Mother, former mediation executive

December 30th, 2010

Christine Poulson, MA ’98

Staunton, Virgina

Two years after the birth of her son, Benjamin, Christine Poulson made a difficult decision. After six years in a job she loved, she decided she would cease being executive director of the Conflict Resolution Center in Roanoke, Virginia, to be a full-time caregiver to her son.

“Having a child with special needs changed my priorities,” she told Peacebuilder. “It forces you to slow down and to re-evaluate your life.

“I never thought I would be a stay-at-home mom – I am not sure I am very good at it – but I do know it is the best thing for my child, because the professionals [previously working with him] weren’t able to give him what he needs.

“Now, this is my calling.”

Three years after Benjamin was born, he was joined by a sister, Sidney. Christine’s husband, Steve, is a sociologist who teaches at James Madison University, located in the same city as EMU.

“I am the product of a culture of always moving ahead and doing more,” says Christine. “But I have become a reflective person. I don’t have to be the head of an important NGO to make a difference. My perspective has changed – these two children are the future. I need to give them their best possible start.”

While pregnant with her second child, Christine played a key volunteer role in a campaign to use the purchase of state-issued car license plates marked by a “peace dove” to raise money for the Virginia Association for Community Resolution, a network of non-profit community mediation centers. That effort has yielded $36,000 over a two-year period. Christine now works from her home as the part-time coordinator of that association.

On the days when Christine wonders about her future, she recalls the words of Elise M. Boulding, a Quaker sociologist who raised five children with her husband. Meeting in Harrisonburg with a handful of women in the late 1990s, Boulding said in reference to balancing one’s private and public life: “Sometimes you get on the bus [of public engagement] and sometimes you get off, but it will always come around for you again.” Boulding, who died at age 89 on June 24, 2010, was one of the most influential peace researchers and activists of the 20th century.

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