Daryl Byler, executive director since 2013 at Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, has accepted a new position as director of development with the D.C. Bar Foundation in Washington D.C. Dr. Jayne Docherty has been named acting executive director. (EMU file photos)

CJP announces leadership transition

As Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding begins its 25th anniversary year, a leadership transition is taking place. Daryl Byler, CJP’s executive director since 2013, has accepted a new position as director of development with the D.C. Bar Foundation in Washington D.C.

Dr. Jayne Docherty, formerly CJP’s academic programs director, will become executive director, effective May 8. 

“While we celebrate this wonderful new professional opportunity for Daryl, we also are sad to lose his gifted leadership at CJP and in the broader university,” said Provost Fred Kniss. “He has helped to lay a strong foundation for the future by working with our development office and generous donors to double CJP’s endowment and scholarship capability. He also provided guidance to the development of broadened academic programs relevant to addressing today’s challenges. He leaves the center with strong enrollment and a talented group of faculty and staff. These are all true gifts for EMU, CJP and the wider peacebuilding community.”

During Byler’s time at CJP, the center added a master’s degree in restorative justice; strengthened the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice; managed several successful grant-funded programs, including a two-year UNDP project in Iraq to provide peacebuilding trainings for Iraqi academics and youth; and started an annual Peacebuilder of the Year Award to celebrate and honor alumni achievement.

“The past six years have been fruitful, largely because of Byler’s efforts to expand CJP’s external network and building internal capacity,” said Dr. David Brubaker, incoming dean of the School of Social Sciences and Professions at EMU and a long-time professor at CJP. “As is usually the case with exceptional leaders, Daryl is leaving CJP with a strengthened financial and management capacity and poised for continued growth as a globally renowned peacebuilding and restorative justice academic and practice center.”

Daryl Byler is one of CJP’s longest serving executive directors.

Byler was the center’s sixth director — and one of its longest-serving, since its beginnings in 1995.

“It has been an honor to work with such brilliant and creative colleagues for the past six years and I have full confidence in the faculty and staff at CJP to carry on this important work,” Byler said “The peacebuilding world changes rapidly and I believe CJP needs newly innovative leadership and vision on a regular cycle. I look forward to continuing to support and elevate the center’s global reputation and network from an organization that shares similar important goals.”

In his new role, Byler will “continue to advance causes that are near to CJP’s heart,” Kniss said. The foundation is the region’s leading funder of civil legal aid, providing more than $55 million in grants since its inception in 1978 to promote equal access to justice for the area’s most vulnerable communities.

One appeal of the position, Byler said, is that it “circles back to where I started my career as a staff attorney with East Mississippi Legal Services.” A 1988 graduate of University of Virginia Law School, Byler arrived that same year in Mississippi, working there as an attorney and pastor of Jubilee Mennonite Church until 1994. From 1994 until 2013, he worked with Mennonite Central Committee, first as director of their Washington Office and then as a regional representative, with his wife Cindy, for Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Israel-Palestine.

Docherty, who earned her PhD at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and brings both practice and academic experience to her new role, praised Byler as a “wonderful leader and champion for CJP who will be missed.”

“If I have learned one thing in almost 20 years at CJP, it is that this place never stands still and it always thrives,” she said. “Our excellent faculty, staff, and students are keeping us on the leading edge of practice, research, and teaching. Our graduates are changing their communities. I look forward to making sure the many CJP stories are broadcast near and far and ensuring that we have the resources to keep leading the way in peace and justice education.”

This article has been updated. Jayne Docherty was initially named as acting executive director and subsequently moved into the executive director role.