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Webinar 33: Building Peace and Resilience at a Distance: Adaptive Approaches to COVID-19

Webinar Date and Time: Wednesday, December 16th. Click here to view the recording.

Webinar Description: COVID-19 has forced adaptations in the ways of thinking and working for peacebuilders. The pandemic has exacerbated existing conflicts and spurred new ones. Humanitarian aid, ongoing peace processes and peacebuilding efforts have been severely affected. Given the severity of the need, the peacebuilding sector has had to transition to building peace remotely. Yet we need to understand the implications of these “new ways of working” and the risks that are associated with virtual or digital peacebuilding practices. In this webinar, Lucy Holdaway, Co-Director for the Peacebuilding Advisory Unit at International Alert, Elias Sadkni, Director of HOPe and Sarah Davies, Project Coordinator at International Alert will highlight both the risks and opportunities for peacebuilding and discuss lessons learned from adaptions made in 2020. They will draw on examples of adapting conflict analysis tools for online use in Lebanon and creating online spaces for civil society in the South Caucasus through virtual discussion groups. The discussion will be moderated by Julie Werbel, acting Division Chief, Leadership and Learning at USAID.

Speaker Bios: 

Lucy Holdaway is the Co-Director for the Peacebuilding Advisory Unit at International Alert. She co-leads Alert’s thematic and technical team that covers areas including gender, economic development, climate crisis and natural resource management and conflict sensitivity. Previously, she worked on the development, research and implementation support on Alert’s citizen–state approaches to peacebuilding. This included leading organisational thinking and approaches to programming on violent extremism as well as within the broader development and peacebuilding sector. Lucy has been working on peace and security issues since 2005. She has extensive experience of leading projects, research, training and training design in conflict affected areas particularly in South and South East Asia, MENA and Europe.

Elias Sadkni, Director of HOPe: After the Syrian revolution of 2011, Elias moved from working in Pharmacy to the humanitarian and social development fields, assisting in co-founding the Jesuit Refugee Service project in Aleppo in 2012 as Assistant Project Director and then as Assistant Country Director. In 2014, Elias had his Master’s Degree in Conflict Security and Development from the University of Sussex. He wrote his dissertation on civil society and peacebuilding in Syria, examining how grassroots organizations can contribute to the peacebuilding process. In 2015, Elias co-founded House of Peace (HOPe), a community-based peace-building organization. Based in Lebanon, the organization is dedicated to transforming peace from a concept to practice in order to enhance social peace within local communities, with special attention to the principles of conflict sensitivity. Elias has a Certificate of Community Service in Counseling from Boston College, and International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from Fordham University.

Sarah Davies is a Project Coordinator at International Alert. She works with local partners to implement peacebuilding projects in the South Caucasus, with a particular focus on youth programming. She previously worked in the education sector in the UK and in Russia.

Julie Werbel currently serves as the acting Division Chief of Leadership and Learning at USAID. She is a leading specialist on security and justice sector reform, conflict and violence prevention and countering violent extremism (CVE). She possesses recognized expertise developing U.S. government policies and strategies; designing and implementing development and defense programs; and negotiating with donors and other international partners. Her perspective is informed by extensive field experience in fragile and conflict-affected states in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. In addition to an assignment in the Agency’s CVE Coordinator’s Office, Ms. Werbel initiated and led USAID’s Security Sector Reform (SSR) portfolio for more than a decade.

Previously, Ms. Werbel was a Principal at DFI Government Services, a Washington, DC-based defense consulting firm. She served as the Program Manager and Director of Participant and External Affairs for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), a Department of Defense regional center that she helped to establish. Her career includes service with the Peace Corps and the U.S. Department of State and business research for the New York-based Conference Board. Ms. Werbel earned an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.


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