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 Rev. James Lawson

Jim Lawson-large image


Martin Luther King, Jr. once called his friend and colleague Rev. James Lawson “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.”

Civil Rights leader James Lawson was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania in 1928. His father and grandfather were Methodist ministers, and Lawson received his local preacher’s license in 1947, the year he graduated from high school. While in college, he joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), which first exposed him to the nonviolent teachings of Gandhi and Howard Thurman.

In 1950, Lawson became a draft resister and was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison for refusing the Korean War draft. He spent fourteen months in federal prison (1951-1952). In 1953, he sailed for India where he taught at Hislop College in Nagpur, India. There he met with many of Gandhi’s colleagues, including Prime Minister Nehru. While in India, Lawson eagerly read of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the emerging nonviolent resistance movement back in the United States.

When he returned to the United States in 1956, he enrolled in Oberlin School of Theology in Ohio. He met Dr. King in 1957, and decided to move to Nashville where he served as Southern secretary of the FOR. He enrolled at Vanderbilt Divinity School and began holding seminars to train volunteers in Gandhian tactics of nonviolent direct action. Drawing on the example of Jesus’ suffering and nonviolent resistance, he taught growing numbers of black and white students how to organize sit-ins and other forms of nonviolent action to confront the immorality of segregation. His workshops led to the Nashville sit-in movement and desegregation campaign.

Initially, Lawson had to convince other African Americans that nonviolence was “deeply rooted in the spirituality of Jesus [and] the prophetic stories of the Hebrew Bible.” For Lawson, the civil rights protests were not just a political movement. “It was a moment in history when God saw fit to call America back from the depths of moral depravity and onto his path of righteousness.” John Lewis calls him “the architect of the nonviolent movement in America.”

James Lawson helped coordinate the Freedom Rides in 1961 and the Meredith March in 1966, found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and served as director of nonviolent education for SCLC. While working as a pastor at the Centenary Methodist Church in Memphis, he played a major role in the sanitation workers strike of 1968.

In 1974, Lawson moved to Los Angles to serve as pastor of Holman Methodist Church, his base for the next thirty years. He hosted a weekly call-in show, “Lawson Live,” where he discussed social and human rights issues affecting minority communities. For many decades, he has spoken out against racism, and challenged U.S. military involvement throughout the world. He has worked extensively with Janitors for Justice and other unions in Los Angeles, and continues to teach and offer workshops in active nonviolence to this day. He has taught at Harvard, USC, UCLA, Claremont and Vanderbilt. He is featured in the film, “A Force More Powerful.” He and his wife Dorothy live in Los Angeles, CA.


Erica Chenoweth

Erica Chenoweth

Erica Chenoweth is Associate Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and an Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. Foreign Policy magazine ranker her among the top 100 global thinkers of 2013 for her work on the empirical study of nonviolent resistance. Together with Maria J. Stephan of the U.S. State Department, she is the winner of the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. Their book, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia University Press) also won the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award given annually by the American Political Science Association in recognition of the best book on government, politics, or international affairs published in the U.S. the previous year.

Erica has held appointments at Harvard, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, and Wesleyan University. She has published over a dozen articles in scholarly journals and edited volumes. She is currently co-chair of the Academic Advisory Board at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, a Board Member of the International Security and Arms Control Section of the American Political Science Association, and a Team Member at the Council on Foreign Relations. Erica has presented her research all over the world at various academic conferences, government workshops, and international governmental organizations. Her research has been featured in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The Economist, The Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, The Christian Science Monitor, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and elsewhere. She co-hosts the award-winning blog Political Violence @ a Glance. Erica holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in political science from the University of Colorado and a B.A. in political science and German from the University of Dayton. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

“Why Civil Resistance Works is the first systematic study of its kind, and takes us well beyond the research of Gene Sharp and others to demonstrate once and for all the power of nonviolent civil resistance for positive social change,” John Dear wrote in his review for The National Catholic Reporter. “Anyone interested in the methodology of nonviolent conflict resolution should get this book and study it.”

“Our findings demonstrate that power actually depends on the consent of the civilian population, consent that can be withdrawn and reassigned to more legitimate or more compelling parties,” the authors write. “We hope that this book challenges the conventional wisdom concerning the effectiveness of nonviolent struggle and encourages scholars and policy makers to take seriously the role that civilians play in actively prosecuting conflict without resorting to violence.”


Roshi Joan Halifax

Roshi Joan Halifax

Joan Halifax is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is the Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her Ph.D. in medical anthropology in 1973 and has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions and medical centers around the world. She received a National Science Foundation Fellowship in Visual Anthropology, was an Honorary Research Fellow in Medical Ethnobotany at Harvard University, and was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress.

From 1972-1975, she worked with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center with dying cancer patients. She has continued to work with dying people and their families, and to teach health care professionals and family caregivers the psycho-social, ethical and spiritual aspects of care of the dying. She is Director of the Project on Being with Dying, and Founder of the Upaya Prison Project that develops programs on meditation for prisoners. She is also founder of the Nomads Clinic in Nepal.

She studied for a decade with Zen Teacher Seung Sahn and was a teacher in the Kwan Um Zen School. She received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh, and was given Inka by Roshi Bernie Glassman.

A Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order and founder of Prajna Mountain Buddhist Order, her work and practice for more than four decades has focused on applied Buddhism. Her books include: The Human Encounter with Death (with Stanislav Grof); The Fruitful Darkness; Simplicity in the Complex: A Buddhist Life in America; Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Wisdom in the Presence of Death; Being with Dying: Compassionate End-of-Life Care (Professional Training Guide); Seeing Inside, among others. She is a Lindisfarne Fellow and a Mind and Life Fellow and Board member. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Kathy Kelly


Kathy Kelly is a long time peace activist, author, lecturer, and co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. A nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, Kathy Kelly has journeyed  fourteen times to Afghanistan since 2010, where she has lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in a working class neighborhood in Kabul. She and other Voices activists have been guests of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. They share in common a belief that “where you stand determines what you see.” Kelly and her companions insist that the U.S. has not been waging a “humanitarian war” in Afghanistan and that the U.S. should pay reparations for the suffering caused in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kelly has also joined with activists around the country to protest drone warfare by holding demonstrations outside of U.S. military bases in Nevada, upstate New York, and, most recently, at Whiteman Air Force base in Missouri. Kathy recently completed a 3-month sentence in federal prison for attempting to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter about drone warfare to the commander of Whiteman.

From 1996 – 2003, Kathy and other Voices activists organized 70 delegations to Iraq that openly defied economic sanctions by bringing medicine to children and families in Iraq. Kathy and her companions lived in Baghdad throughout the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing. They have also lived alongside people during warfare in Gaza, Lebanon, Bosnia and Nicaragua.

Kathy advocates the use of nonviolent civil disobedience to push for change. In 1988 she was sentenced to one year in federal prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites, and in 2004, she spent three months in prison for crossing the line at Fort Benning’s military training school. As a war tax refuser, she has refused payment of all forms of federal income tax since 1980. She writes regularly for and is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.


Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin has been an advocate for peace and social justice for more than thirty years. She is a cofounder of both CODEPINK and the international human rights organization Global Exchange. She is the author of eight books, including her latest, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Her direct questioning of President Obama during his 2013 foreign policy address, as well as her recent trips to Pakistan and Yemen, helped shine a light on the innocent people killed by U.S. drone strikes. She and her colleagues recently protested Henry Kissinger’s appearance on Capitol Hill, and called for his arrest for war crimes.

Described as “one of America’s most committed — and most effective — fighters for human rights” by New York Newsday, and “one of the high profile leaders of the peace movement” by the Los Angeles Times, Medea was listed as one of the world’s 1,000 exemplary women from 140 countries in a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2010 she received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize from the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the 2012 Peace Prize by the US Peace Memorial. She is a former economist and nutritionist with the United Nations and World Health Organization.

Since the September 11, 2001 tragedy, Medea has been working to promote a U.S. foreign policy that would respect human rights and gain allies instead of contributing to violence and undermining our international reputation.  In 2000, she was a Green Party candidate for the California Senate.  During the 1990s, Medea focused her efforts on tackling the problem of unfair trade as promoted by the World Trade Organization. Widely credited as the woman who brought Nike to its knees and helped place the issue of sweatshops on the national agenda, Medea was a key player in the campaign that won a $20 million settlement from 27 US clothing retailers for the use of sweatshop labor in Saipan. She also pushed Starbucks and other companies to start carrying fair trade coffee.

Her work for justice in Israel/Palestine includes taking numerous delegations to Gaza after the 2008 Israeli invasion, organizing the Gaza Freedom March in 2010, participating in the Freedom Flotillas and opposing the policies of the Israel lobby group AIPAC. In 2011 she was in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian uprising and in 2012, she was part of a human rights delegation to Bahrain in support of democracy activists; she was tear-gassed, arrested and deported by the Bahraini government.

Medea has also been on the forefront of the anti-drone movement. She organized the first-ever international drone summit and lead delegations to Pakistan and Yemen to meet with drone strike victims and family members of Guantanamo Bay Prisoners. Her articles appear regularly in outlets such as The Huffington Post, CommonDreams, Alternet and OpEd News.


Rev. John Dear

John Dear

John Dear is a long time peace activist, lecturer, author, priest and organizer. He has spent over three decades speaking to people around the world about the Gospel of Jesus, the way of nonviolence and the call to make peace. He has served as the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest interfaith peace organization in the United States, and after September 11, 2001, as one of the Red Cross coordinators of chaplains at the Family Assistance Center, and counseled thousands of relatives and rescue workers. He has worked in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and community centers; traveled in warzones around the world, including Iraq, Palestine, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, India, and Colombia; lived in El Salvador, Guatemala and Northern Ireland; been arrested over 75 times in acts of civil disobedience against war; and spent eight months in prison for a Plowshares disarmament action. In the 1990s, he arranged for Mother Teresa to speak to various governors to stop the death penalty. He moved to New Mexico in 2002 where he served as pastor of several churches, founded Pax Christi New Mexico, and organized an annual peace vigil for nuclear disarmament at Los Alamos for Hiroshima Day.

His thirty books include Living Peace, The Nonviolent Life, Lazarus Come Forth, The God of Peace, Jesus the Rebel, Disarming the Heart, Peace Behind Bars, The Questions of Jesus, You Will Be My Witnesses, Our God Is Nonviolent, The Sound of Listening, Seeds of Nonviolence, Walking the Way, Thomas Merton Peacemaker, Transfiguration, Mary of Nazareth, and his autobiography, A Persistent Peace. They have been translated into ten languages. He has edited books about Daniel Berrigan, Mohandas Gandhi, Mairead Maguire, Henri Nouwen, Richard McSorley and Horace McKenna. He is on the staff of Pace e Bene and A former Jesuit, he was ordained in 1993 and is now a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Monterey, California. He has two Master’s Degrees in Theology from the Graduate Theological Union in California, and has taught theology at Fordham University.

John Dear has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Sun, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and elsewhere. For many years, he wrote a weekly blog for the National Catholic Reporter, and is featured regularly on the national radio show “Democracy Now!” and the Huffington Post. He is the subject of the DVD documentary, “The Narrow Path” (with music by Joan Baez and Jackson Browne) and is profiled in John Dear On Peace, by Patti Normile (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2009). He has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize, including by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and this year, by the International Parliament for Safety and Peace (based in Rome, Italy). See:


Beata Tsosie-Peña

Beata Tsosie-Pena

Beata Tsosie-Peña is an activist from Santa Clara Pueblo, near Los Alamos, New Mexico. She is a mother, poet, farmer, musician, and certified in infant massage. She also serves as an educator and in permaculture design.  She is a “Green For All Fellow” and has served on several local community boards near Espanola, New Mexico.

She is on the staff of Tewa Women United, a non-profit organization based in New Mexico, where she advocates for justice, a clean environment and health. She has lived all her life near the nuclear weapons complex at Los Alamos, and supports her Pueblo’s vision of peace. She believes in the practice and preservation of land-based knowledge, spirituality, language, seeds, family and the Earth. She has dedicated herself to the healing, wellness and sustainability of her community and the Earth for future generations.


Rev. Lennox Yearwood


Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., is a minister, community activist and organizer, and one of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life. Rev. Yearwood works tirelessly to encourage the Hip Hop generation to utilize its political and social voice. He currently serves as President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, a national, award-winning organization that engages young people in elections, policymaking, and service. He is also a current board member of Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service.

Rev. Yearwood works with celebrities and athletes to engage them in projects that transform communities. He was a co-creator of the 2004 campaign “Vote or Die” with Sean “Diddy” Combs. He was also the Political and Grassroots Director for Russell Simmons in 2003 and 2004, and a Senior Consultant to Jay Z’s “Voice Your Choice” campaign. In 2008 he created the “Respect My Vote” voter mobilization campaign with Platinum Grammy winning recording artists T.I. and Keyshia Cole.

Rev. Yearwood is known for his activist work as the National Director of the Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign, in which he organized a coalition of national and grassroots organizations to advocate for the rights of Hurricane Katrina survivors. He led the first march in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in November 2005, to protest the racial profiling of survivors in the days after the storm. The march led to convictions of officers who denied basic human rights to African-American families. The following year the Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign successfully pushed back FEMA’s preemptive temporary housing evictions of Katrina Survivors, through public mobilization, two marches in Washington, DC, testimony to Congress, and a public relations campaign. This work earned the Hip Hop Caucus the prestigious 30th Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award.

Rev. Yearwood is also an important leader in the peace movement as an outspoken critic of America’s wars abroad. He was an Officer and Chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve when he first spoke out against the invasion of Iraq in early 2003. In 2007 he led a national “Make Hip Hop Not War” Tour, linking the issues of the wars abroad with the violence in urban communities at home.

Rev. Yearwood has taken the environmental movement by storm. Van Jones, author of the Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, has called Rev. Yearwood the Hip Hop Generation’s version of Dr. King. In 2009, the Hip Hop Caucus launched the “Green the Block” campaign from the West Wing of the White House, with partner organization Green For All. Rev. Yearwood helped climate activist and author, Bill McKibben, organize an international day of Climate Action called They co-authored the article “People, Let’s Get Our Carbon Down”.

Rev. Yearwood, was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of the District of Columbia in 1998 and was awarded a Master of Divinity from Howard University in 2002. He was elected to student government president at both schools.

Rev. Yearwood has been seen on CNN, BET, MTV, BBC, C-Span, Fox Business,PBS, Hardball with Chris Mathews, and featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico, VIBE, the Source, the Nation Magazine, and many other mainstream, progressive, and Hip Hop publications. He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and can be heard often on NPR. He was named one of Utne Magazine’s “50 Visionaries”, The Source Magazine’s “Power 30”, and a top ten contemporary African-American thinker by the NAACP’s Crisis Magazine.


Ken Butigan

Ken Butigan is Pace e Bene’s Executive Director. A peace and justice worker, workshop facilitator, and writer for two decades, Ken also teaches at DePaul University in Chicago.

Since the early 1980s, Ken has worked with numerous social movements, including movements for a nuclear-free future, an end to homelessness, and freedom for East Timor. He was the national coordinator of the Pledge of Resistance and a national organizer for the Declaration of Peace. Ken joined the Pace e Bene staff in 1990. He developed and for several years directed Pace e Bene’s From Violence To Wholeness program, and was actively involved in creating Pace e Bene’s Engage: Exploring Nonviolent Living program.

Ken earned his Ph.D. in the Historical and Cultural Studies of Religions at the Graduate Theological Union in 2000. He has been a lecturer in the spirituality and practice of nonviolence at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, and directed the Spiritual Life Institute at Saint Martin’s College in Washington State for three years.

Ken has published five books, including Pilgrimage through a Burning World: Spiritual Practice and Nonviolent Protest at the Nevada Test Site.

Ken lives in Chicago with his spouse Cynthia Okayama Dopke and their daughter.


Marian Naranjo

Marian Naranjo-background blur

Marian Naranjo is the founder and director of Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE), a community-based organization located at Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. She is the mother of four and grandmother of seven, and a lifelong traditional potter. She has worked actively for over twenty years to address environmental and health issues for her region and the Santa Clara Pueblo. The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is located within her ancestral homelands. Currently, she serves as the Communities for Clean Water supervisor/mentor for the Youth Council Initiative Project. Her work with HOPE also includes cultural preservation and reclamation projects within the Santa Clara Pueblo that promote sustainability for traditional lifeways. She also supports and participates in projects that preserve and protect sacred sites in New Mexico.   

Kit Evans-Ford 

Argrow “Kit” Evans-Ford was born in the small town of Mebane, North Carolina. Her passion for nonviolence and peace stems from her work experience with the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere since the age of 14. She is a 2004 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a B.A. in Communications Studies and African and Afro-American Studies.

Ms. Evans-Ford also holds a M.A. in Teaching: Special Education and a M.A. in Social Justice and Community Development. Kit is a 2004 Teach for America Washington, DC alumni as well as a 2008 Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Saint Kitts and Nevis. Her studies and work experience have been centered around gender equality, nonviolence and peace, special education, domestic sex tracking, HIV and AIDS, healing, spirituality, and the performing arts.

Ms. Evans-Ford earned a Master of Divinity degree at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. While attending seminary she completed a summer fellowship with Pace e Bene. Her work included giving voice to the hurt, healing, and power that comes from survivors of violence and other peacemakers. She has since led and co-led many Pace e Bene workshops.

Kit is also the founder of Testimonies of Hope an Intercultural Christian Devotional. She lives in Rock Island, IL with her husband Dwight Ford.


Veronica Pelicaric


Veronica Pelicaric is Pace e Bene’s International Programs Coordinator. Veronica grew up in Argentina of Croatian parents. She studied Liberal Arts and Psychosynthesis. She has been living in Canada since 1989. She helped coordinate the French translation of From Violence to Wholeness. She is past president of the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Montreal and also one of the authors of Engage: Exploring Nonviolent Living.

She has led Pace e Bene workshops in Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Haiti, Australia, Trinidad & Tobago and England, and for several years in Argentina. She is conversant in six languages. She studies in the Zen tradition.


Bud Ryan

Bud Ryan-small

Bud Ryan is an anti-nuclear activist, filmmaker and organizer with Pax Christi for the annual Hiroshima peace vigils at Los Alamos. Originally from New York City, Bud and his wife Tomoko moved to rural New Mexico in 1991 and built a solar house in an off-grid community. His first visit to Hiroshima in 1991 started him on his path as an anti-nuclear activist. After working for years with Pax Christi New Mexico to help organize the annual peace vigils, he decided to make a film about nuclear weapons. Along with Stuart Overbey, he spent four years making and producing “The Forgotten Bomb,” a powerful documentary about nuclear weapons which went into distribution and was seen at many film festivals. It won Best Feature Length Documentary at the Irvine International Film Festival in California. He lives near Madrid, New Mexico. 


 Sr. Joan Brown, osf

Sr. Joan Brown

Joan Brown is a Catholic Franciscan sister from the Rochester, Minnesota community who serves as the Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light. Her farm background, passion for the Sacred Earth Community and many years of experience in the non-profit and social justice sector inform her work.  She holds a Master’s Degree from California Institute of Integral Studies where she studied with Brian Swimme, Joanna Macy and others. Fr. Thomas Berry and Teilhard de Chardin inspire her work for the long haul in helping people come to a sense of wonder at the marvelous world we have been given and are called to take care of for the future of all beings.


Jay Coghlan

Jay Coughlin

Jay Coghlan is the Executive Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. He has worked on Department of Energy nuclear weapons and environmental issues for 26 years. Early on, he helped initiate campaigns that stopped radioactive incineration and an advanced plutonium facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). He has been central to efforts that successfully obtained national public review of the nuclear weapons complex, aninjunction against construction of an advanced nuclear weapons design facility, and a federal court ruling that LANL had been out of compliance with the Clean Air Act for over six years. He initiated litigation that resulted in a $6.25 million settlement fund that supported citizen and tribal studies of DOEcleanup issues. He successfully asked Senator Jeff Bingaman to legislatively mandate independent expert review of the reliable lifetimes of plutonium pits, the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.

The subsequent conclusion that plutonium pits last a century or more seriously undermined aggressive proposals for new nuclear weapons designs and expanded pit production. Coghlan has fought against major new plutonium facilities for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos and elsewhere for 26 years, so far successfully.  He lives in Santa Fe.


James Doyle


James Doyle, a political scientist at Los Alamos National Labs for 17 years, was fired in 2014 over a report he wrote calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. His article was an impassioned critique of the political theories undergirding the nuclear arms race and an embrace of President Obama’s vision of a nuclear-free future. Doyle believes his sudden firing was in retribution for his refusal to support the Lab’s central mission—its continued development and production of nuclear weapons, at a cost of $2 billion per year.

Doyle was a specialist in the nuclear nonproliferation division at the Los Alamos Labs from 1997 to July 2014. His professional focus is on systems analysis, strategic planning and policy development. Dr. Doyle holds a PhD in International Security Studies from the University of Virginia. He lives in New Mexico.


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