Advisory Council

J Brian Atwood

Brian Atwood is a Senior Fellow for International Studies and Public Affairs at Brown University’s Thomas Watson Institute for International Studies, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Atwood was the first President of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (1986 to 1993) and led the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Administration of President Bill Clinton.

Brian led the Clinton-Gore transition team at the State Department in 1992, and was Under Secretary of State for Management prior to his appointment as head of USAID. He received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award in 1999. During the Carter Administration he was Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations. In 2001, Atwood served on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Panel on Peace Operations. He was legislative advisor for foreign and defense policy to Senator Thomas F. Eagleton (D–Mo) (1972 to 1977).  He was a career diplomat before joining Senator Eagleton and later became Dean of Professional Studies and Academic Affairs at the Foreign Service Institute (1981-82). He is currently Chair of the Population Services International board, Vice Chair of the AFS Intercultural Programs board and a member of the board of the National Democratic Institute and of the Watson Institute Board of Overseers.

He served as Chair of Global Policy Studies and Professor of Public Policy at the Humphrey School from 2012 to 2015. He was dean of the Humphrey School from 2002 to 2010, and was elected President of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs in 2009. He was also the Chair of the University of Minnesota’s Deans’ council and a recipient of the University’s Distinguished Service Award. From 2010 to 2012, Atwood was the member-elected Chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Maura Brueger

Maura Brueger is a senior executive with nearly 30 years of experience in government relations, community affairs and political organizing and campaigns in the United States and internationally. In her current position as the Director of Government and Legislative Affairs at Seattle City Light, she manages federal, state and regional relations as well as Seattle City Council relations for the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. Other experience includes directing the Deputy Secretary’s Office at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development from 2009-2010, and 12 years as senior staff to King County Executive Ron Sims in Seattle, WA, where she managed government and community relations for the nation’s 13th most populous county which also administers elections for over 1 million votes. Prior to her government career, Maura worked in international political development for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; in candidate recruitment and assistance for EMILY’s List and the Women’s Campaign Fund; and as staff on several political campaigns. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science.

Jeff Fischer

Mr. Fischer has held three election directorships in internationally supervised elections where electoral security was one of his responsibilities.  In 1996, he was appointed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to serve as Director General of Elections for the first post-conflict elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1999, Mr. Fischer was appointed by the United Nations (UN) as Chief Electoral Officer for the Popular Consultation for East Timor.  And, in 2000, Mr. Fischer received a joint appointment from the UN and OSCE to head the Joint Registration Taskforce in Kosovo and served as the OSCE’s Director of Election Operations for municipal elections held that year.   He has also served as an election official in the United States as a Commissioner with the Kansas City Board of Elections (1985 – 1990) and a Commissioner on the Missouri Political Finance Review Commission (1991 – 1992).

Mr. Fischer also served as a Senior Advisor to the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan and the UN for its audit of the 2014 presidential election results; and as a member of the Experts Verification Commission of the Organization of Americans States (OAS), auditing the results of the 2010 presidential election in Haiti.

Mr. Fischer has also served in various capacities with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems including as its first Executive Vice President (1993 – 2006); and as an expert consultant with such international organizations and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International IDEA, and the OAS.

He is a Senior Advisor to the Sant ’Anna School of Advanced Studies and its on-line Master in Electoral Policy and Administration (MEPA).  For MEPA, Mr. Fischer developed the courses on Elections and Voting as Instruments of Governance and Electoral Security and Conflict Prevention.  He also serves as a dissertation supervisor for the students.   Fischer teaches graduate-level courses in the Democracy and Governance Studies Program at Georgetown University on International Electoral Policy and Practice and a course on Electoral Integrity – Managing Digital Disruption, Violence, and Malpractice. Mr. Fischer has also established Electoral Policy Study Groups in cooperation with USAID where Georgetown students research policy issues for USAID.   Mr. Fischer has been a Visiting Lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, teaching a Policy Workshop on Managing Elections in Fragile States (2007 – 2010, 2014, 2016, 2019) and Elections and Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa (2012).

Jim Jonas

Jim Jonas is a veteran public affairs, corporate, and political communications consultant and a nonpartisan electoral reform leader. He serves as the Executive Director of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers in addition to his consulting work with his company, Centennial Strategies. He was a co-founder of Unity ’08, a consultant to Americans Elect, and has helped launch and manage a wide range of groundbreaking electoral reform projects, independent candidate campaigns and public engagement organizations.

Jim held senior positions at the campaigns of Greg Orman (I) for US Senate 2014; Lamar Alexander (R) for President 1996; Bush/Quayle Re-elect 1992; Rep. Cass Ballenger (R) for Congress 1990; and with Ailes Communications where he wrote, directed and produced multimedia political campaigns for a variety of national candidates and committees. Jim served on overseas democracy support delegations in Africa and Asia with the International Republican Institute.

He’s a graduate of Guilford College and the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University. Jim has won numerous recognitions including several Pollies, a Reed, an International IABC Gold Quill and was named a “Rising Star” by Campaigns & Elections magazine. He and his family live in Denver, CO.

Patricia Keefer

A professional and personal dedication to inclusive political participation has been the primary focus of Pat’s attention since she organized and managed the grassroots campaign to lower the voting age to 18 in the United States, the result of which was the 26th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. She followed as the director of field organizing and state initiatives for Common Cause, a position that took her to all 50 state capitals working with citizen activists to create legal frameworks for open and accountable political processes and state governance. Pat took her experience in the US into the international arena with NDI as part of the original team of seven. She brought her network of political consultants and elected leaders into the NDI family, creating a skills-based resource of knowledge and experience empowering democratic activists around the world. She currently serves as the director of international affairs for the American Federation of Teachers.

Scott O. Konopasek

Scott O. Konopasek was the principal election administrator in six counties in California, Washington, Utah, and Virginia from 1995-2022.  He has consulted on election issues with advocacy groups, non-profits and state and local elections offices and is frequently quoted on security issues in local and national media.  Currently he consults with the Carter Center Democracy Program and Conflict Resolution team as an election expert.

Scott has served on election task forces and working groups at the state and national level and has earned state and national certifications, awards, and recognition for innovation, project management, and leadership. He is a lifetime member of the Election Center.

He resides in Richmond VA and serves on the Boards of Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center, Central Virginia Woodworker Guild and the RVA Urban Wood Foundation and works closely with Veterans for All Voters.

Scott has degrees in French Literature and International Relations and an MA in Political Science.  He is a former US Army Intelligence Officer and Military Attache with service in several overseas theaters.

Scott Lansell

Scott Lansell is Director of Business Development at GeoPoll, a research services firm offering real-time mobile-based survey data collection across the developing world. Scott leads the firm’s international business development and social sector management teams, with a focus on expanding the firm’s engagement with bi-lateral and multilateral aid organizations including USAID, DfID, World Bank, the United Nations, and dozens of NGOs, universities, and foundations. Prior to joining GeoPoll, Scott managed the civil society & governance and donor diversification portfolios at World Learning, and led the program management teams at the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES). He developed and managed IFES’ foray into supporting jurisdictions across the US as they addressed challenges after the 2000 elections. He began his development assistance career at USAID focusing on Central and Eastern Europe and supporting democracy and governance program implementation. Scott has a MBA from George Mason University and a BA from Miami University (OH).

Rick LaRue

Rick LaRue is a freelance writer on the Constitution and elections, focusing on electoral structure (term lengths, term limits, the Electoral College, and voting). His work has appeared in the Election Law Journal, The Fulcrum (where he became a Contributor in 2023), Constitutional Conversations, and the Washington Post. His most recent ELJ article, "We Love the Bill of Rights. Can We Like a Bill of Structures?" presents a set of amendments to fix erosion of our electoral structure, which he discussed with Rep. Jamie Raskin in their 2023 Constitution Day Conversation. For the Constitution's 250th anniversary in 2037, they agreed on celebrating the document by repairing it.

Before shifting to writing, LaRue had a 40-year career as a non-profit executive in Washington, DC, with such organizations as the Center for Responsive Politics (now OpenSecrets), the American Society of International Law, and the Eisenhower Institute. His contributions included development (e.g., raising $30 million), communications (authoring or editing annual reports, newsletters and publications), and general as well as project management. He earned an MBA from the University of Maryland and a BA with special honors from George Washington University, where he majored in political science and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

David Levine

David Levine is the Elections Integrity Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy. David previously served in a range of positions administering and observing elections, and advocating for election reform. As the Ada County, Idaho Elections Director, he managed the administration of all federal, state county and local district elections in Boise and its environs. As Election Management Advisor for the Washington, DC Board of Elections, he supported the Executive Director and the Board in highly complex matters relating to elections operations, data management, voter registration and outreach, and advised others concerning legislation, statutes and regulations impacting election programs. He also served as the Deputy Director of Elections for the City of Richmond, Virginia. Before he actually administered elections, David worked with advocacy groups to improve the election process. He has also observed elections overseas in a number of countries for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Haverford College and a law degree from Case Western Reserve University.

Lisa McLean

Lisa McLean currently serves as the Executive Director of the independent, bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission. She previously served as state’s coordinator of its 2020 Census outreach effort, working with nonprofit, philanthropic, and appointed and elected leaders across the state to educate and build awareness about the 2020 Census–and ultimately encourage confidence, trust and participation in the process. As a result of her efforts, Washington state had the second highest self-response rate in the nation.

Prior to her work in Washington state, Lisa worked for more than 25 years at the National Democratic Institute helping to build democratic institutions and processes in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. She has written and contributed to numerous reports on election and legislative processes throughout the Balkans and has led several, large-scale public opinion research projects in Albania, Iraq, Kenya, and Montenegro. She has an MA from John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a BA from Boston College.

Thomas Melia

Thomas O. Melia is Washington Director at PEN America, an organization standing at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. Prior to joining PEN America, he served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and as Assistant Administrator in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) until January 2017. Melia has also served as Deputy Executive Director of Freedom House, Vice President for Programs at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Associate Director of the Solidarity Center, and executive director of Democracy International.

Melia is a contributing editor for The American Interest, a member of the board of directors of the Free Russia Foundation and the Center for Civic Education, as well as chair of the board of the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).  In 2017-2018, Melia was a nonresident Fellow at the George W. Bush Institute, helping to lead a bipartisan initiative to reinvigorate American leadership in defense of human rights and democracy at home and abroad. He has taught at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Service, Georgetown University, and his alma mater, The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

Patrick Merloe

Patrick Merloe is dedicated to human dignity and electoral integrity in the United States and around the globe. He has over 40 years of experience in promoting citizen empowerment, governmental accountability, and electoral rights and responsibilities. As Senior Associate and Director of Electoral Programs at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) he engaged on the ground with citizen activists and political leaders in more than 65 countries and played a leading role in developing the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and its implementation process as well as facilitating the creation of the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors and its corresponding principles declaration, which is endorsed by 299 citizen groups and coalitions in 97 countries and territories.

Pat has taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania, University of San Francisco, and the University of the District of Columbia law schools and has authored more than a dozen publications on elections, human rights, and international law. He served as a Citizen Member of the official US Delegation to the OSCE’s Human Dimension Meeting, and as expert panelist for the European External Action Service and European Parliament, United Nations Development Program, UN Electoral Assistance Division and numerous other institutions. Pat co-chaired the Bar Association of San Francisco’s International Human Rights Committee and played leadership roles in several domestic civil and human rights efforts. He is an active member of the Kofi Annan Foundation’s Electoral Integrity Initiative.

James Tierney

James Tierney is a Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School.

Mr. Tierney served as the Attorney General of Maine from 1980 until 1990. During those years, Mr. Tierney played an active role in the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and served on its various committees. Since 1990 he has instructed newly elected state Attorneys General on the effective performance of their office and consulted for numerous offices of attorneys general on a host of structural, legal and ethical issues. Mr. Tierney has served as a Special Prosecutor in Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Vermont and, on behalf of NAAG, has authored an analysis of the operations of state grand jury practice.

Since 2010, Mr. Tierney has taught courses on the role of state attorneys general and has directed the attorney general clinic. He taught a similar course at Columbia Law School from 2000 until 2016, where he was the Director of the National State Attorney General Program, and was a Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School in the Spring of 2018. He is currently the director of, which is an educational resource on the office of state attorney general. He travels regularly to visit in offices of attorney general where he conducts ethics seminars for attorneys general and their staffs. He received his J.D. from University of Maine, Portland, and his B.A., highest honors, from the University of Maine, Orono.

Chris Vance

Chris Vance has been a Washington State leader in politics and public policy for over 25 years.

Vance spent two terms in the Washington State House of Representatives before becoming the youngest person ever elected to the King County Council. After eight years on the Council he was elected Chairman of the Washington State Republican Party.

Since leaving the chairmanship in 2006, Vance has worked as a public affairs consultant, served as a senior advisor to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and now serves as the Communications and External Affairs Manager in the King County Assessor’s office. Vance also teaches part time as an adjunct professor at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance teaching graduate level public affairs. He is a frequent political commentator in Seattle media outlets. Seattle Magazine has twice named Vance to its list of Seattle Most Influential People.

In 2016 Vance was the Republican nominee for the US Senate, then left the GOP in 2017. He is now an independent actively trying to build a centrist/reformist alternative to our current two-party system.

Chris Vance and his wife, Annmarie, have two grown children. The Vances live in Sumner, Washington.

Anna Wang

Anna Wang is a strategic philanthropy, advocacy, and impact professional with more than 25 years of experience in the non-profit, foundation, and social venture sector. While she has worn many hats, she will always say that the height of her career was her first job working on South Africa’s first multi-party election in Johannesburg with the National Democratic Institute. Her first exposures to elections were working with the Human Rights Campaign during the mid-term elections in 1990 and on the polling team with President Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign.

Anna now works with individuals and family offices that are advancing an impact agenda in social justice, sustainable development, and climate resilience, helping them develop and implement their purpose-driven portfolios. Anna is also a global health advocacy expert, having worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Medicines for Malaria Venture, and Atomo Diagnostics. She is currently leading the impact agenda at Gore Street Capital, a renewable energy private equity firm based in London and supporting Canary, a start-up developing a novel technology to detect early stage cancer.

Anna is the founder of a non-profit photography collective, Photographers for Hope, which aims to use the power of images to support positive social change. Anna is also on the board of International Bridges to Justice, an organization dedicated to providing access to justice for the most vulnerable populations in developing countries.