Our Specialists.

Director, Democracy and Governance Practice Sharon Van Pelt

Sharon Van Pelt has 27 years of global experience in political dialogue, policy reform, civic engagement and advocacy, local governance, and conflict prevention. While a Foreign Service officer, she received the USAID Meritorious Honor Award for advancing policy dialogue on decentralization and transparency during the Guatemala peace process. Ms. Van Pelt served as chief of party for a Millennium Challenge Corporation-funded project in Moldova; director of governance for counter-extremism and peace-building programs in francophone Africa; and advocacy adviser in Bangladesh and Nigeria. She currently leads Chemonics’ Democracy and Governance Practice with a $400 million global project portfolio and the $550 million Rule of Law contract. Ms. Van Pelt founded and oversees our Center for Politically Informed Programming. As a certified performance technologist for the International Society for Performance Improvement, she trains staff globally on capacity development, including problem-driven iterative adaptation. Ms. Van Pelt holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in international development from American University.


Blog Posts by Sharon Van Pelt

Beyond a Buzzword: What Thinking and Working Politically Looks Like in Practice

Thinking and Working Politically (TWP) is all the buzz these days, with political economy analysis (PEA) being included in tenders, and project designs across sectors. But what does TWP-PEA look like beyond design, as an integral part of implementation? During program design and even start-up, PEAs can provide recommendations while acknowledging context complexities, actors and…

Thinking and Working Politically to Strengthen Agricultural Market Systems

Down-and-dirty politics and political roadblocks have thwarted the success of agricultural development projects for decades. To achieve greater success, we need to consider how we can better understand and break down such blocks. Whether we like it or not, international development efforts are inherently political. Within the agriculture sector, the relationships and power dynamics among…

Think Your Project Isn’t Political? Think Again.

All changes and reforms are driven by interests and incentives. We generally understand this and, therefore, we try through our projects to foster positive incentives and collective interests that lead to the change we want to see. Sounds fairly straightforward, but clearly we know it is not, regardless of if we work in agriculture, climate…