Executive and Steering Committees

IMPACT'S Steering Committee is guided by the Values and Discourse Principles and is responsible for providing input on key decisions. Committee members participate in monthly virtual meetings, assume leadership for sub-committee work, and facilitate connections across fields of work and geographic regions.

Babu Ayindo
Babu Ayindo (Kenya)

Babu is a storyteller, artist, teacher, facilitator, researcher, and writer with over two decades of experience in the design, implementation and evaluation of peacebuilding processes and programs in different parts of the world. He has taught short courses in arts-based approaches to peace work at peacebuilding institutes in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and North America.

Some of his publications include: co-authoring When You Are the Peacebuilder (published by United States Institute of Peace, 2001); "Arts Approaches to Peace: Playing Our Way to Transcendence" published in Barry Hart (ed) Peacebuilding in Traumatized Societies (University of America Press, Inc., 2008); Mpatanishi: A Handbook for Community Based Mediators (published in 2010 by PeaceNet); and, In Search of Healers (published by the Coalition of Peace in Africa in 2011).

Babu holds a B.Ed from Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya, and MA in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University, USA. In September 2017 he successfully defended his doctoral thesis titled, "Arts, Peacebuilding and Decolonization: A Comparative Study of Parihaka, Mindanao and Nairobi" at the University of Otago (Aotearoa/New Zealand).

Cynthia Cohen
Cynthia Cohen, PhD (USA)*

Cynthia E. Cohen is Director of the Program in peacebuilding and the Arts at the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University, and director of IMPACT – Imagining Together: Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation. At Brandeis, she initiated an undergraduate minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation. Cindy has written extensively on the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of conflict transformation, including the chapters "Engaging with the Arts to Promote Coexistence" and "Creative Approaches to Reconciliation." She co-edited and co-authored "Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict," a two-volume anthology accompanied by a documentary film and a toolkit of educational and training materials. She holds a PhD in Education from the University of New Hampshire, a Master's in Urban Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a BA in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University.

Dijana Milosevic
Dijana Milosevic (Serbia)

Dijana is an award-winning theatre director, writer and lecturer. She co-founded Dah Theatre Research Center in Belgrade, Serbia and has been its leading director for over twenty-five years.

Dijana has directed theatre shows with her company and toured them nationally and internationally. She has also served as Director of theatre productions around the world. She is a well-known lecturer and writes about theatre for various publications. She currently teaches at the Institute for Modern Dance in Belgrade.

Dijana has served as Artistic Director for many theatre festivals, was the president of the Association of the Independent Theatres, and president of the board of Belgrade International Theatre Festival, and a board member of International Theatre Institute Serbia.

She is involved with several peacebuilding initiatives and collaborates with activist groups.

Germaine Ingram
Germaine Ingram (USA)

Germaine Ingram is a performance artist, choreographer, songwriter, vocal/dance improviser, and cultural strategist. Through choreography, music composition, performance, writing, production, oral history, and designing and leading artist learning environments, she explores themes tied to history, collective memory, and social justice. Arts and culture projects that she has led and designed have been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Independence Foundation, Leeway Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Wyncote Foundation, and Lomax Family Foundation. Among other awards and fellowships, she received a 2010 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and in 2014 a Sacatar Institute residency in Itaparica, Bahia, Brazil.

Before pursuing an arts practice full-time, she had a 30-year career in the law as a litigator, law professor, and general counsel for a big-city school district. She serves on philanthropic and nonprofit boards dedicated to arts and arts for social change, including the Leeway Foundation, the Picasso Project of PA Citizens for Children & Youth, ArsNova Workshop, and the Advisory Board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University. She is a member of the Public Art Committee of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, that initiated the first percent-for-art program in the United States, and a member of the Leadership Circle of IMPACT, a global initiative to support the field and ecology of art, culture and conflict transformation.

Katherine Wood
Katherine Wood (USA)

Katherine Wood is an independent consultant following a 25-year career in the arts, higher education, and international diplomacy. She has expertise in cultural policy, cultural heritage, and the roles of the arts, media, education, religion, and civil society in conflict and peace. For the past five years, she advised the United States Institute of Peace on grantmaking and on the contributions of the arts and culture to conflict transformation.

Ms. Wood was Chief of the Exchanges Section at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin during the immediate post-Cold War period, where she spearheaded new exchange programs with academic and cultural organizations that were formerly part of communist-controlled East Germany. Subsequently she served as Senior Program Officer in the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, managing a large NGO grants program promoting people-to-people exchanges with Russia, the Caucasus region, and Central Asia. She later served as Chief of the Afghanistan Service for the Voice of America, and Director of International Outreach at National Defense University, with responsibility for global exchange initiatives.

Ms. Wood served as official spokeswoman on the role of the arts in public life and international affairs as Deputy and Acting Director of Communications at the National Endowment for the Arts, and Director of External Relations for the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, a White House advisory group. She also held management positions involving cultural exchanges at the Smithsonian Institution and Georgetown University, and directed international and interfaith programs at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Ms. Wood serves on nonprofit boards including the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women, and is former Vice Chair of the Arlington (Virginia) Commission on the Arts. Originally trained as a classical musician, she has master's degrees from the Boston University School for the Arts and Harvard Divinity School.

Kitche Magak
Kitche Magak, PhD (Kenya)

Kitche is an associate professor of literature in the Department of Literary Studies at Maseno University in Kenya and Chair of the Department. Currently, he is teaching postgraduate courses in research methodology, literature, and peacebuilding. He is widely published in multidisciplinary areas including literature, peacebuilding, sociology, public health, gender, community development and environment among others. Kitche has a special interest in the intersection between the arts and social transformation, particularly the film form and social transformation. One of his current research areas is art, resilience, and peacebuilding in post-election violence Kenya. He is also a highly regarded community development communications expert, researcher and trainer.

Lee Perlman
Lee Perlman, PhD (Israel/USA)*

Lee Perlman, PhD, is the Tel Aviv-based associate of Brandeis University's International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. He served as a research fellow at the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, Tel Aviv University, which in 2017 published "But Abu Ibrahim, We're Family!" Lee is a leading thinker and social entrepreneur in harnessing the power of creativity and the arts for conflict transformation. He researches arts, politics and cultural policy and seeks to understand and influence how artists create social change and open dialogue in conflict zones and divided societies.

Lee has been active with the Ethics Center's Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts for over a decade. He is part of the leadership team and an executive committee member of IMPACT: Imagining Together: Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation (ACCT), a worldwide collaboration to design and activate strategies to strengthen the arts, culture and conflict transformation ecosystem. He has been an active participant in the Acting Together on the World Stage community of inquiry as a co-contributor to the "Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict" (New Village Press, 2011), and in Acting Together conferences and events around the world.

Perlman has co-authored a number of research works and analyses of peacemaking and peacebuilding activities, informed by his practitioner experience as founder and director of the Israeli-Palestinian Encounters Unit of the Melitz Centers in Jerusalem, and has published articles and opinion pieces in the Ha'aretz newspaper, Moment Magazine, The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Report and Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas.

Perlman serves as president, board of directors of RECAST, Inc. Lee is a member of the steering committee of IRAC: The Israel Religious Action Center of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. He served as chair, board of directors, of the Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and chair, artistic committee of ISRA-DRAMA, the International Spotlight on Israeli Drama Festival. In 2013, Ha'aretz named Perlman as one of "The 100 Most Influential People in Israeli Culture." He has previously served as executive director of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and as director of grants and programs of the Abraham Initiatives, an organization promoting shared society and equality

Madhawa Palihapitiya
Madhawa Palihapitiya (Sri Lanka)

Madhawa has over fifteen years of experience in the conflict resolution field as a practitioner and researcher with significant work in the areas of violence prevention, mediation, dispute systems design, organizational development, program evaluation and creative approaches to conflict transformation. As an evaluator, Madhawa's experience spans over multiple continents and assessments of the impact of peacebuilding work.

He presently heads the research and evaluation unit of the statutory state dispute resolution office in Massachusetts (Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration, MOPC) at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is also adjunct faculty in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies.

Prior to working at MOPC, Madhawa was the Director of Programs at the Foundation for Co-Existence in Sri Lanka where he engaged in high-risk mediation and violence prevention efforts, including co-creating a state-of-the-art conflict early warning and early response system for Sri Lanka.

Madhawa is committed to ensuring that humanity finds innovative solutions to violent global conflicts. To this end, he promotes a combined approach to conflict resolution through both rational approaches like mediation, negotiation and dialogue, as well as creative approaches to conflict transformation like performance/theatre and participatory photography. Mr. Palihapitiya has also contributed to the Acting Together: Performance and Creative Transformation of Conflict.

Polly Walker
Polly Walker, PhD (USA)*

Polly O. Walker is of Cherokee descent and a member of the Cherokee Southwest Township. She is currently Director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies and the Elizabeth Evans Baker Professor of Peace Studies at Juniata College in the United States. Polly earned her PhD at the University of Queensland in Australia where her research focused on conflict transformation between Aboriginal and Settler Australians.

She has published in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals and contributed chapters to a number of edited volumes on topics related to cross cultural issues in conflict transformation, Indigenous approaches to peace, and the role of ritual and performance in peacebuilding. Polly is co-editor, along with Dr. Cynthia Cohen and Prof. Roberto Varea, of "Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict Vol. I: Resistance and Reconciliation in Regions of Violence, and Vol. II: Building Just and Inclusive Communities."

Polly is Chair of the Indigenous Education Institute whose work supports ethical collaboration with Indigenous peoples and Western scientists supporting the revitalization of Indigenous knowledge systems.

She serves as board member for the Peace and Conflict Studies Institute of Australia, The International Peace Research Association and the Peace and Justice Studies Association.

Polly is an experienced trainer. She was a lead trainer and program developer in a six-year international Kastom Governance program in Vanuatu, which was conducted under the auspices of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, AusAid and The Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs. Polly also conducted mediation training with the Solomon Islands National Peace Council, and conflict transformation training with an Aboriginal Community Development organization on Palm Island in Queensland, Australia.

Roberto G. Varea
Roberto G. Varea (Argentina)

Roberto G. Varea began his career in theater in his native Argentina. His research and creative work focuses on live performance as means of resistance and peacebuilding in the context of social conflict and state violence.

Varea's stage work includes directing premieres by Latinx authors, founding community-based projects, and the Latin American immigrant performance collective Secos & Mojados. Varea is a regular contributor and guest editor to journals in performance and social issues such as emisférica (NYU, US),Contemporary Theatre Review (Routledge, UK), and Conjunto (Casa de las Americas, Cuba). He is co-editor and co-author of the two-volume anthology Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict.

Varea is a founding faculty of the Performing Arts and Social Justice, and the Critical Diversity Studies Majors at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as director of the Latin American Studies Program and co-director of CELASA (the Center for Latino Studies in the Americas).

Toni Shapiro-Phim
Toni Shapiro-Phim, PhD (USA)*

Toni Shapiro-Phim serves as Associate Professor of Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation and Assistant Director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University.

Toni received a PhD in cultural anthropology from Cornell University. Her dissertation, books and other publications focus on the history and cultural context of the arts in relation to violence, migration, conflict transformation and gender concerns. She's held teaching and research appointments at the University of California-Berkeley, Yale University and Bryn Mawr College, and worked in Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese refugee camps in Indonesia and Thailand. She's also conducted years of ethnographic research in Cambodia.

Co-editor of "Dance, Human Rights and Social Justice: Dignity in Motion," and co-author of "Talking Dance: Stories from the South China Sea", she has also contributed to "Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide"; "The Choreography of Resolution: Conflict, Movement, and Neuroscience"; and "Reflections in the Aftermath of Mass Violence", among other publications. Her documentary film, "Because of the War", about four women – mothers, refugees, immigrants, survivors of Liberia's civil wars, and superstar recording artists – was awarded the 2018 Elli Kongas Maranda Prize from the American Folklore Society for outstanding work on women's traditional, vernacular, and local culture and/or work on feminist theory and folklore.

Immediately before moving to Brandeis, Toni was Director of Programs at the Philadelphia Folklore Project where she conducted ethnographic research, curated exhibitions and produced performances, humanities forums and publications highlighting aspects of the cultural practices of Philadelphia's diverse communities, all in collaboration with artists and community groups working for equity and justice.