Salimah Samji

Director of Building State Capability, Harvard Kennedy School


Salimah Samji is the Director of Building State Capability (BSC). She has more than 18 years of experience working in international development on the delivery of public services, transparency and accountability, strategic planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning. She joined HKS in 2012 to help create the BSC program. Today, she is responsible for providing vision, strategic leadership, oversight, and managing projects as well as research initiatives. Salimah also leads BSC’s work on training, learning, and building communities of practice.

Before joining HKS, she was an independent consultant working for the World Bank on issues of governance, and the Hewlett Foundation on strategic planning for one of their grantees. She has worked as a senior program manager at Google dotorg, leading a transparency and accountability initiative focused on empowering citizens and decision-makers, by making information on service delivery outcomes publicly available. Salimah has also worked at the World Bank as a social/rural development and monitoring and evaluation specialist in South Asia.

She has a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo (Canada) and a Masters in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) from the Harvard Kennedy School. She is a qualified Casualty Actuary who changed careers after working for 18 months in Afghan refugee camps with a Canadian NGO (FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance) based in Pakistan. Salimah has worked and lived in Kenya, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Canada and the USA.

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