The Foundation has a small team of permanent staff, led by the Chief Executive, Anthony Smith. Senior management and programme staff contribute a wide range of experience and expertise to the work of the organisation, including extensive knowledge of the geographical areas in which we work. Their work is facilitated by an experienced finance, communications and support team.

Management Team

Anthony Smith CMG

Chief Executive Officer

Anthony Smith joined WFD as CEO in August 2014. Anthony was previously a member of the Diplomatic Service and a Civil Servant. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1986, served in the Embassy in Madrid and worked on a range of European policy issues including the Balkans, trade policy and Common Foreign and Security Policy.  In 1996 he moved to the Department for International Development (DFID) where he worked on Environment Policy, Europe and Southern Africa, as well as being Private Secretary to Clare Short when she was Secretary of State for International Development.  Anthony returned to the FCO as Director for European Political Affairs from 2006-2008 before becoming International Relations Director at DFID from 2008-2014, responsible for DFID’s policy on EU development issues, DFID’s funding to the UN system and the Commonwealth, engagement with the G20 and G8, and relations with development partners.

Paul Naismith

Director of Finance and Company Secretary  

Paul Naismith joined WFD in January 2008. His main responsibility is the management and reporting of all funding received and its subsequent spend, as well as for the strict application of statutory controls. Paul also has responsibility for HR, IT, and facilities management. Prior to joining WFD, Paul was Director of Business Affairs at the Guardian Newspaper with special responsibility for developing a long term development model for the title. Before this, he was Finance Director, a role he held from 1990 to 2006. Paul is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and a Fellow of the RSA, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Devin O’Shaughnessy

Director of Programmes

Devin O’Shaughnessy is responsible for the strategic and operational management and the overall leadership of WFD programmes. Devin is also responsible for overseeing WFD’s business development, including seeking funding opportunities for new programmes, preparation of external bids, and creation of new partnerships.  His principal field of expertise is in democracy and governance, including:  supporting representative, executive, and political institutions; civil society strengthening; citizen participation; state building in fragile contexts; women’s political empowerment; electoral processes and observation; and qualitative research.

Devin has more than 15 years’ experience in the field of international development, with a specific focus on democracy assistance.  Before joining WFD, Devin worked for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for nearly six years, both abroad and in their headquarters.  His last position with NDI was as Country Director in Indonesia, and previously acted as their Deputy Country Director for Afghanistan and Senior Programme Manager for the Horn of Africa.  In addition to NDI and WFD, Devin has worked for a number of leading development organisations, including Action on Armed Violence, CHF International (now Global Communities), and the US Peace Corps,  among others. He has also worked in US politics, serving as a Co-Campaign Manager and Constituent Advocate for US Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

Dina Melhem

Regional Director for MENA and Asia.

Dina has a PhD in Public Law from the University Paul Cezanne, Aix-en-Provence in France. Previously she was Research Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic studies (IREMAM-CNRS) in Aix-en-Provence and was involved heavily with research on the Arab League and the Arab Charter for Human Rights. Dina has also worked at the European Parliament office in Marseilles on the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.

George Kunnath

Regional Director for ECA and Africa. 

George joined WFD in October 2008 as Programme Director for the Westminster Consortium for Parliaments and Democracy. Before joining WFD George managed the Project Management Office of the Parliament of South Africa. He was instrumental in implementing the Parliament’s Strategic Plan and project-managed the 118th Inter-Parliamentary Assembly in Cape Town during 2008. George has also worked as MIS Officer for UNDP and Programme Officer with UNICEF in South Africa. He has a Bachelors in Engineering and an MBA from the University of Cape Town.

Graeme Ramshaw

Director of Research and Evaluation  

In this role he is responsible for the development of WFD’s strategies and methodologies on impact measurement and reporting. He also advises on the continued strengthening of programme quality and deepening of cross-programme learning.  His principal fields of expertise are sub-Saharan African political economy; public sector governance and accountability; elections and democratisation and programmatic monitoring and evaluation.

Prior to this position he was a Learning Advisor for the UK Department for International Development’s Governance and Transparency Fund. Previous assignments include work with the World Bank, International IDEA, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Brookings Institution, the Governance and Social Development Research Centre, CARE UK, the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa.  He holds a PhD in Development Studies (Governance) from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

Technical Advisory Unit

Franklin De Vrieze

Senior Governance Adviser

Franklin De Vrieze offers context analysis assessment, programme quality assurance and parliamentary advice to WFD country teams in Europe and Central Asia,  MENA, and South Asia. He conducts research on new and innovative themes for parliamentary programming.

Franklin has worked on governance issues for 20 years. Before joining WFD, he worked for the OSCE Mission in Kosovo,  United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), European Union Delegations, Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and other governance and parliamentary strengthening institutions. He has been leading parliamentary identification, formulation and evaluation missions. He conducted functional review and institutional capacities assessments of parliament. He has worked on parliament’s role in anti-corruption, constituency offices feasibility and regional parliamentary cooperation. He is the author of several academic and policy publications.

Shannon O’Connell

Gender Adviser  

Shannon O’Connell has experience as a facilitator, researcher, programme designer, and strategist specialising in political party and organisational development, with a particular focus on women’s political participation and leadership.

Shannon has extensive experience in politics, having worked on more than two dozen electoral campaigns and as a policy and strategic adviser to elected officials and political party leaders, both in government and opposition. She is also heavily involved in policy development and advocacy and chaired a policy group to influence regulations affecting children and young people. She has worked in more than 20 countries worldwide and was Country Director for National Democratic Institute’s programs in the West Bank and Gaza from 2003-2005. Shannon is also a skilled designer of learning materials and a specialist in adult learning. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Boston College and a Master of Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Shannon resides in Northern Ireland with her husband and two children.

Victoria Hasson

Parliamentary Adviser

Victoria Hasson brings parliamentary expertise to WFD programmes with over eight years of research and work experience in the field of parliamentary procedure. Victoria informs WFD’s parliamentary assessments and provides technical advice to support the design and evaluation of our parliamentary programmes. She holds strong relationships with MPs and Clerks in the UK parliament of Westminster and the devolved assemblies of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, representing the organisation at global and national events. Victoria also contributes to the organisation’s policy and research programme.

Prior to joining WFD, Victoria worked in the Parliament of South Africa and held the position of Parliamentary Operations Director for the Democratic Alliance. In this role Victoria managed the Party’s research, media and administrative support staff in order to support the Party’s improved performance in parliament. Victoria holds a PhD in political science from the University of Sheffield, and an MSc in International Public Policy from University College London. Victoria’s doctorate examined the development of parliamentary procedure at the end of apartheid in South Africa’s National Assembly.

Programme Management

David Thirlby

Senior Programme Manager for Asia 

David Thirlby joined the Foundation in 2003 as a Programme Manager for the Africa and Rest of the World teamDavid has a background in the NGO and commercial field within the UK. As an Exeter University graduate, David also has an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London and a Certificate in Political Studies from the IEP Aix-en-Provence.

Majda El Bied

Senior Programme Manager for Africa

Majda has worked in the field of parliamentary and political party strengthening for over 5 years and is responsible for the management of WFD programmes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sierra Leone, Kenya, Mozambique, Ghana, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria. Majda has a keen interest in supporting women parliamentarians and organised the first women’s parliament in Uganda. She has worked with female MPs and leading civil society activists in the DRC as part of a programme that sought to develop their leadership skills. Through this work Majda was able to demonstrate how MPs and civil society activists can work effectively together to overcome traditional social barriers and advance issues of social justice.

A native French speaker, Majda has a degree in Journalism and a Masters in Communication Studies from the Institute des Hautes Etudes des Communications Sociales, Brussels (IHECS). Majda attended a programme that focused on Understanding Women’s Human Rights at the London School of Economics.

Henry Richards

Henry Richards is WFD’s Senior Programme Manager for the MENA team.

Henry is responsible for the Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia and the Middle East and North Africa regional programmes. He has a background in Economics and Development, and has been at WFD since January 2013. Previously he worked in the Middle East for 4 years.

Ellen Shustik

Senior Programme Manager for Elections and Business Development.

Ellen Shustik has 13 years’ experience in democracy and governance work, international development, parliamentary/legislative affairs, and election observation. Ellen has previously worked for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Mission to Serbia), Liberal International, and the National Democratic Institute (both at headquarters and in Nepal). She also spent several years working for the Liberal Party of Canada in both federal and provincial politics.

In recent years, Ellen has conducted both short- and long-term election observation/analysis with NDI in Kosovo, Egypt and Albania; the OSCE/ODIHR in Ukraine three times and Moldova; The Carter Center in Nepal; and the OSCE/ODIHR in Macedonia as the Political Analyst on the mission’s core team. Before joining WFD, she worked for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, organising its Election Assessment Mission to the UK General Election and then as the Election Analyst for its Election Observation Mission to the British Virgin Islands.

Ellen has an MA in European Studies (focusing on Conflict Management) from the Dublin European Institute (University College Dublin) and an Honours BA in History and Political Science from Huron College (University of Western Ontario). She is currently pursuing an LLM in Human Rights from the University of London.