Denise Darrigrand and Paul Ropp, Co- Chairs
Sean Minahan, Vice-Chair
Rick Silva, Treasurer
Brian Leonard, Clerk
Mukesh Baral is a founding President of Advocacy for Refugee and Immigrant Services for Empowerment (ARISE)--a nonprofit working for immigrants and refugees in Worcester. He has a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and Master’s degree in English Literature from the Tribhuvan University, Nepal. Mukesh was born and raised in a small remote village in eastern Nepal and educated in the capital of the country. He was a News Anchor and a Television Journalist, covering foreign affairs, prior to immigrating to the U.S.A. He researched, reported, edited, interviewed, produced and presented news at Channel Nepal Television, the first private television channel in Nepal. He wrote and reported extensively on the issues of Bhutanese and Tibetan Refugee in Nepal, the two prominent foreign affairs issues then. Fighting against injustice, and helping people caught in conflict find peace, has always appealed Mukesh. Masters in Conflict Resolution, and the desire to be a part of CNVS mesh neatly to his passion of wanting to be a part of the alternative dispute resolution momentum in the states. He currently works as an Education Coordinator for unaccompanied refugee minors at Ascentria Care Alliance. Prior to that, he was a Fellow for Center for Peace Democracy and Development, and a Research Assistant at UMass, Boston. During his college days, he worked as a Contributing Writer for the UMass newspaper writing extensively on political, social, and cross-cultural issues. He is a trained Mediator with an expertise in interpersonal and organizational conflict management.
Denise Darrigrand, Co-Chair
Denise Darrigrand spent most of her career in Higher Education, first in a variety of positions at Wesleyan University and then for the past 19 years as Dean of Students and more recently Vice President for Student Affairs at Clark University. She holds a Master’s degree and an Educational Specialist degree in Counseling Psychology and Student Development. In the spring of 2015, she left Clark to pursue a number of her passions. In addition to the Center for Nonviolent Solutions, she is on the Board of Jericho Road which is a group that works with non-profits in the Worcester area to help them be more successful. She is heavily involved in her Unitarian Universalist church where she plays a number of roles. Among them is serving on the coordinating committee for the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry which is one of the church’s main ministries. Denise is also on the board for the Department of Children and Families West where she focuses on services to the LGBTQ population. Finally, she volunteers at Abby’s House which is a facility that works with homeless women. She and her family live in Worcester.
Christine Johnson, Ph.D., Principal of Coherent Impact www.coherentimpact.com, is a negotiation and conflict resolution expert. She has over 15 years of professional experience negotiating diverse stakeholder agreements as well as creatively resolving conflicts with individuals and teams. Christine’s approach combines best practices in negotiation and conflict resolution. She is a graduate of the Harvard Law School Negotiation and Leadership Program and is a facilitator/negotiator for the Global Negotiating Firm INCS.
Michael Langa is a native of South Africa and holds two masters degrees, in Religious Studies and in Psychology, both from South Africa-University of Westville and University of Natal. He has worked for African Constructive for the Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), from 1998-2001. Michael has traveled extensively to African war-torn countries, including Zimbabwe, Sudan, Nigeria, and Zambia doing Peace Education. In addition, he worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, a court-like body assembled after the end of Apartheid. Anybody who felt they had been a victim of violence could come forward and be heard at the Commission. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution. Michael does consulting in the U.S. on Intercultural Conflict Management. He and his family live in Worcester, MA.
Brian Leonard, Clerk
I am a student, researcher, educator, and activist for peace. Since graduating from Holy Cross College with religious studies focus in 2008, I have been engaged in local history research in labor and peace studies. I have also been a public educator in Framingham public schools as well as Worcester public schools where I currently teach ancient history, geography, and civics in middle school. I am also an active unionist working to transform our public schools to what our communities deserve. I practice peace education and also facilitate an after-school chess club to show students peaceful alternatives to violence. I am interested in expanding peace education to make it accessible for all students and educators in our public schools.
Ken has been an active member of his local community and church, including leadership roles in a variety of volunteer, church, political, and town organizations. He particularly enjoys challenging problems and helping organizations grow and thrive by thinking outside of the box. His professional life has been almost entirely with his family business, a precision machining company located in Oxford. He has been able to grow his business by developing a culture of respect among his employees and managers. He has begun transferring ownership of the company to his employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. He has three children and lives with his wife Diane in Oxford, MA.
Sean Minahan, Vice-Chair
Sean is a Rhode Island native and a graduate of Clark University, where he received his BA and MA in history, with a focus on the ancient world. He has been involved with the Center for Nonviolent Solutions since 2011, serving in programs for middle school students, high school students, and educators, and joined the Board in 2013. He currently works at the Genesis Club, a nonprofit organization that provides services to Worcester-area adults suffering from mental illness.
Donna is an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Graduate School of Nursing in Worcester, MA. She is also a nurse scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and active in community service on issues of social justice. She has serves as volunteer Health Disparities Liaison for Senator Jarrett Barrios and represented the Senator on a Massachusetts legislative panel, The State Commission to Eliminate Health Disparities. Donna is currently the Board’s Vice-President and actively participating in the Center’s development efforts, research, and program evaluation.
Marjorie recently retired from serving as the Database Manager at Abby’s House in Worcester, MA. Her past employment includes Information Systems Consultant at Clark University, Education Technology Assistant at the Ecotarium in Worcester, and owner and manager of the Computer Learning Center of Memphis, Tennessee. She has an M.A. in Speech and Language Pathology from Memphis State University. She is an active member of the First Unitarian Church in Worcester having served as head of the Lay Leadership Council and the Peace Group. Since 2004, she has been active in assisting Worcester’s Sudanese refugees through the Sudanese Education Fund and Friends of the Sudanese organizations based in Lincoln, MA. She has three children and three grandchildren and lives with her husband Paul in Worcester, MA.
Paul Ropp, Co-Chair
Paul grew up on a small Mennonite family farm near Normal, Illinois in the 1950s. He graduated from Bluffton College in 1966, and went on to graduate school at the University of Michigan where he finished his doctorate in Chinese history in 1974. He has taught Chinese history at Clark University since 1985 and recently retired. He is active in the First Unitarian Church of Worcester, and retains his lifelong interest in nonviolence as the most effective tool for conflict resolution and the promotion of social justice and positive social change. At the First Unitarian Church, he serves on the Peace and Justice Committee that is chaired by his wife, Marjorie. Paul and Marjorie are also active in the Friends of the Sudanese, a support group for Sudanese refugees in the Worcester area. He and his wife, Marjorie, live in Worcester, MA.
Ruth is a Unitarian Universalist and interested in promoting peace. For several years, she joined the Quakers and the Catholic Workers in their peace vigil at Lincoln Square in Worcester. Her daughter, Alice Swanson, inspired her to believe that peaceful protest and non-violent action were viable methods for resolving conflicts and achieving peaceful goals. When Alice was killed in 2008, Ruth chose to carry on the spirit of Alice’s work.
Ruth has a Masters in Business Administration from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 25 years of experience in corporate finance, holds a Chartered Financial Analyst charter and is currently adjunct faculty in finance at Clark University.
Rick Silva, Treasurer
Rick is currently retired. He served as an officer in the Army for two years. He was in the Federal civil service for 32 years, working in the DC area in the Department of Treasury and Department of Defense in computer system acquisition and management. His last position was Director of Information Technology for a Defense agency. Rick is currently very active in the First Unitarian Church, most recently as chair of the Stewardship Committee. He has volunteered his time in several organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and Our Daily Bread (providing food to needy families), and has mentored adults preparing for their GED. He also founded and was active for many years in a community theater group. Rick has been treasurer for two small nonprofit organizations. He holds a BSEE from Northeastern University and an MS in Computer Science from George Washington University. He has two adult children and lives with his wife, Madeline, in Worcester.
Grace Sliwoski is a Worcester native and has been working with youth in the city since 2010. She holds a BA in Art History from Columbia University and a Masters in Community Development and Planning from Clark University. She is currently the Coordinator of YouthGROW, an urban agriculture and youth leadership program of the Regional Environmental Council. She is a co-founder of the Central MA Youth Jobs Coalition a member of the Youth Workers Alliance and Stone Soup Community Center.
Michael True, is professor emeritus, Assumption College, and the author and editor of twelve books, including An Energy Field More Intense Than War and The Nonviolent Tradition, 1995, and People Power: 50 Peacemakers and Their Communities, 2007. His essays, reviews, and poems have appeared in scholarly and general periodicals, including Commonwealth, America, New Republic, The Progressive, Boston Globe, Harvard Divinity Bulletin. A native of Oklahoma, he is former chair, International Peace Research Association Foundation (IPRAF), and former co-chair, Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development (COPRED).
A National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, and twice a Fulbright Scholar in India, Michael True has taught at twenty colleges and universities in this country and abroad, including Duke University (where he completed a doctorate in American literature), Columbia University, University of Hawaii, Nanjing University and Nanjing Normal University (China), Utkal University, Bubaheshwar, and University of Rajasthan, Jaipur (India). The father of six children and ten grandchildren, he lives with his wife, Mary Pat Delaney True, in Worcester, Massachusetts.