Steering Committee

The Steering Committee provides guidance on the TWP CoP strategic and partnership approach. The Steering Committee consists of leading experts from the research, policy and practitioner communities with an established track record of innovation in politically informed programming, influencing policy and producing evidence. Two co-chairs, elected by the members of the Steering Committee, will lead the Steering Committee. The current list of Steering Committee members can be found below. 

Members of the Steering Committee participate in a personal capacity and the outputs of the group represent the evolving thinking of individuals rather than organisational agreements. Personal contributions to this site represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of others, nor of any organisations.

Saku Akmeemana

Senior Governance Specialist, World Bank

Bio coming soon.

Dr. Bruce Byiers

Head of African Institutions and Regional Dynamics Programme at ECDPM

Dr. Bruce Byiers is a development economist with a DPhil from the University of Sussex. While past work has focused a lot on strategies and policies for private sector development and engagement, his interests and responsibilities increasingly revolve around regional integration processes in Africa, particularly from a political economy perspective. This includes looking at regional organisations, but also at regional economic integration dynamics. Bruce has carried out policy research for ECDPM in many countries in Eastern, Western and Southern Africa. Prior to ECDPM, Bruce worked as a consultant for UNIDO, USAID, World Bank and DANIDA, among others. The focus of his work was mainly on industrial policy, private sector development and tax policy, particularly in Mozambique, Rwanda and Lesotho.

Duncan Green

Senior Strategic Advisor at Oxfam GB and Professor in Practice in International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

He is author of How Change Happens (OUP, October 2016) and From Poverty to Power: How Active Citizens and Effective States can Change the World (Oxfam International, 2008, second edition 2012) as well as several books on Latin America. His daily development blog can be found on He can be contacted on or on twitter at @fp2p.

Prof. David Hudson

Professor of Politics and Development at the University of Birmingham

David is also Director of the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) and Co-Director of the Development Engagement Lab (DEL). He has written widely on the politics of development, in particular on the role of coalitions, leadership and power in reform processes and how development actors can think and work politically; migration decision-making processes; and how people in rich countries engage with global development issues.

Debra Ladner

Debra is a lawyer and international development professional with over fifteen years of experience designing, managing, and evaluating programs across Asia. She currently works as a Senior Operations Specialist at the World Bank with a focus on results monitoring. Previously she served as the Program Lead for the Global Delivery Initiative, a knowledge partnership focused on capturing and sharing delivery experiences for more effective implementation. Prior to joining the World Bank, Debra was the Senior Director of the Asia Foundation’s Evaluation and Learning Unit. While there, she led the Asia Foundation’s efforts to become a more effective learning organization, better able to understand and assess its results, and to utilize this knowledge to improve the quality and impact of programs. She also collaborated with academics and social scientists on designing empirical research to strengthen the links between development theory and practice.

Prior to joining the Asia Foundation, Ms. Ladner served as a Fellow in the office of the late Senator Wellstone, where she worked on human rights and foreign relations.  She holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a Bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College.

Prof. Heather Marquette

Professor of Development Politics at the University of Birmingham, Senior Research Fellow (Governance and Conflict) at FCDO

Heather is Professor in Development Politics in the International Development Department, University of Birmingham, where she leads a new research workstream on ‘Corruption & Organised Crime’ as part of the Institute for Global Innovation‘s 21st Century Transnational Crime research cluster. Her research interests are broadly in the politics of development, as well as corruption,  governance, crime and aid policy. She is seconded part-time to FCDO as a Senior Research Fellow (Governance & Conflict), working with the Governance, Conflict & Social Development Research & Evidence Division team. She is also a member of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime‘s expert network and a founding steering committee member of the global TWP Community of Practice.

Dr Neil McCulloch

Executive Director at The Policy Practice

Neil is a development economist with expertise in political economy analysis and the design and implementation of politically smart aid programmes. He was the Project Director of the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency (FOSTER) in Nigeria – a project that aims to “think and work politically” to achieve fundamental reform in the oil sector. He has also done extensive work on the political economy of fuel subsidies, both in Indonesia and Nigeria, and the political economy of aid for power sector reform in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Previously, Dr. McCulloch was the Director of the Economic Policy Programme at Oxford Policy Management and, before that, the Lead Economist of the Australian Aid program in Indonesia. He has also led the Globalisation Research Team in the Institute of Development Studies in the UK and was a Senior Economist for the World Bank in Indonesia.

Alina Rocha Menocal (Co-Chair)

Director of the Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice (TWP CoP) and Principal at The Policy Practice

Alina Rocha Menocal is the Director of the Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice (TWP CoP), hosted at the University of Birmingham, and Principal at The Policy Practice. From 2016 to 2020, she was Senior Democracy Fellow in Applied Political Economy Analysis (PEA) at USAID. Until June 2022, she was a Principal Research Fellow at the global affairs think tank ODI, which she joined in 2005 and where she remains a Senior Research Associate. She was also one of the founding members of the TWP CoP in 2013.

Originally from Mexico, Alina is a well-regarded and internationally recognised expert on politics and governance with two decades of experience in conducting high quality and impactful policy-relevant research. Over the course of her career, Alina has worked to bridge the gap between research and policy in thinking about governance and the politics of change, as well as to inform more effective engagement and ways of working among international actors. Her areas of expertise include democracy/ democratisation and the challenges of multiple dimensions of institutional transformation; political settlements and inclusion; fragility, state- and peace-building and (post-)conflict trajectories; women’s empowerment; citizen voice and accountability; and corruption and anti-corruption efforts.  Alina has published extensively on all these issues and she holds a BA from Yale University in political science, and a MIA on Economic and Political Development and a MPhil in Political Science/Comparative Politics from Columbia University.

Dr Nicola Nixon

Senior Director of Governance at The Asia Foundation

Dr. Nicola Nixon joined The Asia Foundation as director of Governance in October 2018. She has over 20 years’ experience in international development and academia, in governance, poverty reduction, social development and gender. She has worked with Australian DFAT, UNDP, and a range of INGOs, multilateral and bilateral agencies in diverse environments and across multiple countries, including the UK, Australia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indonesia and Vietnam. As Senior Director, she leads the Foundation’s governance programs across 18 countries.

Laure-Hélène Piron

Executive Director at The Policy Practice

Laure-Hélène Piron is a Director of The Policy Practice with over 20 years of experience in development policy and management with expertise in political economy analysis, democratic governance, rule of law, human rights, conflict and fragility and institutional development. She is currently team leader for the UK Independent Commission on Aid Impact’s review of the UK’s approach to democracy and human rights. Laure-Hélène has worked for the UK Department for International Development as a senior governance adviser and team leader both in London and Afghanistan. She was a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute. She has a track record in policy and strategy development, as well as in the design, review and evaluation of programmes. She has managed numerous multi-national and multi-disciplinary teams and has undertaken assignments for bilateral and multilateral agencies as well as international NGOs in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. She has degrees in politics, philosophy and human rights from Oxford University and Columbia University.

Graham Teskey (Co-Chair)

Principal Global Lead for Governance, Abt Associates, Australia, and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee

Graham began his career as a VSO economist in the Central Planning Office in Suva, Fiji. This was followed by three years as a TCO in the National Planning and Statistics Office in Vanuatu; two years in Tanzania with NORAD (the Norwegain development agency), and a lectureship teaching development studies at the University of Bradford. Graham joined what was then ODA in 1993 and (happily) returned to Suva as Head of the UK’s Pacific Regional Advisory Group. In 1996 he moved (reluctantly) to London and helped establish DFID’s Governance and Institutions Department. Following three years in Nairobi and Kampala, Graham returned to DFID HQ as Head of Africa Policy Department and then Head of Governance and Social Development. In 2009 Graham moved to the World Bank where he was Senior Adviser and Head of the Governance and Anti-Corruption Secretariat. In 2012 Graham moved to Canberra as the Principal Governance Specialist for the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs. Graham joined Abt Associates in 2015.

Kate Whyte

Head of Governance Profession, UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

Kate is a well seasoned fellow TWP traveller, and she knows and has worked closely with several members of the TWP community over the course of her 17+ year career as a governance adviser both at DFID and FCO, and at FCDO of course. Kate has also worked for the BBC (Moscow) and the EU (Georgia) and as a consultant on public sector reform and local governance (including for PwC) before joining HMG. Her geographic focus has largely been on Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Russia (including long stints in Georgia and Russia) but she has also worked on Fragile States policy, as well as spent time working in Nepal and briefly on West Africa as a regional conflict adviser. Kate has recently been on surge to help with the UK response to Russia and Ukraine, but she is now back to her “day job”.

Lisa Williams

Team Lead and Senior Policy Analyst, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, OECD

Lisa leads the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Team in the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate and as senior analyst provides the strategic direction for the promotion of gender equality in development assistance. The team explores ways to break down barriers to women’s economic and political empowerment, end violence against women and girls, and better track aid investments in its support for the DAC Policy Network on Gender Equality of the 30 bilateral donors in OECD Development Assistance Committee. A new policy paper on Recovery, Response and Prevention of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Women and Girls on the Frontlines is already informing forward plans, and in 2019 the team designed and brokered the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance, the first international instrument of its kind. In the OECD she has lead on new policy frontiers through collective action, strategic negotiations, peer learning and research programmes with members working in knowledge networks on development and humanitarian assistance.

We would also like to acknowledge Taylor Brown (palladium) who was an active member of the TWP CoP Steering Committee. Taylor sadly passed away in June 2020, and you can read our tribute to Taylor, his family and his commitment to the Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice here.