George (Gio) Kobakhidze, Deputy Country Director, Ukraine
George (Gio) Kobakhidze is the deputy country director for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Ukraine and the technical lead for IFES globally on civic education. Kobakhidze has eight years of experience in the democracy and governance field, with postings in Washington, D.C.; Tbilisi, Georgia; and Kyiv, Ukraine. In Georgia, Kobakhidze designed and managed IFES’ civic and voter education programming, which included support to civil society organizations working in this field, as well as the introduction of an interactive, university-level civic education course that is currently offered at the majority of accredited universities throughout the country.
Kobakhidze is currently stationed with IFES in Ukraine, where he oversees the implementation of multiple projects designed to support the consolidation of Ukrainian democracy through more participatory, transparent and accountable electoral processes and institutions. Key areas of programming include: technical assistance and support to electoral management bodies, political finance regulators, civil society, media, and academic institutions; fostering dialogue on electoral and political finance reform and implementation; enhancing inclusion in the electoral process for underrepresented and disenfranchised populations; and supporting informed citizen participation during and between election cycles through civic and voter education. Presently, Kobakhidze is spearheading an initiative to introduce a university-level civic education course in Ukraine’s institutions of higher education; this initiative is part of an effort to strengthen the knowledge and skills that are associated with students’ effective democratic citizenship in the digital age through an interactive classroom environment that fosters democratic values and attitudes. A native English speaker, Kobakhidze has intermediate proficiency in Georgian and Russian.