About the International Forum for Democratic Studies
The International Forum for Democratic Studies is a leading center for research on global challenges facing democracies around the world. The International Forum seeks to bridge ideas and practice by convening experts and civil society leaders around cross-regional, interdisciplinary, and cross-sectoral learning to deepen understanding of these challenges and identify lessons to reverse the authoritarian wave and accelerate democratic renewal.
The Forum’s interrelated and growing initiatives include the Journal of Democracy, a leading academic journal on the theory and practice of democracy; the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship, a five-month fellowship for activists and scholars; and the Democracy Resource Center, a democracy-oriented library open to NED staff and the public.
The International Forum convenes and publishes research around four defining global challenges to democracy:
- Countering Authoritarian Influence – Read the concluding report in our Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience series looking at the vulnerabilities and strengths of open societies.
- Combating Transnational Kleptocracy – Read a report on developing a unified democratic response to the challenge of transnational kleptocracy.
- Defending the Integrity of the Information Space – Read a collection of essays on innovative perspectives and new interdisciplinary methods for countering disinformation.
- Emerging Technology and Democracy – Read a report on the global struggle over artificial intelligence-powered surveillance tools.
The Forum’s events, reports, and digital publications contribute to ongoing debates on democracy by elevating and bringing together voices from academia, think tanks, government, the private sector, and civil society. On the Power 3.0 blog and podcast, we invite leading experts to assess how new forms of authoritarian influence are reshaping the playing field on which democratic and illiberal values are contested. The Sharp Power Research Portal’s interactive map and regularly updated resource database illustrates how authoritarian actors have adapted modern domestic repression techniques for application abroad.
The Journal of Democracy is the world’s leading publication on the theory and practice of democracy. Since its first appearance in 1990, it has engaged both activists and intellectuals in critical discussions of the problems of and prospects for democracy around the world. Today, the Journal is at the center of debate on the major social, political, and cultural challenges that confront emerging and established democracies alike.
The Journal includes not only essay packages on important debates and ideas but also articles dealing with every region of the world. In addition, each week it publishes timely and authoritative analysis on the forces fighting for and against the future of freedom.
Named in honor of President Ronald Reagan and the late Congressman Dante Fascell (D-Fl.), whose bipartisan vision contributed to the founding of NED, the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows program was established in 2001 to enable frontline defenders of democracy, civil society leaders, scholars, journalists, lawyers, artists, and others from around the world to deepen their understanding of democracy and enhance their ability to advance democratic change.
During their time in residence at NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, fellows conduct research and writing, exchange ideas and experiences in comparative context, share best practices in democratic development, and build ties with a global network of democracy advocates.
Over the past twenty years, the Reagan-Fascell program has offered vital fellowship support to more than 360 Fellows from more than 100 countries—from fledgling democracies to some of the world’s most repressive political environments.
The Democracy Resource Center (DRC) is a publicly accessible, political science-oriented library housing a collection of materials produced by and about groups and organizations working to strengthen democracy abroad. The Allen Overland collection, named after the DRC’s founding librarian and director, consists of over 20,000 works in 60 languages and features the works of prominent thinkers in the fields of democracy and democracy assistance.
The Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World was inaugurated in 2004 by the International Forum and the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs as an important new forum for discourse on democracy and its progress worldwide. Named for one of the great democratic scholars and public intellectuals of the twentieth century, the annual lecture is an intellectual platform for individuals who, like Seymour Martin Lipset, have made important contributions to our thinking about key issues of democracy through their writings and other accomplishments.
Melissa Aten is a senior program officer at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, a center for research and analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy, where she specializes in transnational kleptocracy and its impact on democracy and governance around the world. She is the co-author of the January 2018 Journal of Democracy article, “The Rise of Kleptocracy: A Challenge for Democracy,” and as editor of several kleptocracy-related publications. In her spare time, she is a passionate advocate for animal adoption, serving as holding multiple volunteer positions at a Washington, DC-based animal rescue. She holds an MA in International Relations from the George Washington University and a BA in English Literature from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. Follow her on Twitter @melissaaten.
John Engelken is the editorial coordinator at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, a center for research and analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy. During his time at NED, he has drawn from his professional background and expertise to shepherd, edit, and contribute to the Forum’s publications—including Global Insights, Power 3.0 blog, and other working papers. He holds an MA in international relations from Georgetown University and a BA in political science from the George Washington University, both located in Washington, DC.
Adam Fivenson has two decades of experience at the intersection of information, technology and democracy. At NED he serves as Senior Program Officer for Information Space Integrity within the International Forum for Democratic Studies, where he conducts research on authoritarian information operations and proactive, civil society-led responses. Previously he advised democratic governments, social enterprises and non-profits on communication and technology strategy and implementation, and served as Adjunct Professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Just Security.
John K. Glenn is senior director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies, where he oversees and develops the Forum’s cross-cutting analytical and research activity in areas including transnational kleptocracy, the integrity of the information space, emerging technology, and countering authoritarian influence. Prior to joining NED, Dr. Glenn served as policy director at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and director of foreign policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He also serves an adjunct professor at the Elliott School for International Relations at George Washington University, where he teaches the graduate seminar on transatlantic relations, and holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from Harvard University. Follow him on Twitter @JKGinDC.
Ariane Gottlieb is an assistant program officer with the Forum. In this capacity, she provides support for the Forum’s portfolios which focus on countering authoritarian influence and combating transnational kleptocracy. Prior to joining NED, she completed internships with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the American Iranian Council, the office of former U.S. Representative Nita Lowey, and J Street. She also worked for three years as a student mentor at Mount Holyoke College’s Speaking, Arguing, and Writing Center. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with a B.A. in international relations and history from Mount Holyoke College.
Beth Kerley is a program officer with the research and conferences section of the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies. She manages the Forum’s emerging technologies portfolio, which covers the challenges and opportunities for democracy as technological advances such as machine learning, the Internet of Things, and big-data analytics supply new tools of politics and governance. She was previously associate editor of the Journal of Democracy, and holds a PhD in History from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University
Maya Recanati is a program assistant at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, where she supports the emerging technology and information space integrity portfolios. Prior to NED, she worked as a Privacy Program and Policy Analyst at Venable LLP, helping clients develop processes and policies that better protect consumer privacy. Maya holds a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Dartmouth College and an M.Sc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Lily Sabol is an assistant program officer at NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies. Prior to joining NED, she worked for Freedom House’s Africa team, where she assisted in the implementation of human rights and rule of law programming in South Africa, Ethiopia and Uganda. She also worked for the National Democratic Institute, where she supported the Middle East and North Africa team’s democracy assistance and civic engagement programming. Lily’s internship experience includes the International Center for Transitional Justice, the U.S. Army War College’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, and the U.S. Senate. She graduated from Dickinson College with a BA in International Studies and minors in French and in Economics.
Kevin Sheives serves as the deputy director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy. He helps oversee the Forum’s staff and research on authoritarian influence, disinformation, emerging technology, and transnational kleptocracy. Kevin served nearly fifteen years in the U.S. government with the State Department’s China Desk and the Global Engagement Center, and in positions at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Department of Defense, and the U.S. House of Representatives. Kevin received a Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in International Relations from Baylor University. He is proficient in Mandarin, and often served as a summer English teacher in Xinjiang, China. His writings have appeared in War on the Rocks, The Diplomat, Asia Nikkei, and the International Forum’s platforms. Follow him on Twitter @KSheives.
Abigail Skalka is a program assistant at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, where she directly supports the VP for Studies and Analysis in both research and administrative capacities. Prior to joining the NED, Abigail worked at the World Justice Project researching the state of rule of law within the EU and at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies as a research assistant to Anne Applebaum. She graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a BA in Government, and she earned her MA in Regional Studies: Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia at Harvard University.
Christopher Walker is vice president for studies and analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. In this capacity, he oversees the department responsible for NED’s multifaceted analytical work. He is an expert on authoritarian regimes, and has been at the forefront of the discussion on authoritarian influence on open systems, including through what he terms “sharp power.” His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, and the Journal of Democracy. He is co-editor (with Larry Diamond and Marc Plattner) of the edited volume Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), and co-editor (with Jessica Ludwig) of the report Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence (NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, 2017) and Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience (International Forum for Democratic Studies, 2021). Follow him on Twitter @Walker_CT.