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.

Laura Adams - Learning Utilization
Marc Cassidy - Political Economy Analysis
Jennifer Hawkins - Women, Peace, and Security
Vy Lam - Human Rights
Jerry Lavery - Policy
Alina Rocha Menocal - Political Economy Analysis
Tyler Thompson - Atrocity Prevention


Laura Adams

Learning Utilization Fellow
USAID/DCHA/DRG | Learning Division
Washington, DC | July 2016 – Present

Laura Adams serves as the Democracy Fellow for Learning Utilization in the Learning Division of USAID's DRG Center. Her job involves promoting the use of evidence from the DRG sector in the formulation of USAID strategies, programs, and trainings, and providing technical support on qualitative and interpretive research, the development of learning agendas, and the utilization of research.

From 2014 - 2016 Laura was a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the DRG Center’s Learning Division and in the office of the LGBTI Senior Coordinator at USAID. Prior to that, she was Director of the Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus; Academic Advisor to the MA program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian area studies; and a Lecturer in Sociology at Harvard University. She has more than 15 years of experience as a lecturer, researcher, and author on topics related to political sociology, sociology of culture, qualitative research design, academic writing, and international higher education development. She has country expertise in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Laura received her MA and PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her BA in Sociology and Russian Area Studies from Macalester College.


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.


Vy Lam

Human 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.


Jerry Lavery

Policy Fellow
USAID/PPL
Washington, DC | October 2014 – Present

Jerry serves as Policy Fellow in the Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning (PPL); Office of Policy. As a democracy and governance specialist with experience in policy development, he provides policy support and advice on DRG issues for the implementation of USAID’s DRG Strategy.

Prior to his fellowship, Jerry was an independent consultant to National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), conducting research and working on various program evaluations. He has held positions with NDI and Chemonics International, implementing USAID’s DRG programs.

Jerry has a PhD in Comparative Politics and an MA in Political Science from Michigan State University, an MA in Regional Economic and Social Development from the University of Massachusetts, and a BA in Government and Philosophy from Connecticut College.


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.


Tyler Thompson

Atrocity Prevention Fellow
USAID/DCHA/DRG | Human Rights Division
Washington, DC | April 2016 – Present

Tyler Jess Thompson serves as Democracy Fellow for Atrocity Prevention in the Human Rights Division of USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center). He supports inter-agency efforts to prevent large-scale and deliberate attacks on civilians and the institutionalization of atrocity prevention within USAID.

Tyler is an attorney and former Policy Director for United for a Free Syria, a Syrian American organization advocating for civilian protection and a democratic transition. For five years, Tyler served as legal counsel at the Public International Law & Policy Group, where he directed their practice area on ceasefires. Tyler served as a legal and strategic advisor to the Syrian Coalition at peace negotiations in Geneva. In 2012, Tyler was based in Tripoli, Libya, where he designed and implemented transitional justice studies and trainings with the Libyan Lawyers Association and Libyan Ministry of Justice. He also ran training programs and provided legal and policy guidance on atrocity prevention, ceasefires, peace negotiations and post-conflict governance to governments and non-state entities in Syria, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Kosovo, Burma, and South Sudan, among others.

Tyler has a JD/MA in International Affairs from American University's Washington College of Law and School of International Service, and a BA in English and Gender Studies from Boston College.