Artisans of a Just Peace

Peacebuilding is both art and science

It requires a studied understanding of how rivalry hardens hearts and narrows communities into us-versus-them mentalities. People cannot be reasoned out of these mentalities, because rivalry is less a condition of the mind than of the heart. It manifests in disordered relationships and identities, and corrupts our feelings of belonging. Therefore, peacebuilding is also a deeply personal process of ongoing conversion and transformation, of continually facing the rivalrous tendencies within our own hearts.

Building a nonrivalrous foundation for identity and belonging requires engaging and moving the entire self: mind, body, heart and soul. This is the terrain of the arts – of music and stained glass, of ritual and dance, of movies and laughter, of hospitality and shared meals. Like the work of artisans and craftspeople, the most successful peacebuilding comes from an elusive combination of skill and imagination. It is the ability to craft new ways of being who we are with what we already have.

Our Values

Curiosity
Curiosity drives us to discover what sustains real change. We grow and share our knowledge by learning from those embedded in nonviolent struggles. As stewards of their insights, we amplify their grassroots experiences for a diverse, global community. We play with multiple forms of outreach, storytelling, and networking; we are not afraid of failure, so long as it leads to learning.
Dignity
We avow the Dignity of nonviolent peacebuilders: the loneliness of their work, the worth of their causes, and the all-too-common pain of their marginalization. We accompany them with our time, energy, and resources, cultivating a culture of compassion and relationships of mutual strategic and financial accountability. We promote their ownership of their contexts, letting their efforts and ambitions shape our own actions and learning.
Artistry
We value the Artistry of peacebuilding. We champion artisans who set rigid strategies aside to pursue creative, instinctive, often unseen paths towards justice. Through crafts of storytelling, research, design and conversation, we make our network a place where our partners can trade moments of beauty as well as theories, practices, and contacts. We invite others to share their artistic talents as genuine tools for building solidarity and justpeace.

Our Approach

Accompany

We Accompany our network by documenting their successes and extending their capacities. We engage in practical research that sheds light on the intersections of peacebuilding and rivalry, and how this work contributes to durable change. We focus on better understanding those embodied practices that are succeeding on the ground, developing resources and best practices from these insights.

Connect

We Connect artisans of justpeace who feel alone in advocating for dignity and refusing to join in rivalry. We meet their longing for connection to others of like mind, and their desire to find rest with those who understand the power and difficulty of nonviolent action. We create safe, unrivalrous spaces for growth, nourishment, learning, and ideation.

Amplify

Our central work is to tell and Amplify our network’s stories: narratives that erode belief in violence leading to peace. We bear witness to the powers of nonviolence being discovered by unheralded peacebuilders who are crafting sustainable peace in their communities. Such stories are often told from the margins, and they are rarely neat and tidy. We believe these “stories from below, told in beautiful ways” can inspire hope and undergird meaningful change.

 

Our Team

Co-founder & CEO

Suzanne Ross

Suzanne serves as Co-Founder and CEO and guides the vision of unRival. She brings to her work her background as a Montessori educator.
Suzanne has launched programs and taught in Montessori classrooms, Sunday schools and in corporate settings. As a member of the Colloquium on Violence & Religion, she has attended and presented at the annual conferences and has served on its Board of Directors. Suzanne is the author of The Wicked Truth: When Good People Do Bad Things and her articles have appeared in the scholarly journal Contagion and online at Sojourners and Patheos. She has led post show discussions at Chicago theaters and is currently writing a play based on the life of Maria Montessori called The Miracle of San Lorenzo. She is also co-founder of the Raven Foundation, an online community for those seeking to connect to a nonviolent Christian theology.
Chief Operations Officer

Jason Ferenczi

Jason Ferenczi serves as Chief Operating Officer He brings to unRival his background in history, education, and philanthropy.

Jason Ferenczi brings academic preparation in history and education into dialogue with organizational development, cross-cultural communication, and leadership studies. Jason previously served as a Program Director at Cornerstone Trust (2011-2020), a private, family foundation. He oversaw granting in leadership development around the globe, with a special focus in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. Jason holds a master’s in history and a Ph.D. in education, although his greatest formation has come in the school of life, particularly travel in 130+ countries. He is the father of four middle- and high-school girls and lives in Grand Rapids.

Chief Story Officer

Lyle Enright

Lyle Enright serves as Chief Story Officer. He brings to unRival his background in literature, communications, and corporate consulting.

Lyle writes widely on topics at the intersections of religion, literature, and popular culture. His essays, poems and stories have appeared in dozens of publications. He brings his love of learning, research, and storytelling to the unRival team, interviewing artistans of peace and amplifying their narratives while working to identify the analogies between their singular struggles and contexts. A member of the Colloquium on Violence & Religion, Lyle was also the 2017 winner of the Raymund Schwager Memorial Essay Prize, for his work comparing the philosophies of Rene Girard and Giorgio Agamben. He holds a PhD in English from Loyola University Chicago.

Chief Creative Officer

Billy Price

Billy Price serves as Chief Creative Officer. He brings to unRival his background in filmmaking, acting, and design.

William Price, III tells stories through motion pictures and digital media. He is an award-winning writer-director-producer, actor, cancer survivor, and father of two. William has collaborated professionally with Grammy-winning bands, non-profits, startups, and healthcare companies as well as aid and justice organizations. His personal work reflects a darkly tinged spirituality that aches for transcendence and embraces the brutal tension between beauty and suffering; this spirit informs his efforts as a screenwriter, director, actor and creative director—forming pieces that often orbit around questions of identity, relationship, terror, and hope for mercy.

Office Manager

Jillian Newell

Jillian Newell serves as Office Manager. She brings to unRival her background in accounting, administration, and process management.

A native of Wisconsin, Jillian now lives in Durham, North Carolina. She worked for eight years in corporate finance. She enjoys music, art, baking, and spending time with her family.

Our Steering Committee

Mark Bell, Ph.D.
Head of Private Capital and Family Office, Balentine (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Greg DePetris
Managing Member and Chief Strategic Officer, CODA Markets, Inc. (Guilford, Connecticut, USA)
Martin Girard
Business Development and Investing (Phoenix, Arizona, USA)
Cathy Skala (Chair)
Retired Healthcare Leader (Birmingham, Alabama, USA)
Duncan Morrow, Ph.D.
Director of Community Engagement, University of Ulster (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
Wolfgang Palaver, Ph.D.
Professor of Catholic Social Teaching, University of Innsbruck (Innsbruck, Austria)
Martha Reineke, Ph.D.
Professor, University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA)
Julia Robinson Moore, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina - Charlotte (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
Suzanne Ross
Co-Founder and CEO, The unRival Network (Glenview, Illinois, USA)
Keith Ross
Executive Chariman, PDQ Enterprises (Glenview, Illinois, USA)