Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) allows for diverse, interdisciplinary alumni that have the skill set to work all over the world, in a multitude of fields and industries. While the MPACS program is particularly geared towards preparing students to work for peace from within the civil society, graduates pursue careers in fields ranging from conflict management, mediation and restorative justice, to international development, human rights work, research and policy analysis, to name just a few. Learn more about MPACS alumni what they have been up to following their completion of the program.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Non-Profit Organizations
Allie Bly- Development Assistant, United Nations Association of Canada
Allie is the Development Assistant at the United Nations Association of Canada (UNAC). She has recently worked on co-authoring the PACS 201: Roots of Conflict, Violence and Peace, online course for the University of Waterloo. For the UNAC, Allie does a lot of online communications work and website development. She is also responsible for the annual mailings to supporters, and writing funding proposals for special projects. In terms of online communications, Allie’s main focus has been social media management, as well as developing her skills in Photoshop and graphic design to create visuals for the UNAC website.
This work is significant to Allie because organizations like UNAC develop connections between civil society and the government. In general, the United Nations is a significant player in creating peace on a global scale. UNAC also facilitates university and high school level model United Nations, which Allie sees as very important in its contribution to peace education.
David Eagle - Associate Director, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
Working as a Associate Director, Eastern Southern & Central Africa for Mennonite Economic Development Associates, David Eagle manages international development projects and does consulting primarily in East African countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.
“The majority of the world's poor are small farmers,” says Eagle. Therefore, MEDA chooses to focus on creating business solutions to combat poverty. “We partner with the private sector, small farmers, donors and investors to design and deploy scalable, replicable business solutions that enable small farmers to profitably and sustainably supply their products to buyers.” The goal is to build and strengthen business foundations and commercial relationships as well as improve small farmer’s income and wellbeing.
One project that Eagle is currently working on at MEDA, is the Cassava Seed System. “Cassava is a staple crop of over 800 million people worldwide and is very common in East Africa,” Eagle explains. However, it is very susceptible to disease and therefore seen as a low value crop. To combat this issue, Eagle is working on a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to provide farmers access to clean cassava seeds across Tanzania and Uganda. The project focuses on creating two supply chain models to “bridge the gap between the research laboratories developing new varieties and the farmers looking for new planting material,” (MEDA.org). The project is expected to reach 62,000 farmers.
Rod Friesen - Restorative Justice Program Coordinator, Mennonite Central Committee
Rod Friesen has worked for MCC Ontario since May 2017 in the role of Restorative Justice Program Coordinator. Rod completed his Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from Conrad Grebel University College in 2013 as part of the first cohort. Prior to that he completed his post secondary education in nonprofit and human resources management. He is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) and has completed the Certificate Program in Conflict Management and Mediation.
In his role with MCC, Rod oversees a team of six Restorative Justice Program Associates that deliver community based programs in the safe reintegration of ex-offenders from Federal prison in Kitchener-Waterloo, Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton and London. Programs like CoSA, or Circles of Support and Accountability works with teams of volunteers and staff, supported by professionals to meet with individuals with a history of sexual offending. Other programs he oversees are MCC’s Faith Community Reintegration funded through Correctional Services Canada, and blanket/sewing skills programs at Grand Valley Institution for Women. Rod is provides leadership and is a trainer for Training Active Bystanders, which is a three hour workshop providing participants the skills to analyze and intervene when witnessing abusive, isolating or stigmatizing behaviour.
Rod has also supported MCC Zambia and delivered a four day Victim Offender Mediation Program workshop to prison guards within the Zambia Correctional Service Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding Unit. At the national level, Rod is involved through MCC being a member organization of CoSA Canada and the National Association of Organizations Active in Criminal Justice.
Kaylee Perez - Refugee Sponsorship Associate, Mennonite Central Committee Ontario
Kaylee works for Mennonite Central Committee Ontario as the Refugee Sponsorship Associate. Her role includes connecting and matching sponsorship groups to refugee families identified by the Canadian government and the United Nations, walking alongside sponsors and newcomer families as they learn and grow, and engaging the community in public education on welcoming refugees.
This is an extremely important role as the world is currently facing a huge refugee crisis. There are more refugees today than there have been since World War II. The International Organization for Migration estimates that there are about 60 million forcibly displaced individuals in the world, and over 19 million refugees. “Canada is the only country in the world that offers a private refugee sponsorship program, and this gives Canadians a unique opportunity to act,” Kaylee says, “While resettlement is not necessarily a solution to the complexity of war, it does save lives.”
Kaylee is very supportive of the private sponsorship opportunity that Canada provides, because it gives ordinary Canadians the chance to commit to long-term, sustainable peace. This unique situation leads to relationship building across cultures, which leads to the breakdown of false notions of the “other.” Kaylee says,” What I’m most passionate about – what I’ve seen over and over again – is the powerful way that regular people can make all the difference in the world to newcomer families. Every day I see it with my own eyes and every day it humbles me.”
Babina Kharel - Case Officer, Metro Immigration Office
Babina is a Case Officer at Metro Immigration Office in Mississauga. Metro is a private immigration office, providing consultation and advisory services regarding permanent residency matters in Canada. As a case officer, Babina provides advisory services to clients, determining their eligibility for qualifying programs, particularly in family sponsorship cases.
This is an important role because Canada is a country that is welcoming to all immigrants. Babina says, “Immigrants contribute to the country’s economy, diversity and overall growth.” Therefore, providing kind and efficient customer service to deserving potential immigrants helps with the integration of newcomers into Canadian society.
Babina says that her experience as a Case Officer includes many success stories of reuniting families and spouses. Her work also provides guidance to prevent citizenship fraud. Babina says, “The legal issues I share with clients make them aware and safe guard them from ill circumstances. Within the workplace as a PACS alumni, my knowledge of conflict resolution skills, come in very handy. I am able to mediate and negotiate when there are issues of conflict arising among peers. This makes me very proud.”
Darren Kropf- Active Transportation Planning Project Manager, City of Kitchener
In this role, Darren manages projects to make it safer and more comfortable to walk or bike in Kitchener. The knowledge learned through his MPACS degree is "directly transferably and immensly valuable. City building and transportation planning always brings diverse viewpoints from community members and stakeholders. MPACS taught me the required skills to manage conflicts in constructive ways, with the goal of seeking the most benefit to the community as a whole."
Janelle Saldanha- Integrity Services Investigator, Service Canada's Intergrity Services Branch
Janelle is an Integrity Services Investigator with Service Canada’s Integrity Services Branch. Integrity Services investigates any benefit provided by the federal government. These include employment insurance and pension for potential fraudulent use. Currently, Janelle is an Investigator for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. She conducts investigations on organizations that employ Temporary Foreign Workers. Her job is to ensure that employers provide them with wages, employment in the same occupation and proper working conditions.
This job is significant because as Janelle says, “You would be surprised at the number of organizations that employ Temporary Foreign Workers!” It’s a large institution that often goes unnoticed, and so it’s important for someone to be checking in, and looking out for the rights of workers. Janelle says that there are temporary foreign workers in a variety of fields – not just in agriculture or child care. “These workers give to the country—in terms of niche experience, and stimulation of the economy—as much as Canada provides to them—an ability to gain a better life, and provide for a family back home.” Therefore, Janelle’s role helps to ensure that employers are not disadvantaging Canadians by choosing to outsource to cheaper labour, while also ensuring that foreign workers are treated with the same rights Canadian workers are.
Reza Ali Chaudhry - Sessional Instructor, Fanshawe College
Ali currently works as a part-time sessional instructor at Fanshawe College, teaching courses in Organizational Management and Alternate Dispute Resolution. He is also a practicum supervisor. Ali continues to assist with community and youth peacebuilding initiatives, while remaining dedicated to his family and raising his young son.
Upon retiring from a 23 year career as an Army Logistics Officer in the Canadian Forces, Ali entered the MPACS program. Through his international deployments with the Army, Ali was part of various peacebuilding missions and decided to study alternative non-military methods to creating peace. He hoped that by completing MPACS, he would refine his understanding of building peace through peaceful means. Ali’s military experience provided him a unique insight to MPACS lessons due to his field and strategic experience.
Having applied to graduate programs all over Canada, Ali chose the MPACS program as it provided an intimate learning experience. The flexibility of the degree, Ali finds, is an essential part of this program. Rather than having specific careers in mind, as many other programs do, MPACS can powerfully influence a previously chosen career path. Graduates of MPACS are not confined to one field and instead have numerous career options. As he dwells into his second career, Ali plans to continue teaching and mentoring youth in how they manage conflict. In doing this, Ali hopes to pass on stronger, healthier methods of dealing with conflict starting with youth, so they can carry this into their adult lives and create a healthier, peaceful future.
Hari KC - PhD Candidate, Balsillie School of International Affairs
Hari is currently a student at the Balsillie School pursing a PhD in Global Governance. He is fascinated by international migration, and the connection between disability issues and global governance. He plans to write his dissertation in one of these areas, most likely about international migration.
Hari’s interest comes from his own experiences in Nepal. He is interested in migration because as he says, “I myself am a migrant,” and therefore the study of international migration is significant to him personally. Although Hari’s interest in these areas come from personal experiences, what keeps him motivated in his studies is the greater significance of these issues to the world. “It gives me the strength, stamina, power, and motivation that I need,” he says. For Hari, a broader vision than one’s own personal experiences is essential in peace work.
Hari has worked for BBC radio in Nepal doing radio dramas. One in particular was about a Nepalese migrant woman who had gone to work in the Middle East, became pregnant and returned home. She did not know who the father of her child was, and was ostracized by her community. This story was very moving to Hari, and it inspired him to become invested in the lives of migrant women. As he started working in that field, he met many migrant women with similar stories of isolation from their communities after becoming pregnant. This motivated Hari even more to pursue peace work and further his studies.
Ifeanyi Ogwuru - PhD Candidate, University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis
Ify has gathered experience in conflict analysis and resolution from all over the world. He obtained his BA in Sociology at Aeia State University in his home country of Nigeria, an MA in Peace and Diplomacy at Siam University in Bangkok, an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel, and will be pursuing a PhD in Political Science in Australia. He hopes to bring the skills and knowledge he is gaining through these experiences back to his home country of Nigeria.
Ify grew up in the Northern part of Nigeria, dominated by Muslims. When the country took up arms against the Muslim community, Ify managed to escape the conflict. Now, Ify has travelled to many different countries and his studying of different countries’ approaches to conflict has allowed him to gain a diverse array of perspectives. His PhD topic is “How State Actors Engineer Terrorism and New Forms of Political Participation in Nigeria”. This focus on how to address conflict is followed with the intention of returning to Nigeria to contribute to peacemaking in the government. In addition to becoming involved with politics in Nigeria, Ify intends to further his research in conflict and how to address it.
Rachel Anderson - Undergraduate Academic and Administrative Officer & Internship Coordinator, CGUC
Rachel is the Undergraduate Academic and Administrative Officer & Field Studies/Internship Coordinator of the PACS department at Conrad Grebel. In her work, she advises students and helps them navigate the academic system at the University of Waterloo. She works hard to ensure that students are accommodated in the best way possible. This can include helping students who are struggling with mental illness or who are dealing with parental pressure.
Rachel also does a variety of administrative tasks for the program. She helps students coordinate their field studies and reflect on them when they return.
The most rewarding part of the job for Rachel is being able to help students who come into her office feeling frustrated and stressed, and then leave feeling prepared and ready to take on their education. She also appreciates seeing the way students experience field studies and how that affects their lives. It’s a profound time of self-discovery for the students, and seeing them learn and transform and become inspired is Rachel’s favorite part of the job.
She also remains rooted in social justice activism by serving on the board for the School of the Americas Watch, a nonviolent grassroots movement that works to close the SOA/WHINSEC and end US militarization of Latin America. After travelling to Nicaragua and El Salvador, she developed a deeper connection to the region, which led her to work with SOA Watch in Washington, DC and become a board member.
Ellen Sikorski - PhD Candidate, University of Manitoba
Ellen is currently in her second year of her PhD at the University of Manitoba, where she is studying Peace and Conflict Studies with a focus in voluntourism (volunteer trips abroad) and peacebuilding. She has a strong interest in courses that focus on topics like youth in conflict and peacebuilding, violence intervention and prevention, and intercultural conflict resolution.
The research that Ellen is conducting is significant because she says, “Canadian youth are overlooked as key actors in peacebuilding. More and more youth are flocking towards jobs in NGOs and non-profits, or jobs which exhibit philanthropy and corporate social responsibility.” According to Ellen, if participating in voluntourism is a catalyst which leads youth to pursue a career in the peacebuilding field, then more work should be done to ensure that voluntourism is accessible to university and high school students in Canada.
Ellen is studying the impact of volunteering abroad because it is a topic close to her heart. After visiting Peru to construct a water system in an elementary school, building a school in Guatemala, and assisting with the care of elephants in Thailand, Ellen is passionate about travelling and peace work, and plans to continue participating in voluntourism. She’ll be heading to India in the summer to assist with construction work. For Ellen, voluntourism is important because it exposes the traveler to the realities of living in a different country, especially for countries that experience extreme poverty. These opportunities provide once in a lifetime cross-cultural interactions for Ellen, and she says “I have continued to study approaches to peace and conflict resolution because of what I have seen abroad and am inspired by the people I have met across the globe.
Legal and Law Enforcement
Melody Chen - Senior Executive/Assistant Registrar, Ministry of Law, Singapore
Melody is a Senior Executive/Assistant Registrar at the Ministry of Law in Singapore where she looks into the development and regulation of Singapore’s legal industry. As part of her role, she engages a diverse set of stakeholders and critically assesses their feedback on the legal industry to make recommendations. “I look at developing policies relating to legal education and manpower, dispute resolution, and regulation of law practice entities,” said Melody. “In addition to policy work, I am also involved in the development of thought leadership and the review of existing legislation.”
During the completion of her MPACS degree, Melody researched topics at the intersection of law, society, and non-violent conflict resolution. In particular, she explored the possibility of using facilitative negotiation and mediation models in situations of international conflict. “MPACS really underscored that change takes time and such efforts must include a diversity of voices in order to be successful,” she reflected. After graduating from MPACS, Melody went on to complete a Juris Doctor degree at Singapore Management University and began her current role after being admitted to the Singapore Bar. “My goal,” she explained, “was to be part of the efforts to develop the alternate dispute resolution space in Singapore and to have the opportunity to effect positive change beyond an individual client. In the future I hope to continue deepening my knowledge of the alternative dispute resolution space and to gain experience with matters involving legal analysis and international aspects."
Barry Bussey - Director of Legal Affairs, Canadian Council of Christian Churches
After graduating from MPACS, Barry went on to complete a PhD (Law) at the University of Leiden. Now he is the Director of Legal Affairs at the Canadian Council of Christian Churches (CCCC). In his role, he is responsible for overseeing the legal department at CCCC. Specifically, he engages with the Canadian society on the place of religious institutions. He also represents the CCCC in court, the legislatures and administrative bodies concerning religious institutions and their role in the public sphere.
This is important to Barry because he says “As our public policy makers increasingly secularize their public endeavours - which they have to do to a certain extent in our very plural and diverse nation - they seem to think that religious sensibilities do not matter.” However, religious organizations are increasing in number and influence in global humanitarian work. Therefore for Barry, it is crucial that public policy makers are sensitive to the concerns of the religious community, as it engages in bringing relief to the world.
Business and Private Sector
James Janzen- Construction Site Manager
James is a construction site manager, working for a construction contractor in remote communities in northern Ontario. His job not only includes construction site supervision, but also management of the living arrangements for workers from outside the community and communication with local leadership, like Band councils.
This is a significant position as James says, “Working as an outsider in Canada's northern communities requires not only skilled trade work and construction expertise but also excellent communication skills and heightened conflict awareness.” High stress working conditions, isolated geographic locations, extreme weather and cramped living conditions make for fertile conflict conditions. In this particular environment, intercultural skills are particularly important when working in First Nation and Inuit communities. James says, “It is important to see these situations as learning opportunities and teachable moments, rather than as hurdles to getting the job done.”
Sometimes, all of these crucial communication and intercultural skills come together in circumstances which demand special attention. “I remember once I had to perform an ad hoc mediation between two tradespeople who were at such odds with each other that they wouldn't even eat in the same room, deal with an onsite safety infraction that had me make a tough managerial decision, and diffuse a potentially disastrous communication error that could have left my company at odds with the community, all in the same day! In these situations, conflict transformation concepts played a central role in my decision-making processes.”
Wali Muhammed- Founder, Behavioural Skills Company
Business owner and behavioural life coach with the goal of facilitating individuals in learning, unlearning, and re-learning behaviours, to find greater meaning in life, deliver optimal performance at work and to contribute to society.
This kind of work is significant to Wali, “Regardless of shape, size, or structure, organizations and communities are a sum-total of individuals.” Therefore, the company’s training and development programs focus on individuals who have the necessary skills to contribute to their workplace, lead a meaningful life and add to the health of society.
Currently, Wali is working on a project where Behavioural Skills Company has partnered with the City of Kitchener. The program is called “Our Stories – Let’s Connect,” and it promotes cultural integration at the neighborhood level.
Crista Renner - Lead, Social & Service Business, Velocity
Crista is the Lead, Social & Service Business at Velocity. In her role, she acts as a mentor to students who are considering starting their own social enterprise. She helps them understand the business aspect of the endeavor, and coaches and asks them a lot of questions to help them narrow their goals and focus. She always encourages students to dream big but also strives to ground them in reality, so they can be successful.
Crista finds this work very important because she is passionate about entrepreneurship and has been for her whole life. She appreciates the balance between governmental and non-governmental organization work that social enterprise presents.
Although Crista has just recently started her work at Velocity, she has already begun meeting passionate and ambitious people who are excited about starting a social enterprise business. From big ideas such as creating temporary housing for poverty reduction and working towards creating electricity solutions in developing countries, Crista helps social entrepreneurs refine their purpose and goals so they can chase after their ideas.