Speakers, Panelists & Organizations


David Andersen-Rodgers is an associate professor of government and coordinator of the peace and conflict resolution minor at California State University, Sacramento. His teaching and research has focused on a wide range of issues pertaining to peace and conflict including small arms and light weapons proliferation, foreign policy decision-making and non-state actor-triggered crises, and internally displaced persons during peace processes. His forthcoming book (2018, Rowman & Littlefield), co-authored with Kerry Crawford, examines the landscape of human security in theory and in practice. His recent scholarship has been published in Conflict Management and Peace Science, Refugee Survey Quarterly, and the Journal of Global Initiatives.

Charlene Bearhead is a mother, grandmother, community member, experienced educator and education innovator with 30 years of regional, national and international experience in the field.  Currently she is the Education Coordinator for the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, and is the project coordinator for the Alberta Joint Commitment to Action: Education for Reconciliation. She serves as Co-Chair of the Downie-Wenjack Fund Pathways to Education Canada Indigenous Education Advisory Circle and is a member of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Indigenous Education Working Group supporting the development of national educational programming at the Museum. Bearhead recently served as the first Education Lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba and is a certified teacher, and former school principal.

Austin Beiermann, a senior majoring in Economics and Politics and Government at Pacific Lutheran University, is one of the 2017 Peace Scholars. Along with his faculty advisor, he will be presenting on a water access project organized by PLU in Nicaragua. On campus, he works with PLU’s campus ministry to found an interfaith council and has an interest in resolutions of conflicts that stem from tensions between deeply rooted values. Outside of the University he was elected to be the Vice-Chair for the 29th Legislative District Democratic Party where he is the chair of the endorsement committee and works on bringing youth and people not traditionally involved in politics into the political realm.

Reverend Nancy Nord Bence is an ordained Lutheran pastor (ELCA) who was inspired to leave parish ministry and join the gun reform movement after officiating at six funerals for gun violence victims. She now serves in a specialty call as Executive Director of Protect Minnesota, the only independent, state-based gun violence prevention organization in Minnesota. Protect Minnesota promotes a culture of health and safety for all Minnesotans by reducing gun deaths and injuries through education, organization and advocacy. Bence has a BS in Voice and Music Education from Gettysburg College, and an M.Div from Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

Abraham Bendheim is a Design Team Member at Studio Gang, an architecture and urban design practice located in Chicago and New York. Working closely with Gia Biagi, Principal of Urbanism and Civic Impact, Bendheim has taken a leading role in projects that combine urban design and architectural research, helping to develop strategies for community engagement that are being applied across the Studio. After completing his M.Arch at Columbia GSAPP, Bendheim taught an advanced design studio with Founding Principal Jeanne Gang that focused on redesigning a NYPD precinct in East Harlem, New York. At Studio Gang, he has built upon this research by contributing to Polis Station, a project exploring how design can help build relationships between police and the communities they serve, as well as Civic Commons, part of a national initiative supported by the Knight and Kresge Foundations to rethink investments in civic assets such as libraries, parks, and police stations in order to create more vibrant and equitable cities. He is currently engaged in a project in New York City that examines the role of design in public safety and community wellness and is involved in projects and discussions in Chicago and Philadelphia that investigate how design and architecture can support criminal justice policy and civic life. He recently served on the Illinois Humanities Council’s Envisioning Justice Steering Committee.

Ikram Ben Said is a member of the UN Advisory Group of Experts on Youth, Peace and Security. Appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Ben Said supports the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security and advances advocacy efforts on the UN Security Council Resolution 2250. Ben Said is the Founder of “Aswat Nissa” (Voices of Women), a Tunisian nonprofit promoting women’s active participation in the political and policy-making spheres while fighting against all forms of discriminations and violence against women. Her latest initiative “Women’s Political Academy” was awarded the 2014 Madeleine Albright Award. Ben Said is a former Senior Program Manager at Search for Common Ground (SFCG), a leading international nonprofit for peace building and conflict resolution. She managed the youth, women and dialogue departments at Search for Common Ground Tunisia, and is an experienced dialogue facilitator, capable of moderating through complex and polarized situations. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the Higher School of Economic Science and Commerce in Tunis, and was recently a Fulbright Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.  Ben Said was also featured as “an influential voice and stalwart champion for the rights and opportunities of women and girls” at the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceiling Event in New York in 2015.


David Blankenhorn is the founder and president of Better Angels, a nonpartisan network of scholars and leaders whose vision is to reunite America. He writes regularly for The American Interest and is the author of Fatherless America (1995), The Future of Marriage (2007), Thrift: A Cyclopedia (2008), and New York’s Promise (2013). He is also the co-editor of nine books. A 2007 profile in USA Today describes him as making “a career of thinking about big issues” and as “a catalyst for analysis and debate among those with differing views.” A 2012 profile in the Deseret News says: “A soft-hearted liberal raised in Mississippi and educated at Harvard, he started his career as a civil rights organizer and has since carved out a unique career cutting across ideological lines. He is one of America’s most important liberal thinkers concerned about family issues.”

Harry C. Boyte is Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy at Augsburg College, founder of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, now merged into the Sabo Center of Democracy and Citizenship, and founder of the international youth empowerment and political education initiative Public Achievement, active in more than two dozen countries including the US, Poland, the Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and South Africa. From 1993 to 1995 Boyte coordinated Reinventing Citizenship, a consortium of academic and civic groups which worked with the White House Domestic Policy Council to analyze the gap between citizens and government. He presented findings to President Clinton and coordinated the American Commonwealth Partnership, a coalition on the public purposes of higher education invited by the White House to mark the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act.  Boyte in an architect of the public work approach to politics and citizenship, which has gained international recognition for its practical effectiveness (for instance, in citizen professionalism) as well as its theoretical innovations. He has authored and edited ten books and over 200 articles on democracy, citizenship, and community organizing, and is now writing a book, Pedagogy of the Empowered.  Boyte is one of the co-founders of the transdisciplinary field of Civic Studies and gave the 2017 John Dewey Society Lecture for the John Dewey Society and AERA.

Steinar Bryn is a Senior Advisor at the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue, Norway. He has extensive experience working as a dialogue facilitator and is highly recognized in communities in the Western Balkans. Bryn places emphasis on lecturing, but is currently focusing on documenting and publishing his experiences from peace and reconciliation work. He is particularly concerned with transferring the experience from numerous years of dialogue work in the Balkans to other areas of conflict, including Norway. He has received numerous awards, especially for the dialogue and reconciliation work done in some of Europe’s most war-torn areas after World War II. During the last 20 years, Bryn has facilitated hundreds of seminars, published numerous articles and has an extensive record of lecturing worldwide. Bryn obtained a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. He has been a student, teacher, researcher and acting principal at the Nansen Academy in Lillehammer and is the head of Nansen Dialogue Network.

Elected by the voters of District 4 in March 2005, Commissioner Toni Carter has lead on important issues at the local, state, and national level. She is active in the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC), serving on the board of directors and previously serving as president. She is a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Counties (NACo) and serves as chair of NACo’s Healthy Counties Initiative. She is co-chair of the Minnesota Human Services Performance Council and the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Stakeholder Committee. Commissioner Carter also serves as the chief local elected official on the Ramsey County Workforce Investment Board.

Pastor Kelly Chatman, who served as Redeemer Center for Life Executive Director from 2002 – 2008, rejoined the Redeemer Center staff in January, 2013. Pastor Kelly also serves as Senior Pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, and brings a wealth of leadership experience and passion for serving the community. He is a graduate of Gettysburg Seminary, Gettysburg, Pa., and has served as a leader at various levels throughout the church. He served for five years as director for Youth Ministries for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and has been a distinguished church leader in Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition, Pastor Kelly recently served on boards for Camp Amnicon, Aeon Housing Development, Gustavus College, Cookie Cart, Plymouth Christian Youth Center, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Harrison Neighborhood Association, and the Wheat Ridge Foundation.

Roderick Coover is a filmmaker and professor at Temple University. He is the creator or co-creator of works of digital, interactive and emergent cinema, virtual reality and digital arts such as Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project, Toxi•City: A Climate Change Narrative and The Theory of Time. He is also the maker of documentary films and interactive, documentary research projects such as The Unknown Territories Project,  From Verite to Virtual: Conversations On The Frontiers Of Anthropology And Documentary Film, and Cultures In Webs: Working In Hypermedia With The Documentary Image. His works use interactive media, database cinema, photographic installation, online multimedia publication, CAVE environments and head-mounted displays to tackle difficulty issues, and he has been a pioneering creator of some of the earliest forms of interactive cinema and digital, ethnographic arts. Dr. Coover holds degrees from the University of Chicago (PhD 1999), Brown University (MA 1994) and Cornell University (1989). He lives in Philadelphia, where is is Professor and Founding Director of Temple University’s PhD Program in Visual Research & Documentary Arts as well as Director of its MFA Program in Film & Media Arts.

Pastor Doug Cox is the Executive Director of Global Health Ministries, a non-profit organization networking people from all over the globe to “help the hands that heal” among some of the world’s most vulnerable people.  Doug holds Master’s degrees in both divinity and Islamic Studies.  He has served as a pastor in Maryland and Minnesota, a visiting professor of Islamic Studies at Gettysburg Seminary, and as a missionary in Madagascar. Through his time living and working outside the USA (in Australia, Egypt, France, Tunisia and Madagascar) Doug developed a passion for improving the health and wellbeing of poor and underserved populations as a matter of justice and as a vital expression of faith.

Dr. Mary T. Curtin, a Minnesota native, joined the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota as Diplomat-in-Residence in 2013 after a twenty-five year career as a Department of State Foreign Service Officer. As Diplomat-in-Residence, she teaches courses in foreign policy and diplomacy and serves as Coordinator for the Global Policy Area. During her Foreign Service Career, she served at the U.S. Mission to the EU in Brussels; as Political Counselor in Warsaw, Poland; and at missions in Tunisia, Mali, and Chile, as well as in Washington, D.C. She has expertise in issues including Middle East policy; European affairs, including the EU and NATO; human rights and democratization, and non-proliferation. Dr. Curtin earned a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University in the City of New York (1986), writing her dissertation on “Hubert H. Humphrey and the Politics of the Cold War, 1943-1954.”

Isabel Pérez Dobarro is the UN-Focal Point and Arts Twenty Thirty Project Lead at SDSN-Youth, an organization that works globally to empower young people in the SDG´s implementation. Pérez Dobarro currently completing her PhD at New York University and an International Relations Certificate at Harvard University. Pérez Dobarro has been a speaker, panelist, and moderator at several high-level conferences related to sustainable development and arts, including the ECOSOC Youth Forum, the Winter and the Summer Youth Assembly at the United Nations, the Vatican Youth Symposium, the Conferencia Universidad y Cooperación al Desarrollo, and the European Arts Forum at the European Parliament, among others. In addition to her involvement in SDSN-Youth, Pérez Dobarro is the Western European Representative of the Fair Air Coalition organization. As a concert pianist, Pérez Dobarro has played at Carnegie Hall and Tchaikovsky Conservatory (Moscow), among many others.

William J. Doherty, Ph.D. is Professor in the Department of Family Social Science and Director of the Citizen Professional Center at the University of Minnesota.  He leads the Families and Democracy Project, which aims to develop the theory and practice of democratic public work by health, education, and human services professionals.  He has developed a model of grassroots organizing among parents and other citizens around cultural, community, and health issues. These projects have ranged from the cultural discontents of middle class families (like over-scheduled kids) to challenges of urban single fathers, from medical overuse to the effects of war and trauma on African immigrant communities. Doherty is also a therapist working with couples on the brink of divorce through the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project, where he trains and does research on divorce ambivalence. He is past president of the National Council on Family Relations, the oldest interdisciplinary family studies organization in the United States. Following the 2016 Presidential election, he has been involved in depolarizing work to help restore the fraying social fabric in American society.

Dr. Karine Duhamel is the Curator for Indigenous Rights at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. She is Anishinaabe Metis, with roots in northwestern Ontario, as well as in Manitoba. As Curator, she is responsible for all Museum content that engages the stories of Indigenous people and of communities and assists in building new relationships for story development and in advising on program content, on media and on special initiatives associated with these projects.  She is a professional historian and public educator with expertise in treaties, the residential school system and Indigenous politics. In addition, she has worked for over ten years as a professional consultant focusing on First Nations litigation and community development. She is an award-winning elementary teacher and university educator. Duhamel holds an Advanced B.A. in History from Mount Allison University, a B.Ed. from Lakehead University, and both a Masters degree and Doctorate from the University of Manitoba.

Holly Farber was born and raised in a  Jewish family in St. Paul MN.  She graduated from Highland Park High School and the St. Paul Talmud Torah in 1985.  She graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1989 with a degree in history and political science with an emphasis on the Middle East and from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1993. Farber and her husband Jon are active members of Beth Jacob Synagogue. She was on the team that founded the Jewish Community Relation Council’s speakers bureau program in September of 2002 and has been a director ever since. This program includes a group of volunteers from the Twin Cities and has been recognized locally and nationally for its excellence. Farber has been working with Interfaith Action of Greater St Paul for 4 years as a mentor for their Youth Leadership Program.

Karen Feste, Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and former Associate Dean, founded and directs the interdisciplinary Conflict Resolution graduate program on campus. She teaches courses on conflict resolution, terrorism, and U.S. military intervention and has lectured as a visiting scholar in Austria, Chile, China, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, and most recently, Kosovo. In addition, Feste conducts workshops on Conflict Resolution techniques for corporate and non-profit organizations. Her publications include Plans for Peace:  Negotiation and the Arab-Israeli Dispute;  America Responds to Terrorism: Conflict Resolution Strategies of Clinton, Bush, and Obama;  and Terminate Terrorism: Framing, Gaming and Negotiating Conflict and a forthcoming book on U.S. Military Intervention, Exit Strategy, and Conflict Resolution. Feste is part of Forward Global Women, which promotes UN Resolution 1325, an advocate for Israel-Palestinian peace, and serves on the Oslo Human Rights Commission American branch advisory board.  A Concordia College graduate and 2016 Alumni Achievement Award winner, she received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota.

Thomas Fisher is a Professor in the School of Architecture, the Dayton Hudson Chair in Urban Design at the University of Minnesota, and the Director of the Minnesota Design Center. Recognized in 2005 as the fifth most published writer about architecture in the United States, he has written 9 books, over 60 book chapters or introductions, and over 400 articles.  His Designing our way to a Better World (2016) maps out a framework for applying design thinking to addressing many of the most pressing issues facing us today.  Prof. Fisher will bring this depth of experience and thinking to the Peace X Design high-level dialogues at the NPPF.


On May 18, 2015, President Barack Obama accepted the credentials of H.E. Fayçal Gouia, a longtime high ranking member of Tunisia’s Foreign Service, to be Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States. He received a Master’s degree in 1984 and an advanced Master’s Degree at the National School of Administration in 1989. He later attended the National Defense University in the United States and the National Defense Institute in Tunis and Bourguiba Language Institute of Tunis. Ambassador Gouia received his first ambassadorial assignment beginning in 2006 in Jakarta, Indonesia. In January 2014, he was named Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He held that job until being named Ambassador of Tunisia to Washington. Ambassador Gouia taught International relations at the Diplomatic Institute for Training and Studies of Tunis and at the High Institute of Human Sciences, University of Tunis. Ambassador Gouia is Chevalier of the Republic Order and was granted the Distinguished Alumni Award of the Near East-South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in 2013.


Amy Finnegan is Assistant Professor and Chair of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas and Co-Director of SocMed, a social justice organization working to expand the conversation on and engagement with the social determinants of health through education and movement building. She is a sociologist, teacher, researcher, and activist who is particularly keen on building spaces and opportunities for constructive dialogue across divergent perspectives. She studies social movements and social change, peace and conflict dynamics, and global health with many years of experience in northern Uganda. She is inspired to move towards a Freirean model of education that seeks to engage learners in a process of creating knowledge for collective social justice and transformation. Before being based at St. Thomas, Finnegan previously taught at the University of Minnesota-Rochester, Tufts University, Boston College, and Gulu University in Gulu, Uganda. She completed her Ph.D. from Boston College in 2011, where her dissertation focused on insider and outsider activist efforts for peace in northern Uganda. She has an MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Dr. John Finnegan Jr., PhD, has served as Professor and Dean of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health since 2005. He began his career as a journalist. He joined the faculty in 1985 with a research portfolio centered on public health interventions and campaigns engaging community partners in prevention and health promotion. He recently served as board chair of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) where he helped lead the “Framing the Future”initiative rethinking the composition of public health education at the undergraduate, graduate levels. As part of that initiative, he co-leads an effort with Dr. Robert Dittus (Vanderbilt University) exploring how primary care and public health can work closer together for the good of population health.

Dorothy Firecloud serves as the superintendent of Montezuma Castle National Monument, Montezuma Well and Tuzigoot National Monument in Arizona. She is the previous superintendent of Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.She received her Bachelor of Science from the College of Santa Fe, Juris Doctorate degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, and has been a member of the New Mexico State Bar since 1991. An enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, her interests lie in the field of Indian law with a specialization in American Indian water rights issues.


Julia Frost-Nerbonne brings her skills as an organizer and academic to build a vibrant movement for climate justice in over 400 Minnesota congregations. She has an undergraduate degree in Religion and her Ph.D. in Conservation Biology. She also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Conservation Biology Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on how to create powerful social movements. Between 2011 and 2014, she was the founding Director of MN350. She has also spent over 18 years teaching ethics and sustainability studies to college students at the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs and at the University of Minnesota.

Pastor Sonja Hagander brings a deep passion for helping young adults explore Christian vocation and creating lives of faith and service. She has also led several interfaith initiatives at Augsburg, the ELCA’s most diverse university. In that context, she plans and leads worship each week in a challenging but very energizing urban multi-faith community. She has served as Pastor-Theologian at the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton University, and as Chaplain and emcee to the ELCA Youth Ministry Extravaganza Conference which hosts more than 1,000 pastors and youth leaders. She has been a contributor to “Word and World” and the ELCA e-zine for women, “BoldCafe.org.” She lives in the Twin Cities with her family.

Ulfat Haider has been involved in several projects promoting peaceful co-existence between Jewish and Arab youth in Israel. She has also led and facilitated numerous multicultural and multi-ethnic groups of various ages in wide-ranging projects and initiatives. “When Jews and Arabs are brought together under challenging conditions, away from everything known and familiar,” she says, “They discover that, in the end, they are much more alike than they thought, as beneath their ethnic or national identity they are all, first and foremost, human beings.”  In 2005, Haider became a certified instructor at the Outward Bound School in North Carolina, where she worked in the Unity Project. There, she also began working with Arab-Jewish groups and helped to create the Palestinian-Israeli Unity Project (PIUP), a joint effort between Outward Bound and “Breaking the Ice.” This project brought Arab and Jewish teenagers from Israel to the mountains of North Carolina for intensive wilderness expeditions. Currently, Haider is working at Beit Ha’Gefen, an Arab–Jewish Cultural Center in Haifa as its Program Manager. Her projects involve leading annual student, girls, and women expeditions to the Alps and the Himalayas.  She is one of the seven women members of the Access Water expedition that traveled down the Ganges River in 2015 and will descend the Mississippi River in Fall 2017.

From shepherd girl in the desert of Somalia to a bestselling author and Registered Nurse at Mayo Clinic, Habibo Haji’s extraordinary story of how she went from a struggling nomad and refugee to working at the number one medical facility in the world.  Haji has helped people transform their lives to be the best version of themselves. Haji helps people realize how struggles and hardship can be harnessed to build resilience and positive outlook in life. She is the author of Conquering the Odds: The Journey of a Shepard Girl and Conquering the Odds: Turn your Valley into a Mountain Top.


Professor Brandon Hamber is the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace at Ulster University based at the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE). He is also a member of the Transitional Justice Institute at the university, and is a Visiting Professor of the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He has undertaken consulting and research work, and participated in various peace and reconciliation initiatives in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Liberia, Mozambique, Bosnia, Colombia, the Basque Country and Sierra Leone, among others. He has published some 30 journal articles, over 25 book chapters and 4 books, including Transforming Societies after Political Violence: Truth, Reconciliation, and Mental Health and Healing and Change in the City of Gold: Case Studies of Coping and Support in Johannesburg. He has been awarded The Paul Harris medal for contributions to peace by Rotary (2013), and was listed as one of the Top 100: The Most Influential People in Armed Violence Reduction by the Action on Armed Violence Network (2013/2014).

Dag Hareide is a Norwegian organizational leader and author, knighted in the First Order of St. Olav by King of Norway in 2015 for extraordinary innovation in civil society. His extensive and varied career has included, inter alia, serving as General Secretary of Friends of the Earth (Norway), Director of Rainforest Foundation Norway (one of the largest rainforest organizations in the world), Director of the Norwegian Humanistic Academy and Nansen Dialogue Center, Chair of Nordic Association for Conflict Mediation, Chair of Namibia Association of Norway, the Nordic NGO that contributed most in the Namibian liberation struggle, and Rehabilitation Coordinator for United Nations during the famine in Ethiopia in the 1980’s. His written works include Chile during the time of Allende, The Good Norway? (on life quality as opposed to economic growth in Norway), NatureWise (on everyday environmental habits), and Conflict Mediation. A Nordic Perspective, which reflects on the experiences from 300 conflict mediators in five Nordic countries. Hareide is presently working on a book about how bio-, robot-, information- and nano-technologies are influencing our conceptions of human nature. He is a board member the Thor Heyerdahl Institute (of Norway).

Reginaldo (Regi) Haslett-Marroquin began working on economic development projects with indigenous Guatemalan communities in 1988. He served as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program’s Bureau for Latin America and as an advisor to the World Council of Indigenous Peoples and was a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation in 1994. Haslett-Marroquin led the creation and launch of Peace Coffee, a Minnesota-based fair-trade coffee company. Haslett-Marroquins social enterprise development work includes woodland owner cooperatives and a multitude of inner-city new immigrant enterprise efforts in Minnesota. He has served on numerous non-profit boards and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of Northfield and Chief Strategy Officer at Main Street Project. Haslett-Marroquin leads a team that has broken new ground in the field of food and agriculture through an innovative Poultry Centered Regenerative Agriculture System he has pioneered.  A native Guatemalan, Haslett-Marroquin received his agronomy degree from the Central National School of Agriculture, studied at the Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala and graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis with a major in international business administration and a minor in communications.

Tonara Hing, born in Cambodia or originally trained as a dancer, left the country due to the human rights abuses in the country at the time, and was granted political asylum in Minnesota in 1991. In 2002 Hing graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Metropolitan State University, and received his masters in 2009. Currently, Hing is pursuing a doctorate in nursing from Augsburg, where his studies focus on working with communities affected by dislocation and political violence. Hing lost his father and three siblings to Pol Pot’s Killing Field during the Khmer Rouge regime, and both he and his family lived through the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War. While in Minnesota, Hing was able to reunite with his mother and his three remaining siblings. His experiences have led him to put peace and healing at the center of his life and practice as a nurse, regularly volunteering to improve peace, health, and healing through nursing and traditional dance. Currently, he is working with Cambodian seniors on identifying the cultural factors contributing to the reduction of PTSD symptoms.

Stephanie Hope Smith has been serving as a Mediator, helping to facilitate dialogue with the hope of preventing conflict and diffusing violence that is escalating because these flashpoints affect deeply seated beliefs their faith traditions.  Her mediation experience has mainly included issues connected to places of worship/holy sites, burial grounds, and things considered sacred, prayer pilgrimages, congregational division, and human rights (freedom of religion and speech) and engagement with government/law enforcement.  Because of her involvement with current issues regarding Inyan Sha (Red Rock), the “Scaffold wood structure, and the proposed renaming of Devils Tower National Monument, she is uniquely positioned to guide this High Level Dialogue with parties that are currently moving through stages of conflict to future visioning.   Over the past ten years she has been actively engaged in several prominent issues, serving as a third-party neutral to guide parties to find a sustainable way forward together that addresses injustice and builds relationships, not simply curtail violence.  Professionally she is the Director of Global Health Administration Partners, a division of an international NGO, Global Health Ministries.

Gail Hughes has an eclectic background.  She is a part-time faculty member in Post-Secondary and Adult Education at Capella University, and taught courses in Global Studies, Sociology, and Interdisciplinary Social Science at St. Cloud State University. She is a member of the Board of Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), serving as President from 2013-2017. In earlier years, Hughes was a program evaluator for the Minnesota Community Colleges, during which time she conducted holistic rating sessions of student writing. Earlier still, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho and as an Independent Volunteer in Botswana. Hughes has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Education and a Ph.D. in Curriculum Systems from the University of Minnesota.


Jaylani Hussein is currently the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN). Hussein has presented on the Somali Culture to diverse public and private organizations across the US. He specializes in the areas of urban planning, community development, youth development (with over 8 years experience in working in juvenile treatment centers for court adjudicated youth), legal and civil rights. Hussein has been active with various community organizations in Minnesota, including the Islamic Cultural Center of Minnesota Board of Directors, Wilder Foundation Advisory Board, Muslim Youth of Minnesota Advisory Board, Islamic Resource Group Speakers Bureau, and ARAHA Board of Directors. Hussein received the Immigrant of Distinction Award from the Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He was also named the 2016 Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans by JCI. In 2016, Hussein was appointed to the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations. Hussein’s family emigrated from Somalia to Minnesota in 1993 and he is trilingual (English, Somali, Arabic). Hussein holds degrees in Community Development and City Planning from St. Cloud State University and Political Science from North Dakota State University.

Walid Issa is the Executive Director of The American Palestinian Hope Project (TAP Hope). He is also the Managing Director for the MENA region at Solomon Strategies Group, a governmental relations, business consulting firm in the Twin Cities. Issa is co-founder and senior advisor to the Shades Program on Negotiation. An inspirational speaker, Issa is also a member of the Board at the Americans For Vibrant Palestinian Economy (AVPE), American Friends of Competent for Peace  and Citizens for Global Solutions. Issa has created Palestinian-business roadshows to the USA. He has also hosted American legislators and faith/community leaders in the Palestinian Territories. Issa holds a B.S and M.S in Applied Economics from St. Cloud State University, where he won economics awards. He is the youngest of nine Palestinian siblings born and raised in the Dehesha refugee camp and the youngest of three in his Minnesotan family that “adopted” and supported his education in the United States.

Katie Jauert Jess is a Director of Operations for Sanford World Clinic (SWC), a strategic, international initiative of Sanford Health. In this role, she has operational and market leadership responsibility for a network of more than 20 clinics in Ghana, Africa and three US clinics in California, Oklahoma and Oregon. Jess manages a corporate team in Ghana with whom she practices accountability and taking actionable steps to foster learning and forward movement. Prior to joining Sanford, Jess was a strategic coach and private practice attorney, focusing on contract negotiation and defense litigation. She also served as Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. Jess received her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato and her Juris Doctor Degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Novia Josiah is a social worker /mental health case manager at The Center for Victims of Torture. She provides targeted case management services to Karen refugees in primary care clinics through the Healing Hearts program. Healing Hearts, Creating Hope is a multi-year collaborative project with HealthEast Roselawn Clinic and Bethesda Clinic that provides on-site mental health services to refugees from Burma. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work with Family Studies concentration from St. Olaf College in 2012. She is licensed by the Minnesota Board of Social Work as a Licensed Social Worker. Previously, she volunteered as an advocate at Asian Women United of MN with women who experienced domestic violence. Josiah worked at Wilder Research in data collection, interpreting and translating materials to Karen language. She has also had experience working as a medical interpreter. Currently, she is completing a MSW at the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University.

Tasya Kamila is Indonesian singer, actress, and presenter. She entered the showbiz industry over 20 years ago as a child star, and has been actively involved since then. Aside from her career as a public figure, she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Columbia University, New York. As the Ambassador of Environment of Indonesia, Kamila is keen to motivate the young generation to be a part of the solution of climate challenges. She believes that art is a powerful mean to amplify awareness and to create change, and brings that motivation to her work with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Project TwentyThirty.

Sania Kandhro is from Sacramento, California and attends California State University, Sacramento. Along with her faculty advisor, Kandhro will be presenting on building peace on university campuses. Kandhro and her family immigrated to the United States in 1999. Kandhro has been passionate about other cultures, learning about ongoing global issues and hearing people’s stories since she was ten years old. At Sacramento State, Kandhro is the Civic Engagement Coordinator for her campus’s student government organization, Associated Students Inc. She is currently the President for Peace & Conflict International club on campus. She also serves on the steering committee for Peace Studies at Sacramento State and outreach for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

A. Gay Kingman has served as the Executive Director for the Great Plains Tribal Chairman Association (GPTCA) and the National Congress of American Indians. GPTCA- which is made up of tribal leaders from 16 sovereign nations from Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota- meets regularly to make administrative decisions and review legislation affecting all Tribal Governments. As the executive director, Kingman has managed GPTCA’s affairs, works with members of Congress, develops position papers and resolutions, works with the Administration, and coordinates with other tribes. As the leader of the Coalition of Large Tribes, she has advocated for and protected the unique land, economic, jurisdictional, and funding issues faced by tribes with large land bases and populations, She holds a PhD in Higher Education from Arizona State University.

Greg Lais‘ passion for connecting people to each other and to the natural world is truly inspirational. As the Founder and Executive Director of WI, Lais has directed the its growth and development since 1978, collaborating with many along the way to build a world-class organization that has directly served more than 415,000 people and touched the lives of millions more. In addition to his role as chief architect of Wilderness Inquiry’s mission, vision and programming, Lais has personally instructed over 300 wilderness experiences throughout the world, integrating people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. Lais recognizes people’s personal, socio-economic, and cultural differences, but he focuses on their common humanity and connects with everyone regardless of where they came from.

Mark Lester is the Nicaragua country director for the Winds of Peace Foundation and the Co-Director for Central America of the Center for Global Education and Experience at Augsburg College. He has lived in Nicaragua for many years, is well known and respected for his knowledge about development issues in the country, and is frequently asked to give talks about the history and current situation of the country to delegations visiting Nicaragua.



Melissa Lee is the Founder and CEO of The GREEN Program, an experiential education and workforce development program for young leaders in sustainable development. For her work with The GREEN Program, Lee was recognized by the National Association of Women Business Owners as their Environmental Advocate of the Year. Lee also received an MTV Changemaker award and was featured on Magic Johnson’s 32 Under 32 List. As CEO, Lee has expanded TGP beyond its roots as an experiential education program, partnering with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the World Bank’s Climate4Climate program to create a global, socially-conscious, public benefit company.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse was only 12 years old when he was given the great responsibility of becoming the 19th generation keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe. Since then he has dedicated his life to working for peace, freedom and healing not only for his own People (the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota) but for all people through sharing Native Prophecies.When the prophesized White Buffalo was born in Wisconsin in 1994, Chief Looking Horse took on the commitment to organize World Peace Day on June 21st, a day of uniting all Nations to pray for her healing, to respect all life, and to vow to make all decisions with respect for 7 generations yet to come. He has traveled all around the world sharing a message of peace for all nations, meeting with other spiritual leaders dedicated to this vision, like the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, and in 1996 he was invited to President Clinton’s inauguration to speak about peace and unity. He has been on the Board of the World Peace Prayer Society since the early 1990s, helping to fulfill their mission of planting Peace Poles that share the universal prayer, ‘May Peace Prevail On Earth’ in nearly every language on the planet.

Sam Loni is a young global leader working in sustainable development. In 2015, Loni founded SDSN Youth, an organization which empowers youth globally to create sustainable solutions. As its Global Coordinator, Loni has mobilized thousands of young people globally to engage with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has helped initiate several global programs, including the Local Pathways Fellowship, the Global Schools Program and the Youth Solutions Report. Loni also currently works as a Project Officer with the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI), one of the leading interdisciplinary research and education institutes for sustainable development around the globe. In 2015, he was shortlisted for the Victorian Student of the Year and recently chaired the Vatican Youth Symposium; a program mandated by Pope Francis to tackle human trafficking.

For over 100 years Lutheran Mideast Development’s work in the Middle East has remained in close contact with events on the ground through a vibrant relational network. LMD’s workers remained a present witness to developments from 1910 to the present crisis in locations as diverse as northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, eastern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. Drawing from that experience, LMD field personnel will present an overview of the current situation with a particular focus on Syria, Turkey Iran and Iraq. Of special concern are the motivations that draw so many young people from varied religious and ideological backgrounds to become instruments of violence. LMD will share from the perspective of those who encounter militants in the course of carrying out humanitarian work in the region, and examine the role of educating women in building a future of peace.

Ann Mays RN, CPN is Senior Director of Clinical Services for Sanford World Clinic (SWC), where she provides leadership in establishing, operating and improving care in a series of international clinics spread around the world, including facilities in China, Germany and a network of 24 clinics in Ghana, Africa. SWC began in 2007 as a strategic initiative of not-for-profit healthcare system Sanford Health to transform primary care service delivery to children and their families, to learn how health care is delivered across the globe and to impact research and advocacy. Mays is a pediatric nurse with over 30 years of experience in clinical and administrative settings and has received multiple commendations for her work at Sanford. The principals she follows in expanding and improving global health services include: real empowerment for staff and the patients they serve; adaptive caring through shared values and an ongoing commitment to learning that connects culture with healing. Mays’ efforts and leadership at Sanford World Clinic have now impacted more than one million patients around the world.


René Mendoza is Bolivian and has been a resident in Central American countries since 1982. He was born in an indigenous family and grew up in an agrarian frontier slash-and-burn agriculture. He experienced an “awakening” when his parents lost land confronting large land-owners and subsequently organized into a cooperative so as to work on their own and no longer as land-owner workers. This awareness led him to the study of theology, Latin American history, sociology and development studies, resulting in a PhD degree in development studies. He was a co-founder, researcher and development promoter at the Development and Research Institute NITLAPAN of the Central American University. He is currently an associate researcher at IOB-University of Antwerp (Belgium), collaborator with Winds of Peace Foundation and member of the COSERPROSS cooperative RL, focusing on organizational development.

Mark Mulder is a Marketing professor and researcher. His research is in the area of transformative consumer research, and includes consumer perceptions of charities and motives for supporting charitable causes, including the impact of fundraisers and peer-to-peer networks. In 2014, Dr. Mulder created and piloted an interdisciplinary course that allows students a semester long preparation for a water related field experience. The NicarAGUA course includes local level community outreach and relationship building; academic preparation in the areas of philosophy, cultural/political understanding, collaborative communication, and insights about global nonprofits; as well as cause related outreach and marketing in the areas of water advocacy and crowdfunding. The course is built upon research in the areas of transformative experiences and transformative learning. The course has now been offered for four consecutive years at Pacific Lutheran University, where Dr. Mulder teaches in the graduate and undergraduate programs.

Jennefer Nepinak is a strong and passionate Anishinaabe kwe and leader who is firmly rooted within the Indigenous community.  A proud mother of two beautiful children, Nepinak is a citizen of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #4 territory and a member of the Minegozhiibe Anishinaabe Nation. She is currently the Senior Advisor to the President, Indigenous Relations at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Nepinak carries over twenty five years of expertise with a unique combination of political, government and business experience.  She believes in a balanced approach, always working to ensure that Indigenous ways of knowing and being are recognized and incorporated in the application her work. Nepinak also sits on and chairs various boards and committees including the Manitoba Hydro Board and is also an active Member of the Manitoba Law Society. Nepinak holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology & Justice, a Bachelor of Laws, and is currently working to finalize her Masters in Indigenous Governance.

Arthur Nishimoto is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Computer Science and Research Assistant at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). His research interests include user interaction on large scalable resolution display environments, virtual reality, and video game design. He is currently designing immersive interactive applications for the CAVE2TM Hybrid-Reality Environment to further biogeochemical research in the NASA-funded SIMPLE project in collaboration with the UIC Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, Stone Aerospace, NASA Ames Research Center and Montana State University to explore the ice-covered lakes in Antarctica with the end goal of helping scientists analyze the biogeochemical properties of the lake before applying those techniques to the waters of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Nishimoto is a Lead Scientist on the Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project adapting virtual reality frameworks designed for scientific visualization and architectural rendering for immersive interactive storytelling presented in Hearts and Minds.

Kim Norton is vice-chair of the Rochester Energy Commission and serves on the board of Fresh Energy. She is currently a Bush Foundation Fellow and a University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs graduate student focusing on energy and improving public health through a more sustainable, clean environment. A recently retired Legislator representing Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic, she held numerous leadership positions in the Minnesota House of Representatives during her ten year tenure from 2006-2016. In the 2013 legislative session, Representative Norton was the chief House author of the legislation that authorized up to $327 million from the State of Minnesota for the Mayo Clinic Destination Medical Center (DMC) project in Rochester, a $585 million economic development and infrastructure project which will transform the downtown area and the Rochester community.

Nancy Pearson received her Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Sociology from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and her Master of Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley. She has been a member of the New Tactics in Human Rights team from 2003 to the present, serving as the Project Manager from 2006 through 2011, and the New Tactics Training Manager since 2012. Pearson has provided extensive trainings – face-to-face as well as virtual online courses – using the New Tactics Strategic Effectiveness Method to strengthen and build the strategic and tactical thinking capacity of human rights advocates. The 5 Step methodology includes CVTs “tactical map tool.” Pearson has provided New Tactics trainings in over 20 countries reaching audiences that have included human rights activists; under-graduate, graduate and post-graduate level students; United Nations, governmental and nongovernmental organizations. As a direct service social worker at CVT (1999 – 2002), she also provided torture treatment and rehabilitation related training to many diverse audiences in addition to direct service provision to survivors of torture.

Micaiah Palmer, one of this year’s Peace Scholars, is a senior at California State University, Sacramento studying Sociology and Peace and Conflict Resolution. Along with her faculty advisor, Palmer will be presenting on building peace on university campuses. She enjoys serving students on her campus, which is evident in her years of work at the office of Global Education and her current job as an Instructional Student Assistant for the Equal Opportunity Program where she helps transfer students from nontraditional backgrounds adjust to the four year college environment. After serving at an orphanage in Mexico and witnessing the harsh realities of abject poverty in India Micaiah’s has expanded her field of interest to researching how children are uniquely affected by poverty and violence. Her essay, Multidimensional Approaches to Addressing the Needs of Internally Displaced Children, which was published in the California State University journal is where her heart’s passion lies. She is determined to help and empower the most vulnerable people in our global society. Since returning from studying abroad in Gothenburg, Sweden and in Oslo, Norway Palmer has recently joined the California State University Sacramento’s 2017-2018 McNair scholar cohort where she intends to further research the relationship between peace and conflict resolution and youth empowerment.

As the Executive Director of the Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding, Ana Cutter Patel leads the organization’s work to use the Outward Bound approach of active learning in the outdoors to challenge and inspire leaders to build peace together. This approach is called experiential peacebuilding, which connects experiential learning or “learning by doing,” with peacebuilding theory and practice. Over 1,000 individuals have participated in Outward Bound Peacebuilding’s programs, trainings and workshops across the globe. Patel’s co-edited volume, Disarming the Past: Transitional Justice and Ex-combatants was published in January 2010. Patel graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon and received a Master’s of International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Patel is a Rotary International Peace Fellow and a 2016 Visionary of the Hearts on Fire Foundation. In April 2017, she was named a Global Peace Index Ambassador by the Institute of Economics and Peace.


Scott Rettberg is Professor of Digital Culture in the department of linguistic, literary, and aesthetic studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. Rettberg is the author or coauthor of novel-length works of electronic literature, films, and new media art projects including The Unknown, Kind of Blue, Implementation, Toxi•City, Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project, and others. Rettberg was the project leader of ELMCIP (Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice), a HERA-funded collaborative research project that ran from June 2010-June 2013 and is the leader of the Bergen Electronic Literature Research Group.  Rettberg is the co-founder and served as the first executive director of the nonprofit Electronic Literature Organization, where he directed major projects funded by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. At this year’s Forum he will be sharing his work with the Hearts and Minds project, an exploration of the realities of war in the digital age.

Randi Ilyse Roth began serving as Interfaith Action’s Executive Director July 2015. Roth’s most recent position was Executive Director of Philanthropy for the Otto Bremer Foundation. She led the Foundation for six years, providing strong leadership and grant-making focus that contributed to improved access to higher education, anti-poverty programs for communities in need and support for disadvantaged youth. Roth earned her B.A. in Political Science from Yale University, and her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. Roth began her career as a civil legal aid attorney in Chicago, and moved to Saint Paul in 1986 to join the start-up team at FLAG. Roth is an active community volunteer, serving on the board of the Rural Advancement Foundation International, as a Trustee for the Jewish Federation of Greater Saint Paul, and as a member of the Legal Services Advisory Committee to the Minnesota Supreme Court. She is an active member of her synagogue, Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights.

Cate Rush, a junior studying nursing at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, is a 2017 Peace Scholar. Along with her faculty advisor, Rush will be presenting on a water access project organized by PLU in Nicaragua. On campus, Rush is involved with Delta Iota Chi, serves as Vice President of the Art Club, and works closely with the Academic Assistance Center. She also volunteers regularly at L’Arche Hope Farm, a community supported work program for adults with developmental disabilities. In her studies and future career she would like to address the potential for nurses, and other healthcare workers, to assume the role of peacebuilders in communities recovering from war.

Tom SenGupta is a pharmacist who for 43 years, was the proprietor of Schneider Drug in Minneapolis’ Prospect Park. There, beginning in 1988, he hosted a highly regarded series of after-hours discussions about how to spur America to live up to its democratic ideals. The store’s reputation grew as it became a gathering spot for those who value intellectually rich conversation about the American condition. Having sold Schneider Drug in 2015 those conversations have been reconstituted as the Tom SenGupta Forum, a series of monthly conversations under the sponsorship of the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg University.

신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, Korea, during 박 정 희 Park Chung-hee’s military dictatorship, and grew up in the Chicago area. She is the editor of A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, author of poetry/essay collections Unbearable Splendor (winner of the 2016 Minnesota Book Award for poetry); Rough, and Savage; and Skirt Full of Black (winner of the 2007 Asian American Literary Award for poetry), co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, and author of bilingual illustrated book for children Cooper’s Lesson. She lives in Minneapolis.

Tammy Sinkfield is a nurse at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, and takes chaotic, uneasy, disquieting, and formidable encounters and turns them into something wonderfully compelling and meaningful. As a witness to the caustic nature and explosiveness of racism and chronic health conditions, Sinkfield has developed a unique perspective and approach to healthcare. For twenty-one years Sinkield has been a nurse, nurse educator, and leader. As a nursing educator in an ADN program for seven years, Sinkfield has instructed men and women to become some of the best nurses in the profession. Sinkfield has earned a master’s and doctorate, and her dedication to her field shines through in her project “Story Care: Connecting Across Cultures Through Story.” Additionally, Sinkfield has participated in service trips to Jamaica and Tanzania to share her knowledge, care, and expertise to make a difference in the transcultural society in which nurses practice.

Dana Soonias was born and raised on a farm at Red Pheasant Cree Nation near Battleford, Saskatchewan. He earned his Certified Aboriginal Financial Managers (CAFM) designation through Aboriginal Officers Association (AFOA) Canada. Over the past 20 years, Soonais has held senior positions with financial institutions and government. He was named the Chief Executive Officer of Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon in 2009. Today, he is leading Wanuskewin’s renewal project and vision to become Saskatchewan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Soonais is a values-based leader who believes in cultivating strong, collaborative working relationships, creating a culture where employees are enabled and empowered, where accountabilities are known, with respect and integrity in all facets of the work environment. He’s currently serving his second term on the Crown Corporation of Tourism Saskatchewan and his latest appointment is with the First Nations Financial Management Board. Most recently, Soonais completed his Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.d) course and achieved his designation with Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

Tunkan Inajin Win, known as Faith Spotted Eagle, is a Native American activist and politician. She is a member of the Yankton Sioux Nation who attempted to block development of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline. She holds a MA in Educational from the University of South Dakota and serves as a PTSD counselor. Psychology. In the 2016 presidential election, she became the first Native American to receive an electoral vote for President of the United States as well as one of the first two women to receive a presidential electoral vote.

Fadia Thabet is a recipient of 2017 International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State. In Yemen, Thabet was a Child Protection Officer with UNICEF for five years, during which time she reported about Children Affected by Armed Conflict (CAAC) and Six Grave Violations, as well as child soldiers recruited by the AQAP and Houties militia. Through her courageous work, she dissuaded young boys from joining Al Qaeda, exposed its Yemeni branch “Ansar al Sharia” as a recruiter of child soldiers, and documented for the United Nations Security Council cases of mining, abduction, rape, and other human rights violations by various armed groups. Thabet took the view that children recruited by extremists and militants were not criminals, but victims. She worked with parents, schools, communities, the children themselves to demobilize and reintegrate ex-combatants into their communities. Currently, Thabet studies Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation at the School for International Training (SIT). She is a Fulbright Alumnus at the Law school at the University of Minnesota. Thabet’s goal is to focus on Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration of Ex-Combatants and increase young women’s participation in peace talks.

Alejandra C. (Tobar Alatriz) is a queer, Chilena-Mexi-mix immigrant from Santiago, Chile, and a professional Cultural Wellness Worker. She grew up during the aftershock of a dictatorship that was overthrown by an arts-infused, nonviolent revolution. She has been a community organizer for the last 20 years around the issues of human rights, sexual assault and domestic violence, immigration, and environmental justice. She is an Open Space Technology facilitator and a Human Systems Dynamics Associate. She is an organizational development consultant and has served on many non-profit boards. Tobar Alatriz, alongside her partner Saby Labor, founded the People’s Movement Center in 2014 where she is a healing justice practitioner and Global Somatics bodyworker, teacher and popular education facilitator. She is thrilled to be leading Pangea’s work as Director of Arts Organizing and Community Engagement, and to be a member of Pangea’s Performance Ensemble.

Beliza Torres Narváez is an artist/scholar/educator, and Assistant Professor at Augsburg University’s Theater Department. She holds a B.A. in Spanish and Drama from the University of Puerto Rico and studied acting at Laborotario Teatral Malayerba in Ecuador. She also has an M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University and a Ph.D. in Performance as Public Practice from the University of Texas. Torres Narváez’s research interests include Latin@ and African Diaspora and Queer Performance, Solo Performance, Radical Street Theatre, Theatre for Social Justice, Critical Pedagogy and how these relate to issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. Her scholarly work has been presented at conferences of the American Society for Theater Research, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Puerto Rican Studies Association, Performance Studies International, and the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. At the college level, she directs and has taught courses like Movement, Acting for Non-majors, Theater History, Applied Theatre, Theater of the Oppressed, and Latin@ Performance. She has collaborated with other artists and also develops and performs original solo performances such as Cuerpo Público (2004), Y…Pervertida (2006), Doña Ana no está aquí (2007), Counting my lunares (2008), Sexy Picnic (2013), and Resabios the Amargura or that bitter cabaret (work-in-progress).

Daria Tsoupikova is an Associate Professor in the School of Design and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Positioned at the crossroads of artistic and technological innovation, Tsoupikova’s research and artwork explore the potential of new media and interactivity in relation to traditional arts. Through the development of virtual reality (VR) art projects and networked multi-user exhibitions for VR projection systems—such as the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE and CAVE2)—her work applies computer graphics art to various research domains, including educational multimedia, cultural heritage and virtual rehabilitation for stroke survivors. She is collaborating with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (former Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) to develop a multi-user virtual environment to aid in hand rehabilitation for stroke survivors. Tsoupikova’s work has been exhibited and published by ACM SIGGRAPH, IEEE VR, VIS, ISEA, among many others. A former Fulbright Scholar, Tsoupikova is currently partnering with Scott Rettberg, Roderick Coover and Arthur Nishimoto on the Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project. 

Polly O. Walker is of Cherokee descent and a member of the Cherokee Southwest Township. She is currently Director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies and the Elizabeth Evans Baker Professor of Peace Studies at Juniata College. Dr. Walker’s doctoral research focused on conflict transformation between Aboriginal and Settler Australians. She has published widely on topics related to cross cultural issues in conflict transformation, Indigenous approaches to peace, and the role of ritual and performance in peacebuilding. Dr. Walker is co-editor, along with Dr. Cynthia Cohen and Prof. Roberto Varea, of Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict Vol. I: Resistance and Reconciliation in Regions of Violence, and Vol. II: Building Just and Inclusive Communities. Dr. Walker is Chair of the Indigenous Education Institute (IEI), whose work supports ethical collaboration with Indigenous peoples and revitalization of their knowledge systems, particularly in relation to the sciences.

Dr. Ray Yip, a Global Health specialist, is currently focusing his work on using enterprise-based solution to improve health in Africa by providing business development support to both for-profit and non-profit organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His current work focuses on improving health care access in Africa through investment to the health sector from both public and private sectors with special emphasis on the role of China as a development partner for Africa.   Dr. Yip was a graduate of Augsburg College and the Medical School of University of Minnesota and certified in Pediatrics and Hematology and Oncology. He also completed the Epidemic Intelligence Service and a preventive medicine residency at the CDC.