Former Director, Economic Programs

Sofia Shakil formerly served as The Asia Foundation’s director for Economic Programs and brought to this role her extensive knowledge of and passion for Asia’s economic and social development. An experienced policy economist, Sofia has 25 years of experience in the development sector, with a focus on human development, public sector policy, and governance reform. She has held several positions with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and international NGOs, including as the country representative in Pakistan for The Asia Foundation.

Sofia previously served as the principal knowledge management specialist for innovations within the Asian Development Bank’s East Asia Regional Department. In this role, she led the innovation agenda for East Asia and promoted knowledge and partnerships with diverse clients and innovation giants, and stimulated innovation in program design and approaches. In her earlier role at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as senior education specialist, Sofia led project operations and policy research and advisory work in human development in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Mongolia. Among her many achievements at the ADB, Sofia successfully designed and obtained approval for the first Results-Based Lending Program loan ($200 million) for ADB in Sri Lanka and introduced innovative financing approaches and programs in the PRC including a public-private partnership project for elderly care, prepared the education assessment and roadmap for the country partnership strategies for Sri Lanka, Mongolia, and the PRC, developed the human resource development strategy as part of the Tourism Master Plan for the Maldives, and led several projects and policy work in the areas of vocational education reform, elder care services, and graduate employment initiatives. She also served as a social sector focal point in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Prior to her appointment at ADB, she worked in the World Bank’s South Asia Human Development team.

Sofia has spent a significant part of her career working in Pakistan and other countries across Asia, including as a senior education specialist for the World Bank, where she successfully designed and implemented an education sector results-based financing program for Punjab education reforms and many projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Philippines, Indonesia. She has also served as program development manager for Save the Children and program manager for Policy and Research for the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme. She also worked as a freelance Education and Development Planning consultant.

Education: Master’s degree in Economics from the London School of Economics and bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Politics from Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan.