Sally Davidson, B.A.,M.A., M.C.P., has a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology, a Master of Arts in Social Anthropology and a Master of City Planning. Prior to co-founding Blackstone in 1991, Sally developed one of Canada’s first firms dedicated to sustainable development, growing it to 17 staff over four years.
Socio-Economic Assessment Experience:
Sally has directed a wide range of multi-disciplinary assignments across Canada and in over 45 countries around the world. Her recent experience, from the fall of 2011 through December 2014, included her role as a Community Relations (CR) Manager for Bankers Petroleum, a large Canadian-based company operating in Albania. This full-time undertaking addressed the needs and issues of the 22 villages located within the largest on-land oil field in Europe, as well as the training and development of a professional local CR team. Sally’s roles included integration of CR activities with other parts of the company, and building a Community Investment Strategy and Program that grew to expenditures of $2 million annually on activities such as economic development, social programs and community facility improvements. The program has been recognized as best practice in relation to the integration of an extractive industry with local communities, based on a progressive effort to generate a participatory approach to needs identification and resolution of issues.
In 2013, Sally directed a project for the World Bank involving a review of its Environmental and Social Safeguards Policies through consultations with Project-Affected Communities. This very successful assignment involved field investigations of Bank projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Bolivia, Columbia, Philippines and India. In 2010 Blackstone was chosen, following a global competition, to undertake a review of local stakeholder perceptions in regard to the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards, encompassing nine countries worldwide.
Barbara Lamb, Principal and co-founder of Blackstone Corporation, brings over 25 years’ consulting experience in community economic development, tourism, and social assessments, applied to many different sectors (solid waste management; transportation; cadastre, municipal infrastructure, agriculture, education, health, power, extractive industries (oil; mining), youth, SME’s, indigenous peoples, etc.). She has worked in over 40 countries spanning Eastern Europe and Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean and Latin America for the World Bank, IFC, Inter-American Development Bank, Asia Development Bank, CIDA, national governments, and regions.
Along with Blackstone’s other Partner, Barbara has gained a reputation for the type of innovative, outside-the-box thinking required to meet tough challenges, create new opportunities and/or facilitate cooperative problem-solving for our clients. The success of the projects she has worked on has often been due to delivery of smart and unique stakeholder engagement processes designed by Blackstone to produce realistic, sustainable and results-oriented strategies and tangible progress for our clients.
Barbara has a Master of Sciences in Planning and an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Studies. Speaking Spanish, Barbara generally oversees the company’s Latin American projects in association with our Associates, located in Peru and Bolivia. She has worked throughout South America and in 15 countries of the Caribbean on multiple occasions in the areas of Social Assessment and Tourism.
Stakeholder Engagement (SE) & Social Assessment (SA) Experience
Between 2011 and December, 2014, Barbara helped to mobilize a viable local Social Department for a Canadian oil company operating in Albania. She created an innovative, long-term economic development and job creation program ($1 million/year) that targeted different segments of the locally affected communities, and that was multi-faceted (transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture; needs-based vocational training/VET aimed at specific employers; women’s empowerment program, SME start-up funding, a highly successful job fair, etc.). She worked to ensure that the company complied with IFC and EBRD performance standards, by training and overseeing an internationally designed grievance mechanism. Staff were trained to implement a robust monitoring and evaluation process to enable feedback and ongoing adjustments to the community development program. She was asked by both the IFC and EBRD to present to internal and external stakeholders the economic development program, which was considered by each auditing agency to be good/best practice.
One of the program’s highlights was the introduction of a powerful and sustainable youth empowerment program, never before implemented outside of Canada. The program has had lasting effect on the morale and quality of life of previously marginalized young Albanian men and women and that will continue into the future. This program was recognized by one international agency as something that “should be in all of our countries of operation.” It is a program that Blackstone, with the originators of the program, will offer to other companies who want to improve relationships with local stakeholders affected by their operations.
Barbara’s experience has also included preparation of detailed operational manuals for matching grants and revolving funds to enable local communities and stakeholders receive funding for projects and businesses (Azerbaijan). As noted earlier she has also spearheaded SME grants (Albania).
Barbara was also part of Blackstone’s review, on behalf of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of its Performance Standards. The World Bank, learning of the company’s work for the IFC, requested that Blackstone undertake a similar process for the Bank’s Social Safeguards (2013).
Much of her participation in Blackstone’s SE-SA work has involved needs assessments (e.g., for development of a $48 million loan in Azerbaijan for social infrastructure to improve the lives of Internally Displaced Persons – IDPs; land use and minority rights in Serbia; transportation in Bosnia; indigenous land rights in Belize, etc.).
She, along with Blackstone’s other Principal, has managed the socio-economic aspects of solid waste management projects (Trinidad; Argentina; 6 countries of the OECS; Canada).
Barbara’s international tourism work began in the late 1980s when she worked for one of the world’s largest hospitality industry firms undertaking market and financial feasibility studies for a variety of domestic and international tourism attractions and accommodations properties. Since then, Barbara has taken a lead role in developing and implementing leading-edge methodologies to accurately identify market niches and forecast market demand (which are crucial in this market-driven industry).
In 2010-2011, Barbara was Project Director for the preparation of a comprehensive IADB-funded Community-Based Tourism Loan for Bolivia that resulted in a $20 million loan to the country from the Inter-American Development Bank. She was also involved in a large and complex World Bank-funded cultural heritage tourism project in China, which led the Chinese government to increase its loan to implement the Tourism Plan that Blackstone produced. She has also been Manager recently of tourism-related planning and due diligence assignments in Aruba and in Canada’s Yukon Territory and Nunavut.
Barbara has worked on multiple occasions throughout the Caribbean and Latin America on national tourism strategies. Among others, when Belize’s industry was in significant decline, and the public and private sectors were at odds, Blackstone undertook the research, stakeholder engagement and analyses that led to the approval by all tourism stakeholders and the Prime Minister of a highly successful national tourism strategy.
- Dotcho Mihailov, Ph.D – Senior Social Scientist; Manager, Eastern Europe and Central Asia
- Michel Filion, M.A. – Facilitator, Project Management Specialist
- Janette Simbron,B.A., M.A. – Senior Tourism Specialist; Manager, Blackstone Operations, Latin America
JANETTE SIMBRON BA, MA – SENIOR TOURISM SPECIALIST
MANAGER, BLACKSTONE OPERATIONS, LATIN AMERICA
Janette Simbron has a strong background both in the social sciences and in tourism. Blackstone retained Janette to act as Project Manager for its multi-disciplinary assignment to develop a large tourism loan between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Bolivia. As a result of the considerable success of that sensitive and complex project, which successfully led to a $20 million loan agreement, Janette was assigned to head up Blackstone’s operations in Latin America, resident in La Paz.
Janette’s education includes a B.A. (Psychology) from the University of Chicago and a Masters of Anthropology (Belgium). She has worked in the tourism sector for more than 20 years, and is the owner of a highly successful receptive tour operator firm and a hotel. Janette is also part of a private sector network consisting of the top tour operators operating in and around Bolivia, and has extensive knowledge of tourism trends, markets and products throughout South America. She is very knowledgeable about the social and economic challenges facing rural communities. Janette regularly travels to European trade and travel shows, and has an extensive international network in the hospitality industry.
In addition to her tourism credentials, Janette is also a social scientist with extensive experience related to stakeholder engagement and community consultation, and social impact assessment. She has excellent “people skills” that allow her to be able to work closely and confidently within the challenging institutional environments that characterize many of the lesser developed countries.
Janettehas a strong interest in indigenous populations, and has worked with several communities to develop successful community-based tourism initiatives in Bolivia. She has carried out several socio-economic assignments including, for example:
With her broadly based public and private sector tourism experience, and her experience as a tour operator and hotelier, Janette brings hands-on tourism skills, and Spanish-language capability, to Blackstone.
DOTCHO MIHAILOV, Ph.D – Senior Social Scientist and Manager, Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Dotcho Mihailov is a highly experienced social scientist, with an M.Sc. in social psychology and Ph.D. in Social and Management Psychology. Proprietor of ASA (Agency for Socioeconomic Analysis) in Sofia, Bulgaria, Dotcho is a Senior Blackstone Associate and Manager of Blackstone’s operations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Dotcho began working with our firm in 2003, when he was retained to carry out quantitative surveys throughout Bulgaria associated with Blackstone’s World Bank assignment on “The Economic and Social Impacts of Farm Restructuring in Central and Eastern Europe”. His work included a business survey and a regional survey in three districts among a sample of 598 households and 57 Farmers. The Blackstone team’s work was highly regarded, and results were published in a World Bank monograph titled “A Stocktaking of Land Reform and Farm Restructuring in Bulgaria, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan.” Most recently, Dotcho was retained to work with Blackstone on our major projects for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank, undertaking field investigations of private sector company activities in China, Africa and Turkey with a view to assessing company/community relations and providing these international agencies with suggestions regarding a planned update to their Performance Standards and Safeguards.
Dotcho has extensive experience working in Eastern Europe on social analysis assignments for the UN, an array of international agencies and government agencies. He has particularly strong skills related to quantitative social surveys and analysis, using computerized tools such as SPSS. Other special areas of expertise include:
· Development research (surveys manager, analytical reports and statistical processing);
· Evaluation studies;
· Good local governance (citizen participation, community development, decentralization, communication strategies);
· Social inclusion, minority and marginalized groups;
· Rural development (Quality of life and diversification; LEADER);
· Health safety and social inclusion (family models, demography, ethnic relationships, health policies); and
· Statistical processing, including multidimensional statistics.
With his strong credentials, and able to work in English, Russian, Macedonian and Bulgarian, Dotcho is well-suited to manage Blackstone’s assignments in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
MICHEL FILION, TRAINER, COACH AND FACILITATOR IN MANAGEMENT