We are dedicated to democratic innovation, experimentation, and capacity building.
Founded in 2013, we are a 501(c)3 non-profit focused on reinventing student government and we have worked primarily in Bolivia. We are part of a growing movement of democratic innovation that is challenging traditional approaches to governance all around the world.
Yes. We work directly in schools with students: giving workshops, orienting new student government members, attending their meetings as advisors, accompanying them on visits to local authorities, celebrating their accomplishments, etc. We also coordinate directly with school leadership, teachers, and parents.
The practices and methods we develop and promote are informed by our hard-earned lessons from years of working directly with students.
Two of our co-founders met in Bolivia, and it has been a great place to do this work for several reasons:
- The educational system shares similar features and challenges with others around the world
- Rotation of public office is a practice with deep cultural roots in Bolivia
- Lower organizational costs than in the US or Canada
- Great local guidance and support from people like, Oscar Olivera, an internationally-known Bolivian activist, organizer, and popular educator
Mostly from private donations. If you think the work we do is important, please donate.
We have also received funding from foundations, such as the Kettering Foundation (US) and the newDemocracy Foundation (Australia). If you are from a grant-making organization that supports this type of work, please get in touch.
Raúl Olivera Pereira
Since co-founding Democracy In Practice in 2013, Raúl has been managed every school project to date. Prior, he worked with Maryknoll in capacity building for indigenous religious leaders in the Bolivian Amazon and in popular education with youth in marginalized neighborhoods of Cochabamba. He was also the co-Director of the Andean Information Network (RAI), focusing on issues such as coca farming, drug trafficking, and development, before serving as the Executive Secretary of Franciscans International Bolivia (2007-2009), with a focus on ecology and the environment.
Location:Location: Cochabamba, Bolivia
Hometown:Hometown: Cochabamba, Bolivia
Adam co-founded Democracy In Practice in 2013 while volunteering with the Foundation Abril in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and lived in Bolivia working on the ground there until 2018. Currently he is working in the US helping launch a Citizens’ Panel on Covid-19. He is also on the Coordinating Committee of Democracy R&D, a network of 30 organizations advancing democratic lotteries in 18 countries around the world. Back in the day, Adam was deeply involved in the Occupy Wall Street protests in Manhattan, where he co-facilitated two sessions of the occupation’s General Assembly.
Location:Hometown: Syracuse, NY, USA
Simon is a co-founder and member of the board of directors of Democracy In Practice. He currently works as an Assistant Professor of Sustainability and Organization Theory at the University of Victoria, and has wide-ranging practical and research interests in democratic reform, organizational democracy, sustainability, and organizational culture.He is keen to collaborate with a variety of organizations including schools, labor unions, and cooperatives to help reinvigorate their internal democracy.
Location:Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
Hometown:Hometown: Ottawa, Canada
Jeff is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Law, where he researches democracy in the contexts of criminal justice and higher education. Having earned his PhD at McGill, he has a love for scholarship, but also a drive to roll up his sleeves and get involved. He has been actively involved in community initiatives, with a particular focus on the impacts of incarceration, and has seen firsthand the potential of everyday people to tackle difficult social issues. This potential, and his passion for putting imagination to work led him to co-found Democracy In Practice in 2013.
Location:Location: London, UK
Hometown:Hometown: Prince Edward County, ON, Canada
Camila Olivera Rodriguez
Camila helps out with workshops and student lotteries in the schools. She has also captured some of the pictures and video found on our website and edits all of our Spanish materials – including our website. Camila is from Cochabamba and in the past worked on grassroots projects related to water for one of our partner organizations, the Foundation Abril.
Emily researched and authored our most extensive step-by-step guide, Student Government Facilitation, which you can access and download on our Resources page. She is originally from Vermont (USA) and currently lives and works as a workplace education consultant in Fayetteville, Arkansas (USA).
Thomas Mc Donagh
Thomas helps out with interpreting for our team meetings and has given us feedback and advice at different stages of our work in Bolivia. Thomas is originally form Dublin, Ireland but has worked in Latin America with social justice and environmental organizations, such as the Democracy Center, at different levels since 2011.
Raydel Lopez Mier
Raydel has helped out with student lotteries and was particularly active in the introductory workshops that were given at each school. Raydel is originally from Havana, Cuba and is currently pursuing a degree in Business Administration.
Oscar is best known for his important role as an organizer, activist, and spokesperson for “La Coordinadora del Agua” during the so-called ‘Water War’ protests in Cochabamba, Bolivia (2000). He has received numerous awards, including the Letelier-Moffit Human Rights Award (2000) and the Goldman Environmental Prize (2001). Currently, Oscar is an active member the Andean School of Water and the Director of La Foundation Abril, a non-profit organization that promotes alternative participatory and democratic processes in labor claims and in the management of water as a common good, through initiatives based on organization, management, education, research and grassroots mobilization. Oscar was also an industrial metal worker for 40 years, and served as a factory workers’ union leader from 1980 to 2010.
:Founder & Director
Lyn Carson is the Research Director of the newDemocracy Foundation, an honorary professor with the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, adjunct professor with the University of Western Sydney, and associate of the Centre for Deliberative Democracy & Global Governance at the University of Canberra. She was formerly a professor in applied politics at the University of Sydney Business School. She has extensive experience with deliberative democratic processes at local, state, and national levels, having been involved in the design and facilitation of Deliberative Polls, Citizens’ Juries, Televotes, and Australia’s first Consensus Conference, Youth Jury, and Citizens’ Parliament. ‘Carson’ has also written a number of handbooks on community engagement, many articles and book chapters on public participation, co-wrote the book Random Selection in Politics (Praeger, 1999), and co-edited The Australian Citizens’ Parliament & The Future of Deliberative Democracy (2013). She has a long history of community engagement, dating back to her 1991 election to the Lismore City Council, NSW, much of which is documented on her personal website: http://www.activedemocracy.net/.
Iain is currently the Executive Director of the newDemocracy Foundation, an organization that has pioneered the use and study of citizens juries, random selection in participatory budgeting, and other democratic innovations. Iain holds a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from the University of Technology, Sydney. Before joining the newDemocracy Foundation, he held commercial roles in professional sport at the PGA Tour and Golf Australia, as well as in the technology industry at Microsoft Australia.
Peter is one of Canada’s leading experts in public engagement and deliberative democracy. He is the Co-founder and Principal of MASS LBP, an innovative firm based in Toronto, Canada which works to deepen and improve public consultation and engagement. Since 2007, MASS LBP has led some of Canada’s most original and ambitious efforts to engage citizens in tackling tough policy options while pioneering the use of Civic Lotteries and Citizen Reference Panels. Over the past ten years Peter has worked with leading organizations in North America and Europe, including Vancouver’s Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Britain’s Demos think tank and the Kaospilots, a Danish school for business design and social innovation. A graduate of the University of Toronto and Queen’s University, he writes and speaks frequently about the citizen’s experience of the state, the importance of public imagination and the future of responsible government. He is an Action Canada fellow (2003), the 2008 recipient of the Public Policy Forum’s Emerging Leaders Award, and a Director of Toronto’s Wellesley Institute for Urban Health.
:Pincipal & Cofounder
We are a founding member of Democracy R&D, an international network of organizations and individuals that develop, implement, and promote ways to improve democracy, from the local to the global level. It is currently made up of 30 organizations in 18 countries, as well as renowned academics from around the world.
The Foundation Abril is a Bolivian non-profit organization that promotes alternative participatory and democratic processes in labor claims and in the management of water as a common good, through initiatives based on organization, management, education, research and grassroots mobilization. The Foundation Abril provides hands-on logistical and advisory support as well as office space for Democracy In Practice.
The newDemocracy Foundation is an independent, non-partisan research organization aiming to identify improvements to democratic process. It aims to replace the adversarial with the deliberative, and move out of the “continuous campaign” cycle. The nDF provides advisory support for Democracy In Practice, and has provided grant funding for us to conduct research regarding our work.
Location:New South Wales, Australia