The Peace by Piece Initiative
Dedicated to promoting dialogue on sensitive political issues of local and global scope
  • Welcome to The Peace by Piece Initiative

    The Peace by Piece Initiative is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing about positive political, social, and economic change by empowering and inspiring individuals and communities to engage in constructive, meaningful, and inclusive discussion, debate, and dialogue on sensitive and pressing global issues.

    Through the facilitation of conferences, workshops, and other educational activities, The Peace by Piece Initiative provides its members and participants with the tools, knowledge, and guidance necessary to cultivate dispositions of mutual empathy, respect, and dignity in promoting appreciation for, and understanding of, our qualitative differences and shared horizons.

    Through these means, our ends are to represent, instantiate, and bring about a progressive society of peacemakers and peacekeepers, issue-by-issue, piece-by-piece.

    Contact Peace by Piece Executives

    If you would like to get in touch with one of our executive members, please refer to our Executive page. There you will find names and emails of each executive and their designated Area of Concentration.

    For all general inquiries about the organization, please email Executive Director Matthew Gordner

    About Us

    The Peace by Piece Initiative was founded in 2009 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, as a graduate student group responding to the increasing divisiveness occurring on Canadian university campuses and between Canadian communities over particular sensitive social and political issues both of local and global scope. Within our first year of operation, members of our executive underwent leadership training through the University of Alberta’s Student Groups Services (SGS) Leadership Summit (September 25-26, 2009) in order to gain a more robust understanding of how PbP could fulfill our mission “to encourage and facilitate meaningful, constructive, inclusive, and respectful inter-personal and communal dialogue in promoting mutual understanding and appreciation for divergent narratives and perspectives on sensitive political, social, and economic issues through academic and community leadership, advocacy, and participation.”

    Within our first year of operation, we did just that: facilitate dialogue. And we are proud to have participated in:

    * Co-sponsoring the conference “Trans Politics: Beyond Law and Politics” (October 23, 2009);

    * Speaking with Hillel and the Jewish Federation of Edmonton on the importance of reconciling pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian relations towards pro-Peace dialogue in response to the Palestinian Solidarity Network’s “Israel Apartheid Week” (November 27, 2009);

    * Sponsoring and presenting “Cell Phones and the War in Congo” at University of Alberta’s 2010 International Week (February 5, 2010); and

    * Organizing and hosting the conference “Legislating Sexualities in Alberta” (February 5, 2010).

    Also within our first year of operation, The Peace by Piece Initiative was involved in a number of exciting projects, including our membership of the Executive Advisory Board for Rural Rights: Youth & Media Human Rights Project, Edmonton, Alberta (2009-2010), in which our executive was involved in the writing of curriculum and the overseeing of dialogue with rural Albertan high school students. For our involvement in community organizing and responsible citizenship, the University of Alberta’s Student Groups Services presented The Peace by Piece Initiative with the 2009-2010 Community Outreach Award (2009). Our then Director, Matt Gordner, was also awarded with the Government of Alberta Graduate Citizenship Award (November, 2009).

    As of June 28, 2011 The Peace by Piece Initiative became a registered not-for-profit organization in the province of Ontario. Our primary issues include:

    * Middle Eastern and African politics

    * The Palestinian/Israeli conflict

    * Gender and Sexual politics

    * Environmental sustainability

    * The politics of the North, and

    * Dialogical theory.

    While many think tanks, non-profit organizations and partisan groups dedicated to political activism raise awareness for sites of injustice that begin from ideological positions espousing ‘established’ axioms and pre-determined political perspectives, The Peace by Piece Initiative takes dialogue as a its end.

    In other words, rather than engaging in polemical debate in order to influence others or prove a particular position, meaningful and inclusive dialogue practiced through a disposition guided by agreed upon values is the means by which The Peace by Piece Initiative offers individuals and communities the opportunity to advocate for their causes, express their grievances, and respond to argumentation. We take as our starting point an impartial dedication to allow all ‘sides’ of an issue the opportunity to systematically and thoroughly articulate their ‘truths.’

    By submitting to pre-determined values: mutual respect and dignity for all contexts and narratives, it is our hope that dialogue will proceed towards dialectic through joint and collaborative ventures to seek out reasons for competing claims to ‘truth’ among the many and diverse sources that are used to substantiate each of these competing claims.

    This meticulous process of ‘unveiling’ political claims is followed in order to achieve dialectic (thesis/antithesis/synthesis), consensus, or agreement, though this is only a secondary outcome or achievement.

    Our primary aim, once more, is dialogue. The Peace by Piece Initiative believes that offering all participants the opportunity to record all ‘sides’ and perspectives, ‘truths’ and claims about any issue will, in the least, facilitate the kind of inclusive information- sharing and constructive, critical engagement that entails an understanding for the contextual particularity of those involved. It is through recorded dialogue, therefore, that Others are able to reflect upon the fact of pluralism and acknowledge the need to be open and perceptive to the idea that resolution and reconciliation are not always ultimately attainable, but that our common humanity binds us to try to attain them anyhow.

  • About the Executive

    The diversity of knowledge and experience that our executives bring to the table is what makes The Peace by Piece Initiative a leading organization for dialogue on sensitive political issues of local and global scope.

    Each member of our team offers a unique and personal perspective that is complimented by our manifold professional experiences and achievements. Combining academics, politics, and activism, our executive members are committed to our respective causes while coming together to work as one cohesive team, issue by issue, piece by piece, to promote dialogue, discussion, and debate through various forums and mediums of communication, education, and pedagogy.

    For more information, please refer to our Executive profiles

    Consultations and Services

    We provide consultations on organizing formal and informal dialogue, debate and discussion; organizing conferences, round tables, and workshops; grant writing, publications, and event coordination on any topic that promotes open and inclusive dialogue on sensitive political issues of local and global scope. Whether promoting our models of dialogue or helping you with yours, we are here to help!

    We are also available for invited speaking engagements and presentations on our respective areas of concentration. For more information, contact our Executive Director Matt Gordner at mgordner@thepeacebypieceinitiative.com

    Contact List

    Matt Gordner - mgordner@thepeacebypieceinitiative.com
    Alexa DeGagne - adegagne@thepeacebypieceinitiative.com
    Jason Leslie - jleslie@thepeacebypieceinitiative.com
    Allison Mones - amones@thepeacebypieceinitiative.com
    Charles Larratt-Smith - clarrattsmith@thepeacebypieceinitiative.com
    Paul Serghe - pserghe@thepeacebypieceinitiative.com
    Lorne Rapkin - lrapkin@thepeacebypieceinitiative.com
    Daniela Porat - dporat@thepeacebypieceinitiative.com

    Executive Profiles

    Matt Gordner - Founder, Executive Director, Vice President of Middle Eastern and North African Affairs

    Matt Gordner began pursuing dialogical activities and peace activism alongside academics in his hometown of Toronto, Ontario, while enrolled in an undergraduate degree at York University in philosophy and political science. More


    Alexa DeGagne - Co-Founder, Vice President of Gender and Sexuality

    Alexa DeGagne is currently a Ph.D. candidate and SSHRC fellow in the department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Originally from Calgary, she attended the University of Ottawa and received a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Political Science and History. Her Master’s thesis, completed at the University of Alberta with Dr. Lois Harder, focused on the American social conservative definition of the family in relation to welfare policy. More


    Jason Leslie - Co-Founder, Vice President of Leadership and Northern Affairs

    Jason began inquiry into areas of what he’d now describe as ‘systems learning’ at an early age, in Nelson, British Columbia. He benefited greatly from participation in sport and an incredible pristine environment of natural discovery. More


    Allison Mones - Vice President of Environment and Sustainability

    Allison Mones is currently employed as an energy consultant, providing cost and market intelligence to assist energy companies in maximizing their financial results. She is a few months away from finishing her thesis to complete a M.Sc. in Sustainable Energy Development at the University of Calgary. More


    Charles Larratt-Smith - Vice President of Latin American Affairs

    Charles Larratt-Smith is a PhD student in the Political Science department at the University of Toronto and he focuses on Latin American affairs. He holds a BA in Latin American studies from Brooklyn College-CUNY and an MA in International Relations from the City College of New York-CUNY. More


    Paul Serghe - Project Manager

    Paul's interests and experience traverse diverse sectors and cultural settings. Emphasizing individual strengths and leveraging organizational capacity he endeavours to maximize opportunities and overcome challenges. Paul's inspiration for organizational excellence involves not only the ability to decide how to achieve certain ends, but also the ability to reflect upon and determine ends that are consistent with clear and shared vision. More


    Lorne Rapkin - Treasurer

    In 2007, Lorne joined Crowe Soberman, a Member of Crowe Horwash Intenational, where today he works as a manager in the firm’s Audit & Advisory Group. Lorne specializes in a variety of industries, including automotive, real estate, and media. More


    Rachel Glowinsky, Co- President

    Rachel Glowinsky is a fourth year student at the University of Toronto studying Political Science, with a focus on security studies and conflict resolution. She is currently engaged in independent research through the Political Science department, investigating the meaning of security in the context of the Arab- Israeli Conflict. Rachel’s personal beliefs fall very much inline with the mission of The Peace by Piece Initiative. She believes that engagement and empowerment of individuals from diverse perspectives through open dialogue is at the pinnacle of critical thinking within an academic environment. Rachel aspires to continue her studies in Israel next fall, to study security and diplomacy in the context of the Middle East.


    Turina Simanduyev, Co- President

    Turina Simanduyev has recently completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in political science and history with a special interest in the politics of development. During her undergraduate degree she spent a year of student exchange in Sweden at the University of Gothenburg examining the Scandinavian welfare state. She has taken interest in dialogical activities as a result of student divisiveness on campus over the Arab-Israeli conflict. Through the Peace by Piece Initiative she hopes to facilitate discussion that results in mutual empathy and respect over various political and social issues including the Arab-Israeli conflict.


    Staff Profiles

    Sophie Barnett, Intern

    Sophie Barnett is a second year International Relations student at Victoria College, University of Toronto. She is also an alumnus of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program, International Relations Stream. Sophie enjoys research and is actively involved in campus life: she is a Compliance Analyst for the G20 Research Group and a Research Analyst at the Canadian Centre for Responsibility to Protect. She is most interested in social justice, peaceful coexistence in sensitive regions. Most of all, she wishes to dedicate her future to the furtherance human rights and believes that open dialogue is a crucial medium through which progress can be made.


  • Upcoming Events

    Stay tuned!

    Past Events

    Intersecting Narratives on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

    This event consisted of a small round table discussion, from which students shared and learned about the various narratives involved within the crisis. Our aims were to share our diverse perspectives, experiences, knowledges, and understandings of the Syrian Refugee Crisis with underlying mutual respect and dignity.

    More



    A Receding Tide? The ‘Pink Tide’ and its Legacy

    Friday, January 9th, 2015, 10:00am-4:00pm at the Jackman Humanities Building, Room 100A, University of Toronto, 170 St. George Street.

    Please register no later than Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 at the following link



    Intra Jewish Dialogue

    November 16, 2014: 4:00pm at UOFT Multi Faith Centre. More











    Academic Round table on the Current Crisis in Venezuela

    March 14, 2014: 3:00pm – 5:00pm at the University of Toronto. More





    The Comparative Politics Student Group Academic Exchange Seminar Series: Dimensions of conflict, political institutions, and social change in Sub-Saharan Africa

    March 13, 2014: 10:00am – 6:30pm at the University of Toronto. More



    Polities in Motion: Power Transfers, Institutional Change, and Everyday Politics in East Asia

    The conference will host papers from across disciplines that engage with questions of power transfer, institutional change and every day politics in East Asia.
    March 6, 2014: 12:30pm – 5:00pm at the Munk School (North Building), 1 Devonshire Place, Rm. 108. More



    Competing Narratives and Competing Truths (CNCT) Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue

    Join in the discussion with the CNCT Project as we explore the Peace AND conflict with a unique Style of dialogue of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace and Conflict.
    February 28th, 2014: 10:00am - 3:00pm at the Multifaith Centre, University of Toronto, St. George Campus. More



    CPSG Academic Exchange Series: Democracy, Development, and Security in the Americas

    The Academic Exchange Seminar Series Presents:
    Democracy, Development, and Security in the Americas.
    February 24th, 2014: 9:00am - 3:00pm at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus. More



    CPSG Academic Exchange Series: Contentious Politics, State-Society Relations, and Identity in the Arab World

    The Academic Exchange Seminar Series Presents:
    Contentious Politics, State-Society Relations, and Identity in the Arab World.
    February 21, 2014: 9:00am - 3:00pm at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus. More



    Competing Narratives and Competing Truths of Israeli-Palestinian Peace and Conflict

    When: 9 April, 2013, 9:00am – 4:00pm
    Where: Multi Faith Centre, University of Toronto.
    Israeli-Palestinian dialogue is often criticized as a method of “normalizing” the conflict or “preaching to the converted.” More



    Rural Rights: Youth Media & Action Program

    When and Where: February 20-21, 2010, Peace River, Alberta
    March 27-28, 2010, Lethbridge, Alberta
    May 1-2, 2010, Olds, Alberta
    Organized by Change for Children. More



    Legislating Sexualities in Alberta

    When: 5 February 2010, 12:00pm – 2:00pm
    Where: FAB 220, University of Alberta.
    In collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and the Political Science Graduate Student Association (University of Alberta). More


    Cell Phones and the War in Congo

    When: 5 February 2010, 2:00pm – 2:50pm
    Where: Telus Centre, University of Alberta.
    Sponsored by The Peace by Piece Initiative
    While cell phones and other electronic gadgets have become nearly indispensable in recent years, the rise in the global demand for these consumer electronics has fuelled a brutal war in Central Africa. More


    Trans Politics: Beyond Law & Order

    When: 23 October 2009, 12:00pm – 1:00pm
    Where: Law Centre, University of Alberta.
    This distinguished keynote lecture was sponsored by APIRG, Faculty of Law’s Equality and Respect Committee, Women's Law Forum, OUTLaw, Peace by Piece, Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, Department of English & Film Studies, Faculty of Arts, and Trudeau Foundation. More

  • Areas of Concentration


    Gender and Sexuality By: Alexa DeGagne

    Canada is often heralded as a world leader of human rights. Current and past governments use Canada’s reputation as a defender of human rights to justify humanitarian interventions in other countries. These interventions are problematic, however, not least because Canada’s current human rights model fails to account for the systems of oppression that engender the lives of Canadians and non-Canadians alike. Moreover, the current government is attacking Canada’s human rights system: avenues to access and benefit from the country’s human rights system are evermore restrictive as the government cuts funding, and curtails the freedom of human rights and social justice organizations. We must thus question the effectiveness and desirability of a human rights model that is being attacked by our government and yet being lauded as exceptional. More







    Northern Affairs: Challenges and Opportunities By: Jason Leslie

    Driven largely by the interacting forces of climate change and globalization, the Arctic is experiencing a profound transformation. The biophysical effects of these forces are increasingly familiar. Surface temperatures are rising rapidly in many parts of the Arctic; sea ice is receding and thinning; the depth of the active layer of the permafrost is increasing; snow conditions are changing; glaciers are retreating. These processes have triggered feedback mechanisms in such forms as a lowering of the albedo of the Arctic Ocean and the transition of tundra ecosystems from sinks to sources of greenhouse gases, all which will affect the Earth’s climate system as a whole as well as accelerating changes occurring across the Arctic itself. More




    Environment and Sustainability By: Allison Mones

    Our planet is at a crossroads. As the world’s population continues to grow at an exponential rate and developing nations strive for an improved quality of life, energy demands continue to ascend at a rate that is posing challenges to the environment, imposing limits to prosperity, and exacerbating vulnerable energy security. Deadly heat waves and major storms are occurring more frequently, as are food and water shortages, biodiversity losses, and incidents of political instability. Combined with a worldwide financial crisis, it is apparent that a mutually exclusive approach to addressing economic, social, and environmental opportunities and risks is no longer sufficient. More







    FAIR: Best Practices, Worst Practices By: Daniela Porat

    "Give me the liberty to know,” John Milton wrote, “to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” FAIR (Fairness, accuracy, and impartiality in reporting) aims to provide fair and accurate reports and analysis on conflicts, to criticize where criticism is due, to provide a mix of on-the-ground reporting and subject expertise analysis, to uphold the value of informed discourse, and to serve as a check against and balance to other media covering conflicts. More


  • Volunteer/Intern Opportunities

    The Peace by Piece Initiative is always searching for interns and volunteers to join our dynamic team. Please check this page frequently for information on how to get involved with our organization.

    At the moment, we are currently looking for interns and volunteers in the following Areas of Concentration:

    1. Matthew Gordner, V.P. of Middle East and North African Affairs is looking for interns and volunteers. Interns are invited to sit on the Steering Committee for our upcoming dialogue on Israeli-Palestinian Peace and Conflict (tentative date: February 2014) that follows from our April 2013 "Competing Narratives and Competing Truths of Israeli-Palestinian Peace and Conflict" (CNCT) , sponsored by a grant from the University of Toronto's MultiFaith Centre. The CNCT featured our pioneering One-Day Dialogue Model, and we hope to roll out a second One-Day Dialogue that draws from the "better practices" acquired during our April 2013 CNCT. Intern responsibilities include: event planning and organization, social media coordination, and logistics. Interns will benefit from Matt's years of work as a Founder and Executive Director of The Peace by Piece Initiative; a seasoned professional student pursuing a doctorate at the University of Toronto in Middle Eastern politics; and, in particular, a well-connected network or professionals, academics, journalists, and students in local and international settings.

    Volunteers are invited to assist Matt with transcriptions and analytics that followed from the April 2013 CNCT in preparation for a submission to the publication in The Journal of Living Together (September 27, 2014).

    2. FAIR (Fairness, Accuracy, and Impartiality in Reporting) is a new program of the Peace by Piece Initiative committed to providing credible, nuanced reports and analyses of conflict. FAIR is motivated by the belief that informed discourse about political, social, and economic issues is essential for truly inclusive and respectful dialogue.

    Daniela Porat, V.P. of FAIR, is looking for a team of volunteers to help bring this program to life. In it’s inaugural year, FAIR will focus on the Israeli – Palestinian conflict as a complement to the upcoming PbP Israeli-Palestinian Peace and Conflict Dialogue (tentative date: February 2014). Volunteers are invited to assist with one or more of the following: Writing analyses related to the political, social and/or economic dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; writing analyses about media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and compiling a news roundup. As the program grows, responsibilities will evolve.

    Volunteers will benefit from the opportunity to take part in an initiative in its early stages and contribute to its formulation. For additional information about the program or to apply for a volunteer position, please contact Daniela at dporat@thepeacebypieceinitiative.com. Interested applicants should send a resumé and a brief writing sample.

    Moreover, if there is an Area of Concentration that we do not currently attend to, but is of importance, please feel free to contact Executive Director Matthew Gordner to discuss potential opportunities to join our team of Executives.

    Become a Member

    Please register and become a member of The Peace by Piece Initiative.


    How to Donate

    We are a not-for-profit organization running on a volunteer basis. Every event, service, and initiative we undertake is fueled by our passion for peace and social justice across a wide array of politics on a local and global scope.

    Please help our outreach, growth, and development. Donate today!

    For donation information, please contact our Executive Director Matt Gordner.


    Partnerships

    Since the dawn of civilization, politics have influenced the world around us. Fluid, dynamic, and often unpredictable, political decisions, strategies, and relationships determine the very fate of human communities, from the smallest neighbourhoods to the most powerful nation-states.

    At the same time, political positions and strategies adopted by lawmakers, governments (at all levels), international institutions, and non-state actors, are often perplexing and may appear to run contrary to the interests of citizens and the ‘greater good’.

    The need for transparency, accountability, and a strong commitment to democratic principles – above all, the protection of human rights – behooves concerned citizens everywhere to discuss, debate, and explore important topics in politics and international affairs, whether their impact is felt close to home or far abroad.

    As globalization continues to draw once-distant polities together into a closely-knit international system, it is the responsibility of young leaders today to pursue and promote ethical governance through open and respectful dialogue. Increasing global interdependence means that what affects one, affects all.

    For this reason, Freedom Observatory, the successor of the student-run online political journal FreedomWritersCA, was established in 2013 to provide a transparent and non-partisan platform for young academics and professionals to probe the most critical political and international issues. Ultimately, we hope that your visit to our website will motivate and empower you to seek answers and participate in shaping your world of tomorrow, today.


    Encore Catering Toronto

    We are a full service, off-premise caterer providing catering for weddings, galas, fundraisers, corporate functions, private events and special occasions.

  • Executive Profiles

    • Matt Gordner

    Founder, Executive Director, Vice President of Middle Eastern and North African Affairs


    Matt Gordner began pursuing dialogical activities and peace activism alongside academics in his hometown of Toronto, Ontario, while enrolled in an undergraduate degree at York University in philosophy and political science. Unsettled by the largely unproductive nature of protests surrounding conflicts in Israel and Palestine, Matt undertook a Master's degree in Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University (TAU) to better understand the conflicts endemic to the region. Upon traveling, researching, and living throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Matt’s primary academic focus shifted from conflicts in Israel and Palestine to Islamic and Arab democratic theory and politics. His Master's thesis at TAU argued against the imposition of Western liberal democracy in MENA in favor of a political model articulated and enacted by the people of the MENA region.

    Applying his previous research to contemporary politics, Matt’s second MA thesis drew upon surveys of democratic attitudes in MENA at the University of Alberta's Department of Political Science. Once again confronted by polarized and polemical Israeli and Palestinian activism on campus, in 2009 Matt founded a graduate student organization called The Peace by Piece Initiative in order to facilitate meaningful and inclusive dialogue on Israeli and Palestinian issues in addition to: Middle Eastern and North African politics; sustainability and environmental politics; gender and sexuality; the politics of the North; and dialogical theory. In our first year of operation, PbP was awarded the Community Outreach Award at the University of Alberta. In 2010, The Peace by Piece Initiative (PbP) was registered as a not-for-profit organization in Ontario, Canada with offices in Toronto, Edmonton, and Tel Aviv.

    In 2009, through a George Mason University program on peace and conflict resolution, Matt interned as a political consultant with the Palestinian National Authority where he worked in the Multilateral Sector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His primary responsibilities included researching issues of democracy, human rights, and Palestinian statehood. In 2011-2012, Matt worked as a fellow in Israel with the Dorot Foundation where he undertook a number of research projects on Israeli and Palestinian politics, including Bedouin human rights activism, documenting narrativity through political graffiti in Israel and the West Bank, and researching the Jewish State/Democratic State paradigm, while engaging in Jewish leadership training, learning, and volunteerism. Matt also worked as an intern for The Daily Beast's Zion Square where he moderated online dialogue. Since 2009, Matt has worked as a Senior Analyst at Consultancy Africa Intelligence, a South African consulting firm for whom he writes tailored briefs and reports on democratic transition, peace and conflict, human rights, and social and political movements across the African continent, with a specific focus on North Africa.

    At present, Matt is a Trudeau Scholar with the Trudeau Foundation while pursuing a PhD at the University of Toronto’s Department of Political Science. His research focuses on MENA revolutionary movements, authoritarianism, democracy, and democratic transition. Through PbP, and with the generous support of the Multi Faith Centre at UofT, Matthew is currently working on formulating a model of dialogue that moves away from discourses of “tolerance” and “reconciliation” to one focused on mutual understanding, trust, dignity, and respect. The Competing Narratives and Competing Truths of Israeli-Palestinian Peace and Conflict (CNCT) Program pilot project is set to be held on April 9, 2013 with hopes to roll the program out to Canadian campuses through 2013-2015.

    Matt has been awarded a number of scholarships and awards for academic achievement and community participation, including an Adath Israel Scholarship, The Queen Elizabeth II Master’s Scholarship, the Consular Ball Scholarship for Overseas Research, the Government of Alberta Citizenship Award, and The Graduate Student Alberta Heritage Scholarship.


    • Alexa DeGagne

    Co-Founder, Vice President of Gender and Sexuality

    Alexa DeGagne is currently a Ph.D. candidate and SSHRC fellow in the department of Political Science at the University of Alberta.

    Originally from Calgary, she attended the University of Ottawa and received a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Political Science and History. Her Master’s thesis, completed at the University of Alberta with Dr. Lois Harder, focused on the American social conservative definition of the family in relation to welfare policy. Under the supervision of Dr. Janine Brodie, DeGagne’s doctoral work builds on this research concerning social conservatism in the United States. Her dissertation focuses on American lesbian and gay, and queer political organizations, social conservatism and neo-liberalism, and the fight for same-sex marriage, specifically through California’s Proposition 8.

    DeGagne’s political activism is based in her Edmonton queer and social justice communities where she works with several projects – including the Pride Centre of Edmonton, Exposure Queer Arts and Culture Festival, Queermonton, GayWire News Radio, and the Piece by Peace Initiative (PbP) – to challenge notions of normality/abnormality, assimilation/transgression/ resistance, and social justice. As PbP’s Vice President of Gender and Sexuality, she initiated and organized the panel “Legislating Sexualities” (2010) which assembled prominent academics, activists and politicians to discuss the current state and possible trajectories of queer politics in Alberta.

    DeGagne continues to work with PbP to build solidarity and constructive dialogue between local social justice organizations.


    • Jason Leslie

    Co-Founder, Vice President of Leadership and Northern Affairs

    Jason began inquiry into areas of what he’d now describe as ‘systems learning’ at an early age, in Nelson, British Columbia. He benefited greatly from participation in sport and an incredible pristine environment of natural discovery. Interests in leadership, liberty, and inquiry as practice were shaped paradoxically by competitive team activities, solitary interactions with the natural world and amazing opportunities for personal reflection. It was curiosity around the ‘between’ of these formative activities that spurred an early and ongoing quest to understand, language, communication and in university, dialogue.

    Leadership, liberty and inquiry became motivations to pursue a range of educational, travel and volunteer experiences. Jason has a background in business, political science and philosophy. More recently, in February, he completed his first course, Principles and Interests Based Negotiation, towards a Certificate of Indigenous Leadership and Management Excellence from the Banff Centre. This recent learning experience is supporting Jason’s actions to build relationships with Aboriginal peoples and communities and through this relationship grow his understanding of environmental stewardship, importance of community relationships and broader social cohesion.

    Diversity and culture play integral roles in most of Jason’s activities and interests. Traveling over three continents and volunteering with youth as a coach and mentor for sport, dialogue and politics reflect a learning path of authenticity, responsible citizenship and phronetic leadership. Involvement in the Peace by Peace Initiative since its foundation has been an opportunity to collaborate with and learn from others committed to dialogue as an end, as an action that cultivates phronesis and builds practical leadership through listening and understanding.

    For Jason, the import, possibility and consequences of human activity in the Arctic and sub-arctic regions demand prudent leadership. Applied pragmatic leadership, with a view to the future, in the northern circumpolar region, Alberta and Edmonton where he now resides. Jason’s goals are to promote human flourishing as it relates to Arctic and sub-Arctic development – social, economic and political. With the vision of leaders improving the sustainable and holistic approaches they bring to influencing the course of human development in the North, Jason will be creating spaces for dialogue around youth, governance and innovation to facilitate the growth and acumen of phronetic leadership approaches in the leaders of today, and tomorrow.

    Jason’s current role grows his capacity to build dialogue around northern affairs and youth. Leading a highly successful pilot project through Workforce Diversity Edmonton (WDE) at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce (ECC) to connect underemployed urban youth with employers has built confidence, and created opportunities, for youth and Edmonton area businesses – the result of actionable inclusive solutions connecting business, human and community dimensions. Learning valuable lessons to be shared and applied in the greater northern scope, Jason looks forward to expanding this project in the coming year.

    The increasingly challenging and rewarding role with the ECC is an inspiring opportunity. The Arctic Council, Canada’s upcoming Chairmanship of the Council and the relationship between Alberta’s future prosperity and the Far North provide, in Jason’s view, incredible and perhaps unprecedented opportunities for innovative sustainable human practices. PbP and Jason will be among those seeking out these opportunities, designing conditions for them to grow through actions promoting shared understanding, visions and dialogue.


    • Allison Mones

    Vice President of Environment and Sustainability

    Allison Mones is currently employed as an energy consultant, providing cost and market intelligence to assist energy companies in maximizing their financial results.

    She is a few months away from finishing her thesis to complete a M.Sc. in Sustainable Energy Development at the University of Calgary. This is an interdisciplinary program for professionals, focused on sustainability and minimizing the environmental impacts of energy development. She also holds a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Alberta and has been designated as a professional structural engineer. Her professional and academic ventures have, and continue to be, associated with energy and sustainable development. Allison has participated in numerous leadership activities centered on sustainability and social development, including “green” initiatives, business case competitions and mentorship roles.

    In 2012, she competed in the San Francisco regional finals for the Hult Global Case Challenge, which is an international competition platform that was initiated to tackle global poverty by addressing social challenges at a grassroots level.

    She has also travelled to over 35 countries, including several months in Uganda doing slum outreach and photojournalism for a women’s organization geared towards eliminating child prostitution.


    • Charles Larratt-Smith

    Vice President of Latin American Affairs

    Charles Larratt-Smith is a PhD student in the Political Science department at the University of Toronto and he focuses on Latin American affairs.

    He holds a BA in Latin American studies from Brooklyn College-CUNY and an MA in International Relations from the City College of New York-CUNY. He recently served as a Guest Professor at the Universidad de Los Andes in Mérida, Venezuela for the 2011-2012 academic year.

    He also spent time working for Fundación Por La Madre, a nascent NGO that provides educational initiatives for communities of internal refugees in the Colombian department of Magdalena and has travelled extensively throughout the region. His interests include alliance formation, foreign policy, and security issues.


    • Paul Serghe

    Project Manager

    Paul's interests and experience traverse diverse sectors and cultural settings. Emphasizing individual strengths and leveraging organizational capacity he endeavours to maximize opportunities and overcome challenges. Paul's inspiration for organizational excellence involves not only the ability to decide how to achieve certain ends, but also the ability to reflect upon and determine ends that are consistent with clear and shared vision. His process orientation, eye for important details and capacity to drive results is rooted in the ability to apply theory while enabling others in success.

    Paul currently manages large projects in the electric utilities industry along with business analysis, process and IT development and change implementation. Prior to joining ATCO Electric, Paul worked as a Project Advisor at Alberta Sustainable Resource Development leading complex projects involving process improvement, policy and legislative advancement, and IT development and implementation. His more recent roles combine years of hospitality and technical experience resulting in a balanced view and solutions driven approach.

    Paul volunteers his time guest lecturing for business classes at the University of Lethbridge, mentoring with the Project Management Institute, supporting the Alberta Vipassana Meditation Foundation and the Gaining Ground Summit.

    His professional interests include continuing on a path towards exemplary leadership, business excellence, sustainability and social consciousness. Paul holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and Graduate Certificate in Project Management from the University of Alberta and a Project Management Professional designation from the Project Management Institute.


    • Lorne Rapkin

    Treasurer

    In 2007, Lorne joined Crowe Soberman, a Member of Crowe Horwash Intenational, where today he works as a manager in the firm’s Audit & Advisory Group. Lorne specializes in a variety of industries, including automotive, real estate, and media. Coming from an entrepreneurial background, Lorne has the experience to assist clients with making critical decisions. As an accountant, he helps clients evaluate the risk and benefits of opportunities they encounter. Lorne’s contributions to The Peace by Piece Initiative have thus been germane to the success, efficiency, and overall financial and organizational stability of the organization since its founding as a not-for-profit entity in 2011.

    Before joining Crowe Soberman and The Peace by Piece Initiative, Lorne attended York University as a Bachelor of Arts student of economics and political science. He has long held a record of community initatives and involvement. Lorne is the treasurer and a director of the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise (CAFÉ) Central Ontario Chapter. He is also a committee member of the United Jewish Appeal Accountants Division and a member of the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee. Lorne is the firm’s ICAO tax clinic coordinator and organies free CA tax clinics for low-income individuals and organizations each year. Lorne is also the firm’s co-campus recruiter.