Our Team

Social development specialists with decades of
International development sector experience

Our Team


Emma Grant

Senior Technical Expert

Emma is a Senior Technical Expert and cluster coordinator for SDDirect’s work on Gender Based Violence and Security, Justice & Peace Building. She is also involved in our work in Governance, Voice and Accountability and Inclusive Public Services. Emma’s background spans the social development and governance spheres, with 20 years’ experience in academia, civil society, and the public sector. She has a (mixed methods) PhD in youth violence and social capital in Colombia.

Since joining SDDirect in early 2016, Emma has provided strategic gender and inclusion advice to a range of programming, including DFID programmes on accountability in Somalia and Tanzania; access to justice in South Sudan; violence against women and girls in Nepal; WASH in Ethiopia; and urban shelter research in East Africa. She is programme director for the UN Gender Based Violence in Emergencies Helpdesk, and a Board member on a range of programme consortia such as the Civil Society Support Programme in Ethiopia. From 2016- 2018, she served as Technical Director to DFID DRC’s La Pepiniere programme on adolescent girls’ economic empowerment.

Before joining us, Emma spent ten years with the Department for International Development (DFID), where she worked in technical, policy and management capacities, accredited to DFID’s social development, governance and evaluation cadres. Her DFID career has included diverse posts providing social development expertise within the Policy Division; technical support to country programmes; and broad governance and social development capacity in a three-year posting in Ethiopia. In her final DFID post, she worked as Senior Governance Advisor and team leader heading the Security and Justice Team in the Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE). Throughout her time at DFID, she has promoted inclusion and gender equity issues through a broad range of thematics – including state-building; Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG); accountability; corruption; women’s political participation; civil society; security and justice. She has enjoyed working closely with colleagues across the UK Government, as well as national governments, civil society organisations and the donor community.

Prior to joining DFID, Emma worked at the World Bank’s Latin American and Caribbean Division, on a range of social development initiatives, including assessing the contribution of social accountability initiatives to the PRSPs in Honduras and Nicaragua.

From 2003 - 2005, she led the human rights advocacy work of a consortium of UK and Irish NGOs working in Colombia, participating in national, European and global networks, alongside counterpart civil society coalitions in Colombia. From 1997- 2002, she worked as a researcher at London South Bank University Faculty of the Built Environment, where she was involved in a range of research, consultancy and programming. Highlights included coordinating north-south academic networks on mental health in Sub Saharan Africa and urban health in Latin America; action research on youth violence and mental health in Colombia; and collaborative research on urban development in slums in Guatemala.

Since moving to SDDirect, she has enjoyed the opportunity to apply her research, policy, advocacy and programming skills to advance understanding and programming on social justice and empowerment. She holds a BA in French and Spanish from Oxford University, and a Masters in Latin American studies from the University of London.