Featured Government Innovator - Alexis Bonnell
This month, we feature Alexis Bonnell, the Division Chief of Applied Innovation and Acceleration at USAID’s Global Development Lab where she serves as a key innovation leader and “Innovation Champion”. Alexis has developed and delivered innovative humanitarian and development programming in over 25 countries. She has worked on projects including the Middle East Peace Plan, Afghan and Iraqi elections, tsunami response, Pakistan and Haiti earthquakes, construction projects, and major logistics operations.
At a recent ACT-AC professional development session, Alexis described the challenge model that USAID has used to harness global genius in areas like literacy, food security, off-grid electricity, humanitarian response, water for agriculture, maternal and child health and more. As an example, Alexis shared how during the Ebola outbreak, USAID’s Global Health team found there was a critical need for personal protective equipment that could be worn in tropical heat. By leveraging the challenge model; they successfully developed new lightweight personal protection suits that can be used in challenging environments, in a fraction of the time traditional approaches would have taken.
At ACT-IAC’s 2017 Igniting Innovation Showcase and Awards, Alexis proudly accepted the “Impacter” award for the innovation with the greatest magnitude of results and benefits for USAID’s leadership on creating the “Global Innovation Exchange”. The Global Innovation Exchange is an online platform to convene and connect innovators, funders, and experts working on development innovations around the world. Sharing business intelligence and analytics can reduce duplication and barriers for innovators and entrepreneurs. The Exchange provides access and connection to 6,000+ innovations, 10,000+ experts, and has helped social entrepreneurs and innovators become aware of over $1B+ in available funding opportunities since launched.
This year, Alexis volunteered to serve as the government co-chair for the 2018 Igniting Innovation 2018 Conference and Awards. She also spoke on a panel where she described the critical advantage that close teamwork with her agency’s acquisition professionals and legal counsel provided USAID’s ability to innovate. Alexis also shared personal insights about the importance of recognizing innovators within organizations and celebrating their successes, whether big or small, to drive and motivate continuing innovation in the face of normal daily challenges and obstacles.
In recent years, Alexis has collaborated with ACT-IAC’s Institute for Innovation, as a member of a small, select group of seasoned government innovators.
You can see why Alexis Bonnell has earned a reputation as a real innovator, and why she exclaims gratefully that she has the “best job in government”.