Position Title
Agency Chief Digital Democracy and Rights Officer

Vera Zakem serves as USAID’s Chief Digital Democracy and Rights Officer. Situated in the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, she leads the Agency’s agenda on digital democracy to ensure that technology advances democratic values and respect for human rights globally. She coordinates on these topics within USAID, and across the U.S. government interagency, with non-government institutions, and bilateral and multilateral partners. 

For 20 years, Vera has been championing issues supporting inclusive digital societies and rights respecting technologies that affect global stability in developing and emerging democracies. Prior to joining USAID, Vera was a Senior Technology and Democracy Advisor at the Institute for Security and Technology, a non-governmental organization, where she built whole-of-society solutions to address issues affecting technology and democracy. She was also a non-resident Associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Europe program, and founded a women-owned agency that worked with organizations globally to elevate democracy. Most recently, Vera was a member of the bi-partisan Task Force on U.S. Strategy to Support Democracy and Counter Authoritarianism, co-leading the democracy and technology agenda. Earlier in her career, she led organizations and initiatives in the private sector, civil society, and research institutions, including CNA Corporation where she partnered closely with the U.S. Departments of State and Defense in addressing digital democracy challenges, focusing on Europe and the Middle East.

Vera Zakem received her M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University in government and a B.A. in politics from the University of San Francisco. 

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