2010 Peace Writers
Sara Koenders holds a B.S. in cultural anthropology and an M.A. in conflict studies and human rights, both from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. As a student, she has written extensively about social inequalities and the human and political dimensions of violence, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Born and raised in the Netherlands, her commitment to justice, peace and human rights has been fostered by her personal experiences abroad. After high school Koenders traveled to Peru, where she volunteered in a children’s daycare. For her bachelor’s thesis she researched local politics and political participation in an indigenous town in post-conflict Guatemala. Her master’s research in Brazil focused on the coping strategies of women trying to raise their children in a Rio de Janeiro shantytown marked by violence, fear and insecurity. Back in her home country, Koenders worked to raise awareness about life in conflict situations. Her current job as a civic integration consultant has allowed her to work with a diversity of people from all over the world.
Mary Liepold is editor in chief for the global community of Peace X Peace, an e-network for women around the world. Since 2005 she has interviewed hundreds of peacemakers in more than 100 countries for Peace X Peace’s PeaceTimes and Voices from the Frontlines. Before that she created the magazine Children’s Voice and wrote speeches, proposals and a range of advocacy materials for the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA). In the 1980s, before her 15 years at CWLA, she was assistant director of the American Catholic Lay Network, a project of the Center of Concern, and a regional coordinator at Peace Links. She also wrote and edited publications for the National Science Teachers Association, FEMA and the American Geophysical Union. Earlier still, she earned a doctorate in American literature from the Catholic University of America while operating a family daycare business. Both undertakings offered rich opportunities for passionate peacebuilding. Liepold is also a mother, grandmother, Secular Franciscan, board member of Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore and student of Nonviolent Communication.
A freelance writer and editor, Sigrid Tornquist believes that putting words to an experience can be a catalyst for change. Most of her varied work experiences have been focused on respecting and elevating the opportunities and rights of people whose value is often not recognized by society at large. She has worked with children with disabilities, senior citizens in a resident setting and in the community, and for an elementary school with a high at-risk student population. Tornquist has a B.A. in writing from Metro State University and is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in writing from Hamline University, both in St. Paul, Minn. She spent several weeks in Cameroon writing about the Birth Attendant Training Program class offered annually by the Life Abundant Program, which seeks to empower people in the community to combat the high mortality rates of women and children.Tornquist worked with peacemaker Sarah Akoru Lochodo of Kenya and wrote the narrative "Empowered to Hope."
Updated 12/10 - Tornquist's column "Perspective," in the magazine Speciality Fabrics Review was awarded Gold in the category Best Regular Column. The award is given by the Minnesota Magazine & Publishers Association.
Sofia Javed is a perpetual student of languages and aspires to share stories around the world. With a background in media and peace studies, she is grateful for the opportunity to combine her strengths and help document stories that contribute to positive change.
*Photos by Michele Zousmer