Women for Peace in Washington D.C.

By Bonnie Price Lofton | May 10th, 20121 comment

Jana El-Horr, MA '06

The proximity of Eastern Mennonite University to Washington D.C. — it’s a two-hour drive — enables many trained at EMU in peacebuilding, reconciliation, restorative justice, development and psychosocial trauma to work in the heart of one of the most influential capital cities in the world. Some do practicums, internships, and further graduate study, while others do consulting or settle into paid staff and administrative positions.

The seven women pictured below show the range of work and study sites available in Washington D.C. for those who hold master’s degrees from EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding: Peace Corps, World Vision, World Bank, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, InsideNGO, consulting business, George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution, and John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

Jana El-Horr, MA ’06 (pictured above) // PhD candidate at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution near Washington D.C. // In March 2012, El-Horr learned that she was one of fewer than three dozen chosen by the World Bank out of 10,000 applicants to be in its Young Professionals Program. This two-year program, which begins each September, is a stepping stone for permanent employment with the World Bank. To be considered for the program, a candidate must be fluent in English and another “World Bank language,” hold a master’s degree and have three or more years of “relevant professional experience or continued academic study at the doctoral level.” El-Horr, who is from Lebanon, previously worked with the American Islamic Congress where she was the Washington D.C. program director and an international trainer, the latter position involving conflict- resolution training workshops in Iraq.

Marinetta Cannito Hjort, MA ’05 // Founder and president of Transforming Conflicts, Restoring Justice, LLC. // Through TCRJ, Hjort gives technical support and training on conflict transformation and restorative justice processes. She is multi-lingual (Italian, English, Spanish, French) and often travels from her base near Washington D.C. to conduct trainings of up to a week in Italy, Haiti, and in Spanish-speaking countries, notably Mexico, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. She has also published extensively in Italian and Spanish, including a Spanish-language training manual on restorative justice. Much of her focus in Italy has been on overcoming the mafia culture and in Mexico on organized crime and corruption.

Krista Rigalo, MA ’98, PhD // One of the earliest graduates of EMU’s conflict transformation program. // She came to the program with a master’s degree in agricultural education and extensive experience as a Mennonite Central Committee volunteer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and Zambia. Since November 2011, Rigalo has been Chief of Programming and Training for Africa Region of the U.S. Peace Corps. Her work runs the gamut from establishing a three-year regional performance plan, identifying and allocating resources for training and staff development to assisting with creating and managing strategic partnerships at an agency level, to providing and coordinating technical assistance to 66 projects in health, environmental/natural resource management, education, community economic development, agriculture and youth development.

Roxy Allen, MA ’07 // Events manager at the Washington D.C. headquarters of InsideNGO, which is dedicated to strengthening the operational teams and fostering leadership in the international non-profit sector. // Allen manages the logistics for 88 workshops in the U.S. and developing countries, coordinates the activities of the events team across the organization, does project management for the signature annual conference, and manages the Young Professionals Forum by hosting career-building and personal/professional development events. Previously, Allen taught English in Ethiopia as a volunteer with Mennonite Central Committee.

Ruth Hoover Zimmerman, MA ’02 // Former co-director of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding // Zimmerman now works from the Washington D.C. headquarters of the U.S. branch of World Vision as its country program manager for India. She is in charge of monitoring and evaluating how the nearly 15 million dollars contributed annually by U.S. donors are being used in India. More than half of the projects that she monitors are directed at reducing violence toward girls and improving their future prospects through education. Previously, Zimmerman was regional representative for Mennonite Central Committee for India, Nepal and Afghanistan. Before working at EMU from 1994 to 2007, Zimmerman served for eight years in southeast Asia in church administration for Eastern Mennonite Missions.

Nilofar Sakhi, MA ’07 // Candidate for a master’s degree in international public policy through Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington D.C. // Most recently Sakhi directed the Afghanistan office of Open Society Foundations (founded by George Soros). Previously she founded and led the Women Activities and Social Services Association, based in her home city of Herat, Afghanistan. “I chose SAIS of Johns Hopkins University due to its rigorous focus on economics. In an increasingly globalized world, the knowledge of economics is a prerequisite for a better understanding of international relations and wise decision-making in response to political crises.”

Lauren Sauer, MA ’08 // Program officer for Europe and Asia for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). //As an example of the type of work she undertakes, Sauer went to Papua New Guinea for three weeks in March 2012 on a project titled “Women Advocating for Voices in Government,” described on www.IFES.org as “a project to increase the participation and representation of women in politics by improving their capacity to influence decision makers and advocate for equality.” Women in Papua New Guinea have been trying to overcome a situation in which only one woman has been serving in the 109-seat Parliament. Sauer notes that the IFES is trying to improve the political and cultural situation for women in both Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands where gender-based violence is endemic, reflecting the low status of women in society.

(All photos by Jon Styer.)

One Response to "Women for Peace in Washington D.C."

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