The two-years of research to prepare the 2013 and 2014 State of Participatory Local Democracy Reports was coordinated by the following Hunger Project staff and interns.


jcheadshotJohn Coonrod, PhD Executive Vice President, The Hunger Project. John is responsible for THP’s research and advocacy, and has led its programs in South Asia and Latin America. He also oversees the participatory local democracy community of practice project. John is an expert on bottom-up, gender-focused development and decentralized local governance who has lectured at the United Nations, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), New York University (NYU), Princeton University and the United States Air Force Academy.

John grew up in the Midwest and was trained as a physicist at Stanford (BSc) and the University of California-Berkeley (MS, PhD), during which time he was active in the civil rights and anti-war movements. He worked as a research physicist at Princeton University from 1978 through 1984. John became THP’s first volunteer in March of 1977, joined its staff in 1985, and has participated in the development and implementation of all of its programs.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 6.02.06 PMMary Kate Costello, Policy Analyst, The Hunger Project.  Mary Kate joined The Hunger Project family after working for the Alliance for International Youth Development – in partnership with InterAction – and as the Executive Program Director for Youth Futures International, Ghana. She is responsible for THP’s internal and external advocacy, research and formulation of frameworks and best practices, and outreach for purposes such as increasing traction within the development sector about local level, gender-focused strategies.

Mary Kate holds a BA in Political Science and minors in Eastern European Studies, and Faith, Peace and Justice from Boston College in Massachusetts. She also studied Third World politics and ethics in government at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Mary Kate’s expertise include youth leadership skill development, program design and implementation, partner building, cross-cultural networking, monitoring and evaluation of heath and wellness programs, and mobilization of rural, impoverished communities. She also applies her keen interests in government ethics and sustainable development methodologies as a board member for The Youth Alliance for Development of Obuasi, Ghana and Rallysound, Inc. of Boston, Massachusetts.


2016-01 Nicole Graham HSNicole Graham (’16, MA), Advocacy Intern. Nicole is a MA candidate at American University’s School of International Service, focusing on Comparative and Regional Studies of Europe and International Organizations. She graduated from Assumption College in Worcester, MA in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in Political Science. Her areas of interest include gender equality, poverty reduction, and sustainable development. She recently returned from a research trip in Athens, Greece to study the effects the economic crisis has had on Greek society. Her previous internship was with the United Nations Information Center. Through this opportunity with The Hunger Project, Nicole hopes to learn more about community-led development and female empowerment when addressing extreme poverty.
20160201_113156Rayricus Matthews (’16, MA), Global Community Development Intern. Rayricus is pursuing his M.A. in Sustainable Development: International Policy & Management at the SIT Graduate Institute. His areas of interest are climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, urban agro-ecological community development, and policy advocacy to increase the capacity of local people to be engaged in these matters. Rayricus recently completed a field course in Amman, Jordan studying the local, regional, and global influences on  leading and managing social sector organizations and has further developed his passion for community-led development. He received his B.S. in Agriculture in 2014 from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville studying Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications.  His past engagements include serving with AmeriCorps in the National Park Service’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a GIS specialist, as well as, interning with the United States Department of Agriculture People’s Garden Initiative as an Urban Gardening and Community Development Intern.
Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 1.31.30 PMZyra Quirante (’15, BA), Global Community Development Intern. Zyra is originally from the Philippines. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations from Georgetown College. Her areas of interest include international human rights and women’s empowerment. She has experience working with local government in the Philippines for conflict resolution. Zyra is passionate about social justice and human rights, and has a strong interest in building her career in the nonprofit sector. The Hunger Project serves as an opportunity to grow through affecting positive change and  improve specific skills in research, analysis and writing.
10991159_10206120063463120_6761774433073180663_n.jpg-oh=1175c28522421dd27444c48f6edd1969&oe=560D1087Harriet O’Sullivan (’16, BA), International Affairs Intern. Harriet is a BA candidate for both Political Science and Management Consulting in the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Her areas of interest include international policy, democratization and gender equality. She studied abroad in her hometown of London, England in the fall of 2014 and interned with a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, where she focused on responding to the various needs and local issues of her MP’s constituents. Previous internships include the National Institutes of Health located in Bethesda, MD and the U.S. Department of State. To Harriet, the Hunger Project represents the opportunity to combine her professional management skills, passion for international affairs and development, and belief that all mankind has the right to dignity and self-reliance, to enact effective global change.
IMG_1920 (1)Elisa Wilkinson (’16, MA), Advocacy Intern. Elisa is a MA candidate in Global Environmental Policy at American University’s School for International Service. Her areas of interest include food security, rural livelihoods, gender-based development approaches, and participation. Elisa recently returned from a study abroad opportunity in Rosario da Limeira, Minas Gerias, Brazil where she researched the potential for participatory environmental decision-making in the community in light of potential mining operations. This work focused heavily on the participation and empowerment of women. In addition to her field work in Brazil, she completed a course on Rural Livelihoods and Food Systems through American University this summer. Past internships include a position as a Senior Research Assistant at the Women and the Environment Organization run by former Iraqi Minister for the Environment, Dr. Mishkat Al-Moumin. To Elisa, the Hunger Project represents an opportunity to further empower local communities, particularly women within those communities, to combat global problems like hunger.
Robel M. Tamirat (’15, MA), Robel is a MA candidate for Sustainable International Development in The Heller School For Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He earned his BA in Law from Hawassa University in Ethiopia. Before joining The Heller School, Robel worked as a Program Assistant for various grassroots projects in Ethiopia, where he spearheaded project management, M&E and reporting. Robel specializes in policy analysis, development management, and monitoring and evaluation. His areas of focus include local governance, food security, nutrition and bottom-up initiatives.
Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 1.42.43 PMJustice Shorter (’15, MA), International Affairs Intern. Justice is pursuing her MA in Sustainable Development: International Policy & Management at the SIT Graduate Institute. Her areas of specialization are policy advocacy, strategic communication and inclusivity in development. She studied Community Development and Social Entrepreneurship in South Africa at the University of Cape Town as well as Peace and Post-Conflict Reconciliation in Uganda & Rwanda. She graduated  from Marquette University in 2012 where she earned a BA in Journalism with minors in Entrepreneurship and Justice & Peace Studies.  Justice aspires to one day launch her own Policy Advocacy Communications firm designed to strengthen ‘people-centered’ advocacy efforts for marginalized populations.

IMG_0184Guy C. Kamdem (’15, MA), International Affairs Intern. Guy is a MA candidate for International Development at American University where he has also been working as a Research Assistant since August 2014. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Public Policy from the University of Baltimore and also has a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Political Science from the University of Dshang in Cameroon. Guy volunteered for three months at the CDVTA-Cameroon, a local non-profit based in the North-West region of Cameroon working to improve the living conditions of elders in remote villages. Guy’s development areas of interest are democracy and good governance, agriculture and food security, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.

Shanna Cole (’15, BA), International Affairs Intern. Shanna is a BA candidate in International Affairs at the Elliott School of George Washington University, with a concentration in International Politics and a minor in Women’s Studies. Her areas of interest include sustainable development policy, the intersection of politics and culture, post-conflict democratization, and gender equality. Shanna studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa in the spring of 2014, where she completed courses on issues of multiculturalism and human rights, and conducted an independent study project – through field research – on women’s economic empowerment in Cape Town. Previous internships include Women’s Foreign Policy Group, an educational membership organization that promotes women’s leadership and participation in international affairs, and the office of US Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01).

EmmaBradfordEmma Bradford (’15, BS), International Affairs Intern. Emma is a BS candidate in Public Health with a minor in Women’s Studies in the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Her areas of interest include global public health, disaster response and gender issues in development. Emma studied abroad in Cusco, Peru in the spring of 2014, where she was enrolled in a program focused on indigenous peoples and globalization. Part of her time was spent completing independent research on occupational health and porter workers’ rights in Peru. Emma’s previous internships include InterAction, The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, and the Colonial Inauguration program at George Washington University.

linefotoKaroline Kraft holds a BA in politics and economics and is currently doing her masters in “International Politics and Peace and Conflict Studies” at the University of Tuebingen in Germany. She focuses and researches on the topics of landgrabbing, food security, human rights and corporate social responsibility. Originally from Germany, she gained experience with different NGOs, and is committed to the work of anti-racism and work against right-wing extremism. She is involved in the initiative “Studies without Borders,” which aims to qualify young people from crisis regions to make their own contribution to the reconstruction of their home country. Before she entered university, she did a voluntary social year in Poland, where she was working at a concentration camp memorial and with survivors of the Holocaust. She went back to Poland for a semester abroad.

photoSamirah Majumdar, Project Manager, received her MA in International Law and Global Security from Georgetown University. She holds a BA in Political Economy from Barnard College, where she focused on economic development and human rights. Previously, she did research work on urban poverty at the BRAC Development Institute in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She has also researched and analyzed the impact of migrant worker’s remittances on Bangladesh’s economic development. Having spent her formative years in Bangladesh, Samirah became very interested in bottom-up grassroots level initiatives that contribute to sustainable peace, security and development. She has explored several human rights and security issues in various capacities at the Pew Research Center, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and Physicians for Human Rights.


Clara Knutson received her BA in Government and Middle East Studies from Dartmouth College. She is currently a masters student at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), concentrating in conflict management and economics. Previously she worked for Forbes Insights, the thought leadership division of Forbes, where she researched subjects related to global business including philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. She is also interested in human rights and international development.

Mai OtakeMai Otake served as project manager from Fall 2013 to Spring 2014. She focuses on international development, especially hunger and famine issues. She worked as a Local Community Coordinator for the Japan Overseas Cooperative Volunteers (JOCV) in Benin, a project of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In this role she helped establish an association that united over 40 community women’s groups, worked with various community projects to support the blind, and worked on micro-credit programs. Mai received her master’s degree in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University and holds a Bachelor of Economics from Waseda University in Japan.

photoNan Huang earned her graduate degree from The George Washington University  in Statistics. She worked as a data analyst at Southwest Securities in China and prepared various pitching materials and  bond comments of inter-bank analysis. In 2008, she was lucky enough to get through the fierce competition to become a professional Olympic volunteer at the national stadium in Beijing Summer Olympic Games. Originally from China, she earned her Bachelor degree of Science in Capital University of Economics and Business (CUEB) and her interests of human rights and woman inequality brought her to The Hunger Project in 2013.

image TameneTamene Adugna

Tamene is  a graduate of  SIT Graduate Institute in masters of sustainable development, focusing on international policy and management. He interned at the Hunger Project Washington DC office, during his last year of graduate program. His areas of interest are food security, poverty alleviation, agricultural development, program planning and management, women empowerment, social entrepreneurship, advocacy, economic research and policy analysis. He is a graduate of University of Maryland College Park, Montgomery College and Jimma University. He has fluency in four languages and enjoys playing soccer. Outside school, he  works on a website that engages diaspora Africans in agricultural development through investment clubs.

Photo on 2014-01-12 at 18.46 #2

Anna Moriarty earned her MA from American University in “Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs” with a focus on conflict resolution, intercultural/interfaith dialogue and women’s empowerment. Her studies inspired an interest in working with grassroots gender-oriented development initiatives and inter-sectarian community building. Anna’s previous internship experiences in DC include the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, the International Peace & Security Institute and Search for Common Ground. She received her BA in Religious Studies from the University of Redlands, and studied abroad in Granada, Spain in 2008.

Stephanie_CappaStephanie Cappa (’14, MPP)

Stephanie earned her  graduate degree in Public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She has worked in Washington D.C. first as a foreign policy staffer for Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and then led international development advocacy for InterAction, the largest coalition of U.S. international relief and development nonprofits. As a leader of the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition, she believes that private sector accountability and locally-led development are critical to addressing global poverty and environmental degradation. Originally from Virginia, Stephanie has a B.A. in both Public Policy and Environmental Science and Policy from the College of William and Mary.

Claire Robertson SquareClaire Robertson

Claire received her master’s degree in Democracy and Governance from Georgetown University. She is interested in anti-corruption and governance as well as grassroots civil society development. Previously, Claire was a graduate intern at Democracy International supporting their work in the field of international democracy and governance assistance. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine from 2008-2010 teaching English and designing and implementing youth focused civic engagement programs. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations.

Danielle SmithDanielle Smith

Danielle graduated from The University of Vermont, in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environmental Policy and Development.

In Vermont, she was a leader in the campus FeelGood chapter, raising money for The Hunger Project and awareness around global hunger through the sales of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.Danielle  spent a semester abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico studying Spanish and creating an independent study around waste management. She also studied sustainable development and social change in Jaipur, India, with a culminating month-long research project on a government food distribution program in the northeast region of Sikkim.

Leanna BeaberLeanna Beaber

Leanna served as the original project manager for this initiative. She is originally from California and studied intercultural relations and anthropology at Stanford (BA, MA) and law at New York University (JD). She focused on Chinese development and investments and worked as a corporate and governance attorney from 2007 through 2012. Leanna first joined THP as a volunteer in 2012, when it opened its Washington, DC office.

Elisabeth Epstein

Elisabeth Epstein

Elisabeth served as project manager during the Spring of 2013 and increased the project’s social media presence.

Originally from Illinois, Elisabeth earned her BA in International Affairs and Psychology from Indiana University and her MA from The New School in New York City.  In between her schooling, she taught English in China to kindergartners while developing her Mandarin language skills. She has a strong concentration on global health and has traveled the world gaining first-hand experience with such issues. Elisabeth first joined THP as an intern in 2011 in New York City and hasn’t looked back!

Luke FullerLuke Fuller
Luke’s academic concentration is in local governance, municipal development and bottom-up capacity building. He graduated with honors from Santa Clara University in 2009 in Political Science and Philosophy.

Luke began his career working as a member of the Santa Clara Community Action Program, a network of non-profit and community based organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, has worked with both the County of Santa Clara and the City and County of San Francisco’s Risk Management Division, and most recently supported community resiliency and municipal development initiatives in global programming at CHF International.

Sam KendallSam Kendall
Sam’s focus area includes conflict sensitive development, specifically in regards to democracy and governance and resource allocation programming. He graduated from Boston University in 2006 in International Relations.

Sam’s interest in conflict-sensitive programming was cultivated as a Peace Corps volunteer in Crimea, Ukraine, where he worked with the UNDP office in Crimea on de-escalation projects with both ethnic Russian and Crimean Tatar groups. This interest was solidified in 2010, when he worked in Tajikistan on a variety of microfinance projects for Kiva Micro Funds, researching the potential pitfalls of foreign assistance in exacerbating conflicts.

Ausaf QarniSuffi Qarni
Suffi concentrates on Democracy and Governance with a specific focus on civil society and election management. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2010 in Government and Politics and Secondary Education.

Suffi previously interned at the Office of Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger, worked as a canvasser for the Public Interest Research Group, and taught World History and Government as a Prince George’s County Teaching Fellow. He joined the AFL-CIO as a research assistant compiling data for the Job Tracker tool and research for the AFL-CIO’s Outsourced Report, and currently holds the position of Assistant to the Director there, where he helps plan, coordinate, and conduct research on national issue campaigns.

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