Oge Onubogu is senior program officer for Africa Programs at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) where she leads programming in Nigeria. In this position, she provides leadership, strategic management, and oversees the design and implementation of projects to promote inclusion and community security by partnering with policymakers, civic leaders, and organizations in Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad Basin area. Oge’s thematic focus is on governance and civil society development in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Prior to joining USIP, she managed governance, citizen engagement, and election observation programs in Nigeria and across Southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa) with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Before that, she worked as program officer for West Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) where for several years, she oversaw democratic governance projects and managed a multi-million dollar grants portfolio to civil society organizations in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Cameroon. Oge has consulted for the World Bank, observed elections with the Carter Center, and coordinated refugee resettlement programs with the International Rescue Committee. She earned her MA in International Development from the Heller School at Brandeis University, and BA in International and Area Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Christopher O’Connor is the Senior Program Officer for West Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Christopher oversees a diverse civil society grants program in Nigeria that aims to strengthen democracy, improve human rights, and consolidate peace. He also works on West Africa regional, Liberia, and Ghana governance projects. Prior to joining NED, Christopher served as an International Development Fellow with Catholic Relief Services in Abuja, Nigeria, where he worked on peacebuilding and good governance projects. He received his MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and his BA in African, Asian, and Russian History from Washington and Lee University.
Lauren Ploch Blanchard
Lauren Ploch Blanchard is a Specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), where she provides nonpartisan analysis on African political, military and diplomatic affairs, and on U.S. policy in the region, to Members of Congress, congressional committees, and congressional staff. Her portfolio focuses on East Africa, Nigeria, and Chad, and on security issues and U.S. military engagement on the continent—she has written extensively on these topics and has testified before Congress on terrorist threats in the region, security assistance, and the U.S. military’s Africa Command.
Ms. Blanchard speaks regularly at academic and official institutions such as the National Defense University, the NATO Defense College, and the Foreign Service Institute, and at international policy forums. She has served on international election observation missions in several African countries and has conducted training for African parliamentarians and other government officials on the policymaking role of the United States Congress and on the role of parliamentary research institutions like CRS.
Prior to joining CRS, she managed governance programs in East and Southern Africa. During that time, she supervised and conducted training on political party and coalition strengthening, parliamentary support, civil society capacity building, and public opinion research. She also consulted on constitutional reform efforts in Kenya and the development of democratic institutions in Southern Sudan. Previously, Ms. Blanchard served as Legislative Assistant in the United States Senate. Lauren holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Classical Studies, with a minor in African Studies, from the University of Florida.