About the Founder

TCRJ  Founder and President
Marinetta Cannito Hjort, MA

I have a strong passion and commitment to peace, justice, and reconciliation. My mission is to assist people in their journey to discover within themselves the capacity to heal strained relationships, increase reciprocal understanding, and prevent future conflicts. My methodology is based on restorative processes and tools that allow each individual to initiate constructive communications, understand their mutual needs and values, identify the root causes of the conflict, and collaboratively engage in finding mutually beneficial solutions aimed at building relationships of trust.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE OVERVIEW

International expert, practitioner and scholar in the fields of restorative justice, conflict transformation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Brings over 15 years of experience facilitating victim/offender/community members conferences, collaborating in public awareness campaigns to educate on needs and roles of victims, offenders and communities involved in violence and crime, and in developing curricula and leading capacity building trainings for governments, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups domestically and globally. Serves as the Founder and President of Transforming Conflicts, Restoring Justice (TCRJ), a US-based woman-owned small business dedicated to addressing, mitigating and preventing conflicts and promoting peace, justice, reconciliation and trauma healing. Author of a book on the theory and practice of Conflict Transformation (Italy),: La Trasformazione dei Conflitti. Un Percorso Formativo, Claudiana editrice, Torino (2017) https://www.claudiana.it/scheda-libro/marinetta-cannito-hjort/la-trasformazione-dei-conflitti-9788868980023-1933.html; a guide on RJ procedures in Court (Mexico), and three contextual Mediation Manuals (Haiti, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire). Direct experience in 20 countries in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish.

CURRICULUM VITAE

EDUCATION

  • MA in Conflict Transformation, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA, 2005
  • MA in Theological Studies, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C., Summa cum laude, 1999
  • BA in Theology, Facoltà Valdese di Teologia, Rome, Italy, 1997
  • BA in Modern Languages, Istituto Universitario Orientale, Naples, Italy, Cum laude, 1978

SUMMARY OF RELEVANT WORK EXPERIENCE

Founder and President of Transforming Conflicts, Restoring Justice (TCRJ), LLC.            10/17/2011 – Present Offers a variety of high-quality, multilingual context-oriented services aimed at providing governments, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups and individuals with skills and tools for restorative responses to conflict and to engage in collaborative efforts to become agents of change for reconciliation and peacebuilding.

Victim Outreach Specialist, JustBridges, National Clearinghouse for Defense-Based Victim Outreach (DVO)                                                                                                                                                           Oct. 2020 – Present  Assists defense attorneys with outreach to survivors of violent crime and family members whose loved ones have been murdered, in an effort to ensure that concerns and needs of people who have been harmed are addressed and they do not feel further victimized by their experience with the justice system.

Peacebuilding and mediation expert, Pollack Peacebuilding Systems                                  Oct. 2019 – Present  – Provides a variety of workplace mediations and peacebuilding program services involving conflict analyses and interventions to reduce organizational conflict, improve conflict management and communication skills for executive and employees.                                                                                                                                              – Designs and facilitates interactive conflict transformation workshops for small and large work-teams.

Restorative Justice Facilitator in Schools, Northern Virginia Mediation Services, Fairfax, VA                                                                                                                                                                               Sept. 2008 – June 2011  – Co-facilitated restorative conferences and circles processes in Fairfax Public Schools as alternative to school      suspension and expulsion.                                                                                                                                             – Trained school personnel on applying a system of restorative practices as an alternative to disciplinary action.     -Trained high school students in peer mediation and assisted in the development of girls’ leadership program.

Restorative Justice Facilitator & Mediator, Restorative Justice Program of the Office of Dispute Resolution, Prince William Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Manassas, VA                                        2005–Oct. 2009  – Organized and co-facilitated conferences between victims and juvenile offenders (separate pre-conferencing,    direct conferencing, draft of agreement and evaluations, monitoring of agreement).                                                    – Mediated General District and Circuit Court-Civil Cases.

Global Expert Consultant on Restorative Justice, Conflict Transformation and Mediation                                                                                                                                                                                  07/12/2003 –10/16/2011  – Designed curricula and conducted capacity-building training and workshops on the theories and practices of restorative justice.                                                                                                                                                           – Provided technical assistance to judges, attorneys, law enforcement personnel and community leaders on the application of restorative justice processes.

SELECTED PROFESSIONAL ASSIGNMENTS UNDERTAKEN

  • Victim Outreach Expert Consultation for the Federal Public Defender Office for the Eastern District of Virginia – Assisted defense attorneys and the staff of the Federal Public Defender Office in the case US v. Alexanda Amon Kotey, Case1:20-CR-239-TSE (04/19-2021 – 11/02/2021)                      – Researched and compiled information on survivors and families of murdered victims and their needs.    – Identified constructive ways to outreach to families of victims through a restorative process aimed at incorporating and addressing their perspectives and concerns.                                                                    – Assisted in the preparation for facilitated dialogues between defendant and a relative of one of the murdered victims.
  • Victim Outreach Expert Consultation for the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Assisted defense attorneys and the staff of the Federal Community Defender Office in the capital case US v. Higgs, D. MD CR No. PJM-09-0520 (12/10-2020 – 01/21/21).                    – Researched and compiled information on families of murdered victims.                                                      – Developed rapport with two members of the family of one of the murdered victims, offering them a safe and respectful avenue for sharing their needs and concerns with the defense attorneys.                              – Assisted one of the victim’s relative during and until the end of the execution of the defendant.
  • Design and implementation of a conflict transformation, peacebuilding and reconciliation process and training for the Italian Baptist Churches – Italy (04/24/20 – 10/31/2020)
  • Curriculum and training development on Restorative Justice – Viet Nam: Supported Hagar International Vietnam’s work on fighting domestic violence & human trafficking through developing and facilitating a comprehensive curriculum and training program on restorative justice approaches to combat human trafficking through a collaborative effort between government entities and community organizations. (Vinh city and Hanoi 03/01/2016 – 03/21/2016)
  • Capacity building trainings on Mediation and Restorative Approaches to Land Disputes – Liberia, for community-based leaders, traditional chiefs and security institutions personnel, for the Tetra Tech/DPK and INL US State Department-funded program on Mitigating Land Disputes in Liberia. (2012 and 2014).
  • Trainings on Mediation – Haiti, for the USAID-funded Improving Justice Service Delivery projet (May 2011-Aug. 2011)
  • Training on Building a Culture of Peace: Conflict Analysis and Transformation – Mexico,for the Center of Alternative Justice of the Attorney General of the States of Oaxaca, Chihuahua, Federal District and Baja California with the Supporting Program to Security and Justice/USAID/MSI (Mexico, 2010).
  • Training on Best Methods to Develop Tools for Community Unity (RJ and Conflict Transformation) – Mexico, in support of the USAID-funded Projustice Project for indigenous women attorneys of communities in the states of Oaxaca and Baja California (11/02/2009 – 11/10/2009; and 01/21/2010 – 01/22/2010).
  • Trauma Healing training facilitation for victims’ assistance personnel – Mexico, for the USAID-funded Projustice Project (Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, Mexico, 2009).
  • The Process of Restorative Justice, Step by Step Training of Trainers facilitation for theCentre of Victims Assistance & staff of the Alternative Justice program of Attorney General’s Offices of the Federal District and the States of Baja California, Oaxaca and Chihuahua, for the Rule of Law Program in Mexico /USAID/MSD (Mexico City, 2009).
  • Training on Strategies of Community Collaboration for the Supporting Program to Victims of Human Trafficking in Mexico/USAID/MSI, and the Federal District Attorney (Mexico City, 2008).
  • Workshops on Restorative Justice, for the National Conference Finding Ways to Overcome the Culture of Mafia (Palermo, Italy, 2005).

SELECTED EVALUATION AND CURRICULUM DESIGN WORK

  • Mediation Manual / guiding document design – Côte d’Ivoire: Developed a Mediation Training Manual and Guide as part of USAID’s five-year, ProJustice activity support project in Côte d’Ivoire (12/01/2016 – 01/02/2017).
  • Program and impact evaluation of the ADR component of the USAID-funded Projustice Project – Haiti (08/01/2014 – 08/13/2014; 09/09/2014 – 09/19/2014).
  • Design of justice models in ADR – Haiti: As part of the USAID-funded Improving Justice Service Delivery project in Haiti, provided technical assistance to mediation centers through the development of forms, procedures and guidelines to quantify and evaluate the impact of mediation to reduce gender-based violence (05/12/201108/15/2011).
  • A ‘Step by Step’ RJ Process Manual design for the Centre of Victims Assistance and the Alternative Justice program of Attorney General’s Offices of the Federal District and the States of Baja California, Oaxaca and Chihuahua, funded by the Rule of Law Program in Mexico /USAID/MSD (2009).

SELECT KEYNOTES AND CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

  • Conference presentation on Restorative Justice and Organized Crime, Foro Internacional de Prácticas Restaurativas, Attorney General’s Office of State of Baja California (Rosarito, Mexico, August 2018).
  • Keynote Address: The Application of Restorative Justice in the Criminal System, Conference for Lawyers and Psychologists, (Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, June 2011).
  • Keynote Address: Women: From Victims to Survivors, the International Forum on Women, Constitution and Restorative Justice (the Dominican Republic, 2009).
  • Keynote Address: Restorative Justice and Organized Crime: Challenges and Hope, International Conference on Restorative Justice: Humanizing the Justice Process, Rule of Law in Mexico/USAID-MSI (Oaxaca, Mexico, Sept 2008).

SELECTED ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE

  • Lecture and workshop on Restorative Justice and Mediation for the University of California Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco (May 20-24, 2021)
  • Periodic online lectures onRestorative Justice and Organized Crime for the class of Restorative Justice at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, the Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia (From 2016 to 2020).
  • Assistant Lecturer for the US Institute of Peace on Empowering Communities to Counter Violent Extremism (United Arab Emirates, Feb 2015); Building Safer Communities: Options for Government/Civil Society (Kenya, June 2015).
  • Periodic lectures on Applications of Restorative Justice in Identity-Based Conflicts at the US Institute of Peace (Washington, D.C., 2011, 2012, 2013).
  • Adjunct Faculty, course on Restorative Justice and Social Change, for the Starr King School for the Ministry, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, USA (Jan 2010)
  • Lecture on Women, Healing, and Reconciliation in Restorative Justice, Yale Divinity School (New Haven, CT, 2008).
  • Assistant teacher, Restorative Justice course, for the Center of Justice and Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA, USA (Summer of 2006 and 2007).
  • Periodic lectures on Theory and Practice of Restorative Justice for the Washington Semester Program and the School of Public Affairs of the American University, Washington, DC (from 2004 to 2008).

OTHER PROFESSIONAL WORKING EXPERIENCE

  • Chaplain, American University Washington, D.C.                                             08/15/2000 – 05/31/2010 – Helped nurture a thriving interfaith culture among the American University students, organizing, leading and supporting panels, workshops, trainings, social activities and interfaith dialogues on the campus. – Co- designed and helped develop a multimedia appreciative inquiry research project among about 30 interfaith clergy and campus students. The final project was used as a central feature of the 40th anniversary of the Spiritual Center of the American University on April 24, 2006.
  • Finance & Program Coordinator, Witness for Peace, Washington, D.C.                              1999 – 2003 – Supervised and coordinated the organization international programs and financial activities of the organization.                                                                                                                                                    – Collaborated in managing and editing a quarterly newsletter.                                                                     – Participated in educational and socially responsible delegations to Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Colombia.
  • Budget Assistant, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy Oct.1982 – Dec.1997                                                                                                                                        Maintained, reviewed and reconciled financial records for all programs operated by the Economic Policy Analysis Division under the regular and extra-budgetary programs.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

Contributed to a total of 11 Publications. Major publications include:

  • La Trasformazione dei Conflitti. Un Percorso Formativo (Conflict Transformation: A Formative Journey), Claudiana editrice, Torino (2017): https://www.claudiana.it/scheda-libro/marinetta-cannito-hjort/la-trasformazione-dei-conflitti-9788868980023-1933.html.
  • “La Comunicazione Nonviolenta” (“Nonviolent Communication”), Servitium, Mediagraf Spa eds. (2018), 59-62
  • “Frontiere, Identità e Conflitto” (“Borders, Identity and Conflict”), Gioventù Evangelica (2012):27-29.
  • “Restorative Justice and Organized Crime: A Challenge to Overcome the Culture of Mafia,” Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice Manual, Mennonite Central Committee eds. (2008), 320-323.
  • “La Giustizia Rigenerativa: Promessa e Sfida per una Trasformazione Sociale” (“Restorative Justice: Promise and Challenge for a Social Transformation”), Mediares 9 (2007), 169-197.

SELECTED TRAINING FOR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

  • Transforming Historical Harms: A Narrative Change Approach to Community and Societal Transformation (online course by Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), Harrisonburg, VA, Nov.-Dec. 2020)
  • Gender and Peacebuilding (Certification from US Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C., July 16-20, 2012)
  • Peacemaking Dialogues (Facilitation Certificate from Institute of Multi-Track Diplomacy, Rosslyn, VA, Feb.-March 2011)
  • Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR), (Facilitation Certification, Level 1, EMU, Oct. 22-26, 2007)
  • Nonviolence Facilitator Training (Certification from Fellowship of Reconciliation, Washington, D.C., Oct. 7-9, 2005)
  • Working with Survivors of Capital Crimes: Defense-based Victim Outreach (Certification from EMU, Oct. 22-26 2003)
  • Circle training instructed by Kay Pranis (EMU, 29 March 2003)
  • Training for Social Action Trainers (Certification from Training for Change, Philadelphia, PA, May 2003)
  • Restorative Justice Training (Facilitator Certificate from Prince William County Office of Dispute Resolution, Manassas, VA, Dec. 6-7, 2002)
  • Restorative Conferencing Training (Facilitator Certificate from Northern Virginia Mediation Service, Fairfax, VA, June 28-30, 2002).

LANGUAGES

Fluent in English, French, Italian (mother tongue), Spanish.

 

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