Leadership of the Political Leadership Academy

Alpaslan Özerdem

Dr. Alpaslan Özerdem is the Dean of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution and professor of peace and conflict studies. Prior to his appointment as Dean in August 2019, Dr Özerdem was Associate Pro-Vice- Chancellor for Research at Coventry University in the UK. Dr Özerdem specializes in conflict resolution, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction. With over 20 year field research experience in Afghanistan, Bosnia- Herzegovina, El Salvador, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Nigeria, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Turkey.

Bob Mitchell

Bob Mitchell is the founder of the Michigan Political Leadership Program that has been operating at Michigan State University for the last 26 years and now volunteers as Founder and President the Bipartisan Leadership Project. Bob is an educator and business innovator having initiated the nation’s first independent electric transmission company. He has had an extensive partisan career in campaigns and government service in the cabinet of Gov. Blanchard, Chief of Staff of US Sen. Gravel and heading an agriculture agency in Michigan for President Carter.

Charles Davidson

Dr. Charles Davidson is the Executive Director of the PLA and serves as Research Faculty at the Carter School.  He is also the founder and President of Innovations in Peacebuilding International, an organization which works to creatively accompany peace in war-torn countries. His current professional pursuits with IPI include the economic reintegration of former child soldiers in the Eastern D.R. Congo. He has also worked and/or researched in Iraq, Afghanistan, Uganda, Burundi, Colombia, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Indonesia and across Europe.

Linda C. Mathes

Linda is the Special Advisor for the Bipartisan Leadership Project (BLP) which equips public servants and a new generation of leaders with fundamental skills necessary to work collaboratively for the common good.  She supports the BLP’s partnership with the Political Leadership Academy at George Mason University’s Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution.  She manages the community Working Group assisting Fairfax County Public Schools in creating the John Lewis leadership program to prepare students

Current Instructors

  • Jeni Davidson-Clement is from Memphis, Tennessee where she is a 5th grade teacher in a local, public, charter elementary school. Jeni holds an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and a Masters in Teaching. Since working in the public school system, Jeni has become passionate about providing an equitable education to all students and educating others how to work together to achieve this task. 
  • Portrait of Alicia Jones

    Executive Director, Challenging Racism

    For over 20 years, Alicia has been a supporter and advocate for people of color (PoC) in her various roles.  From working with Urban Enterprise Zones, chambers, local, regional and state agencies and departments, she has consistently been utilized as a resource for reaching and organizing in PoC community.
  • Photo of Tehama Lopez Bunyasi

    Associate Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Carter School

    A political scientist by training, Dr. Lopez Bunyasi's scholarship is broadly concerned with matters of race, racism and antiracism in the United States, with specializations in structural inequality, racial attitudes and ideologies, racial marginalization, and the politics of whiteness.
  • Headshot Photo of Solon Simmons

    Professor at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Carter School

    Dr. Simmons teaches classes on conflict theory, narrative, media, discourse and conflict, human rights, quantitative and qualitative methodology, global conflict, and critical theory. His current work on peace and conflict resolution combines Weberian institutional theory, with critical social philosophy, bringing in insights from semiotics and narrative analysis.
  • Marcia is an attorney and brings over 20 years of experience working in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) across industries and with various levels within those to include Fortune 500 companies, chief and senior executives, financial institutions, universities, not-for-profit, faith-based and within the public-sector.

Past Instructors

Jamie Raskin, U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District

Paul Ray, Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

Charles Chavis, Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution and History, Carter School

Qasim Rashid, US Congressional Candidate for Virginia’s 1st District

Mara Schoeny, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs, Carter School

Allison Silberberg, Former Mayor of Alexandria

Antti Pentikäinen, Director and Research Professor, Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation, Carter School

Patricia Maulden, Associate Professor and Student Engagement Coordinator, Carter School

Barbara Favola, Virginia State Senator

Sara Cobb, Drucie Cumbie Professor and Director, Center for the Study of Narrative and Conflict Resolution, Carter School

Terri Freeman, Executive Director, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture

Howard Ross, Author of Everyday Bias and ReInventing Diversity

Tavares Floyd, Civil Rights Attourney