Our People

Chris Nehls

Senior Systems, Research, and Learning Associate, Governance

Chris Nehls is the Senior Systems, Research, and Learning Associate for the Governance Program at Democracy Fund, an independent foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on principled leadership and effective governance, Chris supports the Governance Program in its mission to invest in approaches that help our elected leaders deliberate, negotiate, and serve the American people. He leads the Governance Team’s grantmaking efforts to improve how Congress communicates with constituents and gathers information needed to legislate effectively. Current grantees include the OpenGov Foundation, Congressional Management Foundation, Demand Progress, TechCongress, Lincoln Network, and Popvox LegiDash Fund.

Chris spearheads the Governance Program’s investigations of the Congressional system to understand where work by grantees and partners may be most effective in producing meaningful improvements. He also works with the Democracy Fund’s Strategy, Learning, and Impact team to coordinate the organization’s approach to strategy and impact assessment. Chris began working for Democracy Fund as a consultant to the Governance Initiative in May 2015, contributing to a strategic planning project. He joined the foundation’s full-time staff in December 2015.

Before joining the Governance team, Chris worked for CQ Roll Call in Washington, DC. He was the founding editor of the digital advocacy blog Connectivity, authored pieces for CQ Weekly and Politics in America, and provided research support to a variety of products. Prior to moving to Washington in 2009, Chris taught history courses at colleges in Virginia, Arkansas, and Rhode Island. He holds a PhD in 20th Century U.S. History from the University of Virginia, specializing in American political culture. He received undergraduate degrees in English and History from the University of Virginia in 1999.