Dr. Gavin Helf is currently a Senior Expert on Central Asia for the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, where he works on Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Before joining USIP, he worked as a Senior Democracy and Governance Advisor in the USAID Asia and Middle East Bureaus, supporting democracy promotion and countering violent extremism portfolios. From 2007 through 2009 he worked at USAID/Iraq, managing and helping design much of the democracy and governance, community peace-building and civilian assistance portfolio there during “the surge.” He studied, lived and worked in the USSR and its successor states from 1984 through 2007, mostly in Central Asia and the Caucuses, with non-governmental organizations and with USAID. From 2005-2007 he was a democracy and governance advisor at USAID/Armenia. From 2003-2005 he worked as a consultant on Central Asia. From 2000-2002 he was Director of Grant Programs for the Eurasia Foundation. From 1997-2000 he was Central Asia Regional Director for the International Research & Exchanges Board based in Almaty.
Gavin graduated with a BA, MA and Ph.D. in political science from UC Berkeley. He has taught Russian and Soviet foreign policy, comparative politics and security studies at Notre Dame, Cornell, Moscow’s International University, George Washington University and Georgetown University and has guest lectured at the National War College, The U.S. Military Academy, The Foreign Service Institute, the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, among others.