Our Staff


Susan Allen, Director of the Better Evidence Project

Susan Allen, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator



Susan H. Allen directs the Center for Peacemaking Practice at George Mason University’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution and as Principal Investigator has overall responsibility for the Better Evidence Project. She is a scholar-practitioner of conflict resolution. Her main focus is on interactive peacemaking from a people-centered approach, and reflective practice and research that emerges from practice contexts. She has substantial expertise in intermediary roles and coordination amongst intermediaries, evaluation of conflict resolution initiatives, and theories of change, indicators of change, and evaluation in conflict resolution practice. She has engaged long-term in conflict resolution in the South Caucasus, as well as contributing to a variety of conflict resolution initiatives in Eastern Europe, Eurasia, the Caribbean, South America, and Africa.

Susan Allen joined the Carter School core faculty in 2005 after two years teaching International Peace and Conflict Resolution as Assistant Professor at the School of International Service at American University. This was a return to the Carter School. Dr. Allen’s Ph.D. (2000) and M.S. (1995) degrees are from the Carter School. Between graduate school and joining the faculty at the Carter School, she co-founded and directed the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT) and served as Senior Program Associate for the Conflict Resolution Program at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA.

Susan Allen’s current research centers on interactive peacemaking, people-centered approaches, and ways of building theory from practice. Her work has been supported by the US Institute of Peace (Peace Scholar award, Grant program), the One Foundation, USAID, the UK Conflict Pool, the US State Department, and the William and Flora I. Hewlett Foundation, Compton Foundation, Catalyst Fund (with ACT), and US State Dept (with ACT).

Susan Allen serves on the Editorial Boards of  Caucasus Edition and Conflict Resolution Quarterly. She is on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT). She previously served on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, including as Chair of the Board in 2005.


Better Evidence Project, Executive Director, Jeff Helsing

Jeffrey Helsing, Ph.D.

Executive Director



Dr. Jeffrey Helsing is Executive Director of the Better Evidence Project and Research Associate Professor in the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution. Prior to joining the Carter School, he spent over 20 years at the United States Institute of Peace, including as Associate Vice President where he led USIP’s education and training programs as well as curriculum development that included conflict resolution training for civil society organizations, peacebuilding practitioners, youth and religious leaders, humanitarian aid workers, diplomats and military and police. Helsing was instrumental in the expansion of USIP’s education and training efforts in conflict zones around the world, including the development of local training capacity and a large suite of on-line courses in multiple languages. 

Working at the nexus of peacebuilding research, practice, and policy, he has worked to bridge theory and practice. Helsing has almost three decades of work as a trainer in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, including conflict analysis, negotiations, mediation, conflict prevention, cultural competence, facilitation skills and non-violence, particularly in the Middle East and Southeast Asia but also in Africa, Europe, South Asia, and Colombia. He has written about conflict in the Middle East, as well as about the role of education in peace processes, and peace education.

Human Rights and Conflict, which he co-edited with
human rights scholar Julie Mertus, was one of the first scholarly attempts to explore the links between human rights, humanitarian law and peacebuilding.  Helsing also has considerable experience as an educator, including five years in the Department of Political Science at the American University in Cairo as well as teaching courses at American University, George Washington University, Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania. Helsing holds a B.A. in history from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University.

Shayla Gibson, Office Administrator for the Better Evidence Project

Naomi Davis

Program Associate



Naomi Davis is the Program Associate for the Better Evidence Project, the Graduate Professional Assistant for University Life Mason Square, and is pursuing her Masters in Peace and Conflict Resolution at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School. Her concentration is in Inclusive Conflict Engagement. Naomi has professional experience working in rural to city community organizing, relational fundraising, restorative justice in schools, and welcoming refugees and immigrants in Virginia. She is interested in engaging with transitional justice from local to global levels. 

Get Involved

Presenting Useful Evidence to Inform Peacemaking Practice

BEP invites partners to join us in harnessing useful research to prevent and end war. Submit your research or suggest other materials for peer review for our Resource Library. Join our pool of reviewers who help discern sound evidence to add to the Resource Library. Help us help peacemakers to be more effective.