Ilena Paltzer

Ilena is a development professional focused on using innovative approaches and design thinking to maximize social impact. She is passionate about the need to foster collaborative problem-solving and build strong evidence bases to design transformative social programmes.

She joined GKI in December 2020 as a Manager and is engaged across a portfolio of work focused on innovation, design thinking and learning. She also supports GKI’s Service Design & Learning function.

Ilena spent the last decade living in the U.K, U.S, South Sudan, Kenya, Pakistan and now Mexico, working with a number of UN Agencies on development programmes ranging from post-conflict recovery to gender equality and governance reform. Most recently she worked as Innovation Portfolio Advisor for UNDP Pakistan – providing technical advice for the co-design of innovative initiatives, including the use of behavioural insights, human-centred design, innovation challenges and supporting local social entrepreneurs.

Ilena holds an MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics, a BSc in Sociology from the University of Bristol, and is currently taking a Post-Graduate Diploma in Innovation and Design thinking with MIT, Columbia and Dartmouth. She is Swiss but grew up in the U.K. and currently calls Mexico City home. In her free time, she loves to travel, write, hike and cycle – exploring new spots in Mexico and further afield. She speaks English, German, Swiss-German and Spanish.