first time) to diagnose contracting issues and develop meaningful, achievable performance measures.

Passionate about: Inspiring internal collaboration to achieve a government’s strategic goals, and networking across governments to scale and spread what works.

Charley Kargman

Project Leader

View Bio

Charley Kargman is a Project Leader at the Government Performance Lab. He helps manage GPL's procurement engagements, promoting efficiency, innovation, and equity in contracting. He uses trainings and technical assistance to help jurisdictions across the country realize the full potential of government contracting as a nimble, results-driven policy making tool. Recently Charley oversaw GPL's two-year engagement with the City of Tulsa, where his initiatives decreased cycle times, increased vendor engagement and access, and elevated procurement as a strategic function. Prior to GPL, he worked at American Jewish World Service, a human rights nonprofit, where he supported their grassroots grantmaking and international education portfolios. Charley holds a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Michigan and a BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Favorite procurement experience: launching Tulsa, OK’s first three-part training series on procurement best practices (solicitation drafting, market research, performance management) for over 200 staff, with Tulsa’s inaugural vendor survey as a close second

Passionate about: writing results-driven RFPs, improving vendor access (especially for small businesses and MWBEs), promoting cross-departmental collaboration, making government innovation fun and engaging

Laura Merryfield

Project Leader

View Bio

Laura Merryfield is a Project Leader at the Government Performance Lab working with the City of Long Beach, CA to make procurement more efficient, inviting, and equitable. During Laura’s time at the GPL they worked with multiple City governments to increase vendor participation and equity in procurement, and have supported organization-wide efforts around supplier diversity. Laura hails from Long Beach and has a career spanning a background in community organizing, entrepreneur support, and policy advocacy. They hold a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a BA in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Favorite procurement experience: Taking procurement to the public; speaking to businesses, non-profits, and local residents about what matters most to them in government contracting - and how it can be done better.

Passionate about: Elevating resident and constituent voice in government, facilitating engaging discussions, telling stories with data.

Francisco Aras

Government Innovation Fellow

View Bio

Francisco Aras is a Government Innovation Fellow with the Procurement and Economic Mobility team, supporting cities across Latin America in making their procurement practices more efficient, results-driven, and equitable as part of the Bloomberg’s City Data Alliance. Prior to joining GPL, Francisco worked at the City of Buenos Aires Government and the National Government of Argentina as a Project Leader where he focused on reforming public procurement processes. Francisco earned a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from Columbia University and also holds a law degree from the Universidad Católica of Argentina.

Favorite procurement experience: helping the government of Argentina with the redesign of the publication of annual procurement plans

Passionate about: building collaboration between the central procurement agencies and other teams in the city governments, and helping them in building a more open, transparent and equitable procurement process

Amelia Capone

Government Innovation Fellow

View Bio

Amelia Capone is a Government Innovations Fellow with the GPL Procurement and Economic Mobility Team, leading an Extreme Procurement Makeover Project. Embedded in the City of Syracuse, she is working with the local government to transform their contracting and procurement systems as a tool to increase vendor diversity and improve services provided to their constituents. Prior to joining the GPL, Amelia worked with the environmental NGO Rainforest Alliance (RA). In addition, Amelia previously led a two-year community development project in Amazonas, Peru with the Peace Corps. Amelia holds a dual AB in Anthropology and Global Health and Health Policy from Harvard University.

Favorite procurement experience: building momentum and excitement inter-departmentally around procurement transformation; partnering with diverse vendors in the community to explore potential improvements and innovation to increase the City's applicant vendor pool

Passionate about: strategic and assessable procurement processes

Caroline Cavallari

Government Innovation Fellow

View Bio

Caroline Cavallari is a Government Innovation Fellow with the Procurement and Economic Mobility team, supporting cities across Latin America in making their procurement practices better as part of Bloomberg’s City Data Alliance. Prior to joining the GPL, she worked in the not-for-profit sector supporting Brazilian state and local governments in improving their education policies and in strengthening health responses to the pandemic. Her previous experiences have been in the public sector: assisting the design and implementation of policies for over 3 million students at the Department of Education of the State of São Paulo and working on the improvement of economic initiatives for the Department of Economic Development of the State of Goiás. Carol earned her Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School, completing a summer internship at J-PAL Latin America and Caribbean where she researched gender in education and employment opportunities in Brazil.

Favorite procurement experience: working to make procurement a strategic tool to promote equity and deliver better services in Latin America

Passionate about: supporting local governments in delivering more equitable policies to the population and involving citizens in the decision-making process

Neil Maheshwari

Government Innovation Fellow

View Bio

Neil Maheshwari is a Government Innovation Fellow with GPL's Procurement and Economic Mobility Team. Neil is working with the City of Seattle government on an 'Extreme Procurement Makeover', looking to transform their procurement system to make it more efficient, results-driven and equity focused. Prior to joining the GPL, Neil worked with federal and state departments in India on issues of urban affairs, sanitation and education. He has also been a Teach for India Fellow and a Young India Fellow. Neil holds a B.A. (Hons.) in Political Science from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai and an M.A. in Development Economics from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Favorite work experience: Working with the state of Andhra Pradesh and J-PAL to run India's first, large-scale, tablet-based personalized adaptive assessment. J-PAL's RCT determined that our intervention led to significantly increased accuracy of student learning data within a faster timeframe. This policy has been adopted statewide.

Passionate about: Expanding the definition of and support to diverse vendors - MWBE but also LGBT+, disabled, veterans, etc.

Nayana Nagapurapu

Government Innovation Fellow

View Bio

Nayana Nagapurapu is a Government Innovation Fellow embedded with the State of Connecticut on their procurement transformation initiative. She is currently working with the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) to make Active Contract management (ACM) consistent and Sustainable across OEC RFPs, including home visiting. She will help lay the groundwork for a data-driven strategy for procurement statewide. Prior to joining the GPL, Nayana worked for the State of Telangana (India) where she developed performance metrics for social workers in a nutritional program. She worked with the UNDP, private consulting firms, and nonprofit organizations such as Value for Women and the Center for Transformational Change. She holds an MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University with a focus on Economic and Political Development.

Favorite procurement experience: designing equitable and sustainable RFPs

Passionate about: identifying and strengthening gender-responsive procurement tools

Pamela Portocarrero

Government Innovation Fellow

View Bio

Pamela Portocarrero is a Government Innovation Fellow in the procurement team at the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab. Prior to the GPL, Pamela worked in the education sector covering topics such as public policy research, development, college access, community activism, and immigration among others. Pamela holds dual BA degrees in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Utah and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Old Dominion University.

Favorite procurement experience: working with the city of Chelsea, MA to launch their Guaranteed Basic Income pilot program to alleviate their emergency food distribution service during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic

Passionate about: using procurement to promote equity and inclusion across communities and supporting governments to better serve their residents

Brent Westergren

Government Innovation Fellow

View Bio

Brent Westergren is a Government Innovation Fellow embedded within the city government of Jackson, Mississippi. He is working with the mayor’s office and other local officials to use contracting to improve the performance of programs and services for city residents. Prior to joining the GPL, Brent worked in international relief and development, responding to humanitarian crises across the world. In this capacity, Brent developed expertise in program development, project management, operations, and procurement. Brent received his MBA from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, as well as a BA in Economics and International Relations from Wheaton College.

Favorite procurement experience: Working with the city of Jackson Mississippi to develop solutions that help streamline the city procurement and contracting process.

Passionate about: Empowering public servants to design procurement systems that effectively deliver services for residents in a fair and efficient manner.

GPL Executive Team

Jeffrey Liebman

Director

View Bio

Jeffrey Liebman is the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he teaches courses in social policy, public sector economics, and American economic policy. In his research, he studies tax and budget policy, social insurance, poverty, and income inequality. During the first two years of the Obama Administration, Liebman served at OMB, first as Executive Associate Director and Chief Economist and then as Acting Deputy Director. From 1998 to 1999, Liebman served as Special Assistant to the President for economic policy and coordinated the Clinton Administration’s Social Security reform technical working group. Since 2012, his Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab has been providing pro bono technical assistance to state and local governments interested in improving the results they achieve for their citizens.

Gloria Gong

Executive Director

View Bio

Gloria Gong is the Executive Director of the Government Performance Lab at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where she leads the GPL’s efforts to accelerate the pace of change on serious social problems by improving state and local government.

Prior to becoming Executive Director, Gloria served as a Managing Director over the GPL’s Criminal Justice, Homelessness, and Behavioral Health practices, including building a new criminal justice practice focused on supporting governments implementing pretrial reforms designed to reduce the harms caused by the criminal justice system. She also served as the Director of Research and Innovation, leading the GPL’s efforts to facilitate the spread of solutions across jurisdictions.

Before joining the Government Performance Lab, Gloria worked on a variety of state and national governance and legal programs including serving as the lead evaluator for the Connecticut Judicial Branch on an evaluation of its mortgage foreclosure mediation program, in the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care on the agency’s early education initiatives, and in China at the Yale China Law Center on rule of law projects including criminal justice and judicial reform. Gloria received her Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School, where she was a Public Policy Fellow at the Institute for Social and Policy Studies. She holds a BA magna cum laude from Brigham Young University.

crosschevron-down