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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.

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.

Olivia Leu
Data Analyst

Olivia Leu joined The Carter Center in 2024. She supports the Center's efforts to identify and combat misinformation through social media monitoring and analysis. Leu interned at The Carter Center in summer 2023 and supported the Sierra Leone election observation mission during that time. She has prior experience working on political campaigns, U.S. and international public policy, and computational biology. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and politics from Pomona College.

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.

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.

Kevin Morris, M.Sc., M.A. 
Program Associate

Kevin Morris joined The Carter Center in 2023. His work focuses on civil society initiatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Morris previously worked at the Atlantic Council and at the National Democratic Institute, where his portfolios focused on civil society and post-conflict reconciliation in Southeastern Europe. He graduated from Georgia College with dual degrees in history and economics and received a Fulbright scholarship to spend an academic year in the Republic of North Macedonia, teaching and conducting research at Goce Delčev University of Štip. Morris also received a 2019 Marshall Scholarship to earn a Master of Science in history of international relations from the London School of Economics and a Master of Arts in conflict resolution in divided societies from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. He also received a 2023 Title XIII Critical Languages Fellowship to study Macedonian at the Critical Languages Institute at Arizona State University.

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 Perry
Program Assistant

Erika Perry 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. Perry 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.

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