Who We Are

who we are

Jennifer K. Lynne is the founder and CEO of thecontactproject. She holds a Masters in Conflict Transformation from the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, with specializations in Identity, Organizational Leadership, and Trauma, and is pursuing her PhD in Peace & Conflict Studies at the University of New England, Australia. She has been a Visiting Scholar at the Mind & Life Institute at Amherst College and served as the Professional Peacebuilding Practice Research Fellow at the Partnership for Sustainability and Peacebuilding, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She speaks widely on systems thinking, contemplative practices, and human development, and has been an invited presenter for the International Peace Research Association, the Human Dignity & Humiliation Studies consortium, the National Coalition of Dialogue & Deliberation, and the Association for Conflict Resolution among others.

In addition to her role at thecontactproject, she serves on the Global Advisory Board for the Chetanalaya Institute in Katmandu, Nepal and the CEO forum at the Alliance for Peacebuilding in Washington, DC. Her work and research have reached people from over thirty countries including Nigeria, Cameroon, Indonesia, Cambodia, Central America, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Fiji, Ireland, and the EU.

Hillary Eschenburg serves as Program Consultant at thecontactproject, working with communication, design, and partnership development. She has worked with the Carter Center’s Conflict Resolution Program, the Center for Civilians in Conflict, and MAG America, an international humanitarian mine action organization. She created and manages CivilianStories.org, which is focused on sharing stories of civilians in conflict-affected countries around the world.

She has a background in conflict and peace studies with a Master’s degree in Conflict Transformation from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. Hillary is passionate about contributing to processes that will build just and sustainable peace in communities throughout the world. She enjoys traveling, crossword puzzles, and eating ice cream.

Chaitanya Datla holds a MSc International Affairs from Northeastern University, with specializations in International Development, International Consulting, and Conflict Resolution and an MBA from Pondicherry University, focusing on Organizational Behavior and Strategic Management. Fluent in four languages, she was the first woman to sail on an Indian Navy ship, and represented India as a delegation leader in the United Nations University sponsored Ship for World Youth (SWY), an initiative bringing together youth from around the world to learn international cooperation and understanding.
In 2009, she was awarded the ‘Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award’ by the President of India. Over the last ten years, Chaitanya’s work has been forging new pathways from corporate to social sectors through human dignity, leadership, and development.

the global advisory board

Rebecca has over twenty years experience working in the aid and development sector with government and non government community based organizations in conflict affected societies. As the Director of Peaceworks Pty Ltd, an Australian based peacebuilding organization, she has worked with over 300 civil society organizations in Fiji, Northern Ireland, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Sri Lanka, Australia, South Africa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu Islands, and the USA. She serves as the Senior Project Officer for the Public Sector Linkages Program at the Research Centre for Teacher Quality in Manila, Philippines, is a member of AusAID’s Peace Conflict Training and Advisory panel, and the UNDP BCBR. Rebecca’s professional focus is in dialogue design and facilitation, civil society support, peace and conflict training, social research, participatory and community lead processes, and project management.

‘Until a strong desire for peace sprouts in human heart, there will not be peace in the world’, these words come from Dr. Pradeep Dhakal who has dedicated his life towards peace in the world. Dr. Dhakal is the Founder Director of Chetanalaya – Institute for Humanity, Peace and Spirituality and the Founder President of the Karuna Aashraya Foundation. In addition, he serves as the Co-General Secretary of Asia Pacific Peace Research Association (APPRA). Dr. Dhakal received his PhD at the Banaras Hindu University, India and taught at the Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. He is the author of several books, including Mero Nepal – Shanti ra Samriddhi ko Marg ma (My Nepal – On the Path to Peace and Prosperity), The Quest, The Forlorn Journey and contributed to Center for Global Nonkilling (CGNK) by translating iconic work, Nonkilling Global Political Science of Prof. Glenn D. Paige in Nepali (Ahinsatmak Rajnaitik Vigyan). He has traveled widely sharing his thoughts with like-minded people and organizations throughout the world.

Dr Kingsley Okoro Nwannennaya, holds PhD, MA and BA degrees from the University of Calabar-Nigeria. Dr. Okoro is an International speaker, researcher, and author with over 45 articles covering the areas of Globalization, Society, African Studies, and Peace/Conflict studies. He was the editor of the bestselling book in Philosophy and Religion, The Contemporary Issues in Philosophical and Religious Discourse. Kingsley and his team of researchers, the Ebonyi Scientific Group, are currently engaged in a new area of research examining the historical relationships of Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria. Dr. Okoro has served lecturer at Ebonyi State University since 2006, and is a member of several international organizations including the International Peace Research Association (IPRA), International Peace Movement, Human DHS, Greater New York Peace Association (GNYPA) International Association of African Scholars, and Association for the Study of Religions in African. Kingsley is the founder of He Cares Project Nigeria, which provides educational support for rural people in Eastern Nigeria.

Dr. Ahmed heads the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Centre for International Peace & Stability at the National University of Sciences & Technology in Islamabad. He publishes and lectures on a wide range of issues, such as Islam, human rights, peace & conflict, regionalism, and regional security. Dr. Ahmed has worked with the Overseas Development Institute, the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, and the National Institute of Health, Pakistan as both a consultant and researcher. He is the author of Regionalism and Regional Security in South Asia: The Case of SAARC, co-authored the study Extremism in Pakistan and India: The Case of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Shiv Sena, and wrote Political Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Pakistan’s Role in the Afghan-Soviet War, 1979-1988 published by Vanderbilt University Press. He holds a Masters in Peace Education from the United Nations mandated University for Peace, Costa Rica, a Masters in Sociology from the University of Agriculture in Pakistan, and received his PhD in Political and International Studies at the University of New England, Australia. In recognition of his research, Dr. Ahmed received the Mahbub ul Haq Research Award from the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (Sri Lanka) and presented the 2005 Conflict Transformation Award by WISCOMP, the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness The Dalai Lama (India).

Pushpi Weerakoon is a specialist in Peacebuilding, Restorative Justice, Development, and Diplomacy,with experience spanning three continents. She holds a Masters in Conflict Transformation from the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University as a Rotary Ambassadorial scholar, a MBA from the University of Wales UK, and has a specialty in International & Commercial law from the University of Buckingham UK. Pushpi is an IVLP member of the US State Department and a trained Mediator from Harvard Law School. She initiated and coordinated the Reconciliation Secretariat for the Sri Lankan government, coordinated projects on reconciliation and development for Search for Common Ground, worked with the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, UNDP, and the Sri Lanka Mission to the United Nations in New York. During the Sri Lankan conflict she was the Program Manager Legal at the International Development Law Organization, Conflict Transformation Manager at the Business for Peace Alliance and the Director/Registrar at the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute. In recognition of her services to the field of Peacebuilding and the betterment of the society Pushpi received the ‘Award of Excellence for Volunteerism’ from the Education & Skills Minister UK, the Rotary International ‘Peace award’, and the Rotary International ‘Service Citation’ Award among many others.

Adeola serves as the Executive Director of African Centre for Development and Research (ACDR) based in the UK. His expertise in the dynamics of power, democracy, and development combined with over fifteen years of field experience in international development, civil and human rights, and youth programming in Africa, Europe, Libya, and Turkey, and the UK, has informed his work as a consultant and practitioner. He has worked with the North-South centre of the Council of Europe towards Europe-Africa cooperation on trade and market policies, and served as the Coordinator for the Trainers of Africa & Europe Cooperation, a community practice of 40 organizations in Africa and Europe. He holds a MA in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) from the University of Sussex.

Thom is the Director of the Center for Global Health and Peacebuilding and the President of the Underwood Foundation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. CGHP is dedicated to advancing humanitarian practices and principles in global health and peacebuilding and focuses on innovative and comprehensive tools and approaches to development, emergency response, conflict prevention and peacebuilding within communities both locally and globally. Before starting the Center, he was an Assistant Professor in the Division of Critical Care and Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin and directed an animal sleep and neurobiology lab while working with the Rat Genome Project and the Human and Molecular Genetics Center. His research focused on systems biology and the genomic basis of sleep and sleep and movements disorders. During his work as a bioengineer and sleep researcher, he received three patents in adaptive control algorithms and devices, which are now used in the treatment of sleep apnea worldwide.