The Peace it Together Team

Our board, staff and volunteers are made up of people from a variety of backgrounds who are all passionate about finding solutions for peace.  Click on a name to display their bio.  

 

  • Staff

    • Reena Lazar

      Reena Lazar

      Reena Lazar
      Executive Director

      Reena Lazar is one of the Founders and the Executive Director of the Peace it Together Society.  Reena oversees all programming and communications, represents Peace it Together in the community, manages all operations, and ensures the strength and resiliency of the organization. 

      Reena's work stems from her background in creativity and international studies and her personal connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reena's academic background is in architecture (McGill University) and international affairs (Columbia University).

      Reena was born and raised in Montreal where she attended Jewish schools and summer camps. Although she spent two summers in Israel as a child, it wasn't not until Reena attended a Compassionate Listening Delegation in 1999 that Reena learned first-hand about the lives of Palestinians. During that journey to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, Reena had the opportunity to listen to people with many different perspectives talk about the conflict, how it impacts their lives, and their hopes for the future. It was one of the most intense and transformative two weeks of her life and it inspired her to change the focus of her career to peace work.

      Upon her return home, Reena joined Vancouver's Palestinian and Jewish Women's Dialogue Group for Peace, and began studying conflict resolution at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. In the summer of 2003, Reena co-facilitated compassionate listening and dialogue sessions at "Creativity for Peace," a summer program for Israeli and Palestinian girls in New Mexico. The experience was so fulfilling and inspiring that Reena was determined to create a similar program in Canada.

      In the year that followed, Reena completed the advanced training in Compassionate Listening in Washington State while enrolling over fifty local volunteers to plan and organize the first Peace it Together program. It was in this context that Reena met Palestinian Adri Hamael and discovered their similar objectives to create understanding between people impacted by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Reena and Adri later founded the Peace it Together Society. Reena also taught conflict resolution as part of the Peace and Conflict Studies at Langara College in Vancouver for four years.

      Before moving into peace work, Reena's career and volunteer work focused around international and sustainable urban development. Between 2000 and 2004, Reena sat on and chaired the Vancouver City Planning Commission and was a member of the City's Urban Design Panel.

    • Natalie Hill

      Natalie Hill

      Natalie Hill
      Social Media and Communications Director

      In her capacity as Social Media and Communications Director, Natalie develops innovative ways to tell the unique, powerful, and constantly evolving story of Peace it Together. Natalie creates content for Peace it Together’s various communications platforms, manages its social media accounts and website, and conducts the organization's marketing and public relations. 

      Natalie's background blends journalism and public relations with social justice and anti-violence activism. While studying journalism at Carleton University, Natalie became interested in adapting traditional public relations strategies for the nonprofit sector. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Natalie worked briefly in marketing in the private sector. Meanwhile, her extensive media training informed her volunteer work with a variety of nonprofit organizations in Vancouver, from women’s shelters and anti-violence coalitions to policy groups and grassroots media organizations.

      Natalie went on to obtain a master of arts degree from UBC. Her research explored the potential of new media to transform traditional narratives of conflict and violence, and the ethics of representing the experiences of survivors of violence in conflict zones.

      Natalie continues to participate in the anti-violence movement in Vancouver, believing strongly in the power of individuals to affect change and create communities free of violence.

       

  • Regional Coordinators

    • Shelley Hermon

      Shelley Hermon

      Shelley Hermon
      Israeli Regional Coordinator

      Shelley Hermon grew up in both Israel and England, and comes from a multicultural heritage. She began working in media in 1997 as an Art-Director at the world renowned advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong.  Since 2000, Shelley has worked as a freelance Producer/Director/Cameraman in the film/TV industry, on a broad range of international productions, including: Home Fronts for Channel4 UK, The Trial of Sadam Hussein for Esteban Uyarra BBC, 77 Steps for Ibtisam Mara’ana, and a short animation Two Boys produced with Lobo Brazil, for Leonard Cohen's peace initiative The fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance  and Peace.

      Shelley's multicultural background infused her with a commitment to film projects specializing in giving voice to minority groups and shifting paradigms. She has produced and directed over 20 films with ‘at risk’ youth, teenage mothers and conflicted communities. In 2012 Shelley premiered her debut feature documentary Within The Eye of The Storm.

    • Rasha Mukbil

      Rasha Mukbil

      Rasha Mukbil
      Palestinian Regional Coordinator

      In addition to her work with Peace it Together, Rasha Mukbil currently works as a part-time coordinator for the Keeping Children Safe Online Project at World Vision International. She previously worked as a consultant for Diakonia/ NAD Rehabilitation Program in the occupied Palestinian territory on a project that advocated the rights of people with disabilities through art and music. Rasha also worked as a Program Manager for Stars of Hope and as the Campaign Coordinator for Right to Enter (a campaign for the right to enter the occupied Palestinian Territories) for almost two years. 

      Rasha was granted a Certificate of Recognition for "Dedication and Determination in Promoting Livelihoods in Conflict Situations" by the Women’s Commission for Women and Children, USA. She also received the Emerson International Internship Scholarship for the best research in International Settings and Politics in 2006 for her research on Arab American women's attitudes towards the US and US foreign policy.

      Rasha organized an international conference for Alquds University, Jerusalem to propose solutions to the status of Palestinian refugees in Iraq following the 2008 war. This was the first international conference encouraging international civil society to rescue Palestinians in Iraq. 

      At age 17, Rasha represented the Palestinian Delegation of Seeds of Peace in an International Youth Conference, “Uprooting Hatred and Terror Conference, New York.” Here delegates from 22 countries completed a 28-page Youth Charter addressing the root causes of terrorism focusing on education, media, pop culture, economic disparity, religion, security, and principles of governing. The Charter was formally presented to the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

      Rasha has a B.S. in Biochemistry from Hartwick College, USA and currently lives in Ramallah, Palestine.

  • Volunteer Board of Directors

    • Dima Alansari

      Dima Alansari

      Dima Alansari
      Director

      Dima Mohamad Sami Adel Ibrahim Alansari is a filmmaker, theatre artist, community activist and yoga instructor, currently living and working in Vancouver, Canada. Dima’s mother is Lebanese and her father is Kuwaiti; she is originally Palestinian from Al Quds (Jerusalem). Dima is deeply connected to this work because of her need to tell the stories of her people, her desire to hold those with power accountable and her ability to see both sides of the story - despite the challenges that come with it.

    • Victor Heeckt

      Victor Heeckt

      Victor Heeckt
      Director - Youth

      Victor was born in Germany, and moved to the United States in 2005, before attending the United World College of Costa Rica from 2008 to 2010. Here he was exposed to Peace and Conflict studies, theories of non-violent communication and conflict transformation, and the practices of mediation and facilitation. While committed to continued exploration of peace building and facilitation, Victor was a member of the 2011 Canadian cohort in the Peace it Together program. Following the summer intensive, Victor remained a highly engaged member of the Canadian youth team, facilitating several community screening workshops and helping to coordinate the Struggling with Peace symposium. Victor joined the Board of Directors as a youth representative in 2012. Victor is in his final year of a degree in Film Studies at SFU.

    • Erin Hobday

      Erin Hobday

      Erin Hobday
      Co-Chair

      Erin is a lawyer and has practiced in the areas of criminal law, Aboriginal law and policy. Her work has taken her all over Canada and the world, including three years in Australia working on issues related to Indigenous law and criminal legislation. Erin first became involved with Peace it Together because she was interested in the organization’s unique approach to conflict and conflict resolution.   She has stayed because of the great people, the challenges, and the hope that there will someday be peace. When she is not at board meetings, you will find Erin running the seawall or smashing volleyballs at the beach.

    • Nawal Musleh-Motut

      Nawal Musleh-Motut

      Nawal Musleh-Motut
      Director

      Nawal is a PhD Candidate and Sessional Instructor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University (SFU). Her research focuses on the divide that exists between Palestinians and Israelis due to conflicting memories of the Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba. She is currently developing a digital photograph-based storytelling methodology which uses family photographs related to the Holocaust and/or Nakba to facilitate politico-ethical engagement and witnessing between Palestinians and Israelis currently living in Canada. Nawal holds a Masters degree in Modern Middle Eastern History. She was born in Canada after her parents moved here from the West Bank following the 1967 War. Both of Nawal’s parents and their extended families are from Beit Sahour (east of Bethlehem).

    • Bassim Nahhas

      Bassim Nahhas

      Bassim Nahhas
      Director

      Bassim Nahhas was born in Kuwait in 1964 to Palestinian parents. Bassim travelled to Canada at the age of 12 to pursue his education. Many years later, while studying at the University of Victoria and Georgetown, he was involved in many Middle Eastern groups on campus to promote awareness of the Middle East. During this time Bassim also took an interest in film, taking film studies courses. Though he would eventually go on to build a career in the financial services industry, Bassim is passionate about film, and believes it is an important way to develop new narratives, and deepen dialogue. He believes Canada is a great place to make that happen.

    • Audrey Ple

      Audrey Ple

      Audrey Ple
      Co-Chair

      Audrey has a strategic marketing background and extensive international experience in the areas of branding, marketing communications and business development for a diverse group of organizations. Audrey had the opportunity to work with NICE Systems and visit its headquarters in Israel multiple times in the late 1990s, which fuelled her desire to join and support Peace it together. She founded Magenta Marketing is 2001 and has worked with a variety of brands, including YVR (International Airport), TransLink, Commissionaires, Taymor, Exchange-A-Blade, Lexxon Training and Kinetic Security. When Audrey is not working, she’s probably out walking her three highly energetic big dogs in the Pacific Spirit Park!

    • Haifa Staiti

      Haifa Staiti

      Haifa Staiti
      Director

      Haifa was born and raised in Palestine before moving, first to Norway at age 17 and then to Canada at age 19. Growing up during the First Intifada, Haifa has firsthand experience living under the Israeli occupation and in the midst of the conflict in the Middle East. Her childhood and formative experience as a participant in the Seeds of Peace program has fueled a desire to work with others towards achieving a long lasting peace between the two nations so that no other person has to live through the same conditions she and her family endured. Haifa has an International Baccalaureate diploma from United World College – Red Cross Nordic, a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics and a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (both from Simon Fraser University). Haifa currently lives with her husband and two sons in Toronto, and works as a program manager for Brain Canada Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds neuroscience research.  

    • Ran Vered

      Ran Vered

      Ran Vered
      Director

      Ran Vered was born and raised in Tel Aviv. His father was born in Israel and his mother in Egypt. He married a Canadian and emigrated to Canada in 1990. Ran is self-employed and lives in Vancouver with his wife and children while the rest of his family still reside in Israel. While not directly affected by the Holocaust, Ran feels that growing up in Israel with the “us” against the rest of the world narrative impeded his development in clearly judging the Israel-Palestine conflict. He feels that he “lives and breathes the conflict on a regular basis and fears for the people involved on both sides.” Ran has a strong conviction that unless an understanding is reached to build trust and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, both people and cultures are destined for disaster.

  • Advisors

    • Sami Adwan

      Sami Adwan

      Sami Adwan
      Advisor

      Dr. Adwan is a Palestinian educator whose work has won him international recognition. He was born in 1954 in Sourif, a small town northwest of Hebron, Palestine. After graduating with a B.A. in elementary education from Jordan University in 1976, he received an M.A. in educational administration from San Francisco State University in 1982 and a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of San Francisco in 1987. He taught and was chair of the education program at Hebron University, where he also headed the employee's union and became active in politics. Since 1993, he has been a member of the Faculty of Education at Bethlehem University.

      Dr. Adwan's research focuses on Palestinian education and the role of education in building peace. His publications include Learn to Live Together, with Dr. Ruth Firer; Comparative Analysis of the Israeli and Palestinian Conflict in History and Civic Education; Two Conflicts, Four Countries (Greece, Turkey, Israel, and Palestine); and The Historical Perception of Israeli and Palestinian Youth, with Dr. Shifra Sagy. He is also co-editor, with Dr. Dan Bar-On, of three works The Role of Palestinian and Israeli NGOs in Peace Building, Victimhood and Beyond, and Learning Each Other's Historical Narrative: Palestinians and Israelis (Part I, 2003; Part II, 2006). Adwan is a member of To Reflect and Trust (TRT), and, with Dr. Bar-On, co-director of the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME).

      In 2001, Dr. Adwan and Dr. Bar-On were awarded the Alexander Langer Foundation Prize for their work and their dedication to peace as co-directors of PRIME. Similar honors were bestowed on them in 2005 when they received the Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace and the European Association for Education of Adults Prize. Dr. Adwan was awarded the joint Legislative Resolution of the Senate and the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey in March 2007, and a Fulbright Grant in Spring 2007.

    • Ronit Avni

      Ronit Avni

      Ronit Avni
      Advisor

      Ronit Avni is the Founder and Executive Director of Just Vision, a non-profit that informs local and international audiences about under-documented Palestinian and Israeli joint civilian efforts to resolve the conflict nonviolently. Ronit directed and produced the documentary film, Encounter Point, which received the Audience Award for Best Documentary from the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Rencontres Film Festival, as well as the Docupolis award for Best First Documentary. Encounter Point screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, the Dubai and Jerusalem International Film Festivals as well as the Al Jazeera International Film Festival. Encounter Point has screened at the World Bank, the UN, and in 150 cities worldwide. It was broadcast on Al Arabiya and on CBC in Canada. As result of her work, Ronit received the 2005 Auburn Seminary's 'Lives of Commitment' Award and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005 with her colleague, Joline Makhlouf.

      From 2000-2003, Ronit co-produced short videos and online video advocacy features in collaboration with filmmakers in Senegal, Afghanistan, the United States and Brazil while working for Peter Gabriel's human rights organization, WITNESS. Ronit has trained non-governmental organizations from Honduras to the Gambia to produce videos as a tool for public education and grassroots mobilizing, as a deterrent to further abuse and as evidence before courts and tribunals. She co-edited the book, Video for Change: A Guide for Advocacy and Activism (Pluto Press, UK), with staff from WITNESS. Ronit's essay, "Inverting the Shame-Based Human Rights Documentation Model in the Context of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict," was published in the spring 2006 edition of American Anthropologist. Ronit received the Joshua Venture Fellowship for young Jewish social entrepreneurs.

      Ronit graduated with honors with a BA in Political Science from Vassar College. She received a Burnam Fellowship to intern at B'Tselem: the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. While abroad, Ronit volunteered for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI). Ronit acquired a DEC in Professional Theatre Studies from Dawson College.

    • Victor Chan

      Victor Chan

      Victor Chan
      Advisor

      Victor Chan first met the Dalai Lama in India in 1972. Many years later, after forging a close relationship, Chan co-authored The Wisdom of Forgiveness (Riverhead, 2004) with the Dalai Lama. The book was nominated for the Nautilus award for best spiritual book in 2005. Chan is also the author of The Tibet Handbook: A Pilgrimage Guide (Moon Publications, 1994). Together with the Dalai Lama, Chan recently co-founded the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education in Vancouver, Canada.

    • Patsy George

      Patsy George

      Patsy George
      Advisor

      Patsy George is a retired public servant and Social Worker. Born in Kerala, India she immigrated to Canada in 1960. After graduating from University of Windsor, she received Masters degree in Social work from University of Ottawa.


      Patsy worked as community worker in Ontario, medical social worker in Quebec and as the Director of a Family Service agency in Nova Scotia before her arrival in BC in 1975. She was employed in a variety of middle management positions in Child Welfare, Public assistance, and Community development .She retired in 2001having served as a Director in the Provincial Ministry of Multiculturalism and Immigration.
      Patsy was appointed to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada in 1989 to 1992 and coordinated the backlog division for BC and Alberta. BC government appointed her to the Panel reviewing the child welfare legislation using a public consultation process .The resulting report led to a new Child, Family, and Community Services Act of BC.

      In her volunteer community service, Patsy has served as the President of BC Association of Social workers-the first visible minority person to hold that position. She is the founding member and Vice President of Immigrant and Visible Minority women of Canada. Patsy helped to start the Pacific Immigrant Resources Society and served as its President. She was a Trustee of the Vancouver Public Library, Director of the United Way of Vancouver and Lower Mainland, and Director of Legal Services Society of BC. Patsy served as the President of the international Council on Social Welfare Canada and as the President of the North American Region of its World body that promote social development globally. She is the past President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of BC and a past vice president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

      Currently She is the President of the United Nations Association in Canada, Vancouver Branch, and Director of Stephen Lewis Foundation, Director of Canadian Cross roads International, Co Chair of Margaret Mitchell Fund for women and Chair of Parents together Society of BC.
      Patsy has spoken at numerous conferences locally and internationally on social development, human rights, women's issues, and sustainable development. She has represented Canada and Canadian Non governmental organizations at the UN meetings.

      Patsy has been the recipient of many awards and recognitions including the Order of British Columbia. And the Order of Canada.

    • Michelle Le Baron

      Michelle Le Baron

      Michelle Le Baron
      Advisor

      Michelle Le Baron serves as Professor of Law and Director of the Program on Dispute Resolution at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She has done seminal work in many areas of conflict resolution including intercultural, international, family, and commercial law. Professor LeBaron's recent scholarship focuses on the creative arts as they facilitate intercultural conflict transformation. She offers short courses internationally, and has given keynote speeches in Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and across the US and Canada. Professor LeBaron is the author of Bridging Troubled Waters: Conflict Resolution from the Heart and Bridging Cultural Conflicts: A New Approach for a Changing World, both from Jossey Bass, and Conflict Across Cultures: A Unique Experience of Bridging Differences with Venashri Pillay. Previously, Michelle was a tenured professor of conflict analysis and resolution and women's studies at George Mason University in Virginia after practicing law and psychotherapy.

    • Elizabeth "Libby" Traubman

      Elizabeth "Libby" Traubman

      Elizabeth "Libby" Traubman
      Advisor

      Elizabeth "Libby" Traubman is a retired clinical social worker. In 1982, in response to the threat of global nuclear war, Libby was a founding member of the Beyond War Movement, now Foundation for Global Community. In 1991, she helped organize the Beyond War conference for Israeli and Palestinian citizen-leaders which resulted in a historic signed document, FRAMEWORK FOR A PUBLIC PEACE PROCESS. Libby then co-founded the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group of San Mateo, 15 year-years-old in early 2008 and preparing for its 189th meeting, having inspired dozens of other Dialogues to begin and continue. Libby is a Trustee of the Foundation for Global Community, and in 1994 was inducted into the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame.

      In 2005, Libby and Len convened in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the first time leadership from the dozen North American camps for the Middle East public peace process. There they gathered new social intelligence about the process of social change which they have made universally available to download on the Internet.

      Libby helped conceive, plan, and lead all five years of the Oseh Shalom ~ Sanea al-Salaam Palestinian Jewish Family Peacemakers Camp in California. During 2003-2007, over 500 Muslim, Jewish and Christian youth and adults from North America, and from over 40 towns in Israel, Palestine (West Bank and Gaza) and Jordan gathered to experience a new quality of listening, relationship, recreation and creativity at Camp Tawonga near Yosemite National Park in California.

    • Lionel "Len" Traubman

      Lionel "Len" Traubman

      Lionel "Len" Traubman
      Advisor

      Lionel "Len" Traubman retired in 2000 from his practice of Dentistry for Children in San Francisco. He is a former Director of the San Francisco Dental Society, and was Editor of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and of the California Society of Dentistry for Children. Len was regional alumni President of Alpha Omega Jewish dental fraternity, and received the 1998 Distingushed Alumnus Award of the University of California School of Dentistry, for whom he gave the 2006 Commencement Address.

      He wrote and published THE ORECKOVSKY FAMILY: FROM RUSSIA TO AMERICA, depicting his pioneer ancestors' immigration following the first pogroms of the early 1880s. The book resides in 100 libraries in North America and Europe. For 25 years, Len has published on war and peace from personal experience with Russians and Americans, Armenians and Azerbaijanis, and Jews and Palestinians.

      Len, with his wife, Libby, conceived and co-produced two 2007 documentary films -- PEACEMAKERS: Palestinians & Jews Together at Camp, and DIALOGUE AT WASHINGTON HIGH, and created the accompanying TEACHER'S GUIDE freely downloaded on the Internet. The DVD sets have gone to over 4,500 individuals representing 1,384 institutions in 948 cities, all 50 states, and 59 countries on every continent.

    • Catherine Winckler

      Catherine Winckler

      Catherine Winckler
      Advisor

      An unflagging entrepreneurial spirit, combined with a passion for the communications possibilities presented by emerging new media, have brought Catherine Winckler enthusiastically to where she is today. As Partner in Vancouver-based Fleming Creative Group and Creative Director of the 30-person firm's interactive division, Switch Interactive, Catherine has concentrated on providing multi-platform marketing solutions to international clients predominantly in the movie, TV, videogame, and luxury real estate markets. Clients of the award-winning company include Nintendo of Canada, Haddock Entertainment, Microsoft USA, Propaganda Games, A&E, and Brightlight Pictures.

      Catherine is a graduate of the University of British Columbia (Political Science), and has her Certified Internet Marketing and Business Strategist (CIMBS) designation from the same institution. She is a member of the prestigious International Women's Forum (IWF), most recently attending the organization's international conference hosted in Amman, Jordan, bringing together 500 women from 47 countries around a theme of 'Building Bridges, Breaking Down Walls.' She is a longstanding member of the Forum of Women Entrepreneurs (FWE), is on the Advisory Board of Kwantlen College, is a former Board member of BC Spaces for Nature, acts on the Advisory to the Acute Care Geriatric Nurses' Network of BC (ACGNN) around issues concerning family participation in continuity of care, and is an active letter writer for Amnesty International.

      Catherine Winckler shares her expertise and enthusiasm through participation in new media industry events and association memberships and through mentoring young people entering the tech and communications fields. Most recently she was listed among PROFIT magazine's 'Canada's Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs.'