David Salvo

David Salvo is a senior fellow and managing director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund. An expert in Russian affairs, Salvo has been analyzing the Kremlin’s authoritarian toolkit to undermine democracy at home and abroad throughout his career.

Salvo has worked at ASD since 2017, first as a resident fellow and then as deputy director. He is the principal author of The ASD Policy Blueprint for Countering Authoritarian Interference in Democracies and makes regular media appearances, including on NPR, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and ABC News, to discuss US-Russian relations, Russian foreign policy toward its near abroad, and Russian tactics and objectives to undermine democracy in the United States and Europe.

Prior to joining GMF, Salvo was a foreign service officer in the US Department of State, serving most recently as the deputy secretary of state’s policy advisor for Europe, Eurasia, and international security issues. He also advised senior-level State Department negotiators on the protracted conflicts in the South Caucasus, worked on US policy toward NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and served overseas in Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He speaks Russian and Serbo-Croatian and has a basic knowledge of French.

David received his master’s degree from Georgetown University’s Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies and a bachelor’s degree in government and Russian from Georgetown. He is an avid music lover and plays in several DC-area bands, including a tribute to the renowned rock band Phish.

Rachael Dean Wilson

Rachael Dean Wilson is the managing director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund, where she leads work on US elections and political analysis. Driven by her belief that safeguarding democracy must involve all Americans, Wilson has spoken in cities across the country about the importance of building democratic resilience to autocratic efforts to undermine democracy. She has commented on election security issues for print and broadcast news outlets ranging from The Washington Post and C-SPAN to WVTM-TV Birmingham and The Arizona Republic.

Wilson served in senior roles on Capitol Hill and political campaigns, and has experience in corporate communications and PR consulting. She worked for the late Senator John McCain for six years, most recently as his Senate communications director and advisor to his 2016 reelection campaign. Wilson received a bachelor’s degree in communication in public service from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in global policy from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University.

Rita Barbosa Lobo

Rita Barbosa Lobo is a program assistant for the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund, where she serves as the assistant to the head of European operations.

In her studies, she focused on European Union law and common law, graduating from the University of Kent with a Bachelor of Laws and the University of Amsterdam with a Master of Laws. Prior to joining ASD, Rita was a Schuman trainee at the European Parliamentary Research Service, External Policies Unit. Before that she was a program assistant at the European Policy Centre, Europe in the World program and a research fellow at the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies. Rita’s interests lie in European foreign policy.

Peter Benzoni

Peter Benzoni is an investigative data and research analyst on the information manipulation team at the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund, where he manages ASD's data-driven tools, develops new methodologies to combat information threats, and conducts open-source investigations.

Peter most recently was a data analyst with Atlas Public Policy, where he was involved in the development of many of ASD’s tools—most notably, the Hamilton dashboard. Prior to his work at Atlas, Peter spent time as a cybersecurity associate with the US Department of Energy and as a development consultant with Accenture. He holds a B.S. in computer engineering and a B.A. in political science and international studies from Iowa State University.

Shanthi Kalathil

Shanthi Kalathil is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy. She is also founder and principal at MDO Advisors, which helps organizations plan for geopolitical risk, and a senior fellow with the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. Under President Biden, Kalathil served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights at the National Security Council, where she oversaw the organization of the inaugural Summit for Democracy and the development of the first US Strategy on Countering Corruption, among other initiatives. Previously, she was the senior director of the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, a leading think tank exploring such emerging challenges to democracy as digital authoritarianism, foreign interference, disinformation and kleptocracy. Throughout her career, she has focused on the intersection of technology, good governance, and international affairs, at organizations including the US Agency for International Development, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the World Bank. A former Hong Kong-based reporter for the Asian Wall Street Journal, Kalathil has authored and edited numerous policy and scholarly publications including Diplomacy, Development and Security in the Information Age (Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University, 2013); Developing Independent Media as an Institution of Accountable Governance (The World Bank, 2011); and (with Taylor C. Boas) Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003), which was cited by Foreign Policy as one of “Ten Books To Learn How Technology Shapes the World”. She sits on the boards of Radio Free Asia and the National Democratic Institute and holds degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Vassilis Ntousas

Vassilis Ntousas is the senior manager and fellow for Europe for the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund. His research interests lie in European foreign policy and the European Union’s global engagement.

Prior to joining the ASD, he was the Senior International Relations Policy Advisor at the Foundation for European Progressive Studies in Brussels, where he led the foundation’s global research, advocacy, and strategic convening work. In 2019–2020, he held the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Academy fellowship at Chatham House, where he remains an Academy Associate with the institute’s Europe program. He is the author of several policy papers and regularly comments on global affairs for international media outlets. He is also the co-editor of two books published by Routledge, The European Union and China’s Belt and Road: Impact, Engagement and Competition (2021) and EU Climate Diplomacy: Politics, Law and Negotiations (2018). Ntousas holds an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a BA in International Relations and Politics from the University of Sheffield. He speaks English and Greek.

Louis Savoia

Louis Savoia is a program coordinator for the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund, where he serves as the lead author of ASD's weekly newsletter, the Securing Democracy Dispatch, and supervises ASD's Washington-based trainees. A graduate of American University’s School of International Service, Louis received a bachelor’s in international relations with focuses on the European Union and NATO, US foreign policy, and democratic governance. As part of his coursework, Louis spent a semester studying European affairs in Brussels, Belgium. His capstone project investigated patterns of hostage-taking by US adversaries, which he and his research group presented to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. 

Bret Schafer

Bret Schafer is a senior fellow and head of the Alliance for Securing Democracy's information manipulation team. Bret is the creator and manager of Hamilton 2.0, an online open-source dashboard tracking the outputs of Russian, Chinese, and Iranian state media outlets, diplomats, and government officials. As an expert in computational propaganda, state-backed information operations, and tech regulation, he has spoken at conferences around the globe and advised numerous governments and international organizations. His research has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, and he has been interviewed on NPR, MSNBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and the BBC. Prior to joining GMF, he spent more than ten years in the television and film industry, including stints at Cartoon Network and as a freelance writer for Warner Brothers. He also worked in Budapest as a radio host and in Berlin as a semi-professional baseball player in Germany’s Bundesliga. He has a BS in communications with a major in radio/television/film from Northwestern University, and a master’s in public diplomacy from the University of Southern California, where he was the editor-in-chief of Public Diplomacy Magazine.

Krystyna Sikora

Krystyna (Krysia) Sikora is a research assistant for the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund, where she supports research on election integrity and information manipulation. Her writing has been published in the EU Observer, Euractiv, and the Fulcrum.

Prior to joining ASD, Krysia received an MA in Eurasian, Russian, and East European studies from Georgetown University. Her studies centered on right-wing populism, disinformation, and democratic decline in Central and Eastern Europe, with a focus on Poland. Krysia played professional soccer in Poland for two years and has a BA in political science and a certificate in policy journalism and media studies from Duke University.

Etienne Soula

Etienne Soula is a research analyst with the Alliance for Securing Democracy based in Brussels. His research focuses on how the PRC resorts to information manipulation, economic coercion, and tech exports to weaken democracies, in the EU, US, and their allies, and to disseminate its model of techno authoritarianism globally. Etienne maintains ASD’s authoritarian interference tracker that covers over 600 incidents of Russian and Chinese political and economic interference in Europe and North America. He also monitors and reports on Chinese diplomatic and state-media messaging. Etienne previously worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Hudson Institute, and NATO. He holds a dual master’s in international affairs from American University and the Université Libre de Bruxelles, as well as a law degree from the University of Nottingham.

Laura Thornton

As senior vice president of democracy, Laura Thornton leads teams whose programs defend and promote democracy. She oversees the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), through which GMF tracks, analyzes, and builds strategies to thwart malign internal and external influence operations that target democracies worldwide. Thornton guides GMF’s global democracy initiatives to build communities of practices, share lessons, and forge transnational alliances. She participates in numerous democracy networks and working groups as a leader and expert.

Thornton also oversees GMF’s transatlantic trusts, which support civil society organizations and actors in Central and Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans, the Black Sea and Eurasia regions, Belarus, and Ukraine that bolster democratic resilience through civic education, media literacy, public awareness campaigns, and media and watchdog activities.

Prior to joining GMF, Thornton was director of global programs at International IDEA, a Stockholm-based intergovernmental think-and-do tank that advances democracy. She led multiple teams across Europe focused on constitution-building, parliamentary processes, elections, gender and inclusion, political parties, and democracy assessment and analysis. She managed the development of global comparative knowledge and applied research products aimed at supporting and advancing democracy worldwide, including the Global State of Democracy report and the Global Monitor on COVID-19’s impact on human rights and democracy.

Thornton served for more than 20 years in leadership positions at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), working throughout Asia and the former Soviet Union. She has written extensively about political party development, political finance and corruption, elections, and disinformation, and has led multiple election observation missions worldwide. At NDI, Thornton designed public opinion research efforts, including national polls, focus groups, and experimental research designs to explore disinformation, security, geopolitics, democracy and human rights, and political developments. She is the co-author of Political Parties in Asia: Promoting Reform and Combating Corruption in Eight Countries (NDI, 2003). Thornton has a master’s degree from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.