Benjamin Krause is an economist, social sector leader, international development professional, and humanitarian emergency responder. For more than two decades, he has been identifying and implementing impactful programming with marginalized communities and local governments across more than 30 low- and middle-income countries as well as in the US. Ben has a record of launching, rapidly building, and strategically leading highly collaborative, diverse, and dynamic organizations. He focuses on designing and writing causally-identified, policy-relevant research and then crafting and implementing evidence-based policy.

Today, Ben is at the University of Chicago serving as Executive Director of the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics fostering cross-departmental, cutting-edge research and converting findings into global impact. Immediately prior, he launched and served as the founding Executive Director for UChicago’s Development Economics Center and Development Innovation Lab with Nobel laureate Michael Kremer working to use the tools of economics to develop innovations with the potential to benefit millions of people – especially in low- and medium-income countries. During this time, he also oversaw the Weiss Fund for Research in Development Economics, conceived of and launched the Market Shaping Accelerator to advise governments and major philanthropies on unleashing the creative power of the private sector to address social challenge, coordinated the global Innovation Commission on Climate Change, Food Security, and Agriculture, and led the creation of a new government innovation initiative supporting multiple collaborations between government partners and academic researchers to establish a virtuous cycle of evidence informing policy and then policy generating ever more relevant evidence.

Ben came to UChicago from the University of California, Berkeley, where he did his Ph.D. in development economics and political economy with a particular interest in institutional formation in weak states and ungoverned spaces. In his research, he combines his networks and years of experience with his broad educational background, knowledge of theory and training as a microeconomist to conceive of, design, fund and implement novel randomized controlled trials (RCTs).  Ben similarly identifies, accesses, and employs relevant administrative data sets both in service of RCTs and to exploit quasi-random policy variations for causal identification. He works primarily in collaboration with and in support of local government and civil society partners, and he strives to conduct experiments at-scale while minimizing deviations from normal operations.

Before returning to academia, Ben was in Haiti for five years leading Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO, renamed CORE) first as Country Director and later as Mr. Penn’s Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President. During that time, he built the organization from a volunteer team of a few dozen, mostly international, volunteers, to one of the largest and most successful development institutions in the country employing nearly 1,500 and led by Haitian professionals. Indeed, Ben has repeatedly positioned teams to meet evolving challenges and guided them through significant periods of transition including during his time with Catholic Relief Services, Uganda Village Project, and multiple posts in Latin America. Ben is also a founding board member and continues to serve LIDE Haiti Foundation.

Ben is from Nebraska in the United States and began his professional career by spending several years in formation with the Jesuits. In addition to English, he also works in Haitian Kreyol, French, and Spanish. Prior to his Ph.D., Ben earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Spanish from Xavier University, an M.A. from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and an M.Sc. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Berkeley.

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