ISD United States

One of the world's most dynamic societies, the United States feeds the technological revolution - and is also challenged by it

For more than 15 years, ISD has partnered with academic, private and public sector partners in the United States to provide insights and solutions to extremism, disinformation and hate. Today, our work in the US has expanded and we have a permanent office in Washington DC with staff stationed across the country.

ISD’s growing team in the US works with our partners to detect and mitigate threats, protect America’s democratic institutions, build capacity for locally-led violence prevention interventions and drive policy change.

Our work
Our US-based work is rooted in the unique social, cultural, economic and legislative environment that exists in the country. Our projects rely on strong partnerships, online research and practical outreach.

Detecting and mitigating threats

ISD has been a longstanding leader addressing global and domestic threats across the hybridized landscape. In 2015, ISD helped stage the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, directly advising then President Barack Obama and his counter-terrorism team. ISD has continued this work, advising decision makers from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies on evolving threats both on- and offline.

ISD’s partnership with the Center for Internet Security provides real-time intelligence to thousands of law enforcement officials on dynamic threats and regular updates on the evolving risks posed by disinformation and extremist organizations.

Protecting our democracy and targeted communities

With America’s democracy increasingly under attack by a range of actors, ISD has taken the lead in providing regular threat detection, training and insights to groups on the front line of protecting elections and democracy. ISD's US team works with election officials at the state and local level, and directly briefs officials at the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and Congress on these threats to help shape their responses.

In 2022, our elections team conducted daily monitoring of online disinformation and potential threats to election officials, election infrastructure like drop boxes and polling places, and even regular voters looking to participate in democracy. These monitoring reports were shared weekly in key states with governors, secretaries of state, local election officials, and others tasked with ensuring a free and fair vote.

In response to a rise in antisemitism throughout the US, ISD has developed a data analytics system to identify and track online threats against Jewish institutions. This capability, a combination of advanced big data analytics (NLP and machine learning systems trained to the issue set by experts) and human intelligence, can be adapted and applied to other communities increasingly threatened by extremist groups and actors.

Building capacity for community-based violence prevention

The Strong Cities Network (SCN) launched in 2015 at the UN General Assembly to mount a city-led response against hate, polarization and extremism. In the US, SCN facilitates partnerships between member cities including New York, Los Angeles and Denver to design and deploy local responses to these complex challenges, ensuring no city faces these threats alone. Our government partners include Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and the US, with additional engagement supported or commissioned by individual members of our network of over 160 cities. 

Additionally, through our partnership with the McCain Institute, ISD's US team is training and building the first US network of frontline practitioners, equipped to recognize and respond to domestic extremist threats. The content for this training has been developed by ISD and builds on work done around the world to support frontline practitioners with the capacity and tools to address local threats. The network has now trained nearly 1000 practitioners, including social and healthcare workers, education providers and law enforcement. 

ISD has also worked with the US State Department and the first Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Farah Pandith, to connect and empower Muslim changemakers from across Europe and North America.  

 

WaE Summit

Sasha Havlicek leading the opening session of the 2022 Eradicate Hate Global Summit in Pittsburgh.

Draper Venture Network

Head of Digital Integrity and Elections, Jiore Craig, spoke to CNN ahead of the 2022 US midterms

ISD at the White House

Sasha Havlicek meeting US President Barack Obama, Washington DC, 2015

ISD US in the media

The ISD US team

Sasha Havlicek
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Sasha Havlicek

Co-Founder and CEO

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Sasha Havlicek
Sasha Havlicek

Co-Founder and CEO

Sasha Havlicek is a social and policy entrepreneur who, for the last two decades, has incubated and scaled global initiatives to counter the rise of weaponised hate, disinformation and extremism, on- and offline. As founder of the leading global ‘think and do tank’, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), she has led the build-out of ISD’s advanced digital analytics capability designed to detect and mitigate information threats to democracy, public safety and national security. Spearheading ISD’s extensive partnerships with governments, cities, businesses and communities, Sasha oversees ISD’s teams delivering research, policy advisory, training, digital literacy and communications programming around the world.

Sasha has advised a range of governments at the highest levels, has testified before US Congress and the UK Parliament, and is a regular commentator in the media (CNN, BBC, Channel 4 News and other networks). She is a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Advisory Boards of the Global Internet Forum on Counter-Terrorism, the Christchurch Call and the Global Partnership for Action against Tech Facilitated Gender Based Violence. She is a founding board member of the Forum on Information and Democracy and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Coalition on Internet Safety.
Dixon Osburn
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Dixon Osburn

Executive Director, ISD US

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Dixon Osburn
Dixon Osburn

Executive Director, ISD US

Dixon Osburn is the Executive Director of ISD, United States. He has served in non-governmental organizations for three decades addressing diverse issues in domestic and international human rights, security and democracy. Dixon co-founded Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that led the successful effort to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." At Human Rights First, he directed its Law & Security program leading efforts to close Guantánamo, end torture and regulate drones. As Executive Director at the Center for Justice and Accountability, Dixon led efforts to hold accountable international war criminals, including the Syrian regime and Khmer Rouge. Dixon served as a Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. He is author of Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He currently serves as an HFX Fellow with the Halifax International Security Forum. Dixon has testified before Congress and been widely quoted in the press. He received his JD/MBA from Georgetown University and his AB with distinction from Stanford University. 
Arabella Phillimore
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Arabella Phillimore

Managing Director

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Arabella Phillimore
Arabella Phillimore

Managing Director

Arabella Phillimore is Managing Director of ISD, with responsibility for the portfolio of research, policy advisory and programming.  As part of the Executive Leadership team, she is responsible for building and overseeing the knowledge sharing, quality control and communications capability within and outside of the organisation. Arabella has over 20 years’ experience working for non-profit organisations, governments and international organisations in the UK and abroad. Previous roles include COO, then Strategic Director of UK-based negotiation NGO Inter Mediate– which she helped establish–, and Specialist Policy Advisor at the UK Foreign Office. Arabella has a policy, strategic planning and communications background and in addition to her negotiation work she has worked as a Leader writer at the Financial Times, and at the UN as both a political officer for the Department of Peacekeeping in Afghanistan, and a communications and advocacy officer for UNICEF in India.  Arabella holds a BA in Modern Languages from New College, Oxford University, and an MA in International Relations and Economics from SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. She additionally was awarded a UNITAR/IPI Fellowship in Mediation and Negotiation Skills and is a Founding Trustee of UNHCR’s UK fundraising charity, UK for UNCHR.
Jiore Craig
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Jiore Craig

Resident Senior Fellow, Digital Integrity

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Jiore Craig
Jiore Craig

Resident Senior Fellow, Digital Integrity

Jiore Craig is a Resident Senior Fellow at ISD with focus on Digital Integrity. Her work focuses on safeguarding democracy globally and the wider impact of online harms on society. Jiore advises global leaders on mitigating online harms including work to advance tech policy reform and tech accountability at a global scale. She has extensive international experience, previously spending eight years helping elected officials, political leaders, media organizations, academic institutions and civic society organizations across five continents to research, measure, and effectively mitigate the impact of disinformation and influence operations on public opinion and elections. She previously built a digital research and communications practice serving Europe, Asia, Africa, South and Central America, and the US at a global political consulting firm. Jiore’s work informed the design of major coalition efforts to counter disinformation in the 2020 US and 2019 European Parliament elections. In 2022, Jiore testified for the U.S. Congressional House Administration Elections Subcommittee Hearing on “A Growing Threat: Foreign and Domestic Sources of Disinformation”. She is a member of Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media. Her work is cited in The Washington Post, New York Magazine, The L.A. Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and she has been a featured guest in election broadcast programs around the world, including the podcast Pod Save America.
Isabelle Frances-Wright
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Isabelle Frances-Wright

Director of Technology and Society, ISD US

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Isabelle Frances-Wright
Isabelle Frances-Wright

Director of Technology and Society, ISD US

Isabelle Frances-Wright is Director of Technology and Society at ISD US, where her work focuses on the impacts of current and emerging technologies on civic discourse and the online information ecosystem.   Previously, Isabelle was the Global Head of Election and Civic Integrity Policy at TikTok, where she led the development of policies to combat election misinformation, coordinated inauthentic behavior and synthetic media. She also built and led the company's operation centers for rapid response for both elections and high-risk civic events.  Prior to that, Isabelle served as Digital and Technology Director at The Messina Group, led by President Obama's former campaign director Jim Messina, where she worked on electoral, legislative and advocacy campaigns both domestically and internationally.  Her work has been recognized and featured by leading media outlets including The New York Times, NBC, USA Today, CNN, BBC and Fast Company. An active member of Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media, Isabelle also lends her expertise to the national advisory board of election integrity nonprofit Keep Our Republic. 
Katherine Keneally
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Katherine Keneally

Director of Threat Analysis and Prevention, ISD US

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Katherine Keneally
Katherine Keneally

Director of Threat Analysis and Prevention, ISD US

Katherine is the Director of Threat Analysis and Prevention, ISD US. Katherine leads the strategic thinking and projects that track online to offline threats of political violence across the ideological spectrum at the intersection of extremism, hate and disinformation in the US. She additionally advises civil society, law enforcement and government stakeholders on political violence detection, prevention and rapid response. She has been a guest on BBC and CSPAN, and her work has been referenced in The New York Times, Salon and The Hill.

Prior to joining ISD, Katherine consulted and led research for the US government related to human trafficking and hostage taking. She also was an Intelligence Research Specialist at the NYPD Intelligence Bureau's Racially/Ethnically Motivated Extremism Unit ("REME") where she supported terrorism investigations and tactical and strategic research related to individuals and groups affiliated with politically- and ethnically-motivated, as well as single-issue, extremist ideologies. Katherine has a Master of Arts Degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University, and a Bachelor of Science in Political Studies and History from Rocky Mountain College.
Melanie Smith
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Melanie Smith

Director of Research, ISD US

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Melanie Smith
Melanie Smith

Director of Research, ISD US

Melanie Smith is the Director of Research for ISD US. Based in Washington DC, she leads a team of analysts focused on detecting, exposing and mitigating the threats associated with online information operations. Melanie was previously the Director of Analysis at the network analytics firm Graphika, re-joining ISD in 2021 to expand the organization’s research portfolio in the US. Her recent work has focused on topics like state-backed influence campaigns, public health misinformation and election-related violence.
Jared Holt
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Jared Holt

Senior Research Analyst, ISD US

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Jared Holt
Jared Holt

Senior Research Analyst, ISD US

Jared Holt is Senior Research Analyst at ISD, working on the topics of hate and extremism in the United States. He has authored definitive research and investigative reports scrutinising the overlap between technology and US political extremism. Jared frequently provides expert commentary and analysis to national media outlets and policymakers, helping to educate public audiences and institutions about the subject matters he examines. Prior to joining ISD, he worked at The Atlantic Council's DFRLab, Right Wing Watch and Media Matters for America. His journalism work has been published in national outlets including The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Columbia Journalism Review, HuffPost and GEN Magazine. He is based in Chicago.
Kevin D. Reyes
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Kevin D. Reyes

Senior OSINT Specialist, ISD US

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Kevin D. Reyes
Kevin D. Reyes

Senior OSINT Specialist, ISD US

Kevin D. Reyes is a Senior OSINT Specialist at ISD, where he leads methodology for open-source investigations and researches online hate, extremism, conspiracy theories, and disinformation. He also teaches open-source investigations as an adjunct instructor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. 

A recognized digital investigator, Kevin was previously director of research and intelligence at a consulting firm, where he conducted and managed hundreds of open-source and undercover investigations into illicit trade and transnational crime for Fortune 500 clients. Some of these investigations led to landmark civil cases as well as criminal prosecution by agencies within the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, among others. He also worked in law library management at several law schools, and in international criminal law research at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights in Washington DC and at the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law. 

Reyes is highly engaged in the development of the OSINT field. While at Berkeley's Human Rights Center in 2016, he helped launch the first university-based, open-source investigations lab of its kind to discover and verify human rights violations and potential war crimes. He was consulting editor of Digital Witness: Using Open Source Information for Human Rights Investigation, Documentation, and Accountability (Oxford University Press, 2020), the first book of its kind to teach the methods and best-practice of open-source research featuring contributions from other leaders in the field. He contributed to early work that led to the Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations (2022), the first-ever manual on the effective use of open-source information in international criminal and human rights investigations, published by the United Nations. 

Kevin is a first-generation graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. His research and expertise have also been showcased in a variety of media outlets including ABC News, the Hill, Politico, Politifact, VICE, and NHK.
Lucy Cooper
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Lucy Cooper

Digital Research Analyst, ISD US

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Lucy Cooper
Lucy Cooper

Digital Research Analyst, ISD US

Lucy Cooper is a Digital Research Analyst at ISD US. Lucy holds a BA in political science from Barnard College of Columbia University, where she focused on political behavior, voting and elections in the United States. She has previously worked on political campaigns in Michigan and as a research assistant.
Ellen Jacobs
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Ellen Jacobs

Digital Policy Manager, ISD US

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Ellen Jacobs
Ellen Jacobs

Digital Policy Manager, ISD US

Ellen Jacobs is a Digital Policy Manager for ISD US. She focuses on mitigating the effects of online harms, including those from disinformation, extremism and hate speech, by advancing ISD’s digital policy and tech accountability objectives. In her role, she represents ISD to a diverse array of stakeholders including elected officials, NGOs, academics, researchers, and others interested in platform accountability and regulation. Prior to joining ISD, Ellen was at the Omidyar Network, where her funding and advocacy work focused on issues related to platform accountability and open source technologies. Ellen holds an MIA in Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy from Columbia SIPA and a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago.
Ever Mack
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Ever Mack

Digital Research Analyst, ISD US

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Ever Mack
Ever Mack

Digital Research Analyst, ISD US

Ever Mack is a Digital Research Analyst at ISD US, where she specializes in election research. Prior to joining ISD, she acted as a Voter Protection Manager for One Georgia, Stacey Abrams' Leadership Committee, and was part of the Research and Policy Department at Fair Fight Action. Ever has a BA in Political Science from Howard University, where she focused on international comparative and electoral politics. 
Sabine Lawrence
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Sabine Lawrence

Digital Research Analyst, ISD US

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Sabine Lawrence
Sabine Lawrence

Digital Research Analyst, ISD US

Sabine Lawrence (she/they) is a Digital Research Analyst at ISD US, where she researches online hate, extremism and disinformation in the US. Prior to joining ISD, Sabine worked for Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research as a Digital Research Associate tracking disinformation narratives during the 2020 election and Fors Marsh Group fighting COVID-19 disinformation. Sabine holds a BSc in Anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University School of World Studies, where she wrote her thesis on the philosophy and social dynamics of involuntarily celibate (incel) communities.
Valeria de la Fuente
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Valeria de la Fuente

Press and Public Relations Coordinator, ISD US

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Valeria de la Fuente
Valeria de la Fuente

Press and Public Relations Coordinator, ISD US

Valeria de la Fuente is a Press and Public Relations Coordinator at ISD US. She manages our media relations and outreach to ensure ISD’s work continues to raise awareness and drive the discussion around extremism, hate, and disinformation. Before joining ISD, Valeria was a research assistant at the Program on Extremism, where she focused on violent extremist movements and trends across the US. She also worked at the Washington Institute for the Near East Policy on the Israeli-Arab relations portfolio and was as a helpline assistant at Parents for Peace assisting in counter-radicalization interventions. She holds an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Criminology from the University of Seville.