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.

David Alpher - Countering Violent Extremism
Marc Cassidy - Political Economy Analysis
Jennifer Hawkins - Women, Peace, and Security
Sofia Javed - Digital Technology, Civil Society, and Media
Vy Lam - Human Rights
Lucy Martin - Taxation and Governance
Daniel N. Posner - Research and Policy
Alina Rocha Menocal - Political Economy Analysis
Elinor Stevenson - Religious Freedom and Atrocity Prevention


David Alpher

Countering Violent Extremism Fellow
USAID/DCHA/CMM
Washington, DC | July 2018 – Present

David Alpher serves as the Democracy Fellow for Countering Violent Extremism in the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, Humanitarian Assistance. His job involves providing technical expertise and recommendations for the effective linkage of countering violent extremism to other development program areas.

David is a Middle East, Horn of Africa and Central/South Asia regional expert. His technical expertise is in implementation and evaluation of complex reconstruction and stabilization operations, peacebuilding, governance, and civil society programming. From 2013 – 2018, David was the Head of Saferworld’s US office, serving as the primary policy and advocacy presence for Saferworld to the US policy, diplomatic, development and military communities. In this role, he designed and led work on CVE in partnership with the US Institute of Peace and Department of State.

David has a PhD and MS in Conflict Resolution from George Mason University, and a BA in History from Brandeis University.


Marc Cassidy

Senior Applied Political Economy Analysis and Thinking and Working Politically Fellow
USAID/DCHA/DRG | Cross-Sectoral Division
Washington, DC | September 2016 – Present

Marc Cassidy is a Senior Democracy Fellow for Applied Political Economy Analysis (PEA) and Thinking and Working Politically (TWP) on the Cross Sectoral Programs (CSP) Division within USAID’s DRG Center. Marc provides technical assistance to USAID Bureaus and Missions on utilizing PEA to improve programming outcomes.

Previously, Marc served as Pact's Governance Director, where he was a thought leader on applying PEA to enhance the design and implementation of health, artisanal mining, environment, and community development programs. Prior to Pact, Marc served as Senior Manager for Democracy and Governance programming at International Resources Group; Director of the Governance and Rights Technical Unit at the International Rescue Committee; and Chief of Party on USAID democracy and governance projects in East Africa (Kenya and Uganda), Eastern Europe (Bulgaria), Middle East (Jordan), and Asia (Thailand). He also served as a Field Officer for The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Sri Lanka and for the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Kenya. In the US, Marc served on numerous local government boards in his home town of Rosendale, New York.

Marc holds two Master’s degrees from the State University of New York at Albany in Regional Planning and in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and a BA in Political Science and Spanish from LeMoyne College.


Jennifer Hawkins

Women, Peace, and Security Fellow
USAID/DCHA/PPM
Washington, DC | October 2014 – Present

Jennifer Hawkins serves as the Democracy Fellow for Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) in the Office of Program, Policy, and Management (PPM) within the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA). She is a member of the Gender Integration Team and the USAID WPS Core Team, supporting implementation of the U.S. National Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (NAP).

Prior to her fellowship, Jennifer was a Policy Officer with the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) in the U.S. Department of State. She led the implementation of CSO Gender Policy and Gender Guidelines and also represented CSO as the NAP Conflict Prevention Pillar Lead in the department.

Jennifer has an MA in Social Work from Howard University and a BA in Social Work from Syracuse University.


Sofia Javed

Digital Technology, Civil Society, and Media Fellow
USAID/DCHA/DRG
Washington, DC | June 2018 – Present

Sofia Javed serves as the Digital Technology, Civil Society, and Media Democracy Fellow with the Civil Society and Media Division in USAID’s DRG Center. Sofia provides technical expertise and recommendations for civil society strengthening and civic advocacy, with a focus on linkages among new media, technology, and civic advocacy.

Previously, Sofia was a Program Officer at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) where she managed foreign assistance for human rights and democracy programs in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Prior to DRL, Sofia worked in the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) as Editor and Production Manager of the Department’s Annual Global Report on TIP.

Sofia has an MA in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a BS in Journalism from Northwestern University.


Vy Lam

Human Rights Fellow
USAID/DCHA/DRG | Human Rights Division
Washington, DC | August 2014 – Present

Vy serves as the Human Rights Fellow in the DRG Center’s Human Rights Division, which seeks to elevate attention to human rights in all aspects of USAID’s operations and programs. As a core member of the Human Rights Division, Vy contributes to technical leadership and research related to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as supports program design and implementation to ensure that human rights issues are being addressed and incorporated into USAID’s work worldwide.

Previously, Vy served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow at USAID.

Vy has a PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of Wisconsin and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University.


Lucy Martin

Taxation & Governance Fellow
USAID/DCHA/DRG | Learning Division
Washington, DC | June 2018 – Present

Lucy Martin serves as the part-time Democracy Fellow for Taxation and Governance in the Learning Division of USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance. She is reporting on the current research on the relationships between citizens and government as mediated by taxation.

Lucy is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Global Studies at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Her research uses field experiments, survey experiments, laboratory experiments, observational survey data, and cross-national data to examine the links between taxation, accountability, and state-building in developing countries. She is a member of the Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP) network, a principal investigator with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), and a principal investigator for a DRG-funded impact evaluation of tax compliance in Malawi.

Lucy as a PhD and MPhil in Political Science, and an MA in Economics from Yale University, and a BA in Political Science from Kenyon College.


Daniel N. Posner

Research and Policy Fellow
USAID/DCHA/DRG | Learning Division
Washington, DC | February 2018 – Present

Daniel Posner serves as a part-time Democracy Fellow for Research and Policy in the Learning Division within the Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center) in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) at USAID. He advises USAID on how to measure democratic change and the effects of DRG assistance in their research projects, co-leads the development of the 2018-19 DRG learning agenda for future research and literature reviews, and advocates for DRG Learning to senior officials at USAID, the Department of State, and various stakeholder organizations.

Dan is the James S. Coleman Professor of International Development in the Department of Political Science at University of California Los Angeles. His research focuses on ethnic politics, research design, distributive politics, and the political economy of development in Africa. His most recent co-authored book, Coethnicity: Diversity and the Dilemmas of Collective Action (Russell Sage, 2009), employs experimental games to probe the sources of poor public goods provision in ethnically diverse communities. His first book, Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa (Cambridge, 2005), explains the conditions under which politics revolves around one dimension of ethnic cleavage rather than another. Dan is a former part-time Democracy Fellow, when he served as co-Principal Investigator (co-PI) for an impact evaluation of a USAID-funded program in Zambia focused on service delivery and accountability. He was a Harvard Academy Scholar (1995-98), a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution (2001-02), a Carnegie Scholar (2003-05), and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (2010-11).

Dan serves on the editorial boards of World Politics, the Journal of Politics, World Development, and the Journal of Experimental Political Science. He is the co-founder of the Working Group in African Political Economy (WGAPE). He received his BA from Dartmouth College and his PhD from Harvard University.


Alina Rocha Menocal

Senior Applied Political Economy Analysis and Thinking and Working Politically Fellow
USAID/DCHA/DRG | Cross-Sectoral Division
Washington, DC | October 2016 – Present

Alina Rocha Menocal is a Senior Democracy Fellow for Applied Political Economy Analysis (PEA) and Thinking and Working Politically (TWP) in the Cross Sectoral Programs (CSP) Division within USAID’s DRG Center. Alina provides technical assistance to USAID Bureaus and Missions on utilizing PEA to improve programming outcomes.

Currently a Research Fellow in Politics and Governance at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Alina specializes on issues related to democratization, state-society linkages, and peace- and state-building. Over the past ten years, she has been involved in a series of projects and assignments that seek to bridge the gap between research and policy in thinking about governance. Through the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Alina led an innovative action research project that tested the linkages among service delivery, social cohesion, and state legitimacy in Lebanon and Jordan in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis. Most recently, she finished a two-year secondment at the Development Leadership Program (DLP) at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, where she led a stream of work on Political Settlements and the Politics of Inclusion. She also has done extensive work on political economy and has been a pioneer thinker on how donors can work in more politically aware ways, through the TWP Community of Practice and other fora. Some of her recent publications include a DLP State of the Art Paper on “Political Settlements and the Politics of Inclusion”; a set of Infographics and reflections on “What is political voice, why does it matter, and how can it bring about change?”; and a DFID Evidence Paper on Corruption (co-author).

Originally from Mexico, Alina has a BA from Yale University and an MPhil from Columbia University, both in Political Science.


Elinor Stevenson

Religious Freedom and Atrocity Prevention Fellow
USAID/DCHA/DRG | Human Rights Division
Washington, DC | November 2018 – Present

Elinor Stevenson serves as the Democracy Fellow for Atrocity Prevention in the Human Rights Division of USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center). In this role, Elinor supports the implementation of USAID’s new focus on Religious Freedom and Action Plan on Atrocity Prevention. Her work includes supporting USAID missions in understanding and addressing atrocity risks, developing an in-person training course, and engaging with the interagency and like-minded international donors.

Prior to her fellowship, Elinor was Senior Counsel at Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG). In this role, she provided program management and analysis for PILPG’s State Department-funded programs focused on supporting human rights advocates and advancing transitional justice efforts in conflict and post-conflict countries in the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Balkans.

Elinor earned her JD/MA in International Affairs from American University’s Washington College of Law and School of International Service, and a BS in Business Administration from Babson College.