Who We Are

Director – Professor Heather Marquette

Heather MarquetteHeather Marquette is a Professor in Development Politics in the International Development Department, University of Birmingham. A political scientist by training, she has extensive international experience in research, policy advice, consultancy and training on the politics of development, governance, corruption, political analysis, and aid policy.

Her research includes work on Afghanistan, Ghana, India, Kenya and Nigeria. Her work has been published in Third World QuarterlyPolitical Studies, and Public Administration & Development, among others, and she is the author of Corruption, Politics and Development: The Role of the World Bank (Palgrave Macmillan).

Email: H.A.Marquette [at] Bham.ac.uk


Deputy Director – Dr David Hudson

David Hudson

David Hudson is the Professorial Research Fellow in Politics and Development at the University of Birmingham (UK) and the Deputy Director of the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP). 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; the drivers of global migration, finance and trade and how these processes shape national development; and how people in rich countries engage with global development issues, as part of the Gates Foundation’s Aid Attitudes Tracker. He has extensive fieldwork experience and loves nothing better than working with survey, network, and interview data. He is also actively involved with practitioners and policymakers, providing evaluations, design and policy advice, consultancy and training with donors and NGOs.

David has published in a range of journals, including the Journal of International Development, Political Studies, Contemporary Politics, and The International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning. He has also given evidence to the UK Parliament's International Development Committee.

Email: D.E.Hudson [at] Bham.ac.uk


Senior Research Partner – Chris Roche

Chris RocheChris is Associate Professor and Chair in International Development at La Trobe University in Melbourne, where he is also Director of the Institute for Human Security and Social Change. He has over 25 years’ experience working for international NGOs as a project manager, evaluator, policy researcher and director. 

He is particularly interested in understanding how social change happens, who is involved, and how the effectiveness of attempts to promote change is understood and assessed. His research interests also include complexity, power and politics; leadership, networks and coalitions; the role of civil society and International NGOs;  and poverty, gender relations and inequality.


Program Manager - Heather Lyne de Ver

Heather Lyne de VerHeather's research interests include theories of developmental leadership, the impact of leadership training on developmental outcomes and the relationship between research, evidence and policy. She holds an MSc in International Development from the University of Bristol, and has written DLP papers on conceptions of leadership, on leadership, politics and development, and on leadership development programmes. Heather joined DLP in 2007, and is based at the University of Birmingham.

Email: H.LynedeVer [at] Bham.ac.uk




Research Fellows

Tait Brimacombe

Tait BrimacombeTait is in the final stages of completing her PhD, which explores the intersection of communication for development and gender in the Pacific, with fieldwork conducted in Vanuatu, Fiji and the Cook Islands. She has also contributed to research for AusAID (now DFAT) and the Australian Civil Military Centre on communication for development in fragile states, and the role of communication in complex emergencies. Her current research interests include women’s leadership, coalitions and collective action in the Pacific. Tait is based at the Institute for Human Security and Social Change, La Trobe University.

Email: T.Brimacombe [at] latrobe.edu.au


Niheer Dasandi

Niheer DasandiNiheer completed his PhD at University College London on the relationship between international and domestic inequalities and poverty. His current research focuses on the links between inequality and poverty, the politics of policy reform in developing countries, the political economy of aid, and political-bureaucratic interactions. Before starting his PhD, Niheer spent two years as a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme. Niheer is based at the University of Birmingham where he is Birmingham Fellow in Politics and Development, in the School of Government and Society.


Email: N.Dasandi [at] Bham.ac.uk


Claire Mcloughlin

Claire McloughlinClaire has more than a decade of experience working on policy-oriented development research. She has published extensively on the politics of basic services and their effects on state-building, and her current research focuses on access to basic services and state (de-)legitimation in conflict-affected situations. Claire is also a senior researcher with GSDRC, where she helps manage research for leading bilateral agencies on governance, social development, conflict and humanitarian issues. She has written three topic guides for DFID (including on Political economy analysis), and has co-authored a DFID rigorous literature review on private schools. 

Email: C.Mcloughlin [at] Bham.ac.uk


Caryn Peiffer

Caryn PeifferCaryn holds a PhD in Political Science from Claremont Graduate University. Her dissertation examined the impact in Africa of externally-driven democratisation on developmental outcomes. She has written DLP papers on the politics of state-business relations, reform coalitions for growth, and on corruption. Caryn examined the determinants of bribe payments as part of the Global Experience of Corruption project (University of Strathclyde). She has carried out research for Transparency International, DFID, AFD, and SIDA, and has worked in India, Zambia and Botswana.

Email: C.Peiffer [at] Bham.ac.uk



Suda Perera

Suda PereraSuda holds a PhD in International Conflict Analysis from the University of Kent. Her thesis examined the role of Rwandan refugees in the conflict dynamics of the eastern Congo. Suda’s current research focuses on the role of non-state actors in developmental leadership. For example, she is examining how armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo can be transformed into legitimate political actors who provide wider representation for marginalised citizens. Suda is based at the University of Birmingham.

Email: S.M.Perera [at] Bham.ac.uk



Communications and administration

Communications Manager - Sarah O'Connor

Sarah O'ConnorSarah has more than 10 years' experience in international development knowledge management and communications. She is also GSDRC's information officer, and before joining GSDRC (then known as the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre) in 2008 she worked in publishing and as an editor and web manager for an international NGO. Sarah joined DLP in 2013, and is based at the University of Birmingham.

Email: S.A.OConnor [at] Bham.ac.uk




Communications Support Officer - Cheryl Stonehouse

Cheryl StonehouseCheryl was a Fleet Street journalist for more than 20 years and is also an experienced technical and academic editor. She is a plain English trainer and teaches English as a second language. Cheryl has a BA Honours degree in Politics from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In the mid-1980s she studied in China as a British Council Scholar and remains keenly interested in the region. She joined DLP in January 2014 and is based at the University of Birmingham. 

Email: C.Stonehouse [at] Bham.ac.uk




Research and Communications Officer - Edward Avenell

Edward Avenell

Edward holds a MA ign International Relations/Security from the University of Birmingham.  His research interests are US Foreign policy, US - UK relations. and Crisis Diplomacy.  Edward has experience in graphic and web design and provides communication support.  Additionally he provides project management support. Edward joined DLP in January 2014 and is based at the University of Birmingham.

Email: E.J.Avenell [at] Bham.ac.uk


About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

Find out more


New article - To Boldly Know: Knowledge, Peacekeeping and Remote Data Gathering in Conflict-Affected States

Thursday 12th October 2017

In this article in the Journal of International Peacekeeping, DLP researcher Suda Perera critically evaluates crowdsourcing's uses and abuses, and warns against an over-reliance on remotely gathered conflict data.

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Why political settlements matter

Thursday 5th October 2017

Join us on 5 Oct 2017 at ODI (10-11:30am) to discuss the research featured in a special issue of The Journal of International Development co-edited by Alina Rocha Menocal (DLP and ODI) and Jan Pospisil (Political Settlements Research Programme at the University of Edinburgh).

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