Meet Our Team
Dr. Mark Umbreit is a Professor and founding Director of the Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. He is an internationally recognized practitioner and scholar with more than 40 years of experience as a mediator, peacemaker, trainer, teacher, researcher, and author of 10 books and more than 200 other publications in the fields of restorative justice, mediation, spirituality, forgiveness, and peacemaking. Mark has conducted training seminars and lectures throughout the world in over 25 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Mideast, and North/South America.
As a practitioner, he facilitates peace-building circles in the community and victim offender dialogues between family survivors of homicide and the offender. Mark initiated the first Muslim Restorative Justice Engagement Project in the Twin Cities. He has helped establish restorative justice programs in nearly every state of the U.S. and numerous other countries. His research has contributed significantly to restorative justice policy development in the U.S. and other countries. Mark is currently working as a Senior International Consultant with the United Nations Development Program and the Ministry of Justice in Turkey to support their legislative efforts to implement victim offender mediation throughout the country. At the National Restorative Justice Conference in June of 2013 Mark was elected the founding President of the new National Association for Community and Restorative Justice.
Jennifer Blevins is a Research Assistant for the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. She has an M.S.W. from the University of Minnesota with a concentration in community practice. Her research interests are in the areas of multiculturalism, the intersection of restorative justice and Islam, violence prevention, restorative dialogue and peacebuilding. Her current focus, Restorative Justice and Islam: Building Bridges of Understanding, is a collaboration with a number of organizations and mosques in the Twin Cities metro area. The goal is to identify and draw from the strengths of traditional community conflict resolution practices within Muslim cultures, and apply those practices to the creation of a culturally congruent restorative dialogue process in current times.
As an educator, Jennifer has taught classes in rural and urban community organizing and development, group facilitation, restorative justice, conflict management, and working with new immigrant populations. She also assists in teaching courses on forgiveness and healing within the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota.
Jennifer has 25 years of experience working with communities in culturally specific and multicultural settings to identify solutions to community problems, implement action plans and advocate for public policy changes that increase individual and community wellbeing. Her experience includes working with Anishinaabe, Somali, Oromo, Hmong, Mexican, and Ecuadorian community groups to implement multi-year projects. Throughout her tenure as a community-based practitioner, Jennifer has utilized action research, community-based participatory research, asset mapping, and focus groups as part of the community engagement and systems change process.
Ted Lewis has been a consultant with the Center since the summer of 2013. Since 1996 he has done a variety of work in the fields of restorative justice and conflict resolution, including work as a practitioner, program manager, trainer, writer, director, and consultant. Most of this work has been done through and for nonprofit organizations that have partnered with government agencies.
As a Consultant, Ted's current work for the center includes providing new content for the website, creating training and program management manuals for agencies that have contracted for services with the center, writing procedural protocols based on best-practices in the field, assisting with co-authorship projects taken on by the center, co-presenting at center-sponsored trainings, and writing content for the website.
From 2009 to 2013 Ted was Executive Director for Barron County Restorative Justice Programs in Wisconsin, a program of Goodwill North Central Wisconsin, overseeing a staff of nine for comprehensive restorative programming. From 2000 to 2009 he was Program Manager for the Center for Dialogue and Resolution (formerly Community Mediation Services) in Eugene, Oregon, where he oversaw programming in both dispute mediation and restorative justice. He still leads an annual 16-hour training in victim offender mediation for Oregon programs every spring. Prior to that Ted was the first program manager for the VORP of Central Kansas (Victim Offender Reconciliation Program) which was modeled after the original restorative justice programs that started in the late 70s and early 80s. He received a master’s degree in Religious Studies from the University of Minnesota.
Given his dual-background in mediation and restorative justice, Ted has adapted both intervention and prevention work for faith-based church communities. In Oregon he provided mediation and reconciliation services through the Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference. He currently does workshops for churches that emphasize healing and growth in the context of relational hurts. His website: www.restorativetrainer.com provides more info.
Ted currently serves on the Advisory Council as well as the Communications Committee for the NACRJ (National Association of Community and Restorative Justice). A top passion of his is to document and share stories of positive restorative dialogue processes. He currently lives in Duluth, Minnesota.