Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) announces two Peacebuilder of the Year honorees: Emmanuel Bombande MA ‘02 and Cole Parke MA ‘12.
Bombande, a senior mediation adviser for the UN’s Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, has spent his professional career devoted to building peace on the African continent. Parke, now with Carolina Jews for Justice of Durham, North Carolina, works to support faith communities in social justice efforts.
The Peacebuilder of the Year award, given annually to a graduate of CJP who has shown exceptional commitment to peacebuilding work, was expanded this year in recognition of the center’s 25th anniversary.
CJP’s 25th Anniversary Celebration has been postponed to 2021. Bombande and Parke will be honored at the renamed “25+1” Celebration in June 2021. [The 2020 Summer Peacebuilding Institute continues on an all-online capacity.]
“These two honorees have done significant work in international and domestic advocacy around issues that are so important to peacebuilding and justice work,” said Jayne Docherty, CJP executive director. “Unfortunately, our celebration of their work and our invitation for them to further connect with students and alumni is on hold, but we look forward to more opportunities to connect in the next year while we wait to celebrate in 2021.”
Bombande, now a senior mediation adviser for the UN’s Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, was one of the earliest students of CJP. Originally from Ghana, he co-founded the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding with fellow alum Sam Gbaydee Doe MA ‘98 in 1998. The organization initially focused on collaborative approaches to conflict prevention in West Africa, and started the West Africa Peacebuilding Institute in 2002, which is modeled after the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at CJP.
Bombande went on to serve as chair of the board of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, Special Assistant to the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations for West Africa, the Deputy Foreign Minister, among other noteworthy positions.
Bombande is “an alumnus of our early years who has done significant work on peacebuilding in contexts of open violence,” Docherty said.
In his current position with the UN, Bombande has advised on establishing infrastructure for peace in African countries, particularly in Burkina Faso and Sudan.
“In all humility and with profound gratitude, I express heartwarming appreciation to the Center For Justice and Peacebuilding community for this recognition and award,” Bombande said. “In all my work and career, I have never stopped talking about the quality of education from EMU which distinguishes alumni of CJP in the approach and commitment to the work of justice and peace. Your recognition makes me proud as it reinforces my joy of belonging to this community and to be rededicated to our service to humanity.”
Parke is currently a community organizer for Carolina Jews for Justice, which supports Jewish communities to organize for righteous immigration policy, social justice, and other causes.
My time at CJP did more than equip me with knowledge, tools, and skills,” they said. “CJP invited me into an incredible global network of people who devote themselves wholeheartedly to the belief that healing and liberation are truly possible. I’m honored to be a part of this amazing community, and I’m grateful to be recognized for my own small part in the ongoing transformation that we are collectively building.”
Parke has a deep passion for “supporting faith communities in fulfilling the call to resist oppression, advance social justice, and end systems of oppression in the United States and beyond,” according to materials contributed in support of Parke.
Last November, Parke helped organize the first Never Again direct action in the rural South. Never Again Action is a national movement of Jewish people, immigrants, and allies who oppose the arrest and detention practices of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
“The intersectional and relational nature of your approach to changing systems of oppression is something we want to recognize for it power to truly transform persons and systems,” Docherty said in a letter of congratulations to Parke.
Previously, Parke worked for Political Research Associates, a Boston-based thinktank which seeks to understand and interrupt right-wing extremist white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, and antisemitism.