The first week of Pride month will include the 5th annual San Francisco Peacemaker Award Ceremony, which recognizes the contributions of individuals and organizations that strive toward making our city’s neighborhoods and communities healthier and safer through peacemaking and anti-violence work. This year’s winners include the following: Ja’Marc Allen-Henderson, a high school senior who’s a peer mediator; Alternatives to Violence Project, a conflict resolution organization for prisoners and ex-offenders; and Valerie Tulier, a Mission District activist who’s a leader in youth development, violence prevention, and policy advocacy.
San Francisco’s Community Boards, the nation’s oldest public conflict resolution center, is the organizer of the event. The organization is now in its 39th year.
“Community Boards’ Peacemaker Awards recognize that it takes a village of peacemakers and anti-violence activists to build a San Francisco that values dialogue and resolution over conflict,” says Community Boards’ Executive Director Darlene Weide. “The 2015 award winners are outstanding examples of how incredible vision and true dedication to community well-being can create profound and positive changes in San Francisco.”
Spokesperson Lisa Geduldig, who herself is a peace activist and a well known entertainer, shared that Tulier–recipient of The Raymond Shonholtz Visionary Peacemaker Award–is an important leader in youth development, violence prevention, and policy advocacy in San Francisco’s Mission District. For the past decade, Tulier’s life’s mission has been dedicated to serving San Francisco’s low-income youth of color and their families. She has worked at RAP (Real Alternatives Program), was the education coordinator at the SF Conservation Corps, taught GED classes at Precita Center, and worked as a district representative for California State Senator Carole Migden. Valerie is currently chair of the Mission Peace Collaborative, where she organizes town hall meetings and events that focus on peaceful community empowerment and reducing gang violence.
Allen-Henderson–recipient of The Gail Sadalla Rising Peacemaker Award–is an 18-year-old senior at June Jordan School for Equity. His passions are social justice and science. He shares, “I always had an interest in science since I was a child. At June Jordan, I’ve been inspired by issues of justice. I’ve noticed that science and new tech generally benefit wealthier people. I want tech to be more equitable and science more accessible, more diverse.” He became a Peer Mediator when he started his junior year in high school. He is equipped with skills to disarm conflicts when they arise on campus and with knowledge to support students with ongoing conflicts. Teachers refer students to him for mediation and students can also refer themselves. So far, Ja’Marc has mediated five cases.
Alternatives to Violence Project–recipient of The Community Boards Leadership Peacemaker Award–is a non-profit that began in 1975 as a collaboration between inmates at the Green Haven Prison in New York and Quakers interested in working with youth gangs and teens at risk. Now in it 40th year, this successful ongoing project has spread to prison programs across the U.S. AVP’s approach is to provide inmates with intensive workshops to improve methods of communication and encourage taking a deeper look at ways of resolving conflict, including communication and forgiveness, which are also core principles of Community Board’s work. AVP’s workshops serve to reduce violence in prisons, but also to prepare inmates for life in the communities that they return to by changing their approaches to conflict, and through them, changing their communities.
In terms of Community Boards’ direct work with the LGBT community, Geduldig says, “Community Boards helps a lot of LGBT clients and has a good number of LGBT mediators. They match them with the cases so everyone feels heard and safe, and also facilitate for a number of LGBT organizations to help them work through conflicts with volunteers, board and staff.”
She adds, “Community Boards’ facilitation services also help the LGBT community in San Francisco. For both small and large groups, Community Boards’ trained facilitators can make meetings more productive and help groups arrive at decisions. Community Boards ensure that its facilitators and mediators understand the issues in the LGBT community.”
The Community Boards’ 5th Annual San Francisco Peacemaker Awards will be held on Friday, June 5, at the City Club of San Francisco. For tickets and additional information, please visit: www.communityboards.org/in-the-community/sfpeacemakerawards