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Peacebuilding & Development Institute

Trainer Biographies

Mohammed Abu-Nimer

Mohammed Abu-Nimer is an expert on conflict resolution and dialogue for peace. He has conducted research on conflict resolution and dialogue for peace among Palestinians and Jews in Israel; Israeli-Palestinian conflict; application of conflict resolution models in Muslim communities; interreligious conflict resolution training; interfaith dialogue; and evaluation of conflict resolution programs. As a practitioner, he has been intervening and conducting conflict resolution training workshops in many conflict areas around the world, including: Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Northern Ireland, Philippines (Mindanao), Sri Lanka, U.S., and other areas. He has published articles on these subjects in the Journal of Peace Research; Journal of Peace and Changes, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, and in various edited books. Abu-Nimer is the co-founder and co-editor of the new Journal of Peacebuilding and Development. In addition to his many accomplishments, he speaks Arabic, Hebrew and English.

Julie Mertus

Julie Mertus is a Professor and Co-Director of the MA program in Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs at American University. A graduate of Yale Law School and Cornell University, Professor Mertus has over twenty years of experience working for a wide range of nongovernmental and governmental human rights organizations in the human rights and peacebuilding field. As a practitioner, Professor Mertus has worked as a field researcher, lawyer, advocate, consultant political analyst and trainer. While her expertise focuses on Eastern Europe (largely, the Balkans), her work has brought her to the Middle East, Asia and Africa. At the international level, she has conducted human rights trainings with NGOs, political leaders, school teachers and student activists in over a dozen countries. She has also served as a consultant on human rights and humanitarian issues to UNHCR, the Humanitarianism and War Project, the Watson Institute for International Affairs, Women Waging Peace, OXFAM, the Soros Foundation, and many other nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations.

Carolyne Ashton

Dr. Ashton is Senior Research Associate at Search for Common Ground.  Her doctorate is from George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis.  Dr. Ashton’s graduate work was focused on the use of theories of change in peace education programs.  She has extensive background in teacher training, development, and evaluation of peace education programs and protection of education in emergencies around the world.  At Search for Common Ground, Dr. Ashton is working on identifying and developing peacebuilding indicators to be used across Search’s country programs and supports the development of knowledge management across the organization.  Dr. Ashton has worked in Armenia, Aceh (Indonesia), Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Solomon Islands.  She has been a guest professor in research methods at GMU’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and the University of Peace in Ethiopia and Costa Rica.

Michael Gibbons

Dr. Michael Gibbons specializes in basic and nonformal education, child development, adult learning and dialogue processes, training of educators, and organizational learning. He holds a Ph.D. from the Fielding Institute in human and organizational development, with a focus on organizational learning processes within educational programs. He is particularly interested in the role learning plays in personal development and social transformation. Currently, Mr. Gibbons teaches courses in the International Training and Education (ITEP) Program at The American University, coordinates the Education Partnership for Children on Conflict at the Council on Foreign Relations, and has begun "Leadership Learning", a program supporting inter-agency learning in basic education and child rights.

Steve Hansch

Steve Hansch is currently professor of complex emergencies at American University in Washington, DC. He was a technical expert in health, food and nutrition for USAID, CARE, FAO, the Academy for Educational Development (AED), Marine Overseas Services, and Datex. He has extensive experience in developing, managing and evaluating projects associated with humanitarian field operations, including health, nutrition, and economic analyses in Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique, Sudan, Somalia. He has authored articles in various journals and written analytical reports on nutrition needs in crises and evaluations of food aid programs of different NGOs and WFP.

Howard Roy Williams

Howard Roy Williams is President and CEO of the Center for Humanitarian Cooperation. He is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and is a Visiting Professor at the Peace Keeping and Stability Institute of the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Mr. Williams was previously Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Response, of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Before going to OFDA, Mr. Williams served with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for 12 years. He also served with the International Organization for Migration.