Our Specialists.

Senior Global Practice Lead, Democracy and Governance Sharon Van Pelt

Ms. Van Pelt has 28 years of global experience in political dialogue and reform, civic engagement, anti-corruption, local governance, and conflict prevention. She has served as governance advisor to USAID, the US Embassy, GIZ, UNDP and CIDA. While a foreign service officer, Ms. Van Pelt received the USAID Meritorious Honor Award for advancing policy dialogue on decentralization and transparency during the Guatemala peace process. She served as chief of party for an MCC-funded project in Moldova; director of governance for counter-extremism and peacebuilding in francophone Africa; advocacy advisor in Bangladesh, Guatemala, and Nigeria; and capacity building trainer in Myanmar, Honduras, Vietnam, Nicaragua, and Chad. She currently leads Chemonics’ DG Practice with a $400 million portfolio, $575 million ROL IQC, and the Center for Politically Informed Programming. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in international development from American University, and is also a Certified Performance Technologist with ISPI, and certified in problem-driven iterative adaptation by Harvard.

by Sharon Van Pelt


Next-Generation Urban WASH Requires Transparent, Innovative Governance

In the first blog entry in this series, More than Pipes and Pumps: Good Governance Drives Improved WASH, we describe how governance is central to meeting the challenges that rapid urbanization poses for provision of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services. In this entry, we focus specifically on how improved WASH governance can enable technological innovations,…

How to Conduct Applied Political Economy Research in a Pandemic

Applied political economy analysis (APEA) is a qualitative field research methodology that supports more effective, politically feasible, and actionable development strategies and relies heavily on field data collected in person at multiple sites in the project country or region. Globally, COVID-19 ushered in rapid and unanticipated travel, health, and safety constraints that make primary data…

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…