Practical learning for international action.

Who We Are

CDA is an action research and advisory organization dedicated to improving the effectiveness and accountability of peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian efforts wherever communities experience conflict.

For more than twenty-five years CDA has worked directly with organizations, institutions, and corporations, driven by two fundamental beliefs:

  • People belong at the center. The knowledge, perspectives, and capacities of people and communities affected by conflict are essential to positive social change and to constructive engagements by international actors.
  • Context matters. Effectiveness depends on a deep understanding of, and will to act responsibly within, complex local dynamics.

Since the foundational work of Do No Harm and local capacities for peace, CDA has been a leading voice in the global movement to shift power in international decision-making closer to the people and communities most impacted. While philosophical and structural challenges have challenged the pace of change, we see this shift happening in every region and the global peace and aid systems. Yet much of the published thinking does not fully reflect who is leading, innovating, and asking the critical questions.

Black Lives Matter: A Statement from CDA Team Members

At CDA Collaborative Learning (CDA), we uphold, unequivocally, that Black Lives Matter. 

American society is structured on a legacy of racist violence against Black people. This legacy persists today. Swift and urgent action is needed to come to terms with and eradicate this pervasive structural and physical violence. 

This is a moment to speak and state clearly that we condemn police violence against Black people in the United States. 

This is also a moment to listen. CDA’s mission compels us to listen to Black people in the United States, their experiences, and their demands for change

CDA was founded on the recognition that conflict is everywhere and that it is everyone’s responsibility to listen to people most affected by conflict and other crises. Although we are an organization based in the United States, our work and attention has an international focus. We recognize we have work to do to understand how we can help dismantle the systems of institutional racism that contribute to violence against Black people in the United States. We at CDA commit to practice what we value most, by listening, learning, and taking action to more explicitly incorporate anti-racist values and practices into our work. 

Signed: Nanako Tamaru, Sabina Robillard, Lillie Ris, Kathryn Nwajiaku, Brett Northfield, Ben Miller, Maureen Moriarty-Lempke, Sarah Cechvala, Grace Boone, Dost Bardouille, Ruth Rhoads Allen, Siad Darwish, Gabe Collins, Seth Owusu-Mante, Ajay Saini


Watch the recording of CDA’s book launch conversation with Séverine Autesserre, The Frontlines of Peace, and Grande Lum, America’s Peacemakers. Among others, this conversation explored how to address systemic injustice driving civil rights conflicts globally and in the US.


On April 7, 2021 CDA took center stage at ConnexUS Live Event hosted by ConnexUS. The event was led by Sabina C. Robillard, Ruth Rhoads Allen, and Elly Maloba (Sera Thabiti Executive Director & key collaborator). It centered on CDA’s resource “Conflict Sensitivity & Public Health Emergencies: Practical Programming Adaptation During COVID-19 and Beyond.” You can watch the recording of the event here.


For how CDA is Leveraging Learning Networks, read our March 2021 newsletter here.


Read the new Stopping As Success‘ (SAS) book, What Transformation Takes: Evidence of Responsible INGO Transitions to Locally Led Development Around the World. The book compiles 19 case studies from the SAS program and takes readers on a journey to examine responsible transitions from international non-governmental organizations to locally led entities.



How We Partner

Systems change occurs when deep learning meets creative collaboration. That’s why CDA works with strategic partners across the nexus of peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian response to facilitate bold action wherever communities experience conflict

Advisory Partnerships improve impact in the most challenging contexts by applying practical experience and tried evidence from 25 years of collaborative learning. Together we equip corporations, organizations, and funding agencies to be effective and accountable to people in conflict-affected societies.

Collaborative Learning Partners join CDA in curiosity and rigorous action research. Together we engage questions that reflect the complex challenges of practitioners – working in their context and globally – and policymakers, learning with them to identify practical approaches for significant, positive, lasting change for people and societies around the world.

Collaborative Partners

Humanity United
peace direct
Search for Common Ground
Norwegian MFA
Total SA
International Alert

Supporting Partners

Global Affairs Canada
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Norwegian MFA
Norwegian MFA
Norwegian MFA
World Vision UK
Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)
Norwegian MFA
Paung Sie Facility
International Rescue Committee