At a very young age, I was able to see the power of youth through my work as a community volunteer, activist, and school journalist. When a small group of students were highly mistreated at a local restaurant, I wrote about it in the school newspaper. Within days, the restaurant manager had arranged a time to meet with the entire newspaper staff, treating us all to a delicious lunch to discuss the importance of treating every guest with respect and dignity, regardless of their profile. From this moment on, I knew the power of my voice and recognized the potential for my peers, despite our age, to make an impact in our community. It is no wonder that, today, I am developing programs that do just that - leveraging youth as PeaceMakers and Change Leaders in their communities.
Before coming to the Kroc IPJ, I spent 12 years as a teacher in North County San Diego and developed a youth leadership program that was “for youth, by youth”. The program trained more than 300 young people to facilitate dialogue among their peers on issues of conflict prevention and relationship building. In recognition of my leadership in the program, I was given the Unity in Action Award by the San Diego Hate Crimes Coalition and was asked by the school district to implement the program across the district. I also created other campus-wide programs such as Unity Day — a restorative-based, non-academic school day focused on building relationships and a positive school culture. For my teaching and work promoting peace in schools, I was recognized as the 2012 and 2016 Season for Non-violence Teacher of the Year.
I have a Master’s Degree in Peace and Justice Studies, with a Certificate in Global and Peace Education, from the University of San Diego’s Kroc School. Currently, I am a Program Officer at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, working primarily with Emerging and Local PeaceMakers. The Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice is dedicated to bridging the gaps between practice and learning by developing more effective PeaceMakers.