Laura Connelly, 38, is the director of programming at Advocates For Family Peace (AFFP), a non-profit in Grand Rapids, MN committed to ending domestic violence in Itasca and northern St. Louis counties. Besides supervising agency programming and staff, Connelly facilitates groups for men and women, collaborates with agency partners, and provides individual, criminal and systems advocacy to victims of domestic violence. Nationally, she shares her expertise as a consultant on the development and implementation of domestic violence-related programming and conferences. She is co-author of two curricula that address violence in intimate partner relationships.
Having grown up in a home with domestic violence, Laura has dedicated herself to making significant and sustained contributions to ending domestic violence. To gain a deeper understanding of how to effectively advocate for change, she has enrolled in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, from which she graduated in 2002 with a BA in anthropology and women’s studies. She is using her scholarship to underwrite her studies.
Melissa Scaia, AFFP executive director, wrote: “Laura has worked to end violence against women and coordinate our community’s response to it in Itasca County for over ten years. She is one of the most intelligent, courageous and peaceful humans I know…She is an exemplary leader in our organization and community.”
Ibrahim Al-Hajiby, 23, is a senior at Augsburg College majoring in international relations and international business. A native of Yemen, he organized a 24-hour vigil at the college in 2011 in support of human rights movements in his home country and around the world. He was selected to serve as the student attaché to Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkol Karmen at the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis. At that event, he organized a panel discussion on the impact of technology on peaceful uprisings in the Middle East. A student in Augsburg’s Honors Program, he is a member of student government and is active in the Interfaith Scholars, which creates opportunities for interfaith dialogue and social action at the college. In 2013, Al-Hajiby was selected as a Kemper Scholar and served as an intern with CAIR-Chicago, an organization that works on behalf of the Muslim community. He plans to earn a master’s degree and then return to Yemen to work on behalf of marginalized social groups in the country.
Rachel Kruzel of Augsburg College wrote: “When people ask me what I think of when I hear Ibrahim’s name, my first response is always: ‘He’s going to change the world!’ When I look at Ibrahim, I see a driven, motivated and passionate individual who will stop at nothing to make the world a better place…”
Alyssa Brown, 21, is a 2013 graduate of the College of St. Benedict in May with majors in peace studies and theology. During the summer of 2012, she interned in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a region divided by centuries of sectarian strife, serving in an ecumenical peace camp for Roman Catholic and Orthodox children. The program is sponsored by the Archdiocesan Center for Youth Ministry in Sarajevo, which ministers to Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim youth and aims to eradicate religious stigmas in the wake of the Bosnian War of the1990s.
Inspired by her experience, Brown has returned to Sarajevo to continue serving in the program and plans to develop a similar peace camp that serves Muslim children as well as Catholic and Orthodox. At St. Benedict’s, Brown was active in campus ministry and served on the cultural affairs board and as a retreat leader.
Waruiru Eddah Mburu
Waruiru Eddah Mburu, 24, is a 2013 graduate of Macalester College with a major in biology and a minor in anthropology. A native of Kenya, she is pursuing a master’s degree in public health at the University of Minnesota and plans to focus on health disparities in low-income communities.
At Macalester, Mburu applied for and received a $10,000 award from the college’s “Live It Fund” to construct a library and conduct HIV/AIDS education workshops at an orphanage school in Bunabumali, a village in a mountainous region of Uganda near the Kenyan border. In 2011, she traveled to the area and worked with the local community to gain support for the library as a means to improve the school’s literacy rates and partnered with the Uganda Community Libraries Association on the project. As a certified Red Cross HIV/AIDS instructor, Mburu also organized a workshop for 30 students on AIDS prevention. She has been recognized as a Kofi Annan International Student scholar and a Davis United World College Scholar, and received a Ruth and Taylor Vernon fellowship.
Macalester faculty member Elizabeth Jansen wrote: “Waruiru is passionate about people, about public health especially in a context of peace and justice, and about East Africa. She is able to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and all ages. She has tackled difficult topics with maturity and grace.”/p>
Tyler Reedy, 31, is pursuing a master’s degree in social work at the University of Minnesota. A community organizer in several progressive causes in Iowa, he holds master’s degrees from Iowa State in history and political science — his master’s theses recommended policy changes to improve the lives of the marginalized poor in Benton Harbor, Michigan and in small Iowa towns. Reedy’s father died in an industrial accident and he found himself homeless before finishing high school.
He joined the Iowa National Guard at 17, but reading Tolstoy and Gandhi prompted him to begin persuading other guardsmen to re-think their commitment to the military. Along with anti-war activities, Reedy has promoted drug policy reform and abolition of the death penalty, and done organizing work the areas of health care, election reform and immigration. Through the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, he led efforts to oppose hog farm development and illegal dumping of industrial chemicals. He mentors the son of a Somali immigrant family.
Charles Wishman of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, wrote: “Tyler has demonstrated a strong commitment to helping people in need. He has dedicated his life to helping the poor and powerless…He is also a strong opponent of war…(and) an effective advocate for peace.”