Our Team in Lao PDR

Ms. Sara Sekkenes_Photo

Ms. Sara Sekkenes

Resident Coordinator
Sara Sekkenes is the UN Resident Coordinator to Lao PDR since 2019. Prior to this appointment, Sara has worked with the UN for 14 years, serving in duty stations at the headquarters in New York and in Geneva. Sara recently served at UNDP in Geneva as Adviser on Partnerships and Conflict Prevention (2015-2019) and as Team Leader, Conflict Prevention and Recovery (2011-2014), engaging in violence prevention, arms control and mine action work.

Before joining the UN, Sara worked with the non-governmental organization Norwegian Peoples Aid as Country Director in Mozambique, managing a 350-staff humanitarian mine action programme (2004-2005), as Policy Adviser at their headquarters in Norway (2001-2004), as Programme Adviser in the Balkans (2001), and as Programme Manager in Angola (1998-2000).

A national of Norway, Sara holds a Master’s degree in Human and Physical Geography and additional university degrees in Development Studies and Political Geography.
Dr. Pia Rebello Britto

Dr. Pia Rebello Britto

Pia Rebello Britto, Ph.D., Global Chief and Senior Advisor, Early Childhood Development, UNICEF, is internationally renowned for her expertise in early childhood policy and programmes.

Dr. Britto obtained her doctoral degree in developmental psychology from Columbia University and prior to joining UNICEF she was an Assistant Professor at Yale University’s Child Study Center.

Dr. Britto is known globally for her expertise in early childhood programmes, policies and advocacy. She has worked extensively with partners to advance the ECD agenda globally, and nationally, to give every child a best start to life. The focus of her work has been on strengthening multi-sectoral programmes for young children and families, measuring of results, mobilizing political commitment, creating a global architecture for ECD and setting technical standards of excellence.

Dr. Britto is the recipient of several national and international awards in recognition for her work and has published numerous books, articles, chapters and reports.
Dr Ying-Ru Lo

Dr. Ying-Ru Jacqueline Lo

Dr Ying-Ru Lo has joined as WHO Representative to Lao PDR in January 2022 after serving four years as WHO Representative to Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore. In her position as Head of Mission, she led strategic and policy dialogues with the Ministry of Health and partners. Building upon her rich public health experience she was successful in enhancing WHO’s presence, excellence and visibility during the COVID-19 pandemic response in Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Singapore. She was instrumental in guiding the three-level support of WHO and partners to close the poliovirus outbreak in Malaysia.

In her new role, Dr Lo firmly believes in the importance of partnership, in health equity of reaching the unreached and building capacity in global health.

Dr Lo is an infectious disease physician from Hamburg, Germany with over 30 years of experience as a clinician and public health adviser. She started working for the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1998, holding positions at country (Thailand and Malaysia), regional (South-East Asia Regional Office in New Delhi and Western Pacific Regional Office in Manila) and headquarters levels (Geneva).

Dr Lo has more than 65 peer-reviewed articles showcasing Asian expertise in global health published in reputable international journals such as Nature Medicine and The Lancet. She is an associate editor of the Western Pacific Surveillance and Response Journal.
Alex Kremer

Mr. Alex Kremer

World Bank
Country Manager for Laos
Alex Kremer became World Bank Country Manager for Laos in July 2021. He oversees the World Bank’s program in the country and leads policy dialogue with government counterparts, civil society, and other partners.

Alex joined the World Bank in 2005. Before coming to Laos, he was the Country Manager for Belarus (2017-21), Moldova (2014-17), the Kyrgyz Republic and Turkmenistan (2010-14). On joining the Bank in 2005, he worked in the Middle East and North Africa region as a Senior Sector Economist. During that time he published several research works on agriculture, the impact of the 2006 war in Lebanon, energy efficiency and lagging regions. He was the lead author of "Poor places, thriving people: how the Middle East and North Africa can overcome spatial disparities" (2010).

Before joining the Bank, Alex worked for the UK Department for International Development in India as National Program Manager, and as an EU official, including as Economic and Political Counsellor in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Alex Kremer holds degrees in Economics from Cambridge and London Universities, a Ph.D. in Economics from London, and a Diploma in Business Administration. He is married with three children and enjoys singing, writing, visiting mountains and foil fencing.
Mr. Avi Sarkar - Photo

Mr. Avi Sarkar

Chief Technical Advisor
Avi Sarkar (India) is the Regional Advisor covering South-East Asia for UN-Habitat. Besides representing UN-Habitat in Lao PDR, Dr. Sarkar also heads the Urban Basic Services Programmes in the South-East Asian region. He has earlier worked as the Regional Coordinator for South-East Asian Region for the Norwegian People’s Aid and has also worked in the private sector as analyst in a fund management group

Dr. Sarkar has a PhD in Management and two Master’s degrees in Business Administration and in Environmental Economics. He also has an Honors in Physics.
Mr. Erlend Audunson Falch - Photo

Mr. Erlend Audunson Falch

Programme Manager and Officer in Charge
Erlend Audunson Falch is the Programme Manager for UNODC’s Alternative Development programme in Lao PDR. Erlend has held this position since 2016, before which he worked for UNODC in Myanmar (2014-2016). Prior to joining UNODC in 2014, Erlend spent five years working in Ramboll Management Consulting in Oslo, Norway. Erlend holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
Mr. Francisco Pichon

Mr. Francisco Pichon

Head of the Mekong Hub, and Country Director and Representative for Viet Nam and Thailand and Interim Country Director for and Cambodia and Lao PDR
Mr. Francisco Pichon, a national from Colombia, has had over 25 years of experience in delivering agriculture and rural development lending programmes in low and middle-income countries in Africa and Latin America. Since 2007 he has been working with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations and an IFI.

With IFAD, he was a Country Programme Manager in the Latin America and Caribbean Region during the period 2007-2012; Lead Portfolio Adviser in the East and Southern Africa Region between 2013-2014; Country Director and Representative for Tanzania and Rwanda from 2014 to 2018; and Country Director for Mexico, Cuba and Grenada since 2018 until April 2021, when he was appointed to his current role as Head of the Mekong Hub and Country Director and Representative for Viet Nam and Thailand, based in Hanoi.

Prior to joining IFAD, Mr. Pichon worked at the World Bank, focusing on Africa and Latin America Region (1994-2007). At the World Bank, he designed and supervised a wide range of operations related to land, forestry, rural productivity, territorial development and ecosystem management, and led analytical work and strategy development.

Mr. Pichon has held other research/teaching positions at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Inter-American Foundation, and the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration. He holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. Francisco is married and is the proud father of three sons and a daughter: Pascal, Marcelino, Elias and Celestina.

Jan Delbaere - Photo

Mr. Jan Delbaere

Mr. Jan Delbaere is a Belgian National active in rural development and food security programmes since 1983.

He has worked in DRC (Zaïre) (NGO), DR China (FAO), DPR Yemen (FAO), Rwanda (Belgian ODA), Philippines (Belgian ODA) and on short-term assignments in other developing countries. In 2004 he joined WFP and has since then worked as a Deputy Chief of Food Security Analysis Service based in Rome HQ (2008-2010), Deputy Country Director in Rwanda (2010-2014), Deputy Country Director in India (2014-2018), and since 2018 as the Country Director / Representative to Lao PDR.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture, a Master’s degree in Agriculture and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics.
Mr. Nasar Hayat - Photo

Mr. Nasar Hayat

Nasar Hayat has over 25 years of progressive professional experience.

Prior to his present assignment as FAO Representative to Lao PDR, he worked as Assistant FAO Representative (Programme) at FAO Pakistan since 2013. He started his career as a Civil Engineer in 1993 and subsequently joined the Pakistani Civil Service. He worked in Pakistan's diplomatic service both in Pakistan and abroad and served as the Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan's mission at Maldives for four years.

Nasar joined UNDP in 2006 on Governance related projects, and has also worked with USAID as an Economic Growth Specialist and with Asian Development Bank as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist in Pakistan. He re-joined UNDP to manage a high profile project that supports Election Commission of Pakistan. Intermittently he has worked as consultant with various agencies including AusAID, UN-Women and Norwegian Embassy's Development Sector.

Nasar holds a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and a Master of Law and Development degree.
Mr. Paul Martin - Photo

Mr. Paul Martin

Regional Technical Advisor
Paul A Martin is a graduate professional working over the last 10 years within the ASEAN Member States with specific emphasis on the Greater Mekong Sub region.

As the UNCDF Senior Regional Technical Advisor, he has a corporate responsibility for UNCDF country portfolios for local economic development finance in all ASEAN Member States and three more countries and the Pacific Islands. Paul has worked in various global locations that include East Africa, South East Asia, including China, South Asia, Balkans, Eastern Europe (former Soviet Union), and the Middle East. Throughout his international career he has worked for international agencies and private sector companies.
Mr. Sommai Faming

Mr. Sommai Faming

UNIDO Country Representative
Sommai Faming (Lao PDR) is currently the UNIDO Country Representative after having joined UNIDO in Lao PDR as the Head of Operations in 2012.

He has many years of experiences in various areas such as poverty reduction through value chain sustainable development and private sector participatory, financial auditor, banking and finance, and commerce.

He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration, Bachelo’s degree in Business, Banking and Finance, and a Bachelor’s degree in Art-Linqistics.
Ms. Khemphone Phaokhamkeo - Photo

Ms. Khemphone Phaokhamkeo

National Coordinator
Khemphone Phaokhamkeo (Lao) has been appointed as the first UN ILO’s National Coordinator in Lao PDR since 2011. She supports the Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR and the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in implementing the Decent Work Country Programme in Lao PDR.

Prior to joining ILO, Ms. Khemphone was working with UNDP Country Office (2008 - 2011) as the Programme Officer in charge of national capacity development. Previously, she has worked for CARE International in Lao PDR as Senior Programme Liaison Officer (2007 - 2008), and at the Institute of Foreign Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1999 – 2007) as Research Coordinator.

She holds a Master’s degree in International Studies and Post Graduate Diploma in Interpretation and Translation as well as a BA from National University of Lao PDR.
Ms. Manithda Sithimolada

Ms. Manithda Sithimolada

Country Coordinator
Manithda Sithimolada is a Country Coordinator for the UNV Programme in Lao PDR since 2020.

She has many years of work experience in a wide range of sectors including international organizations, local NGOs, and private sector. She spent over 10 years (2003 – 2015) working for then Australian Agency for International Development (now Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) in the area of basic and higher education and in managing human resource development program. She worked as a Communications Consultant for the World Bank in 2017 – 2019. She became Vice President of Children’s Home Foundation in 2018 while also taking on a role of General Manager in a private sector.

She graduated in International Relations under Australia Award Scholarship and in Human Resource Development under Fulbright scholarship.
Ms. Mariam Khan - Photo

Ms. Mariam Khan

Ms. Khan has over 20 years of diverse experience in leading and managing development programmes, humanitarian response and change management initiatives in various locations including UNFPA HQs, Sub Saharan Africa and Asia. She was appointed UNFPA Representative to Lao PDR in 2018.

Previous assignments include UNFPA Representative in Algeria (2015-2018), leading the UNFPA office in Tanzania and as Deputy Representative working in UNFPA China also covering DPRK. She supported the 2004 Tsunami response for UNFPA in Indonesia and led the 2008 Wenchuan, China earthquake response as UNFPA Representative a.i. She is a human rights-based approach facilitator for the UN Staff College. Prior to working with UNFPA, Mariam has experience with the First Women's Bank in Pakistan and in research institutes in China.

She holds two Masters degrees: Sociology and Population Studies and speaks English, French, Urdu and basic Mandarin.
Patricia Ongpin

Ms. Patricia Ongpin

Country Director Cambodia, Lao PDR and Malaysia
Patricia Ongpin is the UNAIDS Country Director of the multi-country office covering Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Malaysia since June 2022.

Ms Ongpin is an international development and public health specialist with over 15 years of experience spanning across Asia, Africa, and Europe. As a strong advocate for equality and leaving no one behind, she has a rich background in coordinating evidence-based decentralized programmes that focus on inclusiveness, partnership, and sustainability.

Ms Ongpin was most recently the Regional Fast Track Advisor for the UNAIDS Regional Support Team in Asia and the Pacific. Prior to this, Ms Ongpin served in UNAIDS as Fast-Track Advisor in Namibia and Strategic Information Advisor for Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Ms Ongpin is a national of Canada. She holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations, and Bachelor’s Degrees in Economics and International Relations.
Ms. Ricarda Rieger - Photo

Ms. Ricarda Rieger

Ms. Ricarda Rieger has been serving as UNDP Resident Representative in Lao PDR since 2019.

Ms. Rieger has worked with the United Nations Development Programme for more than 30 years, serving in Country Offices as well as Headquarter duty stations. Most recently she served as Programme Advisor/Team Leader for Afghanistan, East Asia and the Pacific in UNDP's Bangkok Regional Hub (2014 - 2019).

She started her career with UNDP as Junior Professional Officer in DPR Korea (1989 - 1991), and continued with increasing responsibilities in Thailand as Assistant Resident Representative (1991 - 1995), Policy and Programme Officer in New York (1995 - 1997), Capacity Building Officer, Capacity 21/UNOPS, Mediterranean Environment Technical Assistance Programme in Egypt (1997 - 1999), Deputy Resident Representative for Programme and Operations in UNDP Philippines (1999 - 2003), Deputy Resident Representative/Deputy Country Director – Operations in UNDP Cambodia (2004 - 2009), and as Country Director in UNDP Ukraine (2009 – 2014).

She has a degree in Economics.
Ms. Shareen Tuladhar

Ms. Shareen Tuladhar

Chief of Mission
Shareen Tuladhar was designated as the IOM Chief of Mission in Lao PDR in June 2020.

Ms. Tuladhar has been working with IOM in different capacities since 2015, serving as a Program Manager at IOM Maldives and as Head of the Migrant Protection and Assistance Unit at IOM Azerbaijan.

Prior to taking on this posting in Lao PDR, she worked as a national expert on a mid-term evaluation for a USAID funded trafficking in persons project. She was also actively engaged in research on labour migration and trafficking in persons in Nepal. From 2010 to 2015, she was a program manager at The Asia Foundation’s Nepal Office with a diverse portfolio of managing trafficking in persons and safe migration projects funded by USAID. Prior to this, she worked for a research firm in Nepal focusing on public health.

Ms. Tuladhar holds a Master’s degree in International Business with an emphasis on Economics.