Billy Ford is a program officer for the Burma team at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Ford joined USIP in 2019 after having held positions with The Asia Foundation, Freedom House, and numerous Burmese organizations. 

At The Asia Foundation, he worked on municipal governance reform and led the production of the City Life Survey, which is one of Burma’s largest public perception surveys. Ford spent two years in Burma as Freedom House’s first country representative, where he oversaw programs to support human rights defenders and human rights-oriented think tanks. He has also conducted research on land governance in Burma for the Tharti Myay Foundation and the Global Justice Center. In addition to spending two years in Burma, Ford lived for a year in Vietnam, where he studied Buddhism, and a year in Malaysia as a Fulbright Fellow. 

Ford’s work at USIP focuses on economics and peacebuilding, intergroup bias reduction, religion and conflict, and program evaluation. He leads efforts on the Burma team to optimize program implementation through the use of technology and creative management practices. He is intimately involved in program monitoring and evaluation, including efforts to explore experimental and quasi-experimental methods to measure the effect of USIP’s programs.  

Ford holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Hamilton College.

Publications By Billy

Myanmar Coup: Military Regime Seeks to Weaponize Religion

Myanmar Coup: Military Regime Seeks to Weaponize Religion

Thursday, December 16, 2021

By: Billy Ford;  Zarchi Oo

Ten months have passed since Myanmar’s military overthrew the country’s elected government, and by now it’s apparent that arrests, executions, torture and financial pressures will not pacify a population unwilling to be ruled by generals. So, the coup’s leader, Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, is seeking to recast himself through military-controlled media. Rather than an autocrat who overturned the popular will, he portrays himself as the next in a long line of just and honorable Buddhist warrior-kings, monarchs who protected Buddhism from public apathy and external threats. The military is hoping that a barrage of religious propaganda can accomplish what force and violence have not. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion

Myanmar Struggles to Reverse a Coup; Democracies Can Help

Myanmar Struggles to Reverse a Coup; Democracies Can Help

Thursday, December 9, 2021

By: Billy Ford;  Jason Tower

Few countries this year dramatize more powerfully the need for a global focus on strengthening democracy than Myanmar, now 10 months into a new chapter of military dictatorship and violence following its February 1 coup. Myanmar is a testament to the vulnerability of democracy when armed forces expect no repercussions for brutality and can rely on support from authoritarian governments which will arm, legitimize and finance them. As the United States and partners seek ways to boost democracy in this week’s White House summit, experts on Myanmar offered recommendations for policy.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Civilian-Military RelationsDemocracy & Governance

A New Myanmar Forum Aims to Unite Democratic Forces

A New Myanmar Forum Aims to Unite Democratic Forces

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

By: Aye Chan;  Billy Ford

Since the Myanmar military overthrew the country’s elected government early this year, the forces of resistance have set two immediate objectives: Prevent the generals from gaining military and administrative control of the country, and unify their own diverse and fractious democracy movement. The movement has made progress toward the first goal. On the second, a shared vision of the future is yet to emerge, as divergent stakeholders struggle to overcome historical grievances. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceMediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Myanmar in the Streets: A Nonviolent Movement Shows Staying Power

Myanmar in the Streets: A Nonviolent Movement Shows Staying Power

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

By: Zarchi Oo;  Billy Ford;  Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.

The people of Myanmar have opposed military rule in the past but never like this: In the face of horrific brutality by a lawless regime, Burmese have risen up in an historic national movement of nonviolent resistance. Led by young women, the fractious country has united across ethnic, generational and class lines, weaponizing social norms and social media in a refusal to accept the generals’ February 1 seizure of power.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Nonviolent Action

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