USAID Democracy Fellows and Grants Program | About the Fellowship | Current Fellows

Current Fellows

Current Democracy Fellows

Democracy Fellowships provide professional development through practical experience working with democracy and governance programs. Fellows work in such activities as:

  • Providing policy analysis and expert advice
  • Developing democracy strategies, evaluation methodologies, and indicators
  • Providing technical comment on USAID plans or activities
  • Helping USAID contractors to provide electoral planning assistance; work with civil society organizations; or strengthen legislatures, local governments, and the rule of law.

Aaron Abbarno

USAID/DCHA/DRG | LearningTeam
Washington, DC | October 2013 – Present

Aaron J. Abbarno serves as the Democracy Fellow in Comparative Politics and Democratization on the DRG Center’s Learning Team. In this capacity, Aaron draws on his substantive expertise in the comparative study of democratic publics and public opinion, and on his methodological expertise in lab experiments in human behavior, population-based survey experiments and non-experimental observational research methods, to help advance the DRG Center’s Learning Agenda. Among Aaron’s central interests is designing novel techniques for evaluating complex and sensitive political attitudes. Prior to joining the Learning Team, Aaron worked with the University of Pittsburgh Governance Group to develop unobtrusive survey measurement strategies with which to estimate sympathy toward violent extremist groups in order to evaluate USAID programs designed to counter violent extremism and foster tolerance in West Africa’s Sahel region.

Aaron holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pittsburgh, where he specialized in comparative politics and mass political behavior. His scholarly research examines the sources of public support for democratic values, especially tolerance for minority rights, and the consequences of these values for political behavior among individuals who embrace them. Aaron’s dissertation demonstrates that, in the context of real civil liberties disputes, citizens who learn to uphold political minorities’ rights to free speech and assembly are, in turn, and as a direct result of applied tolerance, more likely to exercise their own procedural rights and civil liberties through collective and contentious forms of political participation. His other projects examine contextual factors that foster support for fundamental democratic values, and the implications of democratic publics for effective and enduring democratic government.

Nicole Bonoff

USAID/DCHA/DRG | LearningTeam
Washington, DC | September 2013 – Present

Nicole Bonoff is an Impact Evaluation Fellow with the Learning Team.  She is currently a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. Her research is on governance, accountability, elections, and informal institutions primarily in Africa. She is particularly interested in field and natural experiments and survey methodology. Her dissertation is on the role that traditional authority plays in elections in Africa. Nicole argues that there is a delegation relationship between local politicians and chiefs where chiefs engage in vote mobilization on behalf of politicians in exchange for great fiscal autonomy of their villages. She has additional research on fiscal accountability in Kenya, incumbency and female representation in African legislatures, and spillover effects in randomized controlled trials that travel through social networks. She has completed fieldwork in Ghana, South Africa, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Nicole has her MA in Political Science from UCSD, a BA with Honors in Political Science from Stanford University, and a BS in Earth Systems (Environmental Sciences) from Stanford University.

Diana Cammack

USAID/DCHA/DRG | Cross-Sectoral Team 
Washington, DC | September 2013 – Present

Diana Cammack has researched and written on governance and development issues in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia for nearly thirty years. After her PhD in history (UC Irvine) she did post-doctoral research as an SSRC-MacArthur Fellow on Peace and Security in a Change World at Oxford University. For three years she led the Politics and Governance programme at the Overseas Development Institute, London, and between 2008-12 she managed the Local Governance & Leadership stream of the Africa Power and Politics Programme). As an independent researcher she has published on refugee protection, conflict and fragile states, transitional justice, human rights, gender, elections,  decentralisation, etc.  For the last decade she has specialized in the link between development and governance in neopatrimonial states, and has used political economy analysis to identify the factors that must be addressed in the design of effective aid programmes. With David Booth at ODI she recently co-authored Governance for Development in Africa: Solving Collective Action Problems (ZED Books, Oct 2013). She joins IIE as a Democracy Fellow based in Cape Town but working with USAID to introduce political economy analysis into its sector programmes.

Marina Colby

USAID/DCHA/DRG | Human Rights Team
Washington, DC | May 2013 – Present

Marina Colby serves as the Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons with USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance.  In this role, she works to advance as well as integrate USAID’s Counter-Trafficking in Persons (C-TIP) Policy across the agency’s development sectors and coordinates C-TIP efforts with other government agencies and interested stakeholders.

Marina has more than 15 years of legislative and policy experience in the field of human rights with specialized experience at the national and international levels promoting the rights of women, children and workers.  

Most recently, Marina served as the Director of Public Policy & Government Relations at ECPAT-USA (Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking), and as a member of ATEST (Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking).  Her advocacy focused primarily on drafting and promoting federal and state anti-trafficking laws and policies, with a particular focus on child protection and child rights, as well as corporate accountability and transparency in supply chains in relation to human trafficking/forced labor.

In previous positions, Marina served as the Deputy and Interim Director of the International Labor Organization’s Washington Office – a specialized agency of the United Nations.  Marina also served as a Rule of Law Specialist in Uzbekistan for the American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative where she worked with Uzbek lawyers to open the first human rights law firm in Uzbekistan.  Marina's other professional experience includes managing a corporate-funded initiative that supported domestic violence service providers across the United States and in several countries abroad at the National Network to End Domestic Violence; serving as a Policy Analyst at the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women; and working as a congressional staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Marina received a Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin Law School and a B.A. in International Studies (with minors in Political Science, European Studies and German) from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.  She also completed course work at the University of Bonn in Germany, the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C.

Ross Herbert

Washington, DC  | November 2012 - Present

Ross serves as a Democracy Fellow in USAID’s Bureau for Africa; Office of Sustainable Development; Conflict, Peacebuilding, and Governance Division (AFR/SD/CPG), specializing in DRG issues in the sub-Saharan Africa region.  He conducts analysis and closely tracks political developments and USAID missions’ DRG programming. 

He has more than 15 years of experience as an analyst, researcher, program manager, and journalist.  Most currently, he was the Research Program Director for South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg.  Ross received a B.S. from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, M.A. in Journalism from Columbia University, and he is currently working on his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies. 

Leah Maxson

USAID/DCHA/DRG/SPANS | Special Programs to Address the Needs of Survivors
Washington, DC | November 2011 – Present

Leah Maxson serves as a technical advisor for disability under the SPANS programs within the Human Rights Team (HT). In this role, she works to advance disability and further inclusive development programs and practices within the Agency and its Field Missions.
Leah has extensive experience as a community organizer and teacher in schools for the deaf in Africa, Asia, and the United States.  She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya and uses both American Sign Language and Kenyan Sign Language.

Leah Maxson received a B.A. in Deaf Education from Kent State University and an M.A. in International Development with a focus on working with people with disabilities from Gallaudet University.

William Mishler

USAID/DCHA/DRG | Learning Team
Washington, DC | June 2012 – Present

William Mishler serves as Senior Survey Expert for the Learning Team (LT).  He facilitates the collection, analysis, and use of high quality, public opinion surveys in DRG Assessments and will assist both the DRG Center and various field missions in collecting and analyzing survey data in order to enable evidence based decision making in the development and evaluation of DRG programs.

William previously held tenured positions at Duke University, SUNY Buffalo, and the University of South Carolina, where he was James B. Byrnes Professor of Government and served on two occasions as Director of the Political Science Program at the National Science Foundation.  A specialist in public opinion and survey research, he has conducted and analyzed more than 100 surveys in 25 countries, including most of the post-communist regimes in Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union and, more recently, in several emerging Asian democracies. 

William is the author of seven books and 60 articles broadly focused on the dynamics of popular support for democratic institutions and leaders. 

William Mishler received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University and is on leave from the University of Arizona, where he is Professor of Political Science and Editor of The Journal of Politics.

Bridget Moix

Washington, DC | April 2013 – Present

Bridget Moix serves as Atrocities Prevention Fellow with USAID's Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation.  As part of USAID's atrocities prevention team, she helps to develop new tools and resources, advance learning, support country engagements, and improve the agency's capacities to prevent and respond to mass atrocities.

Bridget brings experience at the national and international levels working to advance a range of peace building and violent conflict prevention issues.  She developed and led the Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict program at the Friends Committee on National Legislation for nine years, and also worked with the Quaker United Nations Office, Oxfam America, and the World Policy Institute.  Her country specific work has included Kenya, Sudan/Darfur, and Democratic Republic of Congo.  She also worked at the community level with peace building organizations in South Africa and Mexico.   

Bridget is currently pursuing her PhD at George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, where she also serves as Cumbie Fellow with the Genocide Prevention Program.  Her research interests include strengthening local peace capacities, nonviolent civilian protection, and community-led early warning and response systems.  She has taught courses on the role of religion in war and peace, peace building and development, and Quaker social witness.  She holds a Master's from Columbia University's School for International and Public Affairs, and a Bachelor's degree from Ohio Wesleyan University.

Bridget serves on the board of Peace Direct USA, the Quaker United Nations Office (Geneva), and the Clarence and Lilly Pickett Endowment for Quaker Leadership.

Jill Moss

USAID/DCHA/DRG | Civil Society & Media Team
Washington, DC | April 2013 – Present

Jill Moss is a USAID New Media Development and Internet Freedom fellow.  In this role, she helps design and implement Internet freedom program in transitional countries, focusing specifically on the integration of information communication technologies (ICT) in civil society and among independent media.  While at USAID missions overseas, Jill also provides digital security and privacy support to indigenous journalists.

Prior to becoming a Democracy Fellow, Jill was a member the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ Internet Anti-Censorship Team -- a critical program for distributing US international broadcast elements (VOA, RFERL, RFA, MBN & OCB) into denied cyber environments. 

Jill is also a doctoral student studying strategic communication at George Mason University.  Her research interests include ICT diffusion and adoption, business models for journalistic startups and mobile technology. In addition, she has taught journalism and radio news as an adjunct in the GMU Communication Department.  Her pedagogical approach is based on 12 years reporting experience with the Voice of America.

Jill started her career on Capitol Hill working as press secretary for her Nebraska Congressman. She’s been involved in several political campaigns, and served as a United States Peace Corps volunteer from 1997 to 1999.  She has a double-major B.A. in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa, and an M.A. in international education from GMU.

Andrew Solomon

USAID/DCHA/DRG | Human Rights Team
Washington, DC | April 2013 – Present

Andrew Solomon serves as a technical advisor for transitional justice on the Human Rights Team. His work is focused on the development of guiding principles, best practices, data collection, and technical tools that assist the DRG Center and field missions address the development challenges resulting from mass atrocities and systematic human rights abuses.     

An expert in justice and rule of law promotion, Andrew has extensive experience contributing to innovative technical assistance activities and conducting field-work in developing, conflict-affected, and post-conflict environments throughout Europe, Central and South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Prior to his fellowship, Andrew supported the development of justice and security sector doctrine at the US Department of State through BlueLaw International.  He also served as Deputy Director of the Brookings Institution’s IDP Project, where he advised the Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Internal Displacement. He has also held senior positions at the American Society of International Law and the American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative. In addition, Andrew worked in the legal departments of the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Coalition for International Justice. He has also participated in more than fifteen election observation missions in Europe and Eurasia for the OSCE and IFES. 

Andrew sits on the Council of Experts for the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (USIP/INPROL) and serves as Co-chair of the Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Group of the American Society of International Law. A frequent lecturer and presenter to academic and policy audiences, Andrew has also published numerous articles on rule of law and justice topics.    

Lawrence Woocher

USAID/DCHA/DRG | Human Rights Team
Washington, DC | May 2013 – Present

Lawrence Woocher is Senior Atrocity Prevention Fellow working with the Human Rights Team. He is contributing to USAID’s work on the comprehensive U.S. government strategy to prevent and respond to mass atrocities, which President Obama announced in April 2012.

Lawrence has been working on early warning, conflict prevention, and the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities for more than a decade. Prior to his USAID fellowship, he was research director of the Political Instability Task Force at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). From 2006-2011, he was a senior program officer at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). While at USIP, he was a member of the executive committee and lead expert on early warning for the Genocide Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. Before joining USIP, Woocher was a research fellow at Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution and, concurrently, a consultant on early warning to the Office of the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.

Lawrence is also a lecturer at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He received a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School and a Bachelor’s in Neuroscience from Brown University.

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