Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute executive director Donna Minter (right) and assistant executive director and training partner Crixell Shell were recently featured in a Star Tribune article about the institute’s educational work around racial justice. The institute employs materials and practices from EMU's Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) programming. (Courtesy photo)

Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute in demand for racial justice trainings

Donna Minter, Crixell Shell, and the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute (i.e. MN Peacebuilding) are finding new audiences and growing interest at the “epicenter” of the racial justice movement in the United States.

Minter and Shell, executive director and assistant executive director respectively, are both master trainers of the Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience program, based at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. 


Scroll down to see Crixell Shell speak with STAR Lead Trainer Katie Manfield about systemic racism.


“What started as a spark has turned into a movement,” Shell wrote in a recent STAR e-zine article about MN Peacebuilding’s work. “People are hungry for this information. We’ve moved beyond ‘trauma-informed’ as a buzzword to respond to essential shifting in our community due to George Floyd’s murder by police. Our conversations include racial justice and equity, and trauma is no longer something for solely the privileged to speak about — it’s for all of us.”

A recent news article in the Star Tribune, the largest newspaper in Minnesota, highlights the organization’s history and current broadening influence. Minter brought the first Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience training to her home state in 2010. Since then the organization has trained more than 5000 people in racial healing, trauma awareness, restorative justice and resilience and self-care. 

Minter and Shell believe the time is right for their racial restorative justice work to broaden and take hold, the article says.

“Right now, we’re the epicenter of what’s happening in terms of a social justice movement,” said Shell, in the Star Tribune article. “In response to what’s been happening, people have had a lot of pain.”

MN Peacebuilding has been contracted by the City of Minneapolis for 15 trainings between now and fall for anyone who lives, works, and/or plays in Minneapolis, among other expanding work. Representatives of organizations that have participated in MN Peacebuilding’s trainings say they’re effectively building on the foundation of trauma-referenced and historic-harms work.

As part of her work, Shell also convenes monthly racial healing and learning talking circles as the Minneapolis affiliate of Coming to the Table. The racial healing and reconciliation organization, which started at EMU and is now a program of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY), brings together descendants of slave-owners and enslaved people. There are more than three dozen chapters in 16 states.

Minter and Shell share the view that STAR’s strategies are a foundational resource for empowerment to make and create healing and structural change. 

“MN Peacebuilding creates space in communities to learn shared history, build connections, heal wounds and take nonviolent actions together for transformation,” writes MN Peacebuilding’s Communications Coordinator Gemma Eissa in the e-zine article titled “Making Minnesota the Peacebuilding Power State for All.”

In 2019, Minter was honored with the Melanie Greenberg U.S. Peacebuilding Award of Excellence from the Washington DC-based, international Alliance for Peacebuilding.

For more information or to support MN Peacebuilding, visit their website www.mnpeace.org. You can also purchase tickets to LUNAFEST, a virtual women’s film festival on Aug. 26, with proceeds benefiting MN Peacebuilding’s racial and economic equity trainee scholarship fund and programs. 


Learn more about systemic racism

In this installment of STAR’s “Care Together” video series, MN Peacebuilding’s assistant executive director Crixell Shell talks with STAR trainer Katie Mansfield about systemic racism.


Join the Discussion on “Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute in demand for racial justice trainings

  1. I got to study STAR with Donna and I am excited to see the work continue! And thanks to Crixell for the reminder to breath!

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