Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G6
Conrad Grebel programs
Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) produces diverse, interdisciplinary alumni that have the skill set to work all over the world, in a multitude of fields and industries.
Expand each of the tabs to read a short profile of some of our alumni and the different paths they have chosen!
Samantha is contributing to the field of social justice through her job in a tech firm and slam poetry. Having completed her MA in Intercultural Communication at Royal Roads University, she is now performing her slam poetry professionally as well as working in government relations and communications in a tech firm. The purpose of her slam poetry is to vocalize multiracial identity through spoken word. Through her role in the tech firm, Samantha works to promote females in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. This involves meeting with MPs and MPPs as well as promoting the Curieosity program to high school students. In both her slam poetry and working at the firm, Samantha credits PACS to teaching her many important lessons.
A few specific courses particularly resonated with Samantha. These include Intercultural Methods of Conflict Resolution, Peace in Perilous Times and the research courses (PACS 401 and 402) which prepared her for graduate school and had a tight-knit group of students. She also appreciated the arts-based inquiry option available in most PACS courses. This enabled her to make documentaries, poems, stories, and other creative projects. This aspect of PACS allowed her to develop her passion for slam poetry.
Samantha also found that it allowed her to focus a PACS perspective on her personal interests. Her advice for future PACS students is not to feel obligated to be one “version” of PACS but rather to take any course and to go broad. Connecting with professors is one of the highlights of the program which can open many doors.
Steven is the Business Development Representative, Enterprise at Vidyard. He identifies target customers in the Enterprise space, performs high-level analysis of the current strategy, and identifies opportunities where Vidyard can create value.
This work is significant to Steven, because it contributes to the technology start-up community that is growing in Kitchener. Steve says, “Life in the start-up space is always changing and the ability to adapt is key.”
Since Steven started with Vidyard, the company has more than doubled in size, and they plan to move into a new space in downtown Kitchener. He says, “Everyone in our company contributes to the success of Vidyard, and that's what makes every day exciting, we’re always working towards the next big thing!”
Emily is a Marketing Coordinator at OTIP, where she writes blog content, deploys OTIP’s marketing e-communications, and assists in implementing marketing campaigns. This role helps Emily support teachers with products they need and build skills she can use to further her career in non-profit communications.
After graduating from PACS in 2014, Emily worked for two years as an Academic Advisor for the University of Waterloo Psychology department. During those years she also started a local group KW Peace, which brought together different peace and social justice groups in the Kitchener-Waterloo area for networking and collaboration.
After gravitating toward communications activities in her volunteer roles, Emily realized that she wanted to pursue a career in communications, so she went back to school to complete a one-year post graduate certificate in Public Relations and Corporate Communications at Centennial College. Upon graduation, she worked for a year as Communications Coordinator at CivicAction, a non-profit in downtown Toronto that tackles pressing urban issues in the GTA by working with people across sectors and backgrounds. Once that contract ended, Emily wanted to move back to Kitchener-Waterloo while building her marketing and communications skills, landing her current job at OTIP.
Catherine You completed a PACS diploma in 2012 and her studies were the first step in her path to a career in social enterprise and international development. Upon completion of a Bachelors of Math at the University of Waterloo, Catherine started her career as an IT Risk Advisory Services Associate. However, she soon realized that she was looking for more: something more fulfilling and meaningful. Having taken a few courses in PACS during her undergrad, Catherine was drawn back to the University of Waterloo to pursue a Diploma in PACS.
Upon completion of her Diploma, Catherine moved to the UK to join a social enterprise leadership program called On Purpose. On Purpose is a one-year fellowship designed to develop leaders in the social enterprise sector. The program combines two placements with purpose-driven organizations and comprehensive training. One of her placements was with Social Enterprise UK, a membership body for social enterprises, whose goal is to grow the social enterprise movement. They do this through public awareness campaigns, robust research for the sector and the development of social enterprise networks.
She now works at Firetail, a consulting firm for socially conscious organizations. At Firetail, Catherine works on the Agricultural, Learning and Impacts Network initiative, which specializes in improving monitoring and evaluation in agricultural development programs. She’s currently working on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Sentinel Grant Program, measuring results against the foundation’s strategies. This involves providing technical support to 26 agricultural development grantees in South-East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Catherine helps organizations figure out what they need to measure, to show that they have made an impact and what they can learn from the data. She has had the opportunity to visit many of the projects she works with, including recent trips to Ghana and Uganda.
After getting involved in local transit politics in Waterloo, Kate and her colleagues started Smart Growth Waterloo Region to support and defend plans to combat the expansion of urban areas in Waterloo. A grassroots group working to coordinate community involvement and build consensus, Smart Growth lobbies local and provincial officials on policies that protect rural communities and farmland.
Inspired in part by connections between scholarship and practice that she saw modeled in the PACS program, Kate decided to connect her community advocacy with her work as a doctoral student in Political Science at York University. She is currently finishing her PhD dissertation, examining the politics of growth management and the light rail transit project in Waterloo.
Kate finds the PACS program provided her with a chance to think in a structured way regarding how people address conflict differently. Courses like Christian Approaches to Peacemaking and Quest for Peace in Literature and Film helped her to think about different ways in which people deal with evidence. These classes helped her develop skills to see already-present problems and questions in a new light. This can be applied at a local and global level, and Kate is currently applying it in her study of how municipal politicians understand urban growth. She hopes to publish her dissertation work as a book that is accessible to members the community, to help build public understanding on why politicians make the decisions that they do.
While there is a tendency to see one’s undergraduate degree as dictating what one pursues, Kate finds that this is not necessary or helpful. “There are many jobs that want broad, diverse skills,” she notes, “and so PACS is a far more applicable field of study than many other programs.
Katie works as the executive director of The Ripple Effect Education, a peace education organization that equips children, youth and those who work with youth with the tools they need to transform conflict and seek justice. TREE programs bring interdisciplinary conflict resolution and social justice training to elementary classrooms, high school leadership teams, community youth groups and camps in Ontario. Since 2016, TREE has facilitated over 600 workshops with nearly 5,000 young people.
Engaging the students is a huge part of Katie’s job and the success of TREE’s programs. Katie says “As young people, we often know the right answers when it comes to getting along with others, and rising up against injustice, but we don’t put those answers into practice. In TREE programs, our goal is to give young people an opportunity to practice conflict transformation and advocacy through games, simulations, role plays and discussion.”
As an entrepreneur and a PACS graduate, Katie believes in the resources that are available on campus for students, as they have provided a path to develop her program and apply for funding. When it comes to TREE and peace education, Katie says, “In Waterloo, in an innovative ecosystem, we can apply innovation strategies in our work to build peace.”
When Nina Bailey-Dick began at the University of Waterloo (1992-1999) she knew that it was community development that interested her, and since the university did not offer this as a program, she chose to purse a General Arts degree with a PACS option; taking courses that would prepare her for working in community development. Following her graduation Nina joined the Christian Peacemaker Teams, an international organization that partners with nonviolent movements around the world and places teams at the invitation of local peacemaking communities that are confronting situations of lethal conflict. Nina spent a couple of weeks at a time living in New Brunswick with Burnt Church First Nation (Eskɨnuopitijk) a Mi'kmaq First Nation band government during the Burnt Church Crisis.
Kara has served in the Canadian military for 22 years. Her current position is the Africa Team Leader for the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command. Her work has taken her all over the world, from Bosnia to Afghanistan to the West Bank. Throughout her career she has worked with artillery and air defence artillery, and more recently intelligence.
Kara believes that intelligence plays a significant role in conflict. She says, “Intelligence and information are critical aspects of decision-making. Ignoring intelligence, or inventing information, can lead to catastrophic consequences.” At a strategic level Kara explains, “Senior government and military officials need to have advance warning of conflicts so they can respond more efficiently.” That is the essence of what intelligence officers do. She works hard behind the scenes to make sure that the right people get the right information at the right time.
Kara firmly believes that there is no better education than experience. She thinks that it’s important to hear all points of view surrounding a conflict, and to analyze the underlying issue. Kara asks questions like, “What are the grievances, human rights or economic issues? What are the prevailing conditions regarding human insecurity that underpin the conflict?”
Only by exploring these different avenues of information can one truly get to the heart of the conflict, Kara explains. “Conflict resolution can only begin when these issues are acknowledged and addressed.”
Kathleen Cleland Moyer has worked within the realm of conflict resolution since she was an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo in the late 1970s. After graduating from Psychology with a PACS specialization and Drama minor in 1981, Kathleen began her career as coordinator for Canada’s first Victim Offender Reconciliation Program and eventually became Executive Director of Conflict Resolution Network Canada, a national organization affiliated with IPACS. At one point in her career, Kathleen felt compelled to work more with youth using a preventative approach to conflict and entered teaching as a Drama and French teacher, a role in which she was able to use her knowledge and passion for understanding and resolving conflict. Kathleen’s approach to teaching was emphasizing cooperation rather than competition, and focusing on student’s intentions and unsaid needs to help them get whatever support they needed to be successful.
Kathleen saw how powerful dramatic arts could be in the teaching and understanding of conflict and with her husband John Moyer (also a PACs graduate) she started a local theatre initiative called Backyard Theatre. As the chief playwright/director for Backyard Theatre, Kathleen uses theatre as a way to empower audiences to think critically about their lives and how they live together in community. By day Kathleen’s works as a Sector Capacity specialist for the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Michael Hunter joined Peace and Conflict Studies as a mature student in 2004 to pursue an undergraduate degree, up until that point having not completed a degree during his professional career. Juggling full-time work and part-time studies through most of his degree, Michael took two years off from working to not only complete his undergraduate degree with PACS, but to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Peace in Costa Rica. Michael completed his Masters in Responsible Management and Sustainable Economic Development.
Michael continued his education by completing a Research Analyst Certificate at Humber College. Through this program Michael took an internship at Toronto Foundation, a charity that works to pool philanthropic dollars and facilitate charitable donations for maximum community impact through strategic granting, thought leadership and convening within the community.
After a recommendation from someone working with Michael during his internship, Michael began his current position with the Government of Ontario in the realm of Public Service. In this position Michael works to develop a performance measurement framework for the Human Resources service development area.
Janessa works for Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa as a policy analyst in clean energy. She focuses on energy transition, economic and social development for Indigenous communities, international relations, and equity-based analysis. She is passionate about her job because of the opportunity to contribute to climate change adaptation policy, and shape how the federal government approaches Indigenous reconciliation. She completed her Master’s degree in International Development at the University of Ottawa, following her undergrad in PACS and English Literature.
Janessa acknowledges that her experiences in the PACS program confirmed her career path to try to make a difference in the world through policy and research. The two courses she particularly credits as having a strong influence, were the Gender and Conflict course taught by Marlene Epp, and the Peace in Perilous Times course with Lowell Ewert and Mary Lou Klassen. Within Gender and Conflict, they studied the power imbalances present across the spectrum of gender experiences all over the world. Within the Peace in Perilous Times course, students were able to develop physical and marketable skills such as canning food and making wool, to break away from purely academic learning.
Janessa’s advice for PACS students is to get involved with organizations of interest as soon as possible! The internships she did in undergrad, and the co-op program in grad school, were instrumental in the development of her policy skills and career.
Having first attended college to become a Paramedic, to then pursuing a certificate in Indigenous learning at Algoma University in Sault St. Marie, to now studying PACS at Conrad Grebel with a political science minor, Hilary Sadowsky has a passion for learning. Although the PACS program wasn’t as clear cut about peace as she thought it would be, the flexibility and interdisciplinary nature of it was the right fit for her.
Hilary’s learning didn’t end in the classroom either. In the summer of 2014, she did a three-month field study placement in Uganda, working with the organization One4Another International, a pediatric surgical program designed to help children in Uganda receive life-altering surgeries. These are all “medical conditions we have in Canada but typically we’d have them dealt with early on in a child’s life, like a cleft palate wouldn’t go years without being corrected, a club foot wouldn’t go years without being corrected… In Canada, they would never be left to go that long”. In Uganda, despite having a free, public healthcare system, corruption means that people are forced to pay anyways – which many can’t afford. The organization partners with clinics and hospitals to assess patient needs and connect them with a specialist or surgeon. Hilary worked alongside two Canadians and two Ugandan employees as a consultant of sorts, promoting the program and also assisting with the administrative tasks that keep the organization running.
The PACS program and her field experiences left Hilary with a myriad of options, from working internationally in aid and development to working locally with First Nations communities; the challenge becomes, “which way do I go?” Since completing her undergraduate degree in PACS, Hilary worked in Indigenous education and went on to do a master’s degree in Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph, which led her to Inuit Nunangat research. Hilary has also continued in her career as a Paramedic.
Upon graduation from Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) at Grebel and the UWaterloo, Taylor Doss (BA 2019) was hired at the House of Friendship’s Charles Street Men’s Shelter, and is currently working at the YW Emergency Shelter in Kitchener.
Through his work Taylor has noticed the way conflict-centred roles can affect mental health, and how his PACS courses prepared him for that reality. As an emergency shelter worker, one of his responsibilities is leading a conflict resolution workshop. “We go over strategies for how to engage in healthy communication with other people,” he explained.
Rozana is currently finishing her Masters of Teaching at OISE (Ontario Institute for Students of Education) at the University of Toronto. She learns about the pedagogy of teaching and learning, while practicing teaching during her four month blocks. Her goal is to become an elementary school teacher and she is well on her way.
Rozana credits the PACS courses she took during her undergrad with helping enrich her experience in schools, while dealing with children of all ages. It also equipped her with the knowledge and resources to teach about peace. Recently, in light of the Syrian refugee crisis, Rozana organized and assisted her Grade 5 students in writing postcards to Syrian refugee children. They welcomed the children to Canada and offered them positive and heartwarming wishes.
“I believe it is important for all students in PACS to realize the unlimited options the program has to offer,” she says. The multidisciplinarity of the program is critical and Rozana believes it will compliment any field one chooses to pursue. She adds that the PACS program “Will help you grow both as an individual and a universal citizen.”
Brenda is currently a PhD candidate in Anthropology at University of British Columbia, studying environmental conflict from an inter-cultural conflict perspective. Using the Site C hydro dam project in the Peace River region of British Columbia as a case study, Brenda is attempting to bring an anthropological perspective on the environment, with applied world view conflict transformation approaches. Her dissertation is based on more than a year of ethnographic field work in Fort St John, where she attended public hearings, rallies, fundraisers and community events, along with conducting interviews, all related to the environmental assessment process with people on both sides of the conflict. Brenda says, “As environmental challenges become more and more urgent, I believe it is vital to facilitate conflicting parties in hearing each other out and to pay attention to whose voices are being heard.
After graduating from UWaterloo in 1990 with a BA Honours in Psychology and a PACS minor, Chris Hiller remained in the Waterloo region for some time exploring different avenues of peace work. She found herself involved with faith and justice groups, activism against the Gulf War, and organizations addressing violence against women and girls. From there, Chris went to Washington D.C. as a Voluntary Service Worker with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and served as the Coordinator of Adult Education for Community of Hope, a community development organization committed to creating opportunities for low-income families experiencing homelessness. This work fully immersed Chris in efforts to grapple with race, racism, and white privilege. Coming back to Canada, Chris worked with Frontier College as the Coordinator of its national Family Literacy Program, where she supported provincial trainers in working with newcomer, low income, and Indigenous communities to create local literacy supports.
Simon Palamar has always been fascinated by the world. Attending the University of Waterloo for his undergraduate, Simon received a Joint Honours degree in PACS and History. From there he went on to receive his Masters of Global Governance at UWaterloo, and finally to Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs to receive his PhD.
Simon currently works as a Research Fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) within their Global Security and Politics Program, and has been doing so since the completion of his PhD in 2012. In this position Simon facilitates dialogue between foreign policy professionals and national governments in consultations on sensitive policy issues including national security and refugee law.
Erin Riley’s passion for learning and desire to have a positive impact on those around her led her on many adventures both during her time as a PACS student and in the years afterwards.
Starting her undergraduate education in 1995 and subsequently graduating in 2000, it took some time for Erin to find the perfect fit for her education, settling into a double major of PACS and Religious Studies. In between her 2nd and 3rd year Erin participated in an internship which she still credits as an instrumental time for her development, both academically and personally.
Erin spent a year with the organization One World where she first was travelling with a group, living in communities in Guatemala. As a part of this portion of the internship the group focused on learning about group dynamics including effective communication, intercultural communication, and problem solving – much of what Erin was learning in her PACS courses.
After returning from her internship and graduating from UWaterloo, Erin was then faced with the decision all graduating students are faced with: what next? For Erin that next step was teacher’s college. Almost 18 years later, it would seem that Erin made the right choice. In 2001 she started teaching Religion full-time for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board at St. David Catholic Secondary School where she remained for 16 years, first as a Religion teacher and then a guidance counsellor. The past two years Erin has spent as Vice-Principal at St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School in Cambridge.
Jessica is working for the University of Waterloo’s Housing and Residence Department as the Customer Experience Specialist. She describes her main role as helping people with change and sees a strong connection between her work and the skills she gained from PACS.
“The biggest thing with any interpersonal issue is listening. So in my job you always start with active listening, where people can tell if you are really paying attention. I find that many big problems are actually small misunderstandings, and you just have to be able to unpack a story to really understand it. PACS taught me how to listen to people and unpack these stories.”
During her studies, Jessica tailored her PACS major and Religious Studies minor to focus on interpersonal conflict, including aspects like social work and learning how it applied to PACS. After finishing her Bachelor of Arts, Jessica continued on to Laurier for a Bachelor of Education degree. “The goal was to always apply my PACS degree within the context of working with people and interpersonal conflict.”
Jessica wants to continue to work with university students in the realm of student services. A large part of her plan is to continue connecting with students on campus and making sure they are finding what they need in order to be successful.
Enrolling in 1994, Megan Shore majored in Religious Studies with a PACS minor. Afterwards, she pursued a MA in International Development Studies at Dalhousie and a PhD in Conflict Resolution at England’s University of Leeds. Currently, she is an associate professor in the Social Justice and Peace Studies (SJP) program at King’s College at Western University.
There are three main aspects as a professor of SJP Studies. First, she teaches courses about the theories and ethics of peace, justice, and war. Second, she engages in research that focuses on the intersection of justice and peace. Her current research focuses on the role of faith-based organizations in response to homelessness. Finally, she mentors students in pursuit of their goals. She is currently on sabbatical creating a website called "nopeacewithoutjustice.com", which will act as a virtual hub to profile people, organizations and events that work to create a more just and peaceful world. Frustrated with stories of hate, oppression and marginalization that seem to dominate the media, this website will offer an alternative narrative of hope and inspiration.
Megan credits the PACS program for introducing her to peace and justice as a field of study as well as the work available in the field. She would not have pursued it without having participated in the PACS program and now tries to guide her students in the way she was guided during her undergrad. Her internship to Guatemala was particularly influential. Both Megan’s program at King’s University College and the PACS program at the University of Waterloo emphasize engagement and active contribution, rather than just academic work in a classroom. She has found that there are many things one can do with a justice-based degree because there is more than one path to justice and peace.
Maria is a PhD student at the University of Manitoba, researching conflict transformation and local peace building. She teaches Masters of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution at Pontifical Xaveriana University in Colombia, Masters of Indigenous Governance and Masters in Social Conflict and Peace Studies. She also does consulting work supporting local organizations and peace building activities.
Maria’s main interest is in researching and teaching. She feels that this work is especially important right now because of the current situation in Colombia, within the peace process and the coming post-accord stage.
This work is significant because despite peace building developments, there are still a lot of misconceptions around the concept and practice of peace, human rights and social conflict. This is true not only for Colombia, but for many other countries struggling with violence. Maria believes that there is a need for more researchers and teachers to analyze and inform society about peace building developments.
Recently, Maria has been working on documenting the origin and development of the Campesino group that evolved from a group of concerned Colombian citizens, to a nonviolent social movement, and then to a political party. This development Maria says, “Illustrates the theory and practice of conflict transformation from individual change to structural and cultural change.” Maria researches and publicizes cases like this to show that peace building is possible, and to provide hope for the future of Colombia.
Sam credits PACS to being a sticking point for why he was accepted for this position. He learned useful negotiation techniques, mediation, and communication strategies that he consistently uses when interacting with students, faculty, and staff. Further, knowledge regarding different cultures, religious beliefs and practices, and conflict theory aids in navigating the wealth of diversity that is present within the student body and general community. He firmly believes that the PACS program embodies empathy, compassion, and understanding, as its key values is integrated into each and every alumni.
Providing assistance to students, faculty, and staff is the most rewarding aspect of his position. The work his committee does makes a genuine difference in students’ lives and can offer them a second chance. “I am proud to say that without the wealth of knowledge and experience PACS facilitated, I wouldn’t be here today!” says Sam.
Eric is now working as a sergeant in the police services training and education unit. In this position, his role is to provide practical skills training to all of the region's officers so that they can safely and effectively serve this community.
Kenny is currently an articling student at Legal Aid Ontario, working with vulnerable litigants in the Niagara Region’s criminal and family law courts. In June 2020, he will be moving to New York City to join Weil, Gotshal & Manges in their Business Finance and Restructuring group.
After graduating from Peace and Conflict Studies in 2016, Kenny studied at Osgoode Hall Law School. Here, Kenny has had the opportunity to build even further on what he learned in PACS by specializing in his school’s Mediation Intensive program. This program allowed him to further learn and practice the theory of mediation and negotiation, gaining the skills needed to mediate conflicts. He had the opportunity to work as a community mediator in Toronto, offering alternative dispute resolution and conflict coaching in the criminal justice system.
The PACS program is unique in the sense that it is applicable in varied work environments. The soft skills Kenny learned in PACS are equally important to him as the hard skills he gained: including research, writing, and how to negotiate. He states, “PACS is an education path that infiltrates all aspects of your path. It shapes you into a better person, informing how you can better interact with people and the world around you.”
Renee graduated in 2014 with a Joint Honours in PACS and Legal Studies. After completing police training, Renee works with the Waterloo Regional Police. She recognizes the need for authority within a community, as well as the current stereotypes and issues. To reconcile these, she works to serve the community. There will always be conflict, but there are different ways in which to address it; Renee practices many of these ways in policing.
Well aware of current stereotypes and issues within the policing community, Renee focuses on recent programs where the police department is changing into a more healthy service for conflict resolution. There is a push within the Waterloo Regional Police towards community policing rather than punitive measures. This way, they take the time to engage with different groups to have an idea of what people expect and want from the police. This is especially effective more recently, in regard to the influx of immigration. A more holistic way to address conflict and conflict resolution, this method of policing serves the community and humanizes police officers. It is far more effective to figure out why issues arise than to simply punish.
Pairing PACS with her Legal Studies degree, Renee found that there are alternatives to dealing with conflict that do not use force. She was heavily impacted by the PACS courses in Restorative Justice, Mediation and Negotiation. These were refreshing and necessary courses that contrasted with the punitive ideas presented in Legal Studies. Particularly in instances such as family disputes where mediation is critical, Renee is able to serve as a neutral party and provide access to other resources within the community like Community Justice Initiatives, mental health services and victim services. She is constantly seeking community-based, restorative solutions, only using punitive measures as a last resort.
Sukhraaj ‘Raj’ Shergill is an Arts and Business alumni who graduated from the University of Waterloo in June 2017. His very first Co-op position in 2014 allowed him to work with the Government of Canada in Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Fast forward to now and Raj has worked for 4 years in various positions at INAC, having a number of different positions including Policy Analyst, Negotiations Analyst, Communications Assistant, and as an International Relations Analyst where he was invited to have dinner with the Chilean Ambassador to Canada!
Slated to complete his Juris Doctor Degree from Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law in June 2020, Raj’s current Integrated Practice Curriculum Placement has him working at the Department of Justice Canada’s Ontario Regional Office in the National Litigation Sector, focusing on Aboriginal Law and Tax Law.
But even with this intense legal work Raj has combined what he has learned through the Peace and Conflict Studies program with what he’s learned in the Legal Studies program from the University of Waterloo and throughout his Juris Doctor program.
Peace and Conflict Studies is so important when it comes to interactions. I can talk to people and pick up on subtle interactions, I’ve learned interpersonal skills, and they really do come through. From what I’ve learned in PACS I know how to work with people and work in a way that ends in a mutually beneficial agreement. Being able to pinpoint what is missing in an interaction and address that has been invaluable in helping to begin a career in law.
Venus graduated the JD program at Golden Gate University School of Law in May 2017. During her studies, Venuse researched the effects of the law and intellectual property on the music industry. She analyzed and recommended how to reform the current law, in response to the impact of the popularity of downloading music illegally. She says, “With new uses of technology and social media, principles of copyright and trademark securities need greater protection for stakeholders with amendments and reforms in the law.” She feels that as technology has developed so quickly, the law has lagged behind. Venus says, “The law is lacking and often times there is not an applicable rule of law when it comes to life, work and conducting business.”
Since graduating from the JD program, Venus looks backs and reflects on her undergrad of PACS fondly. "One valuable thing to have learned from PACS is that mediation and conflict resolution is a big pat of practicing law. Some attorneys often to or get appointed to do mediation or arbitration work, so having those mediation/conflict resolution skills can be helpful.
Venus is now working as a Child Support Enforcement Attorney for the State of Tennessee.
Cassandra is a Junior Consultant on the United Nations Development Program Climate Change team in Viet Nam. She works most closely on projects related to climate change-induced migration and energy-efficient buildings. Her daily work involves writing op-eds and briefs, hiring consulting teams, and supporting the reporting procedures of ongoing projects. Cross-cultural communication skills and other soft skills that she developed during her PACs degree have been essential in her work, but the course that is most influential on a daily basis has been the Peace and Business course. One of the assignments for that class involved writing a grant proposal: an essential skill for any career in non-profit or the public service.
Climate change is an intricate global challenge that demands deep collaboration, and forces individuals to see how their choices (both on the ballot, and in everyday life) are bettering or worsening the quality of life of others living across the world. In an office context where “decoupling economic growth from CO2 emissions” is the mantra, Cassandra's PACs degree, and the Mennonite community more broadly, has helped to ground her the value of living simply and working toward cultural change rather than relying solely on quick policy fixes. Though both policy change and grass-roots societal change are important and deeply interconnected, the way forward involves engaging the tension between ideals and what is pragmatic. Finding ways to engage both sides of this tension to identify simple, yet sustainable solutions to complex challenges is the best part of the job.
“During these times of political strife,” adds Cassandra, “it is important to learn to love and respect people who we perceive to be different. Relationships like these strengthen the fabric of our society, and are our hope for the future.”
She still uses skills from her Conflict Resolution, Advanced Mediation and Field Studies courses every day at work. When creating and managing relationships, conflicts are bound to arise. Her PACS courses gave her the tools to work through these conflicts.
Amanda currently works at Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support (MCRS) as a Caseworker/Liaison/Operations. She spends a lot of time working with refugee claimants who have come to Canada. Amanda assists them in filling in paper work, connecting them to a lawyer, preparing them for their hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board and helping them understand the immigration process. She also assists them in settling in the Waterloo Region, connecting them to organizations that can assist in finding housing, applying to Ontario Works and enrolling children in school. She feels lucky to have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world on a daily basis.
She is able to serve multicultural clients because of the courses she took in PACS. She also excels in understanding the complexities of violence and war - something most of her clients have experienced.
On her first day as a volunteer, MCRS received a new client from Congo who was dropped off at their doorstep and left to fend for himself. The caseworkers were busy so Amanda was asked to help the man find shelter, food and basic needs for the next few days. She remembers feeling many emotions as she tried to understand how he must have felt, when he told her about his long journey to Canada and the family he left behind.
“For me, that was the first time I had ever interacted with a refugee claimant and it was hard to hear such a painful story,” she says, “I think that if I had studied a different program it may have been harder for me to adjust to working with people who have experienced significant trauma.”
Amanda feels like being with MCRS is a perfect marriage of her interests in law and international conflict.
Will is the Fundraising Coordinator at Operation Groundswell. This is a non-profit organization that facilitates international learning-service programs for anyone between the ages of 18 and 30. Will focuses on helping participants fund raise a portion of the money they need to participate in Operational Groundswell programs. The money that they raise is called the Community Contribution, which goes directly to the communities whom Operation Groundswell works with.
This is significant to Will for a few reasons. He feels that the programs that Operation Groundswell provides are life changing for participants. Secondly, and according to Will most importantly, the funds raised for the community contribution help to support communities that Operation Groundswell works with across the globe. These provide amazing impacts for partner organizations, and since all of the projects are community requested, they ensure that they have the maximum positive impact and are giving the community what they really need.
Recently, Will has helped a future participant in raising enough money to participate in the program. After she was concerned that she would be unable to go, Will provided strategies and ideas for fundraising that she could implement. When he checked in with her only a week later, she had exceeded her goal. “She was so happy- not only because she was able to go, but because of how proud she felt for reaching her goal!”
Bonnie Klassen graduated from UWaterloo with a major in Psychology and a PACS option in 1997. During her undergraduate degree, Bonnie took part in the PACS internship program, where she was encouraged to take a placement in Latin America. Bonnie found herself working in Colombia for three months in 1996, with a justice and peace organization of the Colombian Mennonite Church, JUSTAPAZ. By the time her graduation rolled around less than a year later, Bonnie knew that she wanted to return to Latin America. Less than a month after graduating Bonnie had moved to Colombia for a 3-year contract. She remains living and working there over 20 years later.
When Bonnie first arrived in Colombia after graduating, she began working as the Assistant to the Director at JUSTAPAZ. Bonnie then went on to become the first MCC Representative for Colombia, holding that position for a decade. For the last 6 years, Bonnie has been the MCC Regional Director for South America, Mexico, and Cuba. In this role, Bonnie works with her colleagues across the region, giving direction and supervision for the work that MCC does. This work has included coordinating disaster responses, community development, and peacebuilding with local partner organizations in the region
Bonnie believes her internship experience during her undergrad radically changed the direction of her life. She found that the value of an arts-based education like PACS gave her the lenses for critical thinking, analyzing, understanding, and asking questions. “This degree gives you tools to reflect and think carefully, try alternatives, facilitate processes, and the tools to know when to step back and listen.”
Bonnie has put these tools to use throughout her entire professional career, and has been able to use these tools when working with communities and marginalized people, following the leadership of local communities and being inspired by them, “Often enough I see Latin American communities doing the impossible. My rational mind will think there is no way; there are certain things that just cannot be done. But I am constantly inspired by those around me, the communities, the churches who are doing the impossible for peacebuilding and dignity. People have persistence, hope, resilience. They do not think about giving up. They do not have that luxury, so they do the impossible”
Kara Klassen is a technical adviser and project manager with over nine years' experience working in Canadian and international contexts in East and Southern Africa, South-East Asia, the Pacific, and Caribbean. She has proven expertise in women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and gender sensitivity/inclusion, value chain/pro-poor market systems development and analysis, program design and management; policy analysis; training and facilitation.
She is currently supporting a client doing a project in several South Pacific Island Countries working with the staff and their business advisors to better integrate an understanding of and approach to including women and girls in their services.
In 2019, Kara was actively involved in a Green Party Campaign to get a local Kitchener-resident elected. She organized events, managed volunteers, and did everything in between. While the candidate didn’t win, support for the Greens went from 3% to 26%!
Ellery is the Assistant Manager at Ten Thousand Villages, in their Niagra-on-the-Lake location. Ten Thousand Villages is a not-for-profit fair trade organization that creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries, to earn an income by bringing their products to North American markets. In her role as assistant manager, Ellery is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the store, communicating artisan stories to customers and raising awareness about the significance of fair trade in a variety of settings, such as schools, churches, and small groups and organizations. Sharing her passion for fair trade and social justice is Ellery’s favourite part of the job. She says, “It was truly a gift to see on a daily basis hand-crafted items from all over the world, to hear the stories behind them and know that those who created them worked in safe conditions, with fair pay.”
Ellery is now working through teacher’s college, preparing to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. “I have already seen the immense value of having a PACS background, as I’ve drawn upon the skills I learned in the classroom to help students navigate through interpersonal conflict,” Ellery said. She hopes to take every opportunity to encourage students to think about social justice, equality, human dignity and restorative justice.
Leah is a Country Representative for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Nepal. Along with her co-representative, Leah is a leader to MCC’s development and relief work in Nepal. Their team of Nepal and international staff, work with Nepal organizations to run projects related to agriculture, health, education and disaster response in communities across the country.
Leah loves supporting people and organizations who are passionate about making positive change. In her role, she works on managing MCC’s resources, while also looking for ways to further develop the ability of the partner organizations, to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized in Nepal society.
The recent earthquakes in Nepal had a huge effect on Leah’s role, and required hard work and dedication in a stressful time. After the earthquakes, the immediate priority for Leah was ensuring that all team members were safe, and finding shelter for them during the several days of aftershock. Leah and her team also needed to learn how their partner organizations and communities they worked in, were affected and had to communicate this information to MCC. She also did a number of media interviews to raise awareness of the disaster, to encourage donations to support MCC’s relief and recovery work. Leah says, “Within a day, we started meeting with partner organizations to make plans to distribute relief supplies to rural areas affected by the earthquakes. Through the hard work of our staff, partners and local volunteers, MCC Nepal was the first agency to provide relief supplies in some communities. I'm very proud of this!”
For the past six months, Gibo has been completing his internship at Welcome Home Refugee House in Waterloo. This role is similar to his previous role as residence don at Conrad Grebel; he lives with people and gets to know them while looking after the house and making sure everything is running smoothly. The other part of his role is to introduce people to life in Canada and support them through small milestones like taking the bus, practicing English, getting to appointments and doing paperwork.
The refugees who have stayed at Welcome Home during Gibo’s time, have come from all over the world. There are people from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Uganda and Angola. Welcome Home focuses primarily on newly arrived refugees, allowing people to make lasting relationships with each other, oftentimes moving out together. Welcome Home has room for up to five single women and five single men, as well as a separate family unit for one family. In total, Gibo has seen 20 different people in the six months he has been working there.
The PACS refugee class taught by Marlene Epp is one Gibo credits to preparing him for this role. The speakers she invited into the classroom had a large impact on him; this is where he met his current employer. The class also helped him become more confident and prepared him for this position.
When finished this internship, Gibo plans to work in international peacebuilding. His strong desire to travel is fueled by his love of learning about people and other cultures.
Stephanie works as a consultant for the Rotary Peace Centre in Thailand at Chulalongkorn University, as well as the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers. For the Rotary Peace Centre, Stephanie has been working on creating video interviews of the Rotary fellows studying in Thailand. She’s also helped with administration of field studies in Cambodia and Northern Thailand. For the Network, Stephanie has been aiding the Director of Religion and Inclusivity with a program where faith leaders come together and learn about religious extremism. Leaders typically come from Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand.
A lot of the work she does for both organizations include logistics, as well as video work. During her PACS undergrad, Stephanie often took the opportunity to create unique videos instead of essays. This has helped her to develop her passion and skill with video work, which she now uses every day.
Stephanie has found her work with Rotary to be extremely valuable. She’s been able to learn a lot and meet with fascinating people working in peace studies. Stephanie also finds that her work is significant to the world in general. Promoting peace education is important for the future of conflict resolution, and the Rotary Peace Centre’s Centre for Peace Studies provides a space for community leaders to learn from diverse perspectives and discuss the promotion of peace.
Recently, Stephanie had the opportunity to work on a video project researching the conflict in the south of Thailand. She worked with a group of professors, as they interviewed and told the stories of people involved, relating to the topics of gender, reconciliation, mediation and conflict analysis.
Jennifer is the Ottawa Office Director for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). In her role, she guides MCC’s efforts to shape the Government of Canada`s policies on behalf of program partners around the world, working in relief, development and peace building. As MCC’s voice to the Canadian government, the Ottawa Office has a lot of responsibilities. Their work includes researching and analysing government policies, meeting with government officials, writing letters to Members of Parliament, presenting oral and written testimonies, building relationships with NGO partners and producing educational material for churches and MCC supporters.
This work is significant as Jennifer says, “In order for MCC to do the work of relief, development and peace building effectively, it is important that we address government policies that contribute to poverty and injustice.” In general, they use advocacy to challenge systemic injustices. According to Jennifer, advocacy is a good development practice as it challenges some of the long-term, structural barriers to building sustainable peace.
Jennifer can see that the advocacy work of the MCC’s Ottawa Office does contribute to development. For example, MCC has almost forty years of experience working with victims of cluster bombs through post-conflict bomb clearance (de-mining), as well as risk education and victim’s assistance in countries like Laos and Lebanon. Motivated by this long-standing experience, they chose to intervene in the legislative process in order to strengthen Canada’s ratification of the Cluster Munitions Convention. Throughout 2012 and 2013, the Ottawa Office had many meetings with Members of Parliament to outline their concerns with the legislation, creating a written submission to the House of Commons committee that was studying the bill. They also presented an oral testimony to the Senate committee tasked with analysing the legislation. In December 2013,
Through the Campus Ministry department at St. Jerome’s University College, Erika offers faith-based programming to students, staff and the worshipping community at St. Jerome’s. She helps to coordinate Sunday worship services, mentors student leaders, co-facilitates local service learning opportunities for students, and collaborates with other university departments of various committees. She and her team at Campus Ministry create a welcoming space where people of all faith can feel supported and challenged to ask themselves important questions.
Erika credits her experiences in PACS to forming her worldview and informing the work that she does now. She was chosen for her role at St. Jerome’s partly for her PACS education; it gave her a background in social justice issues and she was passionate about sharing this knowledge with others. She credits the Conflict Resolution training and her internship in India, with teaching her the importance of working alongside people rather than doing work for them.
“The spiritual well-being of people is a portion of wellness that we don’t often acknowledge and supporting this aspect is an important part of my role,” Erika notes, “My faith also asks me to consider the justice and well-being of our neighbours and the earth. This is something I imbue in my work and call others to; it is a piece of my job which I see as being very impactful.”
John is a Minister at Chemanius United Church, part of the United Church of Canada. In this role, he is responsible for guiding the spiritual, ritual, and mission work of the congregation. This is important to John because he believes that people have a deep yearning for a safe place to explore their spiritual side. John believes that this exploration is best done in communities, and that good communities not only respond to the needs of its people, but also to the people beyond its boundaries. Therefore, John works within his own community, as well as engaging in outreach.
Recently, John facilitated a series for his church called “Who is My Neighbor?” where he invited four different neighbours into conversation, in place of a regular sermon. They hosted a Muslim scholar, a former homeless healing touch practitioner, a native elder, and a farmer engaged in drug and alcohol rehabilitation work. John expressed that this experience transformed the community and allowed everyone to gain a new perspective on people different from themselves.
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G6
Conrad Grebel programs