Since graduating from CJP in 2000, I have primarily focused on working with youth and children in peacebuilding and conflict transformation.
After graduating in 2000, I took a position in Belfast, Northern Ireland , with the task of setting up pilot conflict transformation and restorative discipline programs within elementary and high schools in an area of the city experiencing high sectarian tension and violence. This position was initially sponsored by Mennonite Mission Network in partnership with Fortwilliam Park Presbyterian Church. My work expanded in 2003 after being awarded an EU grant which allowed the program to add several more schools to the project. I was then hired as a salaried worker and other staff were added to handle the expansion of the work.
In 2003, I married Hedley Abernethy (CJP 2006) in Belfast . Hedley, a native of Belfast and a youth worker by trade, was interested in pursuing a Master’s Degree in the field of conflict transformation. I, of course, recommended EMU, and in 2004 we moved to Harrisonburg . I spent the subsequent two years working with young people in a variety of contexts such as: teaching college courses, working with an alternative education program for at-risk middle school children, and as a fundraiser for youth mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Currently we live in Baltimore, MD, where Hedley works with Catholic Relief Services and I work in intensive, one-on-one sessions teaching empathy, kindness, tolerance and conflict transformation skills to our toddler Liam! (Also known as staying home full time…) I am enjoying this opportunity to enhance my own skills as a practitioner by learning patience, conflict management and violence de-escalation techniques, as well as how to negotiate with those who are highly emotional and not always reasonable.