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Program Staff: Democracy Program

David Carroll, Ph.D.

David Carroll leads the Carter Center's initiative on developing standards and best practices in international election observation. He has managed or participated in more than 70 Carter Center projects to strengthen democracy and electoral processes around the globe in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Carroll joined The Carter Center in 1991 to serve as the assistant director of the Latin America and Caribbean Program. Since 2003, he has directed the Center's Democracy Program, playing a key role in the Center's work to build consensus on international standards for democratic elections, as rooted in states' obligations in international and regional human rights law.

He received his Ph.D. in international relations from the University of South Carolina, has published articles and book chapters on development and democratization, and has taught at the University of South Carolina, Georgia State University, and Sewanee - the University of the South.

Avery Davis-Roberts
Associate Director

Avery Davis-Roberts manages the Center’s work on U.S. elections, as well as initiatives aimed at promoting greater political participation of women and youth in Zambia. For many years, Davis-Roberts led the Center’s Democratic Election Standards project, which developed the criteria by which observers assess a democratic process, and she continues to coordinate the Center’s efforts on the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation. She managed the Center’s collaboration with the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to develop the Human Rights and Election Standards Plan of Action. Davis-Roberts has developed several handbooks and methodological tools for election observation and assessment and has written numerous articles and book chapters on elections, election administration, and election assessment. She has worked on Carter Center election observation missions in Asia, Africa, North America, South America, and the Middle East. She gained her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Brett Lacy
Associate Director

Brett Lacy has worked on election observation and democratic governance projects since 1999 in more than a dozen countries. Before returning to The Carter Center in 2010, she managed civil society, political party, conflict mitigation, media, women's participation, and legislative-strengthening programs for the National Democratic Institute in West Africa. She has also worked with International Foundation for Electoral Systems, International IDEA, and the International Organization for Migration to contribute to the development of standards for the participation of refugees and internally displaced persons in post-conflict elections. Lacy previously served at the Center from 2000 – 2003, contributing to programming in Timor-Leste, Nicaragua, Guyana, and Zambia as well as the Center's Democratic Election Standards program as an assistant program coordinator. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Duke University and a master's degree in international administration from the University of Denver's Graduate School of International Studies.

Elizabeth Plachta, J.D.
Associate Director

Elizabeth Plachta works on the program's Democratic Election Standards project and elections-focused efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She has been with the Center since 2010 and has supported election observation missions in Libya, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Sudan. Prior to joining the Carter Center, Plachta was a consultant for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, where her work included assisting with programming efforts on prison reform in southern Sudan, supporting a counter-piracy program in Kenya, and participating in prison and security-sector assessment missions in southern Sudan and Ghana. While in law school, Plachta focused primarily on international and human rights law and was involved in international law practica on women's rights in Tanzania, rule of law in Liberia, and international criminal tribunals. Plachta earned a joint bachelor’s in international affairs and Spanish from Georgia Tech and a law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Jonathan Stonestreet
Associate Director

Jonathan Stonestreet joined The Carter Center in September 2014. Previously, he was the senior election adviser with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw, Poland. From 1997 to 2003, he worked on democracy and human rights issues as part of the OSCE's field mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has also worked as an election consultant in various countries, including Albania, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Tunisia, and Ukraine. Stonestreet earned his bachelor's degree in government and philosophy from the College of William and Mary in 1987 and a master's diploma in international humanitarian assistance from Deusto University in Bilbao, Spain, in 1996.

Sairah Zaidi, M.S.
Associate Director

Sairah Zaidi has more than 10 years’ experience managing programs focused on democratic governance, elections, countering violent extremism, and education. She has worked with several international organizations, including Development Alternatives Inc., Democracy Reporting International, and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. Zaidi previously led the elections component of Consolidating Democracy in Pakistan, which provided technical support to the Election Commission of Pakistan and helped register women voters. She also led government engagement for Community Resilience Activity, a small grants program that worked with local partners to counter violent extremism in Pakistan’s Punjab and Sindh provinces. Zaidi previously supported DRI to develop and advocate for reform recommendations that contributed to the first unified election law in Pakistan in 2017. Zaidi has worked on election observation missions in Ukraine, Macedonia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. She holds a Master of Science in foreign service from Georgetown University.

Sarah K. Johnson
Associate Director

Sarah K. Johnson manages democratic governance and election observation activities for The Carter Center, with a principle focus on the Middle East and North Africa region for over a decade. Prior to joining the Center, she implemented political party programming in Morocco and the oPt, and conducted campaign strategy and survey research in the U.S., Middle East and Europe. She has professional experience in political party building, communications, women's political participation, and public opinion research. Johnson served as a resident country director for the MENA division of the International Republican Institute, as a senior analyst for Greenberg Quinlin Rosner, and as a White House Intern. She holds a master’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University and another master's in European sciences from the Humboldt and Frei universities in Berlin, Germany. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Anthony J. DeMattee, Ph.D.
Data Scientist

Anthony DeMattee joined The Carter Center in 2022. His responsibilities include developing standards and best practices around election technologies and campaign finance, media literacy, and social media analyses. He also supports the Center's special initiatives by creating research designs that integrate many data types for valid and reliable measurement and credible causal inference. He has extensive experience working with NGOs and governments in the Global South on programs emphasizing democratic governance, rule of law, and human rights. DeMattee is formerly a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow for Fundamental Research. He completed his joint Ph.D. in public policy from Indiana University, specializing in comparative politics, public policy, and public administration. He also received a Master of Arts from the Political Science Department at Indiana University and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. DeMattee, a first-generation college graduate, completed his undergraduate studies in finance and economics at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Rachel Lastinger
Senior Program Associate

Rachel Lastinger joined the Center in 2017. She currently works on the Center’s U.S. Elections Project as the senior program associate. Previously, she served as a program associate for the Citizen Observation Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a mission assistant on the Center's Election Observation Mission in Nepal. She has also supported the Election Observation Mission in Myanmar in 2020 and the Digital Threats to Elections project in Ethiopia. Lastinger holds a master's degree in Development Practice from Emory University, where her research focused on human rights and gender, and a bachelor’s in Political Science from Oklahoma State University. Lastinger's previous work and research has taken her to Ethiopia and South Africa and she has worked for various organizations including World Vision and the Institute for Developing Nations.

Sandra Urquiza, M.A.
Senior Program Associate

Sandra Urquiza joined the Carter Center as a long-term observer in its Election Observation Mission in Kenya in 2017. She then worked as a program associate in the Democracy Program until she joined the Rule of Law Program as a senior program associate in 2021. She left the Center in 2022 to spend time in her home country of Peru until she rejoined the Democracy Program in early 2023. Before working at The Carter Center, she was an observer in Zimbabwe with NDI and Moldova with ODIHR and a consultant for a presidential campaign in Paraguay. In addition, she has worked in Cambodia, Kosovo, Australia, and Peru. Urquiza earned a Master of Arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a bachelor’s in legal studies with honors from the University of Massachusetts.

Travis Linger
Program Management Specialist

Travis Linger joined The Carter Center in 2014. He has supported the implementation of several election observation missions, including Myanmar, the Philippines, Nepal, and Mauritania, as well as projects monitoring social media and building technical capacity of civil society organizations. Previously, Linger worked with the International Rescue Committee, Active Nonviolence Education Center, and Karenni Refugee Committee. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Denver and a bachelor’s degree from Shepherd University. He originally is from West Virginia.

Carolyn Carson, M.S.
Program Associate

Carolyn Carson works in the Democracy Program’s International Observation Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Previously, she worked with the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, and the Global Accountability Network. She holds a master’s degree in global affairs from New York University, where her research focused on international law and conflict, and a bachelor’s degree in international studies from St. Edward’s University.

Sijuwade Falade, J.D., LL.M.
Program Associate

Sijuwade Falade joined The Carter Center in 2021. She assists with citizen observation projects and support of civil society organizations in Liberia and Guyana. Before joining The Carter Center, Falade completed a human rights fellowship with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya, where she worked with refugees and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence seeking resettlement. She also has experience with promoting indigenous rights, capacity-building efforts, and corporate accountability in South America and West Africa, as well as supporting prosecutorial justice and legal reform in the Central African Republic. Falade earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, her juris doctor from Columbia Law School, and her master of laws from the University of Amsterdam Law School.

Elena Fernandez, M.A.
Program Associate

Elena Fernandez joined The Carter Center in 2022, first working on the Sudan Youth Citizen Observer Network as a program assistant for the Conflict Resolution Program. In February 2023, she transitioned into a program associate role for the Democracy Program and the Office of the Vice President – Latin America & the Caribbean. Before joining the Center, she was a Spanish professor at the University of Georgia for 15 years while she held visiting faculty positions at Emory University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College.

Wyatt Schierman, M.P.P.
Program Associate

Wyatt Schierman interned at The Carter Center in 2018, and later returned as a mission assistant in Tunisia (2019) and Guyana (2020). In addition to his experience with the Center, Schierman has monitored elections in Ukraine with CANADEM and has completed a fellowship in international development in Ghana. He also has professional experience in political campaigning, communications, sustainability, and environmental education. In his free time, Schierman is a freelance political writer and pens a biweekly column for a Canadian online news site. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in public policy from the University of Calgary.

Dan Richardson
Program Associate

Dan Richardson is the program associate for the Digital Threats to Democracy initiative inside the Democracy Program. He started as an intern with the Democracy Program in spring 2019 and then became a temporary program assistant, supporting projects in Guyana and Liberia. He then supported both the Tunisia and Guyana election observation missions. In 2020, Richardson joined the digital threats team, where he supported various projects countering digital threats to elections and democracy, including combating misinformation through social media monitoring and analysis, and supporting the development of the Carter Center’s media literacy program. Richardson holds a bachelor's degree in international studies from Miami University.

Erika Lee
Program Assistant

Erika Lee joined The Carter Center in 2010 and currently offers logistical and administrative support to the Democracy Program's projects as a program assistant. Before 2014, she devoted most of her time to administrative and logistical support for the Center's Human Rights House and governance projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Human Rights Defenders Initiative. Lee has her bachelor's degree in history and classical culture and her master's in nonprofit organizations with a focus on arts administration, both from the University of Georgia.

Daniel Grober
Program Assistant

Daniel Grober joined the Democracy Program as Program Assistant in February 2021 after being a Carter Center intern in 2017 and working multiple temporary assignments at the Center since. He also was global development and events coordinator for the China-based Positive Discipline Association. Grober received a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in international relations from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Adrián F. Carrasquillo Lecároz
Program Assistant

Adrián F. Carrasquillo Lecároz works on the Carter Center’s U.S. Elections project. Before joining the Center as an intern in 2022, he worked in Georgia state and local politics, U.K. and EU public policy, and with nongovernmental organizations such as the International Rescue Committee. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in international affairs from Georgia State University, where he was assistant director of the Model United Nations program.

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