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Technical Practice Lead and Senior Adviser

Francesca Lawe-Davies is a senior development specialist with more than 18 years of experience in government, non-government, private sector, and multilateral development organisations. She has broad experience leading teams in complex development programs across Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Francesca has worked with government and civil society leaders at all levels, providing strategic and technical advice and guiding programmatic support on education policy and delivery, decentralisation, village governance, peacebuilding, and gender-based violence prevention and response services.

Francesca leads Abt’s International Technical Practice, a diverse and high performing technical team that designs, tests, and applies innovative, evidence-based, and interdisciplinary approaches to development challenges. The International Technical Practice team spans the areas of governance, economic growth, health, gender equality, disability inclusion, monitoring, evaluation and learning, and adaptive management. She is also responsible for strategy and growth, working with and leading technical experts to ensure excellence in Abt’s programs and identify new opportunities for technical and policy innovation.

Prior to joining Abt, Francesca worked as a senior consultant with Alinea International, advising clients on education system strengthening, strategic planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning. Francesca previously worked for a decade with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), shaping and leading significant policy and program outcomes. She also worked for two years with the World Bank in Indonesia. She has designed, managed, and reviewed large scale programs for DFAT and the World Bank across Asia and the Pacific, including 12 years in-country. She recently spent three years in Manila (2018-20), leading Australia’s education engagement with the Government of the Philippines on complex system reforms, including in conflict-affected Mindanao. She has spent significant periods directly advising government leaders on decentralised service delivery and village development in Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

Francesca started her career in the non-governmental sector working as an analyst with the International Crisis Group, undertaking field research and advocacy to prevent, contain, and resolve violent conflict. Her publications and briefings helped shape understanding of underreported local conflicts in Eastern Indonesia and Southern Thailand.


  • Education system strengthening and decentralised service delivery in social sectors, including in fragile and conflict-affected settings
  • Poverty analysis, social protection and community-driven development
  • Gender equality, disability and social inclusion
  • Team and program leadership 
  • Monitoring, evaluation, research and learning

Key Projects:

  • Australia-Timor-Leste Partnership for Human Development
  • Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao (Philippines)
  • Basic Education Sector Transformation program (Philippines)
  • National Village Development Program (Timor-Leste)
  • National Community Empowerment Program (Indonesia)
Francesca Lawe-Davies