About the foundation

Who we are

The Alliance of Democracies Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2017 by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former NATO Secretary General and former Prime Minister of Denmark. The vision of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation is to become the world’s leading “megaphone” for the cause of democracy. The Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of democracy and free markets across the globe and runs three programs:

The Copenhagen Democracy Summit

An annual conference bringing together political and business leaders, including current and former heads of government, from the world’s democracies. The goal of the Summit is to be the top international forum for analysis on the security and economic challenges facing the democratic world as well as a forum for analysis on the interplay between technology and democratic norms.

The Expeditionary Economics Program

The purpose of the program is to solidify at-risk democracies through locally driven economic growth.  The program supports economic reforms and entrepreneurship in emerging democracies and post-conflict areas. The initiative includes THE DEMOCRACY TECH ENTREPRENEUR FELLOWSHIP that seeks to make technology work for democracy.

The Campaign for Democracy

The Campaign for Democracy engages supporters of democracy worldwide and builds a powerful intellectual movement for the cause of democracy through online presence, media engagement, and moral support for dissidents. The program includes a Transatlantic Commission that works to prevent election interference.

Why fight for democracy?

Since the end of World War II, the United States and its allies in Europe and Asia have established an international order dominated by democracy and market-based economies. This order has proven highly successful - facilitating unprecedented levels of prosperity, security, and freedom for hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Yet the world’s democracies and the very ideal of democracy have come under increasing pressure in recent years. Domestically, the world’s democracies are marred by self-doubt, internal divisions, and a stifling political correctness. 

Internationally, the democratic world is under threat from rising autocracies and terrorist organizations, rolling back the global expansion of democracy that took place after the fall of communism. 

Established democracies are challenged by slow economic growth and mass migration.

The need for creative solutions and new vitality is clear and urgent, yet most of the leading democracies in the world are deeply split over how we move forward.

The Alliance of Democracies Foundation seeks to meet the urgent need for strengthening the spines of the world’s democracies. The overarching purpose is to revitalize the world’s democracies and to bring them together in an alliance for peace, prosperity, and the advancement of democracy around the world.

Our logo

Our logo has been created on the basis of circles, which are used as symbols of alliances. The hexagon is formed when circles are gathered and occur naturally and often in nature, just as we believe that democracy should occur naturally in the world. Visually, the hexagon expresses strength, solidity and action - the core of the conditions for democracy. Democracy is maintained and developed in alliances and is expressed as life among people - the round outer of the logo.

The Team

Carlo Anthony Zensus

Carlo Anthony Zensus

Carlo’s passion for foreign policy led him to research and work on EU foreign security policy, the transatlantic relations between Germany and the US, and the governance of cyberspace. With academic degrees in international law and crisis management, he joins the TCEI Germany Project passionate about ensuring that the upcoming German federal elections remain fair and free from malign interference. Carlo gained his professional experience from working with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, the Dutch Ministry of Defence, and most recently the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in Vienna.

Election Integrity Project Associate

Danielle Piatkiewicz

Danielle Piatkiewicz

Danielle is currently based in Brussels and focuses on foreign policy in Central and Eastern Europe. Danielle’s portfolio has centered around transatlantic engagement towards emerging geopolitical powers including Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Danielle’s professional experiences include The German Marshall Fund of the United States and the European Institute of Peace and worked in various hubs including Warsaw, Brussels, DC and most recently Prague. Danielle has committed her work towards elevating democratic values through convening and creating platforms for constructive exchanges of ideas and debates.

Project Manager

Harry Nedelcu

Harry Nedelcu

Harry’s interest and work have centered around the most fundamental and defining elements of democracy – free and fair elections. He published, taught, researched, and spoke on topics related to elections and party politics. He has investigated the way elections are affected by foreign interference and has uncovered evidence-based accounts of meddling in various countries.

Senior Advisor

Jonas Parello-Plesner

Jonas Parello-Plesner

Jonas believes in fighting for democracy as his Spanish granddad did during the Spanish Civil War. He has worked in and with the three power centers of the globe; Washington, Beijing and Brussels. He tracks – and speaks up against - how authoritarian powers encroach on freedom and democracy inside liberal democracies.

Executive Director

Katherina Madhuri Nielsen

Katherina has a passion for international relations, with a particular interest in the promotion of democracy. Her international background is very much a large contributor to her interests in international politics. Her academic background includes research on the encroachment of authoritarian regimes - specifically in Hong Kong, by means of field data, matters of security in the Artic and the work of NATO, including its implications within the political arena. She joins Alliance of Democracies with a history as a Business Development Representative for an international technology company.

Junior Analyst

Katinka Salomonsen Grane

Katinka has a passion for political affairs and theory, with a particular interest in democracy and its contemporary challengers. Her academic background includes research on the right-wing populist movement in Eastern Europe, as well as how new technological ‘sovereigns’ and developments influence democratic practices. With her background as former intern with the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, Katinka now seeks to deepen her knowledge of innovative measures to safeguard and develop democracy in an ever complex world.

Junior Analyst

Maria Fogh Duelund

Maria Fogh Duelund

Maria is a strong believer in democracy, individual civil liberties, and the rule of law. With a background as 1st Lieutenant in the Danish Army, she was deployed to Kosovo as part of NATO’s peace-support operation in 2003/2004. Maria further has professional experience from management consulting and the pharmaceutical industry.

Chief Operating Officer

Olaf Böhnke

Olaf Böhnke

As Churchill rightly said in 1947, democracy might not be perfect, but still eighty years later a better form of government has not been invented. So, let’s stop lamenting about it, but fight for its improvement, because all other forms of government are even worse! Olaf has worked for many years in the German Bundestag as well as in leading positions in the international think tank community. He is an expert on European and foreign policy issues.

Senior Advisor

Richard Walakira

Richard Walakira

Richard is a grass-roots democracy activist from Uganda, with a particular interest in how economic development can serve as a corridor to democratisation. He joins Alliance of Democracies with a demonstrated history of working with international non-profit organisations, from serving as a fundraising coach with UNICEF Denmark to working in operations at the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims

Project Associate

The Fellows

Erica Greene

Erica Greene is a software engineer based out of New York City. She has worked at companies including The New York Times, Etsy and Jigsaw. She was a fellow with The Aspen Tech Policy Hub where she focused on the impact of language on tech policy debates. For her TCEI Fellowship, Erica will focus on how companies can design their products and processes to lower the risk that their digital platforms could be used to undermine a democratic election.

Election Integrity Fellow (December 2019-July 2020)

Mariam Chikhladze

Previously, Mariam was working at the International Republican Institute (IRI) as a Senior Program Associate, covering Georgia and Armenia programs from DC. Earlier, in 2015-2017, she was managing the Democracy Education Program at the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) Eastern European Neighborhood Office in Tbilisi. Mariam has also completed the Edmund Muskie Program fellowship in the Center for the Future of the Liberal Society at Hudson Institute. Awarded with the Fulbright Scholarship, Mariam Chikhladze graduated from the Bush School of Public Service and Government, Texas A&M University, holding a Master's Degree in Public Policy Analysis. Earlier in 2013, Mariam graduated from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, School of Law, and Politics with a Master's Degree in International Politics and Diplomacy. Her professional interests lay in security affairs, institution building, and democratic development issues.

Election Integrity Fellow (September 2020 - March 2021)

Ora D. Tanner

Ora D. Tanner is a doctoral researcher in Instructional Technology and Educational Measurement at the University of South Florida and a fellow with the Aspen Tech Policy Hub. She has an extensive background in the use of technologies such as digital games, online learning, animation, and augmented reality to help learners understand complex concepts in science. Ora will bring her knowledge and skills as an experienced instructional designer and researcher to help ​improve disinformation literacy and prepare the public in democratic nations for the implications of deepfakes.

Election Integrity Fellow (December 2019-July 2020)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why were you formed?

The Economist Intelligence Unit shows that just 4.5 percent of the planet lives in a full democracy. Meanwhile, autocrats and dictators have been in the ascendancy, spurred on by a retreat in global American leadership in recent years. The premise of the Alliance of Democracies is to strengthen the spine of the world’s democracies, to encourage greater cooperation between nations who share common values, to counter spoilers and support those who wish to bring more democracy to their countries. As the world enters a period of technological revolution and disruption, we need to ensure tech is being used for benign purposes and that it enhances democratic processes.

What is the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity?

The Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity (TCEI) seeks to fill a critical gap by fostering a global and collective approach to curb the ongoing wave of election interference and raises awareness of public and governments about the risks of interference. Since its launch in 2018, the TCEI has established itself as an important global voice and player on the risks and solutions to combat foreign election meddling. The TCEI brings together more than a dozen eminent persons from backgrounds in politics, media and the private sector chaired by Alliance of Democracies Foundation Chairman, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and former US Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff. The group is working with to develop tools that provide media literacy on disinformation, and to tackle the risk of ‘deep fake’ videos being used for political disinformation. The group has also identified candidates and political parties themselves as the ‘first line’ of defence against election meddling, and has launched a 5-point ‘Pledge for Election Integrity’ for candidates to sign in European elections, US, Canadian, Georgian and the German elections.

How are you funded?

The AoD is a non-profit organisation funded by private sponsors, governments and individuals. In addition, the AoD is also supported by ‘in kind’ donations. See list of current partners and lists of sponsors for each summit.

How do you spend your money?

The Alliance’s funds are spent on a small Secretariat that delivers on the program initiatives, and organises the Copenhagen Democracy Summit. Program initiatives include the Democracy Tech Entrepreneur Fellowship Program which seeks to equip Democracy Tech entrepreneurs from emerging democracies with the know-how of starting and scaling successful, democratically driven ventures, our Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, and additional programming around democracy promotion.

I’d like to support the Alliance of Democracies. How can I get involved?

There are a number of ways to support us, from sharing social media content to making a small donation to the AoD’s work. If you would like to attend the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, please contact [email protected], and join our mailing list to receive our regular update mail ‘Democracy Defender’. Most importantly, the greatest contribution we can all make is to speak up for democracy!

Supporters

Our supporters play an indispensable part in enabling the Foundation to fulfill its mission. We would like to thank each of them for their contribution to our important work.

Find the full list of our supporters here.