Transitions for our Director of Community Learning and Collaboration

This may not be my final contribution to the Goldin Instiute’s newsletter, but to be sure it is the most difficult to write.

After six years, I am leaving Goldin Institute to work with the Skoll Foundation in northern California. In my new role as a Principal of the foundation, I will help oversee grantmaking to social entrepreneurs throughout the world, as well as support collaborative funding efforts to better reach communities most in need.

Since the outset of my tenure at the organization, I have been blessed to not only gain a brother in arms and lifetime friend in Travis Rejman, but also get to know and work alongside some of the most dynamic, seemingly tireless people I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet. With no small degree of sadness, I will miss them profoundly.

The vision shared by Diane Goldin and Travis Rejman is one that captured my imagination with its raw clarity as well as its polished authenticity when I first learned of the Goldin Institute, and it still does. From my view at Skoll, I am committed to supporting that vision and the work of my colleagues to the fullest of my capacity.

To the larger community it has borne, I do hope I will still be seen as treated as a member, and ally. Though I will not formally be a part of the Goldin Institute’s working team I remain very active in supporting the individual efforts of its fellows and global partners, including the monthly roundtable dialogues.

Celebrating the Achievements of 2019

By Ethan Michaeli, Senior Advisor

Happy New Year from the Goldin Institute! 2019 was a momentous year with the debut of the Chicago Peace Fellows, our fellowship for grassroots organizers in our home town, and numerous accomplishments for the international graduates of GATHER, our integrated curriculum and tablet-based software.

Below we’ve created a month-by-month timeline with links to articles celebrating the achievements of 2019.

We’re certain you’ll agree it was a momentous year for all of our partners, and we’re so grateful for your support and attention. Thank you for sharing the journey with us:

January - The year began with a conversation with key civic leaders and community stakeholders who helped shape the Chicago Peace Fellows program to be a truly unique approach that would provide training and resources as well as an expanded network to organizers working in city neighborhoods contending with disproportionate levels of crime and violence.

Malya Villard-Appolon, a Global Associate at the Goldin Institute based in Haiti who co-founded KOFAVIV, the Commission of Women Victims for Victims, wrote a moving reflection on the decade since an earthquake devastated her homeland.

February - We published an array of commentaries to mark International Women’s Day. Cynthia Austin, a California-based graduate of GATHER, wrote about her work empowering survivors of sexual violence and trafficking. GATHER alumnus Michelle Kuiper related her experiences getting legislation passed in her state of Kentucky, while Uganda-based GATHER graduate Diana Alaroker described teaching women and girls in a region recovering from civil war.

The founder of the Goldin Institute, Diane Goldin, reflected on 16 years of collaboration with grassroots leaders and especially on the foundational role of women in our work.

The same month, Jimmie Briggs, the Goldin Institute’s coordinator for community learning and collaboration, led an online training for all the GATHER alumni on fundraising.

GATHER alumnus Geoffrey Omony, the founder of Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development (YOLRED), the first organization in Uganda designed and run by former child soldiers, and Global Research Fellow Jassi Sandhar released a graphic novel about the lives of young people in the Gulu region who were forced to become participants as well as victims of the long-running civil war.

March - The month began with “Confessions of a Rebel Architect,” a provocative essay from Goldin Institute Chief of Staff Oz Ozburn calling for a greater sense of social responsibility in her profession.

Just a few days later, we announced the names of the Peace Fellows, 18 community leaders from 14 different neighborhoods who had gone through an extensive application process and were committed to learning together and intervening in the violence that impacts too many of Chicago’s families.

The Peace Fellows hit the ground running, using the tablets with the pre-loaded GATHER software for their on-line lessons, but also coming together in person to absorb the principles of the course and share their own expertise.   

In the middle of the month, the Fellows attended the City Club of Chicago’s conclave on Crime and Criminal Justice and then later did a group tour of the University of Chicago Hospitals’ Trauma Center, where they met with staff and discussed new strategies to promote healing and recovery as well as the interruption of violence.

The Peace Fellows capped off their first month with their first online group meeting with the international graduates of GATHER, a workshop with Rebekah Levin, director of evaluation and learning with the Chicago-based Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

April – At the beginning of this month, the Peace Fellows continued their work on evaluation by participating in a presentation with another longtime Goldin Institute ally, DePaul University Professor Lisa Dush, who is conducting a formal evaluation of the GATHER software.

To study how art and social justice can inform and strengthen each other, the Peace Fellows met with  artists Tonika Johnson, Jane Saks, Rahmaan Statik and Cecil McDonald.

Individual Peace Fellows took the initiative to host their peers. Alex Levesque at the Automotive Mentoring Group invited the other Chicago Peace Fellows to visit his organization to determine the principles and practices that empower shared learning.

The Peace Fellows are all veteran community organizers, and Dr. Sokoni Karanja shared his thoughts about the program and his connections with the other Fellows.

In the middle of the month, the Fellows came together to share asset maps of their communities that include all of the leaders, informal institutions and other resources.

Peace Fellow Jeannette Coleman, director of I AM MY BROTHER’S KEEPER UNITY DAY, a not for profit community outreach program in the South Shore neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, wrote about the history of her organization and about the positive alternatives they provide for young people.

The circle of advisors the Goldin Institute assembled at the end of the month to review the Peace Fellows’ progress.

May – The Peace Fellows began the month by touring Breakthrough Ministries, a facility on the West Side working with people returning from prison. Program Coordinator Burrell Poe wrote that the Fellows met on site to learn about Appreciative Inquiry, an essential technique the Goldin Institute has employed successfully with its fellows all around the globe.

To help them amplify their voices in civic affairs, they attended another City Club of Chicago luncheon, this time featuring Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

In the middle of the month, Peace Fellow Robert Biekman, a pastor on Chicago’s South Side, authored a personal essay in which he described his personal experience with the curriculum, which had increased his personal capacity as a leader as well as the capacity of his organization, the Chicago Alternatives to Incarceration Collaborative.

Delasha Long, the Goldin Institute’s Media and Content Specialist, profiled Peace Fellow Jamila Trimuel, who hosted the 2019 Recognition Ceremony to honor high school and eighth grade graduates involved in her innovative, highly recognized program Ladies of Virtue.

Among the international alumni of GATHER, a special honor was accorded to Jamal Alkirnawi, CEO of a New Dawn in the Desert, a Bedouin-Jewish organization in Rahat, Israel. Jamal was named as one of 12 prominent torch lighters for Independence Day in Israel.

At the end of the month, the Peace Fellows came together for a powerful meeting with the staff of activists at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, who are teaching non-violence techniques in some the neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence.

June – Peace Fellow Gloria Smith reflected on her unique path to becoming executive director of the Black Star Project based in Chicago’s South Side. Smith took the helm of the Black Star Project after her brother, the organization’s founder, passed away.

In a dispatch from Uganda, Geoffrey Omony described the ‘Community Parliaments’ YOLRED organized to create a space for discussion, truth and healing in his community.  

GATHER Alumnae Cynthia Austin wrote an essay to celebrate the first anniversary of Shyne, the organization she founded to help survivors of sex trafficking build safe and productive futures in San Diego and other parts of Southern California.

Peace Fellow Robin Cline, assistant director of NeighborSpace, wrote about exciting new concepts to reform philanthropy and make more resources available to those working at the grassroots.  

In the remote, impoverished town of Mthatha, South Africa, Dieudonne Allo shared excited news about being selected for the 2019 Red Bull Amaphiko Academy and about new partnerships between his organization, the Global Leading Light Initiative, and other GATHER alumni in Chicago and San Diego.

Peace Fellow Maria Velasquez hosted her peers at the Telpochcalli community organization, which is based in the Telpochcalli Elementary School in Little Village, a neighborhood with a high percentage of Spanish-speaking residents and immigrants from across Central and South America.

The Peace Fellows conducted a series of meetings with key institutions to assess how they could establish partnerships to reduce violence in the city’s neighborhoods. The Fellows spoke with top officials at the Chicago Park District to discuss how that agency is using its facilities and staff around the city. At the Field Museum of Natural History, they were invited to inspect and comment on a controversial exhibit that is being revised to reflect current standards as well as its historical legacy.

July – Sokoni Karanja wrote about the Family and Youth Peace Day, one of eight summer projects the Peace Fellows collectively planned and funded. More than 200 people came out to the event in the Bronzeville neighborhood for positive activities.

The Peace Fellows returned to the Institute for Non-Violence Chicago for a specialized, intensive training session in Non-Violence as it was practiced by Martin Luther King Jr.

Continuing their discussions with civic leaders, the Peace Fellows met with Ald. Walter Barnett, one of the Chicago City Council’s veterans and a principle advocate of new approaches to stopping violence in the city.

In the interest of discovering best practices across the Midwest, the Peace Fellows visited an innovative anti-violence program in Indianapolis.

Late in the month, the Peace Fellows presented their progress through the course, and their plans for summer projects to staff and grantees of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a grant initiative that pools funds from multiple area philanthropies to try and obviate violence in the city.  

Finally that month, the Fellows attended “Black and Brown Lives in Green Spaces: Race and Place in Urban America,” a panel discussion at the DuSable Museum.

August – GATHER alumni Lissette Mateus Roa from Colombia, and Diana Alaroker and Geoffrey Omony from Uganda led an online conversation about mitigating trauma for former child soldiers with the other GATHER alumni as well as the Chicago Peace Fellows.

Peace Fellow Jeanette Coleman recounts the experiences she had during the Youth Exchange, a summer project which brought together teenagers from different Chicago neighborhoods together for an overnight retreat in a Wisconsin forest.  

Peace Fellow Gloria Smith described the robust on-line discussion with Edgar Villanueva, author of “Decolonizing Wealth.” Villanueva’s ideas for a major overhaul of the priorities and procedures of major philanthropies found a receptive audience among the Peace Fellows and GATHER alumni.

In addition to meeting on-line with the GATHER alumni, the Peace Fellows toured additional sites and institutions in Chicago to expand their network and amplify their voices. At the Rebuild Foundation's Stony Island Arts Bank, they met with Studio Gang's Urbanism and Civic Impact team to explore the Role of Urban Planning and Design in Peace-building and Violence Prevention.  A few days later,the Fellows toured the University of Chicago Urban Labs to learn more about the work of the Crime Lab.

September – Early in the month, GATHER alumnus Michelle Kuiper led an on-line discussion on women’s issues with GATHER’s global alumni as well as Chicago Peace Fellows.

Program Coordinator Burrell Poe reported on the Passport 2 Peace events, which were part of the Peace Fellows’ collaborative projects. Fellow Robert Biekman, who hosted one of the events in his neighborhood park, described a fun-filled day that drew hundreds of residents for activities focused on healing and development.  

With the Peace Fellows moving into the final phase of the program, the Goldin Institute convened the civic leaders who have served as a circle of advisors and reviewed the Fellows’ progress.

In Cameroon, GATHER alumnus Alexander Gwanvalla hosted a workshop on how to build on community assets for grassroots leaders of Nsongwa Mile 90, an area with high levels of recruitment of child combatants and separatist fighters.

Lo Ivan Castillon, a GATHER alumnus based in the Philippines, sent an update on the organization he founded, the Volunteers’ Initiatives in Bridging and Empowering Society (VIBES), which is involving young people in various projects all designed to rebuild and heal a region that his wracked by civil war and natural disasters.

At the end of the month, GATHER alumnus Dieudonne Allo from South Africa stopped in Chicago during his American tour, and met with Peace Fellow Jacquelyn Moore to plan their youth robotics projects. Dieudonne’s visit fortuitously coincided with the arrival of Ceasar McDowell, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been a senior advisor to the GATHER program since it was first conceived. Ceasar was in town to give an inspiring lecture at Depaul University entitled “Dialogue in Demographic Complexity: Overcoming Our Discriminatory Consciousness.”

October – Goldin Chief of Staff Oz Ozburn wrote about a partnership between the Peace Fellows and DePaul University's Technology for Social Good Lab to create a city-wide “Living Asset Map” which will connect grassroots leaders with a range of civic institutions dedicated to peace building.

This month also saw the fruition of the Goldin Institute’s partnership with the Voices & Faces Project and Brothers Standing Together, an organization founded by GATHER alumnus Raymond Richard, to lead “Testimony & Transformation: A Writing Workshop for Returning Citizens.”

In a special report from Kenya, Gather Alumnae Mariam Ali Famau announced the launch of Women of Faith in Action, a new program to stop the recruitment of children into armed conflict. A single mother herself, Mariam teaches young women self-empowerment and entrepreneurship in a community where there are perilously few economic opportunities.

November – The Goldin Institute celebrated the graduation of the inaugural class of Chicago Peace Fellows on November 14, culminating months of collaborative learning and implementation. The Peace Fellows immediately joined GATHER’s global alumni network, and have already started working on joint efforts across borders.

GATHER alumnus Yusuph Masanja from Tanzania contributed a special essay to commemorate a major milestone in his life, a journey to the Arctic Circle with explorer Sir Robert Swan. In the first episode of “The Polar Bear Talks,” Yusuph describes the support he received from many for his journey, including anthropologist and primatologist Dr. Jane Goddall. In the second episode, Yusuph narrates the journey itself. Don’t miss the video of Yusuph’s dip in icy waters!

December – GATHER alumnae Lissette Mateus Roa wrote a dispatch from Colombia, where there are mass protests against systemic problems afflicting the nation; a failing health care system, an ill-equipped, under-resourced education system, inequality, impunity and rampant corruption.

South African GATHER alumnus Dieudonne Allo finished the year on a note of a triumph, reporting on a highly successful Acceleration Summit he hosted to boost the youth programming of the Global Leading Light Initiative.

Thank you to our global network of grassroots champions whose support made this momentous year possible!  We look forward to your continued support for community-driven social change in 2020! 

Peace Fellows Advisors Review Progress

With the first cohort of the Chicago Peace Fellows finishing their summer projects and nearing the end of their curriculum, the Goldin Institute convened a dinner meeting of prominent advisers on Thursday, September 12, to discuss strategies for sharing the Fellows’ accomplishments and wisdom during their upcoming graduation.

Advisors Dinner 3

Held at the Erie Café in the city’s River North neighborhood, this was the third advisors dinner, and was attended by Goldin Institute Founder and Board Chair Diane Goldin, GATHER alumnus Raymond Richard, founder of Brothers Standing Together, a Chicago-based non-profit organization; Leslie Ramyk, Executive Director, Conant Family Foundation; Teresa Zeigler and John Zeigler, director of DePaul University’s Egan Office of Urban Education and Community Partnerships; Mimi Frankel, a member of the Frankel Family Foundation’s Board of Directors and the Goldin Institute’s Board of Advisors; Lisa Dush, a DePaul University professor who is conducting an academic evaluation of GATHER; Justice Stamps, who runs the Marion Nzinga Stamps Youth Center mentoring program on the Near North Side; José Rico, a Director of  Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation for Greater Chicago; Rob Rejman, vice president, Ascent; as well as Goldin Institute staff led by Executive Director Travis Rejman, along with Oz Ozburn, Jimmie Briggs and Burrell Poe.

The Goldin Institute team began with an update on the many workshops and events that the Peace Fellows have participated in, including the strategy session with the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago, the exploration of the role of urban planning and design in building safe communities with Studio Gang and the Rebuild Foundation and the meeting with Alderman Burnett on how grassroots leaders can more effectively collaborate with city-wide initaitives.

All the participants framed the Peace Fellows’ work in the context of the continuing unacceptable levels of violence in some Chicago neighborhoods. Jose Rico spoke about the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformational Initiative as well as about regular meetings in the office of Chicago’s newly elected Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and how the Fellows’ work could inform their discussions.

The Conant Foundation’s Leslie Ramyk said Chicago’s philanthropic leaders were mobilizing beyond their daily duties to respond to the crisis, including collaborating to publish a recent Op Ed, Enough With Hate, in Crain’s Chicago Business. Many family foundations are responding to the violence, moreover, by seeking out and listening to community leaders, using their leverage, power and privilege to try and make the social standard more equitable.

[quote]“This is outside of our job descriptions. We do it because of the necessity of this crisis.” -- Leslie Ramyk, Conant Family Foundation[/quote]

Mimi Frankel of the Frankel Family Foundation observed, “We are dealing with a totally different environment than we have had before.”

Goldin Institute Executive Director Travis Rejman talked about the importance of building a movement of connected peace-makers and quoted the maxim, "Great leaders don't inspire movements, movements inspire great leaders."

Senior Adviser Jimmie Briggs suggested building interest from journalists in the Peace Fellows’ efforts through various efforts, including a panel discussion. As a New York-based writer with roots in the Midwest, Jimmie was enthusiastic about the potential for the Fellows’ stories to reach a broad audience.

[quote]“Visiting this city can feel like you're in different countries as you go from neighborhood to neighborhood. Some areas are safe and some aren't and you can live in this city and have fully different experiences.” -- Jimmie Briggs[/quote]

He added that a narrative encompassing all the Peace Fellows’ diverse experiences would be inspirational. "If there is no narrative out there, it didn't happen," Jimmie cautioned.

Program Coordinator Burrell Poe said that when he was interviewing Fellows, one of their most common requests was to meet others doing similar work. Now that the program is up and running, he was proud to have facilitated the Fellows’ early contacts and that they are now working closely together.

“They are really loving it,” Burrell said of the Fellows’ collaborations.

DePaul University’s Lisa Dush, who is conducting an evaluation of the fellowship, said her challenge was to adapt available metrics to accurately measure results. While data is available to indicate the Fellows’ progress through the curriculum, she wants to make sure she documents the true picture of their experience.

John Zeigler discussed changing the prevailing narrative of the city’s communities, and change the focus of philanthropies, who tend to make grants to programs which generate quick results, rather than long-term investments.

John asked, “How do you challenge or disrupt that narrative?”

[quote]“Chicago is a city of neighborhoods but it is also a city priding themselves on growing organizers.” -- John Ziegler, DePaul University[/quote]

In that vein, John was pleased the curriculum had fostered meaningful and productive connections among the Peace Fellows.

“The Chicago Peace Fellows build trust and social capital with each other,” he said. “Social capital is a process, and the Chicago Peace Fellows invests in the process.”

Raymond Richard of Brothers Standing Together spoke about the responsibilities of community leaders, including non-profit executives, to work in concert and demonstrate dignity to younger generations. Philanthropies will have to be involved through determined strategies, he continued.

“These kids are fighting the same fight and they don't even know it,” Brother Ray said.

[quote]“If we're going to break down a barrier, we have to lead by example. We don't want the children to know how much we know. We want them to know how much we care." -- Raymond Richard, Brothers Standing Together[/quote]

Reflections on International Women's Day

It is with joy, pride and expectations that I share some thoughts on the celebration of Women’s History Month, recognizing the achievements born amidst struggle, bias and inequality on many levels. The advances occurring are accelerating but it has been an arduous endeavor and a long way yet in reaching our ambitions.

The Goldin Institute is proud to support leaders across the globe who are making real progress in raising the spirit and conditions of their community. After sixteen years of developing strategies and solutions with grassroots leaders, our GATHER platform has proved a success in extending the methods by which leaders are able to learn and work together to attain their goals.

Our survival and accomplishments could certainly not have been possible without the support of global partners and associates to whom we are forever grateful. Our inspiration is fueled by the dedication and results particularly of women who are leading the fight on urgent issues such as female education, rights and empowerment. These women are and will always be foundational to our global work.

World travels have expanded and deepened a compassion and commitment in me to those steeped in poverty and discrimination with little or no resources by which to escape. Women, especially, bear the burden of laboring and suffering for the entire family. I’ve listened, watched and absorbed what it means to be a person, a woman, who bears the agony and, too often, atrocities, to survive another day for her children.

[quote]Their fortitude, spirit and strength fills me with reverence.[/quote]

I want to relate an experience in which participating in a village meeting conducted and attended by men. As we met to discuss urgent issues in the village, I was curious about the women gathered at the open windows and peering through the door. Questioning the lead man of the group, I was informed that women are not included as they are uneducated and cannot read. In further discussions about identifying and leveraging resources, I pointed out the valuable contribution women were lending to the community: planning, organizing, raising and educating children, field and livestock work, feeding many with just a handful of rice. It is undeniable: women know how to DO things.

This conversation was not warmly received, but I knew there were layers of discrimination and cultural expectations that take time to affect.


Sometime later, a second visit to continue the conversations proved amazing as to my awe struck, teary eyes were two women sitting at the table in the meeting room. They were now committee heads, leaders who gave forth their reports while more women sat within, not outside the room. That is WOMEN RISING!

With the increasing number of women entering political arenas, winning elections, we will have our place at the table and our reasoned voices in the process of creating and governing equality.

Goldin Institute Returns to Israel and Palestine

Mehari Reuven is an Ethiopian Jewish teacher, writer and journalist who was incarcerated as a “prisoner of Zion” in his birth country. Released after a year during which he was tortured and witnessed the murders of other prisoners, he escaped from Ethiopia and became an international advocate for his people, playing a key role in their modern-day exodus to Israel. In his new homeland, Mehari resumed his role as a teacher, but found the Israeli students disrespectful and undisciplined, and ultimately quit to write books and produce radio programs in his native Amharic. On a radio station specially created to inform new immigrants with hour-long broadcasts in Russian, Persian, Arabic and other languages, Mehari wrote and narrated an award-winning series educating and encouraging his fellow Ethiopians to participate in Israel’s democracy and resist the discrimination they faced all too often from religious and government officials.

Tsionit Fatal Kupperwasser is a career Israeli military intelligence officer whose parents were born in Baghdad, part of a large Jewish community that had thrived in Iraq for millennia but had to flee in the wake of pogroms which targeted them after Israel’s establishment in 1948. In an effort to reconnect with her family’s severed past, she wrote a novel about her ancestors’ lives in Baghdad, which was discovered by a publisher in Iraq, translated into Arabic, and published to wide acclaim in that country: Tsionit’s Facebook page today is filled with messages in Hebrew and Arabic from her fans in two nations that are technically blood enemies.

Palestinian activist Issa Amro leads Students Against Settlements, a grassroots group of volunteers who organize nonviolent protests to demand an end to Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. Issa is based in Hebron, a Palestinian city that has an enclave of Israeli settlers protected by hundreds of soldiers, and his activities have frequently brought him to confrontations with soldiers and settlers as well as with Palestinian authorities, who are suspicious of his non-violent tactics and relationships with international groups as well as of his independence.

[slide] [img path="images/GIIP1801.jpg"]Dr. Chaim Peri and the team at Yemin Orde are building innovative models for education and youth empowerment.[/img] [img path="images/GIIP1802.jpg"]Mr. Sam Bahour in Ramallah is leading economic development in Palestine and believes job creation is peace building.[/img] [img path="images/GIIP1803.jpg"]Graffiti on the separation wall leading to the checkpoint returning from Ramallah.[/img] [img path="images/GIIP1804.jpg"]Paying our respects at the Kotel and the Qubbat al-Sakhrah.[/img] [img path="images/GIIP1805.jpg"]Street art in Tel Aviv.[/img] [img path="images/GIIP1806.jpg"]Walking to Jaffa.[/img] [img path="images/GIIP1807.jpg"]Busy street in Ramallah featuring a Star and Bucks.[/img] [img path="images/GIIP1808.jpg"]Dear friend and advisor Yoni Reuven keeps us up to date on the Ethiopian Jewish cCommunity.[/img] [img path="images/GIIP1809.jpg"]Honored to meet with the Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia, and former Chicagoan, Belyanesh Zevadia.[/img] [img path="images/GIIP1810.jpg"]Graffiti on the Separation Wall outside Banksy Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem.[/img] [img path="images/GIIP1811.jpg"]Issa Amro explains how Dr. Martin Luther King's non-violent strategies inspire his work in Hebron.[/img] [/slide]

These were just some of the people we met this winter when I traveled through Israel and Palestine with the Goldin Institute’s founders, Chairperson Diane Goldin and Executive Director Travis Rejman. Diane and Travis have long worked with both Palestinians and Israelis previously and wanted to check in with their old friends and colleagues, build new relationships and take a snapshot of a region which is much in the news. I was happy to help organize the trip, both in my capacity as the Goldin Institute’s Senior Advisor and because I happen to be writing my next book about Israel, to be titled “Twelve Tribes: Promise and Peril in the New Israel.”

The title refers to the Twelve Tribes of ancient times, a querulous confederation who demanded that the Lord send them a monarch to rule over them, according to the Tanakh. But I won’t be examining modern equivalents to the ancient tribes. Rather, my book will explore how modern tribalism within Israel defines the conflict with the Palestinians, with consequences that radiate throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Israel today is divided between religious and secular, and between those Jews of European background and those whose ancestors were from the Middle East and North Africa, as well as between Jews and Muslims, both those who are citizens of Israel and those under military occupation in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

I was born in the United States, but most of my family lives in Israel and I’ve traveled there many times, including several trips specifically for this book. On our journey, Diane, Travis and I traversed the country by bus and car, from hip downtown Tel Aviv to the labyrinthine market in Jerusalem’s Old City, from the mountains overlooking the Sea of Galilee to the desert around the Dead Sea. Having worked in war zones in Uganda, Colombia and the Philippines, they felt resonance in Israel and Palestine with other global hotspots, in the Israeli military checkpoint to enter the Palestinian capital of Ramallah, the high concrete wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and the young Palestinian men in black t-shirts throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers as we drove past.

The people we met with – Mehari, Tsionit, Issa and dozens of others – did indeed help us get a picture of Israel and Palestine at this particular moment in time. But more than that, they helped us understand exactly what modern tribalism is, how it is affecting every nation around the world, and, most importantly, what can be done to reach out across the gap and embrace putative enemies.

Reflecting on a Momentous 2017

The Goldin Institute’s Board of Advisors had a busy year fundraising, donating their own time, and contributing other resources toward our mission.  Month by month, Goldin’s Board represented us at international conferences, collaborated with our partners around the world, and established funding streams that will be essential to expanding our efforts in the near future.

Founder and Board Chair Diane Goldin was positively peripatetic, visiting Haiti this April along with Executive Director Travis Rejman to get updates from our partners at KOFAVIV and the Bureau of Avocats Internationaux as well as to learn about the initiatives of the Jakmel Ekspresyon community arts center and the expansive work of Father Joseph Philippe in the rural Fondwa region. Diane and Travis were awed by the way these groups cobble together scant resources to create schools, social services and housing, and battle against gender-based violence, all in a context of dire poverty and shattered infrastructure.

Diane Goldin visits colleagues from Fonkoze in Central Haiti.


In May, Diane and Travis led a delegation to Panama City, Panama, for the #EndChildViolence global forum. This was the fifth global forum hosted by our partners at Arigatou International and the Global Network of Religions for Children, and proved an excellent opportunity for Goldin’s staff from Uganda, Columbia and the United States to interact with each other as well as with other grassroots activists from around the world.

Diane Goldin and Global Associates Lissette Roa (Colombia) and Dorcas Kiplagat (Kenya) meet Ms. Lorena Castillo, the First Lady of Panama.


Under the leadership of Board Member Mimi Frankel, co-founder of the Frankel Family Foundation and longtime champion of refugees, the Goldin Institute co-hosted Chicago’s World Refugee Day commemoration in June. Organized in partnership with local groups and the City of Chicago, the World Refugee Day events offered participants a chance to hear testimony from refugees about their experiences, connect with social services, share interactive educational experiences, eat food from refugees’ countries of origin, and otherwise celebrate the added diversity refugees bring to Chicago and the nation.

World Refugee Day celebration in Chicago


Also during the summer, Advisory Board Member Akif Irfan launched a fundraising drive with his family and friends to support the work of Global Associate Dr. Susana Anayatin and her team in the war-torn Philippine island of Mindanao. A former intern at the Goldin Institute who is now a vice president at Goldman Sachs financial firm, Akif has raised $5,085, with an ultimate goal of $12,500, an amount sufficient to pay for water pumps at 10 new schools that will serve thousands more children. In partnership with a broad coalition that includes both the Philippine and the Moro Liberation Army, a former rebel group, Susana and her organization have provided water pumps to more than 113 schools, serving over 40,000 students in a region where more than 70 percent of the population face obstacles to accessing safe water.

Akif Irfan's fundraising efforts have provided safe drinking water to over 1,000 students in Mindanao this year.


In September, Board Member Nathan Shapiro and his wife, Randy, were recognized by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at a special gathering with Aviv Ezra, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest. The FIDF Central Region recognized Nate and Randy for the vital role they played in rescuing Ethiopian Jewry, especially during the decade Nate served as President of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ). Under his leadership from 1983-1993, the AAEJ provided relief, rescue and advocacy on behalf of the threatened Ethiopian Jewish community in Ethiopia and Sudan, leading to the successful immigration of the Ethiopian community to Israel through Operation Solomon in 1991.

Nathan Shapiro receives award in honor of his work with the American Association for Ethiopian Jews.


Dr. Aziz Asphahani, an engineer, educator and entrepreneur with more than a decade of involvement with the Goldin Institute, received a prestigious appointment to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering this year. Dr. Asphahani, CEO of QuesTek Innovations, is internationally recognized for his work in the advancement of materials, reliability, alloy development and corrosion control. One product resulting from his award winning patents was used in the restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty during its repair in the 1980s.

UCLA Professor and Board Member Gaye Theresa Johnson came to Chicago in November for a discussion of a new book she co-edited, “The Futures of Black Radicalism.” Some 40 activists, journalists, scholars, students and others attended the event and participated in a lively conversation around the themes raised in the book, which reflects on the seminal work of scholar-activist Cedric Robinson, who helped define the black radical tradition and the concept of “racial capitalism.”

(Right to Left) Goldin Institute Board member Dr. Gaye Johnson and her co-author Alex Lubin engage in the discussion moderated by the Institute's Community Learning and Collaboration Coordinator, Jimmie Briggs.


Finally, Board Member Tom Hinshaw marked a milestone in his involvement with YOLRED, our Uganda-based partner organization that is designed and run by former ex-child-combatants. Tom provides financial and moral support to YOLRED’s music therapy program, one of a menu of services that directly address issues affecting ex-combatants, and this month, that program and others held a mass gathering and celebration for several hundred young people. It was a joyous event that demonstrated unequivocally how returnees contribute positively to their communities.

Music Therapy Student preforms as part of the talent showcase for children of former combatants.


[quote]“The Goldin Institute - because of philosophy - can be effective, getting grassroots people involved in these issues. I just think you have to be engaged and to me, life would be much more shallow if you aren’t.”[/quote]

- Tom Hinshaw, Board of Advisors

A roofing contractor in Columbus, Indiana, Tom’s involvement with Goldin attended dates back to 2004, when he attended Institute’s event in Manresa, Spain. Tom became interested in YOLRED after helping facilitate discussions regarding the reintegration of child soldiers in Cartagena, Colombia in 2007.
“If you’re going to be responsible, be engaged, and if you’re going to be engaged, be effective,” Tom explained in a recent interview.

East Africa Update

Our Leadership Team Makes New Alliances and Reaffirms Existing Ones in our Work to End the Use of Child Soldiers in East Africa

This Fall provided ideal timing for our co-founders to shore-up important project work in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

In late September, Travis and Diane journeyed to East Africa for several important regional events – allowing for follow-up to our ongoing child soldier reintegration efforts, while making inroads to support new initiatives.

Along the way, Travis and Diane were able to meet-up with some old friends of the Institute, re-establishing ties with some of the folks who took part in our earliest 'grassroots partnerships.'

What Took our Leadership Team to Kenya and Rwanda

Beginning with our work in Colombia in 2007, the Goldin Institute has spent several years working on the issue of Child Soldier Reintegration. What started as a National Partnership in that same year to engage Colombia's social, private and public sector agencies to prevent the victimization of vulnerable young people in armed conflict, has expanded in most recent years to include the ESPERE project throughout Latin America and the successful sharing of the methodology with our newest partners in Eastern Africa.

An Opportunity to Stop the Recruitment and Abduction of Child Combatants

As our work in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda has been focused on helping young people avoid recruitment into violent extremist groups, particularly Al-Shabab, Diane and Travis traveled to Africa for an important opportunity to stop the recruitment (and in some cases abduction) from happening in the first place. This new project has two primary elements – a youth leadership development component named the Youth Peace Ambassadors and the public solidarity element named CRAVE: Community Resistance to Violent Extremism. The Goldin Institute is partnering with an established organization already on the ground, known as Peaceful Innovation. Through this partnership we are focusing on the areas from which local extremist group Al-Shabab has done heavy recruiting – the Mombasa Coast, "slum" areas in Kenya and the refugee and IDP camps in Rwanda. Peaceful Innovation offers the youth who are being targeted by Al-Shabab an effective mixture of counseling, peer groups, and job training with the end goal of reducing the number of viable recruits for Al-Shabab, thus, reducing their size and acts of extreme violence.

The Official Launch of Alone and Frightened - Former Child Soldiers Get to Tell Their Own Story

Over the years, the Goldin Institute has worked with Arigatou International and the Global Network of Religions for Children to research, document, and analyze the experiences and challenges of former child soldiers to develop appropriate programs for their reintegration. The culmination of the research was released in the report Alone and Frightened: Experiential Stories of Former Child Soldiers on Improving Reintegration. While the report was published in 2014, the official launch occurred while Travis and Diane were in Kenya. Our colleague and former Global Associate Dr. Dorcas Kiplagat, was instrumental in both the research done in bringing together the child soldiers to tell their stories in Alone and Frightened and in bringing it to print, so it was fitting that Dr. Kiplagat was so involved in the official launch ceremony. To that end, Dorcas has shared this full report of September's Events.

We remain encouraged to see that with the expansion of our child soldier work into new regions and with new partners, we get closer to participating in an effort that ends the recruitment of child soldiers. To learn more and become more involved, please follow this link.  

Revisiting Microfinance

Marking an important anniversary date on microfinance policy 

Today we revisit our appearance on Worldview exploring the policies and ongoing scrutiny put on the effectiveness of microfinance programs in places like India and Bangladesh.  

Goldin Institute co-founder Diane Goldin (left) pictured with project partners in Bangladesh.

Informed by our project work in Bangladesh, where we set out to improve the way that microcredit was implemented from the perspective of borrowers, Executive Director Travis Rejman was interviewed to discuss the current practices in place by large banks and how they could improve their lending methods by taking into account what we learned in our research and project developments.

If you didn't get a chance to hear the interview when it originally ran, it is archived and available for stream here. Joining Travis on the show, was our partner from Grantmakers Without Borders Susan Beaudry. We collaborated with Susan to help donors sort through the facts and spin associated with microcredit lending practices in the downloadable guide: Microfinance: A Guide for Grantmakers.

Goldin Institute Successfully Returns to Uganda

This June, Institute co-founders Diane Goldin and Travis Rejman returned to Uganda to participate in our first ever cross-continental Child Soldier Reintegration and Reconciliation Training Workshops. Because of her work in developing and using the ESPERE methodology in her native Colombia, our Global Associate Lissette Mateus Roa was the natural candidate to lead the training in Uganda.

Before bringing this project to Africa, Lissette worked closely with our partner and her advisor, Fr. Leonel Narvaez designing and successfully testing the ESPERE methodology to engage local communities by using schools as centers for reconciliation for former child soldiers in the region. We highlighted their work and what this looks like on-the-ground in Colombia in previous reports.

To best adapt the training to our colleagues in Africa, an intensive eight-day workshop was conducted wherein participants learned about the key concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation, and obtained tools to carry these ideas forward within their communities.

In all, Lissette successfully trained 16 individuals made up of child combatants, teachers, crisis counselors and community members. These participants represented five different regions of Northern Africa and because each certified trainer committed to individual action plans upon completion, the outreach within their communities will impact many more potential trainees. In short, Lissette has left a "teaching tree" model in place that we hope to see expand and carry forth the ESPERE program within the region.


[quote]My expectations were different than the reality in Africa, normally the mass media shows to the world the bad things about Africa, I was expecting some kind of hungry people, in a dusty or dirty environment, waiting for water and food. But, I realized (once there and on the ground) that they have needs, but also they have so many good things that the mass media doesn't talk about: they are a happy and generous people, (there are) amazing buildings for education, they are bilinguals and have spoken their own language and English since they were kids, they have some kind of sense of community that we have lost in our developed societies, and is highly necessary for healing our societies – they are ahead of the game in that sense. I realized we have as many things to learn from them as they can learn from us. I'm not saying everything is perfect, I'm just saying that not everything is bad, and there is great hope for the future because of the people. Moreover, I was expecting a very rough place but it was a beautiful place for the workshop."[/quote]

- Global Associate and program facilitator, Lissette Mateus Roa


Lissette's excerpted comments above are from a conversation with her upon her return from Africa. The full interview can be found here.

In coming months, we look forward to sharing the results of the action plans established by the trainees at Lissette's ESPERE workshop, as they carry out the mission to bring societal changes to their own communities in Northern Africa. If you would like to become more involved supporting this project, find out how you can help.

[slide] [img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_1.jpg"]Co-founder's Diane Goldin and Travis Rejman meet with Everest Okwonga, the Principal at St. Janani Luwum Vocational Training Centre[/img] [img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_2.jpg"]Co-founder's Diane Goldin and Travis Rejman meet with students at a trade school for former child combatants in Gulu[/img] [img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_3.jpg"]Co-founder Diane Goldin meets with students in a Gulu classroom during the Institute's June2014 trip to the region to take part on child soldier reintegration efforts[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_4.jpg"]Participants of a workshop conducted by Global Associate Lissette Mateus Roa take part in one of the exercises teaching 'forgiveness'[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_5.jpg"] Global Associate Lissette Mateus Roa (bottom left) and her group of ESPERE students. Also included is friend and colleague and Associate emeritus Dr. Dorcas Kiplagat (standing 5th from right)[/img] [img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_6.jpg"]Participants of the ESPERE workshop during a training session[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_7.jpg"]Global Associate Lissette Mateus Roa (standing) leads a training session in Gulu[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_9.jpg"]Global Associate Lissette Mateus conducts an exercise with participants of the ESPERE workshop in June 2014[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_15.jpg"]Global Associate Lissette Mateus (sitting foreground) leads her ESPERE training group[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_28.jpg"]Co-founder Diane Goldin meets with students at the St Janani Vocational School. The School is made up of mostly former child soldiers learning new skills (like carpentry in this classroom) to rejoin civilian life.[/img] [img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_27.jpg"]The workshop attended by former child combatants[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_34.jpg"]Institute co-founder Diane Goldin meets with Ajok Dorah - a psychologist specializing in giving counsel to former child combatants returning to their communities.[/img][/slide]

Rape Accountability and Prevention in Haiti

Executive Summary of the Project

Since the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, women and girls living in the internally displaced persons camps face alarming rates of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. In many camps, the rate of gender-based violence has exploded to three times pre-earthquake levels. In the year since the earthquake, our partners at KOFAVIV have documented 640 cases of rape in 2010.

This pilot project is designed to provide security in the Place Petion community of Champ de Mars using women-led, community-based security teams to patrol the camp, discourage and disrupt incidents of gender-based violence and provide necessary escort services to vulnerable residents.

The Goldin Institute has partnered with KOFAVIV, FAVILEK, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and its network of partners throughout Haiti to build and support a women-led, community-based pilot security platform in one representative displacement camp. This project builds on the strategy developed and implemented by KOFAVIV and FAVILEK, the GI's experience in creating grassroots partnerships for social change and the BAI / IJDH's capacity for legal advocacy in Haiti.

As part of the Rape Accountability and Prevention Project in Haiti, this security platform aims to prevent gender-based violence through the leadership and strategies of women's networks while the work of prosecution is ongoing. This pilot project is designed to serve as a model for community engagement and the provision of security that can be adopted by NGOs and the Government of Haiti.

Project Rationale

The problem of GBV in post-earthquake Haiti must be understood within the broader context of the humanitarian response. There is a demonstrated lack of governmental response to sexual violence occurring in the camps. This failure to act appears to have two prongs—the Haitian Government lacks both the political will and the capacity to respond. Furthermore, despite billions of dollars being pledged by the international community for recovery, aid efforts have struggled to meet the basic needs of people living in IDP camps. Having no other options, Haitian grassroots women's groups have resorted to taking charge of their own security. Haitian women are both disproportionately impacted by the crisis and key to their country's recovery.

The reality is that grassroots women's groups have been mostly shut out from the process of crafting a response to the real threat of rapes in the camps. Meanwhile, they have mobilized their own solutions, distributing whistles to women living in camps and organizing groups of women to accompany each other to vulnerable locations like latrines, where many attacks have previously taken place. Each of the women engaged in the project brings a deep commitment to the work, and their life stories are a testament to that dedication.

Brief History of the Project

The Haiti Rape Accountability and Prevention Project (RAPP) is designed to respond to the epidemic of rapes against poor women and girls in Haiti in the wake of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. The program includes four closely integrated components: legal advocacy, healthcare, organizing, and public advocacy. RAPP provides individual victims of sexual assault the legal services they need to obtain justice and compensation, while working with allies in Haiti and abroad to transform the social context that underlies the vulnerability of all poor Haitian women to assault. The Project also aims to deter future rape by punishing the perpetrators and forcing a more effective response by law enforcement and the justice system. In February 2011, the Goldin Institute began its association with RAPP with the Camp Security and Sensitization Project.

Shared Goals of the Project

This project seeks to substantially improve security and bring an end to gender-based violence in the camp where it is piloted in the Place Petion section of Champ de Mars. In addition to the immediate impact of improved security, we hope that it will provide some meaningful work for security providers and highlight the efficacy of partnering with community based groups, especially those led by women. We hope that this project will serve as a model for the Government of Haiti and relevant NGOs that will be able to scale up this important women-led, community-based initiative.

If successful, this project may also serve as a model for similar grassroots partnerships within the Goldin Institute's global network.

Project Outcomes

  • Immediate and sustained reduction in gender-based violence in Champ de Mars.
  • Improved sense of security for vulnerable people in Champ de Mars.
  • Opportunity for women to design, lead and implement an innovative community based initiative.
  • Increased cooperation between women's groups and the network of partners in Haiti.
  • Augmented international profile for local partners through sharing the success of the project broadly.
  • Opportunity to engage relevant parties in NGOs and the Government to educate them on the need and efficacy of working with grassroots groups, especially women's groups.