BDarbari S. Seth Foundation Conference on Nonviolence

Giving and Forgiving
November 18-20, 2016
Cal Poly Pomona, Bronco Student Center, Ursa Major Suite

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Conference Panelists' Bios (in alphabetic order by last name):

CHRISTIAN BRACHO is a Professorial Lecturer in the International Training and Education Program at the American University's School of Education. He received his doctorate in international education from the New York University. Dr. Bracho specializes in teacher movements and teacher training, with a regional focus on Latin America. He spent nearly ten years as a high school English teacher and teacher trainer in Los Angeles County, and has worked as a professional development consultant for the LA County Office of Education. He was a 2005 recipient of Ahimsa Center Fellowship for Educators. Since 2007, he has served as a Curriculum Workshop Facilitator at the biannual Ahimsa Center K-12 Institutes.

DANITA DODSON holds a B.A. in English from Lincoln Memorial University, a M.A. in English from East Tennessee State University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern Mississippi. She lives in East Tennessee and teaches Spanish at Hancock County High School, where she also offers dual-enrollment English composition courses on behalf of Walters State Community College. A recipient of a 2015 Ahimsa Center fellowship, she participated in the Summer Institute for K-12 Educators, prompting her to promote nonviolent social change and to lead students in daily mindfulness practice. Danita served as Guest Editor of the 2015-2016 Ahimsa Center Newsletter.

ANDREW DUDEN received his Master of Arts in Education from Lewis and Clark College in 1996. He has been a high school social studies teacher for twenty one years.  Mr. Duden currently teaches at Lake Oswego High School in Lake Oswego, Oregon.  He was a recipient of the 2011 Ahimsa Center fellowship at Cal Poly Pomona.  In 2014, he published an article in the Oregon Journal of Social Studies titled Educating for Ahimsa: One Teacher’s Journey Towards Nonviolence.  In 2016, he initiated and became the program director for the Luscher Farm School to Farm Internship for high school students in the Lake Oswego School District.  He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon.

PAULA GARB is co-founder and co-director of UCI’s Center for Citizen Peacebuilding, co-founder and co-director of Education for Global Peace.  For 25 years Garb as taught courses at UC Irvine in conflict resolution and civic and community engagement. Dr. Garb directs UCI’s Minor in Conflict Resolution, the Mediation Certificate Program, and Gang Intervention Certificate Program. Garb has over two decades of experience facilitating dialogues and joint projects between communities divided by wars in the South Caucasus, and studying similar processes in other conflict zones. This work of helping communities rebuild even minimal trust after bloody conflicts has taught her how crucial it is to prevent war. She is committed to mainstreaming peace education everywhere for a safer and healthier world.

DONNA HILL, after graduating with a BA in English and M A in African Studies from UCLA, taught for nearly three decades at the Cleveland Humanities Magnet High School where she developed and taught curriculum that introduced students to global issues, nonviolence philosophy, and the culture and history of the US through the lens of class, race, and gender. In 1973 she become a teacher of Transcendental Meditation and then one of the first Ahimsa Center fellows in 2005. It has been a lifelong journey for her studing various forms of meditation and cultivating nonviolence and mindfulness in her daily life. Recently she became certified in hypnotherapy and therapeutic imagery. She continues to be profoundly awed by the power of imagery in working with clients, both adults and children alike.

LAURA HIRSHFIELD spent the first years of her career searching for the purpose of education; after being an Ahimsa Center fellow in 2011, she found that purpose in the promotion of Truth and nonviolence.  She has since co-founded Teaching for Peace, an annual program for teachers to study nonviolence in India.  In 2014, Laura moved to Los Angeles, where she taught English at CCEO YouthBuild, a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower underserved young adults.  Now serving as Program Manager, she hopes to continue infusing ahimsa into her life and the entire program.

ANNA IKEDA is a Program Associate at the Office for UN Affairs, Soka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist movement linking more than 12 million people around the world. Since joining the office in October 2014, her work has mainly focused on peace and disarmament issues. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, a 501(c)3 organization based in Petaluma, California that provides educational resources on the safe and effective use of nonviolence. Anna is also pursuing a PhD in Global Affairs at Rutgers Newark, where her studies focus on nonviolent social movements.  

STEPHANIE STEINER is the Director of Education for the Metta Center for Nonviolence, and teaches classes on peace, nonviolence, sustainability, conflict resolution, human rights and service learning at San Diego City College, Saddleback College and Chapman University. She has worked extensively in teacher professional development for peace education through her work with Teachers Without Borders.She is a graduate of the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica, where she earned her master’s degree in Peace Education. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger from 2003-2005, and has extensive experience working and living abroad.

FANNY MACHADO is a middle school teacher in Castro Valley, CA. She has been teaching for over 15 years. She holds a Masters’ degree in Education from California State East Bay. She has spent the several years exploring the benefits of mindfulness in education. She was a recipient of 2013 Ahimsa Center Fellowship for K-12 Educators. To further explore the introduction of nonviolence education into the classroom she traveled to India for two summers to study peace education for personal and professional growth.  She supports nonviolence and peace education across the curriculum.

VENU MEHTA is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Charotar University and Science and Technology, Gujarat, India, where she was also a Fulbright Scholar (2010-11). She received her doctorate in the area of multiculturalism and literature education from Sardar Patel University, India. Currently, She is on a study leave pursuing her MA in Religious Studies with a special focus on Jainism as a recipient of Rajiv and Latika Jain fellowship at the Department of Religious Studies, Florida International University, Miami. Her research interests focus on multiculturalism;Jain studies, and educational pedagogies.

GOPI ONA-ALI is a spiritual teacher in the tradition of Maha Anu Ati Yoga, a path of Kundalini awakening and unfoldment. She teaches at the offline Lay-Monastery in Long Beach, where she has also lived a monastic life over 20 years. She practices contemplative meditation and seva (self-less service), participating in a giving program that feeds over 300 people weekly. Gopi Ona-Ali teaches yoga and has given lectures at several places, including at the Theosophical Society and the Loyola Marymount University's Yoga Institute.

RODERIC L. OWEN is Professor and Chair, Philosophy and Religious Studies Department, Mary Baldwin College, Va. He is also the Director of Peace-building and Conflict Resolution. He has developed and taught graduate seminars  on ethics and education; honors colloquia on the relationship between science, religion and spirituality; and courses on Gandhian ethics and non-violence. His publications focus on on interfaith education. He was a visiting scholar in Madurai, India and a fellow of the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement. A native of Wales, Owen is a founding Board member of the North American Association for the Study of Welsh History and Culture.

SAMANI ROHINI PRAGYA is Associate Professor of Nonviolence and Peace at the Jain Vishva Bharti Institute (JVBI), India, where she has taught for nearly a decade while completing her doctorate in Jainology in 2013. Currently she is a visiting faculty in the Department of Religious Studies, Florida International University. She was initiated as a Jain nun by Acharya Mahapragya in 2002. Since then she has been practicing Jainism. She has lectured and presented at wide-ranging forums around the world on various aspects of Jainism as well as on yoga and preksha meditation. Dr. Rohini Pragya has published numerous articles in journals and magazines.

SAMANI SATYA PRAGYA is Professor in the Department of Nonviolence and Peace at the Jain Vishva Bharti Institute (JVBI), India where she has taught since 1994, and was awarded a Ph.D. in Jainology. Currently, she is a visiting professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the Florida International University. Initiated as a Jain nun by Acharya Tulsi in 1991, she has been practicing Jainism for more than a quarter century. She has published books and articles on various aspects of Jainism. Dr. Satyapragya conducts training in preksha meditation and has served as an editor of Preksha Dhyan—a monthly magazine for two and half years. She is well versed in Hindi, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Rajasthani, and was honored with the Rashtra Bhasha Gaurav (Pride of Hindi Language) Award in 2014 by the Allahabad University, India.

PATRICIA SAUCEDO has been teaching fifth grade Science and Math at the Orange County Educational Arts Academy in Santa Ana, California for the last 13 years. Although education is her passion, she has a decade long work expereince in public and private sectors of the environmental engineering industry, utilizing her Bachelor’s from Cal Poly Pomona in Civil Engineering. She is a recipient of 2015 Ahimsa Center fellowship for K-12 Educators. Patricia is interested in encouraging students' natural inclinations and curiosity toward peace studies and developing among them a sense of mindfulness.

STEPHANIE SEBOLT is an Assistant Professor at Mary Baldwin in Staunton, VA. Previously, she taught English Language Learners (ELLs) in grades K-12 for nineteen years. Her research interests include parent engagement, mindfulness in education, preservice teacher education, and advocacy for English Language Learners. She is dedicated to serving the needs of ELLs and their families and peacefully advocating for them.

PEGGY SIA teaches in the Los Angeles County. She received her BA in Psychology and Sociology from the University of California, Irvine and MA in Education from the Claremont Graduate University. Her interests include character and environmental education, social justice and empowerment, and nonviolent social change. Peggy is a recipient of the Ahimsa Center fellowship for K-12 educators. She also served as a mentor teacher for the Residential Summer Institute 2015 for K-12 Educators on Journeys of Nonviolence: Gandhi and Mandela. She has written for Daily Good, and is a member of Education for Global Peace, a grassroots movement dedicated to mainstreaming peace education.

LENART ŠKOF is Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Institute for Philosophical Studies at the University of Primorska ( Koper, Slovenia). He is also Visiting Professor of Religion at Faculy of Theology, Univ. of Ljubljana. He is a recipient of KAAD grant (Universität Tübingen), Fulbright grant (Stanford University, academic host: Richard Rorty) and Humboldt fellowship for experienced researchers (Max Weber Kolleg, Universität Erfurt, academic host: Hans Joas ). His main research interests lie in ethics, intercultural and Indian philosophy, the philosophy of American pragmatism and the philosophy of Luce Irigaray. He recently co-edited Breathing with Luce Irigaray (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013) and is an author Breath of Proximity: Intersubjectivity, Ethics and Peace (Springer, 2015). For more click here.

NADJA FURLAN ŠTANTE is a Senior Research Fellow and an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at UP SRC. She is the author of four scientific monographs (The Missing Rib: women, religion and gender stereotypes (2006, Annales); From Polygamy to Monogamy (2008, Faculty of Theology); In Search for Goddess: new cosmology of sensibility and hospitality (2014, Univerzitetna založba Annales); Woman, nature and religion : eco-feminist perception. (2014, Annales University Press) and numerous scientific articles, which were published in several scientific journals.


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