Mehlaqa Samdani
Founder and Executive Director
Mehlaqa has extensive experience in policy analysis and peacebuilding. She has worked with leading think-tanks (Council on Foreign Relations and Center for Strategic and International Studies) where she examined the role of civil society groups in effecting social, political and economic change in the Islamic world. She has also researched and worked in various conflict and transitional settings predominantly in Muslim-majority countries including in Pakistan where she trained women in rural Punjab to contest local council elections. She has also been involved with peace initiatives between India and Pakistan. In collaboration with the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding in Amherst, Mehlaqa is currently developing a civil society-based proposal to combat sectarian militancy in Pakistan. Her writings have been published in the New York Times, Foreign Policy (AfPak Channel), Christian Science Monitor, and Daily Times (Pakistan), and she has been invited as a guest on NPR, KCBS and news channels in Pakistan. Mehlaqa is a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Denver. A native of Pakistan, Mehlaqa is an American citizen who lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children.

Bernard Pelletier
Program Director, Addressing Muslim/non-Muslim Divide Initiative
Bernie recently retired (2012) from a career as an actuary for Travelers Insurance where he was the Chief Actuary for the International Department. He graduated from Manhattan College in 1975 with degrees in Mathematics and Peace Studies. His actuarial career made full use of both skill sets – and he continued to develop both disciplines. In 2007 he received a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Trinity College in Hartford. Currently he is enrolled in Master’s program at RPI Hartford in the Environmental and Energy Engineering cohort.Since he has retired from the actuarial career he has devoted himself to the mission of Sustainability – which encompasses environmental, economic, and social elements. Critical Connections’ goal of resilient and sustainable communities aligns perfectly with the third “leg” of sustainability.

Leif Maynard
Program Associate
Leif was born and raised in Northampton, MA. He is a rising junior at Amherst High School, where he co-leads a group advocating for Syrian refugees. He is particularly interested in foreign policy and cross-cultural understanding, and is excited to work on promoting nuanced dialogue in the community.

EVENTS

FROM POLITICAL POLARIZATION TO CONSTRUCTIVE DIALOGUE:              LESSONS FROM THE LAB

Dr. Peter Coleman

THURS, OCT. 19, 7-9 PM

blm

Bangs Community Center       70 Boltwood Walk        Amherst, MA

FROM RADICALIZATION TO REFORM: A CONVERSATION WITH A FORMER MUSLIM MILITANT

Watch video here

These events are part of our Transforming this Moment series and are organized in partnership with the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding. For more details, please click here. Our events are made possible by Mass Humanities, whose grants inspire considered thoughts, conversations, and action
MH_logo_with_tag-192
 

BUILDING INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES SYMPOSIUM

Friday, December 8, 2017        9-4pm                               Holyoke Community College Holyoke, MA

A daylong event with  educators, religious clergy, law-enforcement personnel, social workers, and Muslim community leaders committed to building inclusive communities.

CC TV SHOWS

Prof. Sudha Setty on the future of American-Muslims under the Trump administration

ss

Watch here

Mr. Daryl Johnson on homegrown extremism

dj

See all episodes