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Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute


Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute instigates, trains, and supports racially, sexually, culturally, ethnically, religiously, and economically diverse individuals and organizations to become trauma-informed, resilience-oriented, and restorative justice-focused empowering communities in Minnesota, the USA, and around the world.

Our History & Future:

It was supposed to have been a one-shot deal–a single 4 & ½ day STAR Training in Minneapolis in June 2010. Minneapolis resident, Donna Minter, and organizer of the Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience–The STAR Training, caught the bug when she took STAR for her own professional development at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) in Virginia. STAR was developed at CJP at the request of a large New York nonprofit following the 9/11 tragedy.

Now STAR has a 14 year national and international reputation of successfully teaching community leaders and care providers how to be trauma-informed, resilience-oriented, and restorative-focused within their spheres of influence. As a PhD neuropsychologist and forensic psychologist, Donna took STAR to expand her skillset to address trauma with her clients. Upon returning home, she simply wanted to share STAR with others in her hometown.

“STAR is so different from traditional psychological trauma continuing education. It not only unpacks individual, community, historical, institutional, human-caused and natural disaster traumas,  STAR integrates neurobiology, psychology, restorative justice, nonviolent conflict transformation, and broadly defined spirituality,” says Donna. “From a professional perspective, I don’t know of any trauma-informed care training that’s tying these concepts together in this way. STAR teaches best practices for trauma-informed,  resilience-oriented, and restorative-focused care that are accessible to laypersons as well as professionals.”

With the mantra “Share STAR,” in January 2010 Donna hit the pavement to drum up interest. She rented space, hired STAR’s expert trainer, and pitched STAR to dozens of groups in the Twin Cities.  She recruited diverse trainees and raised $8,000 for tuition assistance. Her hard work paid off.  In June 2010, STAR in Minneapolis had 25 trainees representing five ethnic groups and five religious traditions.  Trainees were enthusiastic about the practical skills they’d acquired, enabling them to recognize and better deal with psychological trauma in their lives and communities. The training was a huge success, the culmination of months of hard work. But Donna soon discovered she’d just begun.

Graduates encouraged her to grow STAR. Strangers called and wanted to sign up for the next training. It was clear that STAR was filling a need. To capitalize on this robust energy, she organized a Community Advisory Board and secured grants from a foundation and national peacebuilding organization.  Donna doubled down in 2011 and upped the ante in 2012-15 producing thirteen successful STAR trainings.

In addition to Minnesotans, trainees are from across the USA, Canada, Japan, and Africa. These 245 STAR graduates are from 90 organizations representing the Somali, Liberian, Native American Indian, Vietnamese, Hmong, Congolese, Asian Indian, German, Kenyan, Hispanic/Latino, African American, Caucasian, Gay, and Straight communities. Graduates are Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Shamanist, Native American Spirituality, Buddhist, Atheist, and Agnostic.

Graduates professional backgrounds include media personnel, attorneys, law school administrators, public health professionals, international peace institute administrators, public policy personnel, international refugee and development professionals, combat veterans, restorative justice practitioners working with sexual trauma victims, parents of  victims of murder and parents of those who have committed violent crimes, anti-human-trafficking experts, probation/parole officers, clergy, missionaries, nurses, university multicultural center administrators, high school, elementary, and preschool educators, community organizers and mediators, capital crime and domestic violence victim advocates, homeless shelter personnel, LGBTQ advocates, massage therapists, artists, international business professional, landlord and property manager, social workers, psychologists, and mental health counselors representing private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community groups.

Quality assurance data indicates that 97% of the graduates rated the trainings as “Very Good” to “Excellent.” One hundred percent increased their confidence to take appropriate leadership action to aid and assist when their communities face traumatic circumstances, and 100% of Peacebuilding’s graduates indicated they will recommend the training to others.

Since 2010, over $70,000 has been raised as 51% of STAR graduates require tuition assistance. Graduates from Minnesota’s Native American Indian and refugee and immigrant communities have found STAR helpful to understand and respond to their individual and community current and historical psychological traumas.

Minter founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute, aka “Peacebuilding” as the administrator for the STAR trainings in Minnesota.  Peacebuilding now offers the single day Restorative Justice 101 Training and hosts the monthly MN Peacebuilding Film Series.   Minter created the STAR-Lite Training: Learning strategies for trauma awareness and resilience in a single day for the general public as well as for corporate and nonprofit organizations’ staff development.  In March 2014, she was hired to co-facilitate a STAR Training in the Fiji Islands to address that country’s community and historical traumas.  In 2015, STAR-Lite has emerged as a powerful catalyst for positive community and organizational engagement.

While these trainings are accessible for laypersons, Minnesota’s professional licensing boards have designated Peacebuilding as an approved continuing education (CE) provider for mental health providers, nurses, and educators, and attorneys. Offering CEs to law enforcement officers is also in Peacebuilding’s plan.

In April 2014, 2015, 2016 and just this year, Peacebuilding successfully hosted Minnesota’s premiere film festival LUNAFEST, films by, for, and about women as a fundraising event.  Over $60,000 has been raised to support low-income scholarship recipients.

The Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute has emerged as a permanent professional development and community education resource in Minnesota that teaches how to transform psychological trauma into nonviolent power allowing Minnesotans and those beyond Minnesota to be trauma-informed, resilience-oriented, and restorative-focused empowered individuals and communities.

Find more at MNPeace.org
MN Peace Web