It is with delight and honor that we introduce Lizzie Rodriguez, the winner of this year’s Wendy Davee Award for Service. Lizzie is a force of spirit, compassion and commitment, who shares her leadership and talents locally and beyond.
During her studies at Pacifica’s MA in Depth Psychology (with an emphasis in Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology and Eco-psychology) program, Lizzie somehow found time to train as a mediator at the local Conflict Solution Center (CSC) on top of a job in hotel management. With her conflict resolutions skills, Lizzie volunteered to serve on the steering committee for Santa Barbara’s local partnership in the international non-profit organization, “Alternative to Violence Program”. In this capacity, and using facilitating experiential exercises, Lizzie helped bring new approaches to responding to conflict to youth and adults in schools and prisons. Her contributions in this project include:
- Coordinated Spanish/English workshops for community and men’s prisons in California
- Participated in piloting AVP workshops to 500 youth in Philadelphia
- Developed and implemented an “Alternative to Incarceration” pilot with SB County Juvenile Probation
Driven to expand her work internationally, Lizzie fearlessly volunteered to help with a reconciliation project in Rwanda. Starting as a volunteer and then Program Coordinator with the Healing and Rebuilding our Communities (HROC) in Rwanda, she also:
- Earned certification as an HROC facilitator
- Joined the HROC-West Committee designed for refugees settled in the USA
- Organized a West Coast speaking tour for Theoneste Bizimana, a genocide survivor and co-founder of HROC
- Participated as an international facilitator in Rwanda
- Conducted program evaluation and ethnographic research on the sustainable impact of HROC-Rwanda workshops on individual and community wellbeing at year 1, then 2 and 3 years after workshops.
Lizzie continues her work with HROC and is now the US Coordinator. An example of her work in this role is offering trauma healing workshops for refugees and others relocated to the US from countries experiencing war and mass violence.
In addition to her work with CSC and the HROC, Lizzie:
- Founded the 501c3 charity – Global Alliance for Community Re-visioning
- Is a member of the Society for Community Research and Action
- Was a finalist for the 2012 Society for Community Research and Action video contest; her submission depicted community psychologists working in the field
- Recipient of the Herman Warsh Scholarship
- Recipient of Opus Archives 2012 Peace and Reconciliation Travel Grant
- Nominated to PGI’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Lizzie facilitated these accomplishments while studying at Pacifica and working part-time.
Since graduating, Lizzie works as an Executive Director of the Conflict Resolutions Center (CRS), which has offices in both Santa Barbara and Santa Maria. In the past year, CRS has begun offering free medication training to UCSB students involved in landlord/tenant mediations. These students are now beginning to offer free mediation to tenants, property managers and roommates. Further, CRS is now training school and youth service providers in Santa Maria in School-Based Restorative Justice Approaches. Lizzie says that the intent of this program is to reduce the number of youth enter the juvenile justice system. Those of us in Santa Barbara may have seen the recent front page article announcing Mackenzie Junior High in the Guadalupe School District, which serves a large demographic of farm working families, as the first school to implement School-Based Restorative Justice Approaches.
Another local initiative Lizzie is involved with is Restorative Approaches in Juvenile Probation. Through a partnership between Alternatives to Violence Project and the SB Juvenile Probation Dept., the Conflict Solutions Center is offering juveniles probation workshops, which include Victim Impact Panels that are intended to reduce future harmful behaviors and increase both empathy for perpetrators and empowerment in victims.
Lizzie has been instrumental in facilitating the new Restorative Community Network, a Santa Barbara based community collaborative of individuals committed to working to address issues that contribute to juvenile crime by utilizing Restorative Practices and collaborative partnerships. This group is currently planning a 2016 Symposium titled, “Toward a Restorative Community: A Youth-Centered Restorative Approach”.
Lizzie is an inspiration, a role model and a deserving recipient of the Wendy Davee Award for Service.