Peacebuilder of the Year: Annette Lantz-Simmons MA ’09

By CHRISTOPHER CLYMER KURTZ | September 6th, 2018

Annette Lantz-Simmons (right) and Academic Programs Director Jayne Docherty

Bringing a new sense of justice to multiple city venues – neighborhoods, courts and prisons, schools and more – is a challenge that requires focus, patience and an empowering spirit.

“One bite at a time. That’s all you can do,” said 2018 Peacebuilder of the Year Annette Lantz-Simmons at the June 13 luncheon ceremony in her honor during the Summer Peacebuilding Institute.

The executive director of the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) in Kansas City, Missouri, is the fourth recipient of the annual recognition of a CJP graduate. She first attended SPI in 2005 and earned a master’s degree in conflict transformation in 2009.

Lantz-Simmons “has led CCR’s commitment to a workplace environment that is reflective of its mission in the community and expanded the traditional work of a mediation center by promoting a holistic mission that focuses on prevention, education and restoration,” said CJP Executive Director Daryl Byler in an announcement of the honoree in spring 2018.

In her acceptance speech, Lantz-Simmons highlighted CCR’s programs. The organization offers neighborhoods and families group facilitation, conflict resolution and mediation training, and trauma and circle workshops; has assisted the city in implementing – and anticipates expanding – restorative justice practices in schools; offered restorative processes and trauma and conflict resolution trainings in prisons, reentry facilities, and courts; and provided various organizations with group facilitation, trainings, trauma awareness and mediation.

Trainings and programs such as these are “planting seeds,” Lantz-Simmons said in an earlier interview. “People often do what they know, even if it doesn’t work or is very uncomfortable for them. We offer a different mindset and practical skills to do conflict in a new way.”

“CCR is an example of what it takes to do real peacebuilding and effect significant change, beyond the boundaries of mediation,” said CJP academic programs director Jayne Docherty, in her presentation of the award to Lantz-Simmons. “It takes long-term vision and teamwork to actually make significant transformation in systems, and not just resolve conflicts. The vision that you have held is a big vision for a less violent and more just city, and that is what we love to see.”

In a video made by CCR staff for the occasion, founder Diane Kyser MA ‘06 praised Lantz-Simmons as having “brought this agency to incredible places because of the vision that she has had and then dedicated [herself] to pursue.”

CCR has strong ties to CJP, as CCR founder Kyser and staffers Gregory Winship MA ’17 and Debbie Bayless ‘18 have completed graduate degrees. Additionally, former CCR education strategist (and Annette’s daughter) Mikhala Lantz-Simmons is a 2015 graduate.

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