Meet the new Board of Directors for PJSA

Michael Loadenthal's picture

Co- Chair: Laura Finley (16-18)

Dr. Laura Finley (PhD) is Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Barry University in Miami, Florida. She is also author, co-author or editor of seventeen books and numerous book chapters and journal articles. In addition, Dr. Finley is actively involved in a number of peace, justice and human rights groups. She serves as Board Chair for No More Tears, a non-profit organization that serves victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, and is a board member of The Humanity Project and Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Prior to being elected co-chair, Dr. Finley was Publications Chair for PJSA. She also coordinates PJSA’s Speaker’s Bureau.  


Co-Chair: Edmund Pries (15-17)

Dr. Edmund Pries (PhD) is Assistant Professor of Global Studies, Social Entrepreneurship, Religion and Culture, and Community Engagement at Wilfrid Laurier University where his teaching is centered in the area of Peace and Conflict Studies (including: Disarmament, International Humanitarian Law). His research focuses on religion and peace/conflict and on social contracts derived from citizenship oaths and military enlistment oaths. He also writes on pedagogy. Edmund is the recipient of two awards for teaching excellence: from Wilfrid Laurier University (2011) and from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (2014). He is the co-chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Association (Canada & US) and on the founding board of the newly-formed Peace and Conflict Studies Association of Canada. In addition to various articles, he recently co-edited the book Peace Studies between Tradition and Innovation (2015). A personal goal he realized last year was to walk across northern Spain along the ancient pilgrimage route known as El Camino de Santiago de Compostela – a trek of 900 km.


Secretary: Jack Payden-Travers (15-17)


Jack Payden-Travers has been a social activist since he was a freshman at Iona College during the Vietnam War. Presently on a sabbatical year, he  recently retired as the Executive Director of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund. During his career he has organized work projects for Habitat for Humanity International, the American Fellowship of Reconciliation and Witness for Peace. He has worked on the local, state and national levels. He holds a BA in History, an MA in Liberal Studies and a graduate certificate in Conflict Transformation from the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. His interest in peace studies goes back to the early 70s with COPRED. He has been a professor, middle school teacher, librarian, carpenter, house husband, cab driver, non-profit director, etc while supporting his wife’s career as an Episcopal priest. They have two grandchildren and two granddogs.


Conference Chair: Kevin Higgs (16-18)

Dr. Kevin Higgs is from North Alabama and grew up in the Birmingham area. As a child, he experienced the dynamic changes that took place in this city during the Civil Rights Movement, and has been greatly influenced by its history and politics. Because of this, Dr. Higgs has focused his study, activism, and academic interest on Alabama and its issues of human rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, and the theology and political thought that has come out of the American South. Dr. Higgs approaches these realities with a global, multi-cultural perspective informed by philosophies of nonviolence and theologies of liberation. He has spent significant time as an activist for the homeless community of Birmingham, and has worked diligently in areas of peace-building within the still-segregated racial/cultural divide that continues in Birmingham. Dr. Higgs is an active member of the NAACP in the State of Alabama, working with the “Moral Monday Movement” seeking to organize activism to confront issues of poverty, labor abuse, environmental abuse, voting rights, the Prison-Industrial-Complex, and the Military-Industrial-Complex in the State of Alabama.


Membership Chair: Jinelle Piereder (16-18)

Jinelle Piereder is a first year PhD student in Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, University of Waterloo. Supervised by Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon, Jinelle uses approaches and tools from complexity science to study how ideologies are constructed, contested and perpetuated. In the context of specific global challenges, she hopes to add to what is known about the role of ideological conflict – on psychological, social, and material levels – within public policy-making and social movements. While completing her Masters of Global Governance at the BSIA, Jinelle worked as a CIGI Graduate Fellow on Asia Pacific security and empathy-building in the East and South China Seas. As part of her degree, she also completed an internship with a leading civic rights network, CIVICUS, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Jinelle completed her undergraduate work at Wilfrid Laurier University, focusing on international humanitarian law and disarmament, and North and Sub-Saharan African conflicts. She was a researcher for Project Ploughshares' 2013 Armed Conflict Report and assisted in coordinating the PJSA 2013 Conference.


Awards and Board Nominations Chair: Randy Janzen (15-17)

Randy Janzen, PhD, is the Chair of the Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College, in British Columbia’s southern interior, where he also teaches in the Peace and Justice Studies and Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping programs. Randy’s recent work has involved a focus on community peace education, including mediation, conflict transformation and nonviolent action. Randy’s research focus is unarmed civilian peacekeeping and he is a founding member of the global Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping/Protection Research Network.


Student Awards: Emily Welty (16-18)

Dr. Emily Welty is the Director of Peace and Justice Studies at Pace University in New York City. She serves as the Main Representative of the International Peace Research Association to the United Nations and Vice Moderator of the World Council of Churches Commission on International Affairs. Her research concentrates on nonviolent protest, faith-based peacebuilding and ethical humanitarianism.


Ombudsman and List Serve Liaison: Elham Atashi (16-18)


Dr. Elham Atashi is the Associate Director of the Justice and Peace Studies Program at Georgetown University. She holds a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. She is a certified mediator and negotiator having received her training from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Dr. Atashi teaches and writes on issues relating to truth telling and the politics of memory, restorative justice, post-conflict transformation and the role of youth and civic organizations in peacebuilding. She serves on the editorial board of the African Peace and Conflict Journal and has been on a consultative body in assessing and developing mechanisms for dealing with the legacy of the past injustices in countries such as Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. Dr. Atashi also works extensively as a practitioner for several international organizations supporting transformative local community reconciliation, justice and peacebuilding initiatives. She is also a professional dialogue facilitator conducting workshops with a focus on youth as migrants and refugees.


Grant Writing Chair: Michelle Collins-Sibley (16-18)


Michelle Collins-Sibley joined the faculty at the University of Mount Union – then Mount Union College -- in 1994; professor of English, she directs chairs the newly implemented Department of Interdisciplinary & Liberal Studies (home to the Africana Studies, Gender Studies, and Peacebuilding and Social Justice Programs). For nearly a decade she served as one of the lead faculty of the annual NEH Summer Seminar, ROOTS: African Dimensions of the History and Culture of the Americas through the Atlantic Slave Trade at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her teaching and research interests focus on Africana literatures, specifically women writers of the African diaspora, literary theory – womanist/feminist, post-colonial – contemplative and peace pedagogies, and comparative literature; recent publications include, “’Becoming the Bear’: A Meditation on Racial Battle Fatigue, Resistance & Grace in Academia,” and, “What Does It Mean to Tweet #BLACKLIVESMATTER: Reflections on Black History Month, 2015.” She is an active member of her local community, having served on the boards of the Alliance YWCA, Haines House: A National Underground Railroad Site, and, currently serving on the board of the Alliance Area Domestic Violence Shelter.


Fundraising Chair: Swasti Bhattacharyya (16-18)

Swasti Bhattacharyya (PhD, RN) is Professor of Philosophy & Religion at Buena Vista University. Along with her work in the academy, she worked for 10 years as a Registered Nurse in both neurosurgery intensive care and labor and delivery. This experience gives her thinking on bioethics/medical ethics a direct and practical, as well as deeply philosophical basis. As a comparative religious applied ethicist, her work examines ethical issues (bioethics, environmental ethics, and nonviolence, peace and justice) from different religious perspectives (Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim). Her book, Magical Progeny, Modern Technology (SUNY, 2006), provides an example of how she interweaves elements of bioethics and Hinduism. Swasti's current project is enabling her to combine familial connections, long-term commitments to nonviolence, peace and justice, teaching, and her love of photography. She has been exploring the living legacy of Vinoba Bhave (disciple, friend, confidant, and spiritual successor to Mahatma Gandhi). Through this ethnographic project, she has interviewed 3 generations of individuals living and working for sarvodaya (the holistic uplifting of all: all segments of our global humanity).


Diversity Chair: Elavie Ndura (15-17)

Dr. Elavie Ndura is George Mason University’s 2015-2016 Presidential Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion, and a tenured Professor of Education. She is an international education expert and practitioner with over 20 years of experience in developing, implementing and managing intercultural education, peace and nonviolence capacity building programs in the United States and Burundi. She is the founder and coordinator of the Shinnyo Fellowship for Peacebuilding through Service and Education at George Mason University. She has pioneered youth peacemaking leadership development through community engagement in Burundi. Her signature interdisciplinary research, scholarship, and practice that unite multicultural peace education, and conflict prevention and transformation have been featured in her six books, more than 30 book chapters and professional journal articles, and numerous invited presentations and keynotes highlighting the central role of formal and non-formal education in advancing inclusive excellence, social cohesion, and peacemaking leadership.


Liaison to IPRA: Nurana Rajabova (16-18)

Nurana Rajabova, born and raised in Azerbaijan, is currently based in NYC, USA. Rajabova has earned her MA degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace Studies, at the University of San Diego. She also holds certificates in the field of Peace, Conflict Resolution and Terrorism Studies from several institutes including the United States Institute of Peace Academy, Georgetown University, and Eastern Mennonite University. Rajabova recently finished her service program in NYC which was a year-long service corps for young adults committed to intentional living and social justice work in the city. As a part of her program, for the past year, she has been serving at the Social Justice department of The Riverside Church in the City of New York. Rajabova has also more than five years of work experience in the non-profit sector. Some of the organizations she has worked at include the U.S. Peace Corps, British Council, International Development Group/USAID, Center for Innovations in Education. Nurana Rajabova is pursuing her professional career in the peacebuilding field, with a focus on identity based conflicts and violent extremism.


Liaison to Activists: Timothy Seidel (16-18)

Timothy Seidel teaches courses on politics, development, and peacebuilding in the Department of Applied Social Sciences and the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA. He previously taught at American University and Lancaster Theological Seminary. Seidel has worked in various development and peacebuilding contexts in North America and the Middle East, including serving for several years with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), first as peace development worker in Palestine-Israel and then as director for Peace and Justice Ministries in the U.S. He is a doctoral candidate in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC.


For contact information and additional details click here