About Us

Our Mission

The Democracy, Politics, and Conflict Engagement Initiative (DPACE) is committed to enhancing the capacity of social, environmental, political, and community impact spaces to engage with conflict creatively and constructively in order to strengthen democracy and create a more just society.

Our goal is not simply to increase civility but to explore our differences without losing touch with our common humanity. To turn our passions in the direction of social, environmental, and community problem-solving, making change easier, more effective, more inclusive, and less painful.


Our Story

The Democracy, Politics and Conflict Engagement Initiative was founded in 2017 by conflict practitioners, activists, organizers, thought leaders and peace builders as a way of generating innovative ideas and strategies to expand conflict literacy and build conflict resilience both at the grassroots and organizational levels. They saw the potential for social, environmental, political, and community impact groups to gain tools for not simply preventing or resolving conflict, but also transforming these conflicts, and in turn, achieving their missions. 

Since that time, the DPACE team has designed the Conflict Literacy Framework, grown its network of global conflict practitioners, supported the DPACE network as they work in social, environmental, political and community spaces, provided a wide array of conflict transformation services, trained mediators, and more. 

Read about some of the work we’ve been doing:  Our Impact


Practitioner Collective

Together, as a group of dedicated conflict engagement practitioners, mediators, dialogue facilitators, conflict coaches, educators, advocates, organizers and thought leaders, we work collaboratively to develop the DPACE Initiatives and build the DPACE practitioner collective. We’re expanding our network of practitioners in order to broaden our reach and connect practitioners as requests for services arise.

Our Stewardship Team

Duncan AutreyDuncan Autrey

Duncan Autrey, MA is a conflict transformation facilitator and educator. As a Rotary World Peace Fellow he studied International Peace, Conflict and Security Studies at the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is certified in mediation by the Dispute Resolution Center of King County (KCDRC) and has trained in various conflict resolution models ranging from Aging Family Mediation and restorative justice to transformative dialogue and the Art of Hosting. Duncan’s conflict management work spans from the local to the international. He was the Mediation Program Manager at SEEDS in Berkeley; case manager at the King County Dispute Resolution Center in Seattle, and Director of Community Relations for the Provincial Government of Azuay in Cuenca, Ecuador during the resolution of 32 border disputes. He’s a central leader of the Democracy, Politics and Conflict Engagement Initiative. His current passion is launching a podcast called the The Omni-Win Project, where he aims to promote the collaborative co-creation of a win-win political culture rooted in conflict transformation and participatory democracy to help humanity better face its shared existential challenges.


TeKay Brown-TaylorTeKay Brown-Taylor 

TeKay Brown-Taylor MBA, SHRM-SCP, PHR, CMT, CDP, D&I, IWC is the Owner/President of Brownstone Mediation Services, an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and human relations (HR) consulting firm located in beautiful Augusta GA. In addition to growing her business, she serves as a Manpower and Personnel Officer to the Assistant Adjutant General of the Georgia Air National Guard providing force support to over 2,800 Airmen. Prior to starting her own business, she held the role of HR Business Partner with one of Fortune 500s leading human capital management firms; while there received the “Women Making a Difference” peer and staff-selected company award. As a self-proclaimed “Conflict Mechanic” with assumed superPOWERS as a gifted and experienced SME on human relation issues, TeKay has coached, advised, and counseled thousands of employees and leaders on workplace related issues. She has developed and delivered innovative interventions for organizations of all sizes and disciplines across both academic, non-profit, corporate, and military settings. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior and an MBA in Human Resource Management; along with certifications in mediation and conflict resolution, diversity, equity, and inclusion, cultural competence, military equal opportunity, equal employment opportunity (EEO), and as a small group facilitator and conflict coach, among others.

As an organizational strategies consultant, TeKay has been lauded as a human relations godsend flipping the script on traditional HR processes. She is a thought leader and often sought after for her insightful perspectives on issues of conflict and people management. She is a long-time Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) National member, past Chapter Board member, and current SHRM GA District Director.

Her desire is that her life’s work include a legacy of advocating for equity, empathy, and peace!

Kenneth ClokeKen Cloke 

Co-Founder, Emeritus

Kenneth Cloke, JD, PhD, LLM is Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution, He is a mediator, arbitrator, facilitator, coach, consultant and trainer, specializing in communication, negotiation, and resolving complex multi-party disputes, including marital, divorce, family, community, grievance and workplace disputes, collective bargaining negotiations, organizational and school conflicts, sexual harassment, discrimination, and public policy disputes; and designing preventative conflict resolution systems. He works with leaders of public, private and non-profit organizations on effective communications, dialogue, collaborative negotiation, relationship and team building, conflict resolution, leadership development, strategic planning, designing systems, culture and organizational change. Ken is an internationally recognized educator, speaker and author of many books and publications. He is founder and first President of Mediators Beyond Borders and co-founder of the Democracy, Politics and Conflict Engagement Initiative. Ken served as an Administrative Law Judge for the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board and the Public Employment Relations Board, a Factfinder for the Public Employment Relations Board, and a Judge Pro Tem for the Superior Court of Los Angeles.  He has been an Arbitrator and Mediator for over forty years in labor management disputes, and is a member of a number of arbitration panels. Ken received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley; J.D. from U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Law School; Ph.D. from U.C.L.A.; LLM from U.C.L.A. Law School; and did postdoctoral work at Yale University School of Law. 


Olga Liapis-MuzzyOlga Liapis-Muzzy

Olga Liapis-Muzzy is a DC based mediator, coach, facilitator, and trainer working for social transformation. LinkedIn. She comes from a lineage of teachers and organizers and spent the first 10 years of her career helping workers find a place in their union, improve their capacity to negotiate with management, and build strong collectives. As a labor trainer she facilitated workshops for thousands of workers across the U.S.A in states like New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, and Alaska.

Olga received her training as a mediator and restorative justice practitioner from the Center of Dispute Resolution and the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP). Olga specializes in helping organizations, workplaces, families and communities stay together. She loves working on multi-party disputes; one-on-one coaching; mediation; training; facilitation; and conflict systems assessment and redesign. She works to maintain a trauma-informed, anti-racist, and judgement-free practice. She works and lives by the motto that correction is a gift.

Personally, he worked as a Journeyman Sheetmetal worker, an Ordinary Seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine and holds a black belt in Aikido.


Ryan Nakade 

Ryan Nakade works with governments, non-profits, and civic leaders to bridge divides and make communities more resilient to conflict. He received his training in mediation and facilitation from East County Resolutions in Gresham, OR, and currently works as a facilitator for Department of Human Services family decision cases. He also contracts with the Beaverton Center for Mediation and Dialogue where he co-leads community dialogue workshops emphasizing political depolarization and communication across differences. He is Vice President of the Oregon Mediation Association, and also sits on the Beaverton Center for Mediation and Dialogue advisory committee. 

​Ryan co-leads the Portland Response Team, where he works with mediation agencies to equip community leaders with mediation and conflict de-escalation skills to prevent community violence. He also works with Cure Violence Global, providing consultation around the ideological influences in violent extremist radicalization. In his free time, Ryan enjoys studying politics, philosophy, and complex systems, and is attempting to formulate a new style of politics that transcends polarization and entrenched partisanship (called Meta-Ideological Politics). He lives in Toledo, WA with his wife and eight goats.


Raye Rawls 

Raytheon “Raye” M. Rawls, JD is an attorney, arbitrator, and mediator and holds a master’s degree in Human Resources.  Rawls has mediated and arbitrated thousands of cases in government institutions, court systems, corporations, and with private parties. She is also Senior Public Service Faculty at the Fanning Institute. at the University of Georgia.  There her  practice area is in conflict transformation and dialogue.

Since 1983, she has traveled extensively throughout the United States offering courses in basic and advanced mediation, arbitration, conflict management, designing conflict management systems, and valuing diversity. Her courses have been approved by several state bar associations, the National Association of Social Workers, and other professional organizations.  In 2002, the Supreme Court of Georgia appointed her to a five-year term on the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution – the body responsible for establishing ADR policies and procedures in the courts of Georgia. In that capacity, Rawls served on the Ethics and Training Committees and several ad hoc committees.  In 2018, she received the Chief Justice Harold G. Clarke Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of alternative dispute resolution in Georgia. She served on the editorial board of Conflict Resolution Quarterly.

Prior to joining the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development in 2004, Rawls worked in the private sector teaching and providing services in mediation, arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution and conflict management. Rawls was the founding president-elect of the Georgia Chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution. She was an Administrative Law Judge in the State of Georgia, and a former assistant dean of the Georgia State University College Law. She is a Senior Associate at Essential Partners, an organization housed in Cambridge, Massachusetts whose mission is to guide, train, and inspire individuals, organizations, and communities to constructively address conflicts relating to values and worldviews.

Ei Ei Samai

Ei Ei Samai

Ei Ei Samai, MS was initiated to become a mindful facilitator at 4 years old when she learned Vipassana meditation as a part of a Burmese rite of passage. She has spent the decades since learning from elders, educators, activists, peacebuilders, and visionaries on 4 continents. In addition to holding a Master of Science in Organizational Management and Transformative Leadership, she is trained in advanced facilitation, experiential training, facilitative mediation, conflict transformation, restorative justice, ecological model of leadership, human systems design, and in Conversational Intelligence® by the late Judith Glaser. In 2019, she was chosen as a Courage Catalyst for Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead™ Facilitator Training. She describes her work as culture design, which includes examining, healing, and reimagining relations at inner, interpersonal, and institutional levels. She is being raised as a mother by 2 energetic and curious kids.


Joel Schaffer

Joel Schaffer is a conflict resolution expert with over two decades of experience mediating labor disputes in the private, local, state, and federal sectors in the United States and abroad. From 1995 to 2019, he was a Commissioner with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), where he resolved over 5000 disputes, including the San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York City Ballets, Association of General Contractors, Kaiser Permanente Hospital, and Waste Management Services. He helped resolve the 2002 West Coast Port lockout, which was estimated to have cost the US economy over $1 Billion, for which he was awarded his agency’s highest honor, The Director’s Award.

 Mr. Schaffer taught seminars to the North American labor-management community on such topics as negotiating skills, Appreciative Inquiry, mediation, conflict resolution, interest-based bargaining, preparation for arbitration and organizational development. He has also taught internationally; having designed and delivered mediation, conflict resolution and collective bargaining trainings in Croatia, Hungary, Lesotho, Swaziland, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Mr. Schaffer was a Field Representative for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Locals 790 and 1000 prior to joining FMCS. The University of California at Santa Cruz awarded him a B.A. in Sociology, with Honors. He holds a Lifetime Instructor Credential in Business and Industrial Management with The California Community Colleges. He also received advanced mediation training from both Harvard University and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University Law School. Mr. Schaffer sits on numerous Arbitration Panels.

Personally, he worked as a Journeyman Sheetmetal worker, an Ordinary Seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine and holds a black belt in Aikido.

Bob StainsBob Stains

Bob Stains is a seasoned designer and facilitator of challenging conversations. He’s worked across the US and in ten other countries, helping people divided by identity, religious and political differences to connect and become more human to each other. Bob is also a skilled trainer who has equipped over 30,000 professionals with communication and dialogue facilitation skills. Bob helped build the Public Conversations Project (now known as Essential Partners) – a pioneer of the modern dialogue movement. He founded Bob Stains and Associates Conflict Transformation which offers consultation, conflict coaching, dialogue design and facilitation as well as a training, mentoring and group coaching program “Transforming Dialogue” to equip leaders and practitioners with the internal and external skills to design and facilitate dialogues that repair torn communities. 

Bob is a Senior Associate at Essential Partners and was a Visiting Researcher at the Tom Porter Program on Religion and Conflict Transformation of the Boston University School of Theology 2018-2021. He consulted to the Harvard Negotiation Project for 15 years and has been Adjunct Faculty at the Boston University School of Theology, Harvard Divinity School and at Pepperdine and Mitchell-Hamline Universities’ Schools of Law. Bob is also a mediator and was one of the original mediator trainers for USPS’ Transformative Mediation “REDRESS” program. He is an American Fellow of the US State Department’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative and as part of the PCP/EP team, he has been honored by the American Family Therapy Academy, the Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution, and the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Graduate Program in Dispute Resolution.

Wendy WoodWendy Wood


Wendy Wood, PhD is a conflict engagement professional, mediator, social scientist, consultant, trainer, educator and author. She works internationally leading efforts with a range of organizations and communities in the areas of health and social welfare, social and environmental justice; political and social impact; education; healthcare, public policy; philanthropy; and disaster relief. Wendy specializes in resolving and transforming complex high conflict multi-party disputes; dialogue and facilitation; strategic systems assessment and design; conflict coaching; mediation; and trauma-informed conflict engagement and peacebuilding. She is the co-founder and leader of The Democracy, Politics, and Conflict Engagement Initiative, a collective of conflict engagement practitioners and social impact advocates committed to enhancing the capacity of social, environmental, political, and community impact spaces to engage with conflict creatively and constructively, strengthen democracy and create a more just society. 

Wendy presents and lectures internationally at conferences and universities, designing curricula, mentoring graduate students, and contributing to journals and publications. She is the co-author of Do No Harm: Mindful Engagement for a World in Crisis (2021) and What We Must Do: A Guide for Perilous Times (2018). Wendy holds a Doctorate Degree in Human Science with a specialization in Conflict Transformation and Social Change, a Master’s Degree in Public Health and Administration, and is a certified mediator from The Center for Dispute Resolution and the University of California, Berkeley. 

Wendy  lives in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California with her husband on a small ranch where they are visited regularly by their children and grandchildren. She is a happy gardener, meditator, traveler, and hiker.


Want to get involved?

There are a number of ways to get involved with the DPACE network. Visit our page for Conflict Engagement Practitioners for more information.

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