About Peace Amid & After Trauma
Peace Amid & After Trauma is a network of trauma and resilience trainers. We provide trainings and resources for individuals and organizations in all fields who want to enhance resilience and address trauma in justice and conflict-informed ways.
Learn more about our founder and expert trainers below.
About our founder
Welcome! I’m Carolyn Yoder. If you’re visiting this page, it’s likely that trauma has affected you, your family, community, or country. Or you may be with an organization that works with trauma-impacted populations. Here is the story behind Peace Amid & After Trauma.
My background is as an international trauma and resilience trainer and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). I specialized in helping individuals and communities who’ve experienced trauma find ways to move toward healing, justice, and peace.
I spent nearly three decades living and working around the world:
- Asia (Nepal and Bangladesh),
- The Middle East (Egypt and Jordan),
- Africa (Kenya and Swaziland),
- The Caucasus (Armenia) and
- At home in the United States.
The work was challenging and heartbreaking at times. It was also immensely rewarding.
But I kept running into questions I couldn’t answer.
I could help the people who came for one-on-one sessions counseling in my safe, quiet consulting room. But the world outside was full of survivors of—or people still experiencing—torture, trafficking, war, occupation, natural disasters, systemic oppression, terrorism, and the generational effects of historical trauma.
I couldn’t ignore the questions that acknowledging their presence brought up for me:
- How many psychologists would it take to treat entire communities—or countries—that were impacted by horrific events? Did people even need a psychologist?
- What lasting good could focusing on a person’s symptoms (such as insomnia or rage) do if the underlying roots (poverty or structural violence) weren’t also addressed?
- If an entire community lived under constant threat, wouldn’t hyper-arousal or withdrawal be natural responses rather than signs of a “mental disorder”?
- What role did trauma play in the cycles of violence at personal or national levels? Would addressing the resulting trauma and the underlying causes contribute to building a more secure and peaceful world?
I started looking for answers as to how to work in communities and societies in the trauma literature, trying to understand the effects of trauma and violence on groups, and searching for tools to address it.
Then, 9/11 created an opportunity to put what I was finding into practice—and learn more.
After the 9/11 attacks, I became the director of a multi-disciplinary team at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. Our mandate was to develop a training program for community leaders in the US and internationally who were affected by the 9/11 attacks and the cycles of violence that ensued.
The training program our team created is called STAR: Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience. We adapted and created frameworks drawing on neuroscience, psychology, restorative justice, conflict transformation, human security, and spirituality. We revised the content based on feedback from resilient workshop participants from around the world with deep knowledge of their communities and traditions.
Since 2002, hundreds of STAR evidence-based trainings have supported thousands of people and communities from six continents to become trauma-informed and interrupt cycles of violence against themselves or others. The framework and resources you’ll find on this website are based on what we learned.
Hurt people hurt. people. But transformed people transform people. The world urgently needs trauma-informed leaders in the home, community, and nation.
The resources on PeaceAmid&AfterTrauma help you---educators, business leaders, clergy, development workers, community organizers, parents--- stay centered and resilient. We all need wisdom, vision, and courage and processes of trauma healing, justice and conflict transformation in this time of upending.
Raised in a historic peace and social justice faith tradition, Donna has always had a passion to find practical ways to build peace within her spheres of influence when terrible things have happened. After taking the Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) Training at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding in Harrisonburg, VA in October 2008, she realized that STAR's principles perfectly integrate her professional background and personal commitment to teach how to transform psychological trauma into nonviolent power with positive, productive alternatives to revenge. She envisioned teaching STAR and other peacebuilding trainings via grassroots community-based trainings that are accessible to laypersons as well as professionals for continuing education in Minnesota and beyond. This vision is Making Minnesota the peacebuilding power state for all by preparing Minnesotans for truth, reconciliation, and reparations.
Donna is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit organization the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute (aka Peacebuilding). She is committed to its mission to instigate, train, and support racially, 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. She is a Certified STAR Trainer with national and international experience, and a STAR-Lite, Resilience 101, and Restorative Justice 101 Trainer. She develops and facilitates custom trainings for corporation and organization staff development. She conducts organizational evaluations to assess their capacity to provide trauma-informed, resilience-oriented, and restorative justice-focused care to clients and staff.
In 2020, Crixell assumed the position of Assistant Executive Director of the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute. Crixell is a legal, technology and higher educational professional who holds a Master of Software Systems degree from the University of St. Thomas, a Bachelor of Science degree in Paralegal Studies from Southern Illinois University, and is a Rule 114 Community Mediator. She graduated from the STAR Training in 2010 and has been passionate about sharing STAR with others since then. In 2013 she attended the STAR Level II Training at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and the Restorative Justice 101 Training in 2014. She is a charter member of Peacebuilding's Community Advisory Board. In June 2013 she become a Peacebuilding Associate Trainer. She facilitates the free monthly Minnesota Peacebuilding Film Series and Coming to the Table program.
Elaine Zook Barge is a trauma and resilience educator and consultant for individuals and organizations dealing with extreme stress and adversity. She has been facilitating Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) learning since the program was first developed in 2002 at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). Having previously worked in community development and peacebuilding amidst violence in Central America in the 1980’s and 90’s and having trained and coached thousands of professionals worldwide, she is experienced in providing support and tools for those in high-stress situations. Elaine is committed to increasing trauma and resilience-informed services locally, nationally and internationally. She holds a Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation (2003) and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition/ Community Development (1984) from EMU.