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Alumna Cultivates Leaders to be Changemakers
What is the mission of PeaceEarth and what is your role in fulfilling this mission?
PeaceEarth is an international non-governmental organization founded by Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. The organization is dedicated to peacebuilding and community empowerment in areas of conflict everywhere. We focus on empowering and inspiring youth, women and global citizens to promote peace across the planet – from Jonglei in South Sudan to South Central Los Angeles in the United States of America. My role is primarily to design and execute conflict resolution training workshops for our programs, manage tasks pertaining to our organizational development, and cultivate relationships with other institutions that seek to build peace in conflict-affected areas.
How did you become connected to this organization and what appealed to you about it?
I became connected to PeaceEarth Foundation thanks in part to the Kroc School of Peace Studies. In early 2012, I received an announcement from the Kroc School about the Chief of Staff position at PeaceEarth Foundation. While I didn’t intend to apply for that particular role, I was instantly intrigued because I was already working at a conflict resolution organization in Los Angeles, and I was craving to do more international work in order to put my background in foreign affairs and languages to use. I reached out to PeaceEarth stating my interest in getting involved, and a short while later I met with Mr. Whitaker and he offered me the position of Program Manager, which is my current role.
Did your Master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies (MAPJ) prepare you for this role, and if so, how?
Definitely. The MAPJ degree paved the way for all of the positions that I have held since graduation. Having undergone the program, I can assess local, national and international conflicts on a substantive level; one that is rooted in diagnosing the underlying issues before tacking sustainable solutions . Without a doubt, the MAPJ degree provided me with the knowledge to think, plan, and execute my work in a diplomatic and strategic fashion. I appreciate that the MA degree cultivates ‘big picture’ thinking, and presents to students the important roles that civil society, government and business can have in our highly interdependent world.
4. How will you evaluate progress towards the organizational goals?
We will evaluate progress toward our organizational goals using many benchmarks, which differ from program to program. As a whole, however, we aim to educate our program participants in peacebuilding skills and processes so that they can not only have the abilities to prevent, manage, resolve and transform conflicts within their own communities, but also to train their peers in these skills. We also assess our progress based on the impact that our participants have in establishing community-building projects such as creating youth centers, computer centers, and income-generating opportunities. Furthermore, we evaluate our progress based on changes in participants’ attitudes. We hope to cultivate confident leaders who are inspired to be changemakers to the degree that they attract others in this path.