My true love is community organizing. My happy place is facilitating discussions around shared purpose and collective action. I love helping move individuals, organizations, and working groups from brainstorming through solution implementation—and everything in between. I know that not everyone will get his or her way, but my hope is that through the process, everyone will be heard. I’ve always had a deep-rooted sense that the true solutions — the ones that are long-lasting, sustainable, and successful — must come from the community itself. In 2005, after being part of a year-long leadership development program (and yes, I’m such a nerd that I returned the following year to be a small group facilitator!) led by Shoshanna Cogan and her partner, I created this vision for community change:
Over the past several months, we’ve taken this model and worked with a newly expanded team of experts in the dangerous speech and atrocity prevention community, to reshape and expand iACT’s U.S.-based work in order to increase the impact of our humanitarian action and create a new culture of participation for people facing and responding to humanitarian crises.
Today, I am proud to announce the Pathways for Peace Collaborative, a new direction for iACT’s U.S.-based programs that address identity-based violence, from dangerous speech to genocide.
Pathways for Peace Collaborative will develop effective leaders (called Pathfinders!) and tools that seek to build and strengthen community-based action and sustained political will to address the entire spectrum of identity-based violence, from dangerous speech to genocide.
iACT education, leadership, and advocacy tools such as Camp Darfur, Global Citizens, LEAD with EMPATHY, iACT Ambassadors, and the Carl Wilkens Fellowship will be evaluated, reshaped, expanded upon, or even be part of planned abandonment. New tools, trainings, and curricula will be created and reach new communities, especially those of recently resettled refugees and communities who have previously experienced mass atrocities and genocide and arenow living in America. In the coming weeks and months, the Carl Wilkens Fellowship leadership program (and branding) will be folded into iACT’s, with alumni leaders transitioning to Pathways for Peace Fellows. A huge thank you to the Collaborative’s team of experts, including Carl Wilkens, Cory Williams, Stacey Martino, Mike Brand, Mac Hamilton, Allyson Neville, Sadia Hameed, Lee Ann De Reus, Tonei Glavinic, Laura Livingston and others for helping shape our first steps in this new direction.
Each moment that I work alongside the iACT team, our expert advisors, and community leaders, joy and a feeling of a rejuvenation fills me up. We have in front of us an opportunity, and, now, a collective path to counter dangerous speech, prevent mass atrocities, and break the cycles of violence and trauma endemic to survivors, communities, and descendants.
For now, I will leave you with some of the Collaborative’s work thus far. Stay tuned for more!
Pathways for Peace Collaborative: Program Values
1. Shared Purpose
We choose to develop relationships with people of varying identities and help them forge pathways that unite diverse people. We foster connection and fellowship, bridging together the wisdom of grassroots and grasstops, sharing resources, and leveraging strengths of communities and organizations.
2. Driving Action
Statements alone cannot fulfill the promise of “Never Again” that was made after the Holocaust. We must drive people to take meaningful, measurable action, locally, nationally, and internationally. Advocacy to end and prevent identity-based violence, mass atrocities, and genocide is a core part of our programming.
3. Prevention First
We empower community-based Pathfinders to identify and address the drivers of conflict in their own communities in order to prevent violence before it begins.
4. Personal and Community Growth
We believe that active reflection of our own language and actions—at the personal and community level—is an essential part of fostering a more inclusive environment where all identities are seen, heard, and accepted.
Pathways for Peace Collaborative: Pillars of Practice
Active promotion of peaceful communities through campaigns that are national in reach and can be elaborated upon locally.
Adaptable leadership and community-based tools, workshops, and curricula that can be strengthened and adapted by pathfinders to meet local needs, either in formal or informal education settings.
Speech and Dialogue
Purposeful creation of space for Pathfinders to reflect on how words and their delivery impact others. The growth of thoughtful facilitators who pay forward their learnings through dialogue from one-on-one conversations to community-level gatherings.