Creative appoints new Vice President to lead its largest division 

Sharon Van Pelt has been appointed Vice President and Senior Director of the Communities in Transition Division at Creative Associates International, a social-impact company implementing development programs in more than 30 countries. 

With more than three decades of experience in political dialogue, policy reform, local governance and conflict prevention, she joins Creative from Chemonics where she served as the Senior Global Democracy and Governance Practice Lead for 10 years. 

Leland Kruvant, President & CEO of Creative, says Van Pelt’s experience fits with the company’s model that puts programmatic excellence and innovation at the center of its development efforts around the world. 

“Sharon is a committed professional and a talented leader who can advance Creative’s mission and vision,” Kruvant says. “Her commitment to development, ability to manage complex programs in challenging environments and dedication to building a robust staff made her a natural choice for us.”

Van Pelt says Creative’s reputation for trying new approaches and its collaborative atmosphere drew her to the position leading the company’s largest division. 

What motivates me is actually getting to know the contexts in which we work, what challenges people face, and how they can solve them,” she says. “What I often find is that this is highly non-technical. It tends to be very inter-relational and political. And it’s that dynamic of various actors coming together to work on a problem, to try and understand it— gain a common understanding of it— and solve it, and that’s what really drives me. That dynamic is what I find is at the core of the passion I have for political transitions, democracy and governance.” 

Creative’s Communities in Transition Division has programs operating in 15 countries, including the USAID Office of Transition Initiative’s West Africa Littorals Regional Initiative and several programs supporting liberated areas of Syria 

The Division has four Practice Areas – Stabilization, Political Transitions, Democracy, Governance and Electoral Integrity, and Citizen Security – and counts on a diverse set of clients, including USAID and the U.S. State Department, as well as the German, Danish and Finnish governments.  

Click to watch an interview and read a Q&A with Sharon Van Pelt. Photo by Skip Brown.

 Tom Wheelock retires as CIT’s Senior Vice President 

Van Pelt takes over as Tom Wheelock retires after 12 years as the Senior Vice President and Senior Director of the Communities in Transition Division.  

Kruvant describes Wheelock as “an exceptional leader who has guided and grown the Division to its current 15 countries, as well as having had a tremendous, positive impact on the staff and beneficiaries. 

Wheelock says it has been an honor to shape a division that takes on some of the toughest development assignments facing communities. 

It has been an enormous privilege to lead CIT staff and its projects implementing in some of the world’s toughest environments,” Wheelock told his staff. “During my conversations in the past few weeks with donor colleagues, they clearly hold Creative in high regard for implementing outstanding programs in conflict-prone countries. That is an accolade that is hard to earn.” 

Following a leader like Wheelock is tough, though Kruvant says Van Pelt is the right person to step in the role. 

In addition to Chemonics, Van Pelt has served as principal governance adviser for the German GIZ and U.N. Development Programme, among others. While a Foreign Service Officer, Van Pelt earned the USAID Meritorious Honor Award for advancing policy dialogue on decentralization and transparency during the Guatemala peace process.  

She served as Chief of Party in Moldova, Director of Governance for counter-extremism and peacebuilding programs in francophone Africa, and as an advocacy adviser in Bangladesh, Guatemala and Nigeria. Van Pelt is a Certified Performance Technologist for the International Society for Performance Improvement, and trains staff globally on capacity development, including problem-driven iterative adaptation. She is also the co-chair of the D.C.-based Working Group of the Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice. 

Van Pelt holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in international development from the American University in Washington, D.C. 

Click to watch an interview and read a Q&A with Sharon Van Pelt

About Creative Associates International 

Creative Associates International works with underserved communities by sharing expertise and experience in education, elections, economic growth, governance and transitions from conflict to peace.   

Based in Washington, D.C., Creative has active projects in nearly 30 countries. Since 1977, it has worked in nearly 90 countries and on almost every continent. Recognized for its ability to work rapidly, flexibly and effectively in conflict-affected environments, Creative is committed to generating long-term sustainable solutions to complex development problems.  

Creative has grown to become one of the leaders among the U.S. private sector implementers of global development projects. Creative is minority owned and operated.  

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