TCRJ Founder and President
Marinetta Cannito Hjort, MA
Marinetta Cannito Hjort has over ten years of experience as a scholar, trainer, facilitator, and consultant on Restorative Justice, Conflict Transformation, and Alternative Dispute Resolution methods in international, academic, governmental, civil, and religious settings.
Her work stresses the close relationship between justice mechanisms and local processes in its goal to attain peace, reconciliation and social reconstruction.
She has been providing technical support and training on Restorative Justice processes and promoting the use of alternative procedures to transform conflicts within and outside of court proceedings. She has been contracted to consult for USAID and US State Department funded projects in Mexico, Colombia, Haiti, and Liberia, and by the US Embassy and the Office of the First Lady in the Dominican Republic. She has also worked in Fiji, Guatemala, Kenya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Italy, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. Ms. Hjort collaborates with the US Institute of Peace, through lectures and interviews on nonviolent transformation and applications of restorative justice in identity-based conflicts and on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).
In May 2005 she was invited by representatives of the anti-mafia movement in Palermo, Italy, to conduct a workshop on Restorative Justice for the National Conference, “Finding Ways to Overcome the Culture of Mafia”, to explore the potential contribution of Restorative Justice in addressing the challenges posed by the culture of mafia. That experience and the following collaboration with branches of the anti-mafia movement in Italy inspired Marinetta Cannito Hjort to expand the vision of Restorative Justice to address broader social justice issues and structural roots of crime. With the Government of Mexico facing the daunting challenges of fighting crimes linked to drug, arms, and human trafficking, her work expanded to help explore creative systemic applications of Restorative Justice as tools to combat corruption and organized crime.
In June 2009 she helped coordinate a Study Tour Delegation to Italy composed of Attorney Generals and representatives of Citizen Participation Councils from five Mexican States and three US Attorney Generals who intended to learn better practices and strategies to combat organized crime. The delegation met with the highest levels of the governmental branch of the anti-mafia and crucial citizen groups.
She designed a Restorative Justice training manual in Spanish, taking the social, political and cultural context of Mexico into consideration. Her trainings are focused on the necessity of guaranteeing a legitimate judiciary that respects the rule of law, the need of assuring accountability of perpetrators of crimes, and the importance of implementing preventive measures that can provide sustainability of processes (through the engagement and collaboration of local population and the use of rituals of healing).
Marinetta Cannito Hjort is also an expert in the field of Conflict Transformation. She has conducted numerous workshops on Conflict Transformation in four continents (North America, South America, Europe and Africa). Her workshops are designed according to the needs of the audience and the social context, with the goal to educate communities toward a systemic approach to address and prevent conflict.
She has launched a series of strategy trainings that provide tools to establish or strengthen collaborative networks among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to promote crime prevention measures and help the sustainability of changes.
Mrs. Hjort has experience in integrating gender frameworks in programmatic activities; has assisted justice and mediation centers in the development of a gender-based analysis framework and a system to quantify and evaluate the impact of alternative approaches on the reduction of gender-based violence. Her work reflects the 2000 UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the 2011 US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. She co-founded The Listening Women, a multiracial interfaith women’s group comprised of leaders from faith communities throughout Washington, DC to assist and accompany women affected by trauma in their journey of recovery.
She is also an accomplished scholar and teacher. She has authored or translated ten academic articles and professional publications. Her 2003 article co-authored with Dr. Howard Zehr, Una Prospettiva di Speranza: La Giustizia Rigenerativa (A Perspective of Hope: Restorative Justice), introduced the restorative justice paradigm to Italy. Her 2007 article La Giustizia Rigenerativa: Promessa e Sfida per una Trasformazione Sociale (Restorative Justice: Promise and Challenge for a Social Transformation), written for Mediares, the leading Italian publication on Mediation, represents the first and most comprehensive article written in Italy on the Restorative Justice paradigm.
Marinetta Cannito Hjort has given lectures and seminars to undergraduate and graduate students throughout the country, at universities including Yale Divinity School, American University and Eastern Mennonite University. She has taught one-week intensive courses at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, where she served as Adjunct Faculty, and universities in Rome, Italy and Caux, Switzerland.
She frequently serves as the keynote speaker at Restoratives Justice conferences in English, Spanish, Italian, and French Speaking countries.
She was a Commissioner for the Truth Commission on Conscience in War (www.conscienceinwar.org) which held its hearing in New York City in March 2010. In November 2010, the Commission released its report and recommendations to national, community and religious leaders in Washington, DC.
She is a certified mediator and facilitates mediations between parties in conflict, and has designed Mediation Training Manuals for Liberia, Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire, to be used for judicial and training institutions and civil society organizations.
She previously worked for the United Nations in Rome, Italy, for fifteen years, and for the nonprofit organization Witness for Peace in Washington, DC for four years. She also served for ten years as a Chaplain on the American University campus in Washington, DC, where she built and mobilized cooperation among multicultural and interfaith individuals and groups.
She holds two Bachelors and two Masters degrees: M.A. in Theological Studies, from Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC (summa cum laude); and M. A. in Conflict Transformation from the Center of Justice and Peacebuilding of the Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA.
She is fluent in Italian, English, Spanish and French.