In order to improve our understanding of the issues facing democracies and elections around the world, Democracy Volunteers is grateful to be advised by experienced experts in election observation, development, political participation and media representation.
Lesley Abdela MBE
Lesley has worked on women’s political empowerment and participation in elections in over 50 countries in the Balkans, Middle East and North Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia. As a journalist, Lesley’s articles have been published in: The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Economist, the Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs (Chatham House) journal The World Today and The Washington Post. She was Political Editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine.
She won the ‘1996 Woman of Europe Award’ for work as CEO of EU funded NGO Project Parity, working on women’s participation in democratic elections in the transition period in East and Central Europe. In the UK she founded and ran the all-party 300 GROUP campaign to get more women elected.
Lesley is also Senior Partner in Shevolution Consultancy; Associate Consultant, Nordic Consulting Group Sweden – Member of the SIDA Gender Experts Help Desk providing guidance to Swedish Embassies globally to ensure gender equality is integrated into development cooperation projects. One main theme is strengthening women’s participation in politics.
Elizabeth Blunt MBE
Elizabeth is a journalist and broadcaster. She joined the BBC in 1968 as a studio technician, and retired in 2009, having been one of the Corporation’s first female Foreign Correspondents, and having been awarded the MBE for her coverage of the conflict in Liberia.
She reported on numerous elections during her time in West Africa, and after she retired, she turned election observer. She took part in several European Union observer missions in various parts of Africa and was the media expert in the Commonwealth Observer Group in Nigeria in 2015. She has observed with Democracy Volunteers in Britain as well as in Finland and the United States, observing on election day, and contributing to the media analysis in the organisation’s final reports.
Lloyd works for Canadian federal and provincial electoral management bodies and is the Chair of ISCA-AIDC, a Canadian NGO which works in development and election observation. Lloyd has over 20 years of experience working in development with a particular focus on programmes in Haiti.
He has worked through CANADEM, UN Peacekeeping Missions, the Organization of American States, the OSCE and the European Union. He has worked in numerous countries, including Afghanistan, East Timor, Egypt, Haiti, Kenya, Libya, South Sudan, Sudan and Ukraine.
Ashley has been observing elections with Democracy Volunteers since 2016. He is now part of the Europe & Central Asia Regional team at The Westminster Foundation for Democracy, where he has a leading role in deploying UK Long-Term Observers and Short-Term Observers on behalf of the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office to OSCE/ODIHR election observation missions across the OSCE’s 57 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America.
He has a bachelors in Politics and International Relations, and a Masters in Strategic Communication, which culminated with a thesis assessing the digitalisation of election campaigns and its impact on democracy and election integrity.
Jim was the Political Editor for BBC North West from 1998-2006 and has interviewed every Prime Minister from Harold Wilson to Theresa May. Previously, he was Granada TV’s political correspondent from 1987-1994.
He has also worked as a lobby correspondent at Westminster. Jim occasionally broadcasts on national and regional BBC TV and local radio as well as being a media trainer and conference chair. He is a respected and well-known commentator on UK politics with an extensive knowledge of local and national election campaigns in the UK.
Jim joined the advisory panel when Democracy Volunteers was formed in 2016 and has conducted media training for the core team of the organisation.
Chris has several years’ experience working in a broad range of sectors, including with NGOs, OSCE Missions to Croatia and Serbia, the EU in Georgia, and over 30 EU, Democracy Volunteers, GONG and OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Missions (EOMs) as a Parliamentary Assembly Liaison Officer, Long-Term Observer Coordinator, Long and Short-Term Observer. Chris is a Project and Research Officer with the Council of Europe’s Division of Elections and Participatory Democracy in Strasbourg.
He was previously a Human Security Team Leader with the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia and a Political Officer with the OSCE Mission to Serbia and has volunteered with Democracy Volunteers since 2018.
Chris has postgraduate qualifications in International Election Observation & Electoral Assistance, Conflict & Development, an MA in Contemporary European Studies, a BA (Hons) in Social Policy and Administration. He is completing an MSc in Development Management writing a final project on blind and partially sighted voter accessibility.