Donna Minter, founder and executive director of the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute, has been honored with the Melanie Greenberg U.S. Peacebuilding Award of Excellence. She is pictured here during the 2018 Summer Peacebuilding Institute. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Master STAR trainer Donna Minter honored with Alliance for Peacebuilding’s Award of Excellence

Donna Minter, founder and executive director of the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute, has been honored with the Melanie Greenberg U.S. Peacebuilding Award of Excellence. She accepted the award during an Oct. 3 ceremony during the annual conference of the Washington D.C.-based Alliance for Peacebuilding.

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The award honors “innovative U.S. peacebuilding efforts tackling drivers of conflict, from gun violence to intolerance to unhealed trauma, at the community level and beyond,” according to a press release. It is named after the organization’s former president.

Donna Minter (left) with Jayne Docherty, executive director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at the Alliance for Peacebuilding annual conference in Washington D.C. (Photo by David Anderson Hooker)

Minter is a master trainer of the Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) program, which launched at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding after the events of 9/11. STAR brings together theory and practices from neurobiology, conflict transformation, human security, spirituality, and restorative justice to address the needs of trauma-impacted individuals and communities.

Since 2010, Minter and her organization MNPeacebuilding have offered STAR and related trainings and racial healing events to more than 3,100 people in Minnesota and the midwest region. The organization’s mission is “to instigate, train, and support racially, sexually, culturally, ethnically, religiously, and economically diverse individuals and organizations to become trauma-informed, resilience-oriented, and restorative justice-focused, empowering communities in Minnesota, the USA, and around the world.” 

“Donna Minter was an early adopter of STAR and a passionate believer that STAR was needed in the United States — specifically in the heartland where she lives and works,” said Jayne Docherty, CJP executive director. “Her tireless work to build a program that supports trauma awareness, resilience and restorative justice in the Midwest was recognized by the Alliance for Peacebuilding as an example of what we can and should be doing at home to promote justice that heals and peace that addresses the root causes of violence. We are so very proud of Donna and pleased that she remains a member of our STAR family.”

Donna Minter (second from left) in a panel discussion with other awardees. (Photo courtesy of Mena Ayazi/Alliance for Peacebuilding)

Minter brings more than 20 years of professional experience as a forensic and neuropsychologist to her current work. 

“Unhealed psychological trauma is a public health epidemic that few know how to talk about or are willing to address,” she said. “I’ve witnessed patients and incarcerated people with serious unhealed psychological trauma precipitating passive and active violence in their lives and communities. Their peace was stolen from them. They wanted to build peace back into their lives, but they did not know how.”

STAR’s integrated approach provides a way forward, she said. 

Minter facilitated her first training in Minneapolis for 25 people from diverse cultural and religious communities. The participants’ response was overwhelmingly positive, with many requests for more trainings.

MNPeacebuilding is now the institutional home for STAR trainings in Minnesota and is a state approved continuing education provider for several professions, including social work, psychology, counseling, education,  nursing and legal professionals. The organization is focusing on preparing individuals and communities for truth-telling, conciliation and reparations.

The award’s other recipients are Bria Smith, president of Milwaukee Youth Council and board member of March for Our Lives, and Hamse Warfa, co-founder and executive vice president of BanQu and deputy commission for Minnesota’s Employment and Training programs, the Office of Economic Opportunity, Minnesota’s Career and jobs resources and the Governor’s Workforce Development Board.

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