Interim Board

IFFEd’s Interim Board is overseeing IFFEd’s establishment and early implementation as a foundation in Switzerland. IFFEd’s long-term governance, developed together with IFFEd’s donor and MDB partners, has recently been approved by the Interim Board and will be implemented by March 2024

Judith Herbertson

Judith Herbertson

Interim Board Chair

Judith Herbertson is the Deputy Director leading the Girls’ Education Department at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. In this role she sets global policy for UK support to girls’ education in developing partner countries to deliver on the government’s commitment to help provide 12 years of quality education for all girls globally. She oversees a wide-ranging portfolio of UK-funded interventions through global funds, multilateral channels, and UK-led and in-country bilateral programmes.

Judith has worked in international development for nearly 20 years. She has served for 11 years overseas in Ethiopia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in various policy and leadership roles. She has led UK-based policy departments on governance, open societies, and anti-corruption, and on UK relationships with the international financial institutions and the United Nations. She has also worked as a Ministerial Private Secretary and currently supports the work of the UK Special Envoy for Girls’ Education.

Prior to joining the civil service, Judith worked for 17 years in secondary education in the UK, in both maintained and private sectors, as a teacher of modern foreign languages and then in senior management roles.

Benoit Merkt

Benoît Merkt

Interim Board Member

Benoît Merkt is a Swiss lawyer admitted to the Bar of Geneva. He holds a doctorate in law and a Master in European and Comparative Law (MJur) of Oxford University.

Since 2006, Benoît Merkt is a partner of the Swiss law firm Lenz & Staehelin of which he is co-head of the Competition law practice group and head of the Foundations / Philanthropy practice groups.

He is recognized as a leading Swiss law practitioner. Benoît Merkt serves on the Board of several foundations of international scope. He is a regular speaker at conferences and author of several publications and books in the fields of competition law and foundation law.

Liesbet Steer

Liesbet Steer

Interim Board Member

As president and chief executive officer (CEO), Dr. Liesbet Steer brings more than two decades of experience in international development, education reform, and finance to her oversight of EDC’s domestic and international work. She leads the management team, which directs EDC’s major programmatic and business activities, and is a member of EDC’s Board of Trustees.

Liesbet comes to EDC from her role as the executive director of the global Education Commission, an international initiative driving greater progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for inclusive and equitable quality education and chaired by UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown. During this time, she was instrumental in IFFEd’s design and development.

Prior to her role with the Education Commission, Liesbet served in numerous development, education, and finance roles. She was a fellow at the Brookings Institution, Global Economy and Development, where her work included authoring a flagship report, Financing Education: Opportunities for Global Action, which led to the establishment of the Education Commission. She has held leadership and other roles with organizations including the Overseas Development Institute, The Asia Foundation, and the World Bank. Between 1997 and 2007, she lived in Vietnam and Indonesia where she worked on economic development in the Asia region.

Liesbet serves on the Board of Greater Share, the Global Leadership Council of UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited, the High Level Steering Group of the Education Outcomes Fund, and the World Economic Forum Education 4.0 Alliance.

Liesbet was educated at the Universities of Antwerp and East Anglia and the London School of Economics. She holds an MSc in Quantitative Economics and a PhD in Development Economics. She is fluent in Dutch and English and speaks French and Indonesian conversationally.


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