Reconciliation Leaders for a Trusting, Sustainable Peace

Who are Reconciliation Leaders?

Reconciliation Leaders are practical idealists for community, spiritual and faith traditions from all career paths, cultures, disciplines and age groups. They are ready to gain leadership, systems thinking, facilitation, trust-building, mediation and conflict transformation skills based on mission-focused service combined with an academic curriculum. The program was developed and implemented at the United Nations over 30 years and is now offered to create an interdependent world with a spiritual renaissance to restore faith in leadership beginning with restoring faith in American leadership with leadership from the inside out. To see a powerpoint program of the program, click here. To view a video of an introduction to Reconciliation Leadership workshop, click here.

The Reconciliation Leadership program offers a unique personalized strength-based approach to leadership and conflict at all levels. It cultivates self-aware, trauma-informed and resilient leaders who are capable of navigating difficult environments by giving them tools to analyze conflicts and facilitate space for healing and wholeness. We offer a new leadership to create equal American partners for an interdependent world.

Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Reconciliation Leader and Public Servant, was honored and spoke on build trusting community relationships in the public square on October 21, 2021. See press release here. See Life Leadership Award here. Dr. Sayeed speaks of her faith here. She co-authored papers on Reconciliation Leadership with Virginia Swain in 2005 and 2006 for conferences convened by the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies at Columbia University: “A Leadership and Practice to Reconcile Challenges in a Post–September 11th World,”“Reconciliation as Policy:  A Capacity–Building Proposal for Renewing Leadership and Development,”and “Moving Beyond the Victim-Perpetrator Model at the United Nations.”

At this important moment in our history, Reconciliation Leaders offer a compelling vision and broad worldview to groups with seemingly insurmountable challenges. Although they respond to crisis, they support the commitment of groups, institutions and the United Nations to cultivate healthy responses to conflict. They have the courage to refrain from advocating their own solutions to a problem, while eliciting solutions from the people who will live through them. Read testimonials from Reconciliation leaders here.

Reconciliation Leaders

Four Levels of Competency





The learning methodology of Reconciliation Leaders provides personal, interpersonal, systemic and global competency building — integrated with mission-focused training. Participant leaders learn the above four levels of skills while developing their own mission statement with sensitive and skilled guidance. The leader’s personal mission is a foundation upon which to learn the four competency levels. Leaders are provided with a toolbox to facilitate reconciliation interventions in community, organizational, national and global settings.Initially developed for a United Nations setting, the approach has been broadly applied by participants to family feuds, community, national disputes and global challenges. Participants from all sectors are welcome and may participate in the full program or only the Introduction sequence. For the Basic and Advanced program courses, click here.

Reconciliation Leaders are committed to be in service to others and at peace in themselves. They do not take sides in a dispute, have expertise in creating safe emotional spaces in which groups can take risks, and are self-aware of their gifts and unconscious limitations.

The program is unique because it helps leaders tap their internal strengths to better promote peaceful resolutions to conflict.  The methods learned are useful to professional and international peacemakers as well as anyone interested in creating a just, sustainable, multiethnic and intercultural world community.

Reconciliation Leaders build on their unique and foundational mission statement to then learn a systems approach to leadership, trust and peacebuilding by facilitating the Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation to Develop Political Will. In this way, they are able to empower the people most affected by a challenge to decide its resolution.

Reconciliation Leaders trained in the Peacebuilding Process are provided a toolbox containing perspectives, techniques, and tools to facilitate reconciling environments. This approach grows from belief in each leader’s personal mission and a commitment to help them find balance among career, home life, and reflection time. Reconciliation Leaders learn to manage high levels of conflict and stress in their own and in other people’s lives.

Reconciliation Leaders in training at the United Nations are shown above. From left: David Kimball, Junahli Hunter, Gilles Asselin, Anna Sandidge, Bernice Cousins, Lisa Milano, Carolana Calloway, Virginia Swain, Ramona Kohrs and Brooke Belcher Bishara. To read their testimonials, click here.

At this important moment in our history, Reconciliation Leaders offer a compelling vision and broad worldview to groups with seemingly insurmountable challenges. Although they respond to crisis, these leaders support the commitment of groups, institutions and the United Nations to cultivate healthy responses to conflict. They have the courage to refrain from advocating their own solutions to a problem, while eliciting solutions from the people who will live through them.

Through the Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service, Reconciliation Leaders have used the Peacebuilding Process and gained considerable experience with conflicted churches, organizations and countries, the United Nations in New York post Earth Summit, and entities in conflict-affected states. For example, our expertise has been used in Timor-Leste, Sudan, the Philippines, Rwanda, and in New York City, both before and in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

One of the techniques of a Reconciliation Leader is the imaging process in which the solution to a challenge is imagined, based on the work of Virginia’s mentor, the late Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Dr. Elise Boulding and her husband, Economist Kenneth Boulding pioneering imaging work. Reconciliation Leaders image the solution to a challenge, believing that if you can’t “see” a solution to a challenge in your mind’s eye, it will be impossible to resolve. Reconciliation Leaders receive their image in meditation, make a timeline backwards and an action plan to bring it into current reality. See Dr. Boulding’s last book: Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History for more. Below is a large group image that images a new world emerging from the global ravages of COVID-19. Each participant made their own timeline and action plan. View a powerpoint presentation given at the Trust Network on Imaging here. At the Academic Council of the United Nations here.

Awakening a New Earth in Wellness, Light, and Love

Who becomes a Reconciliation Leader?

The Reconciliation Leadership Certificate Program attracts emerging and seasoned leaders who see it as their mission to join others in creating a just, multiethnic, intercultural sustainable world, whether in their community, or within an institutional, national or global setting. Dr. Sam Onapa, formerly of the African Union, completed the basic and advanced programs. Listen to the impact of Reconciliation Leadership as practiced by two of its graduates, Dr. Onapa and Dr. Sayeed (featured at top of page). Dr. Onapa’s Reconciliation Leadership practicum was cited in the UN Security Council here. He is an Academic at the University of New England in Australia. His expertise in trustbuilding came from experience in the Sudan. Both of their images are below.

Intergenerational Voices of Diverse Backgrounds by Reconciliation Leader Dr. Sarah Saayeed, Executive Director and Chair, Civic Engagement Commission, New York USA

Healing in Sudan: Building Trusting Relationships One by One created by Reconciliation Leader Dr. Sam Onapa when he was in the African Union Liaison Office in Khartoum, Ethiopia

The Program’s multifaceted goals are to:

  • Provide a leadership experience based on promoting healthy, low levels of conflict (misunderstanding and problem to solve) drawing on mission-focused service. We avoid using the term “conflict prevention” believing the term excludes healthy levels of conflict. Prevention often means sweeping conflict under the rug, an unhealthy response.
  • Provide an academic curriculum combined with vocational, spiritual and psychological education for healthy multiethnic communities, institutions, nations and global situations.
  • Motivate and support the work of reconciliation by men and women around the world.
  • Serve and provide renewal and resources for emerging and seasoned mission-focused leaders in institutions, organizations, communities, nations and international affairs.
  • Educate leaders in the philosophy and techniques of creating reconciling environments, combining visionary, historic and pragmatic approaches.
  • Provide leaders with new thinking for healthy resolution of conflict prevention, and healing from historic, organizational, community, and global social, environmental and economic conflicts.
  • Communicate our perspectives through speaking in the public square.

Graduates of the Program may:

  • Serve as Reconciliation Leaders for a Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service for peaceful settlement of disputes (Chapter 33, UN Charter) locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Assist multiethnic and intercultural communities, institutions and nations to build trusting and healthy relationships.
  • Address and heal the cycle of violence, taking a broader perspective than simply injured or injurer.
  • Mediate and transform highly stressful situations.
  • Create conditions of respect, tolerance, and healing.
  • Encourage peace, health and sustainability.
  • Champion the sanctity of life.
  • Encompass a fulfilled personal and professional life.
  • Cultivate these additional attributes of leadership.

How is the Reconciliation Leadership Program taught?

Through a combination of experiential and academic courses and hands-on practical experiences, Reconciliation Leaders undertake personal, interpersonal, systemic and global competency building — integrated with mission-focused training. With sensitive and skilled guidance, participant leaders learn new skills and develop their own mission statement, the foundation of Reconciliation Leadership.

Participants are welcome from all sectors, walks of life, and religious and spiritual traditions.

They may participate in the full program, the Basic and Advanced sequences, or take courses. The Basic Program contains vocational training with personal and interpersonal skill building and a practicum. The Advanced Program continues vocational training, learning systemic and global skills while integrating the personal and interpersonal skills learned in the basic program and applying all the learning in a practicum. Learn more about the Reconciliation Leadership Certificate Program.

To register for courses or the entire program, contact Virginia Swain. To learn how to give scholarship help to worthy applicants, click here.

Join Us

We invite you to join us to re-examine your mission, learn new skills, and develop a broad worldview in this crossroad moment of institutional, social, ecological, and economic global history. To learn more about our efforts to restore faith in leadership, click here.

Ready to learn more?

About Virginia: