AC4-CMMI Graduate Fellows

The Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4) at the Climate School (formerly the Earth Institute), Columbia University in the City of New York, offers annual fellowships to graduate students studying CMM.

The fellowships are designed to support and nurture junior scholars and practitioners in their learning and using CMM, especially as it relates to conflict resolution and social justice. This is done by students responding to a call for proposals and being selected to attend the annual Learning Exchange (LE) where they present their work and engage with other LE participants.

Second, the graduate fellowships intentionally help build the CMM community of practice. This is especially critical for students when they are first being introduced to CMM and want to develop their understanding and facility with applying the principles and practices. The benefits and learning do not stop there though. The graduate fellows also meet up with scholar-practitioners who have been working from a communication perspective for some time and who enjoy engaging in a mentoring role.

The call for proposals usually goes out in April of each year and decisions are made by early June. The theme for proposals usually mirrors the theme for the CMMI Fellows.

For more information on these fellowships please visit the website 


or contact Beth Fisher-Yoshida  fisher.yoshida@gmail.com

Graduate Fellowship Recipients

AC4-CMMI Graduate Fellows 2021

Kongit Farrell, L.M.F.T.
School of Professional Studies, Columbia University

Kongit Farrell is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Supervisor, and the Founder of the Inspired Journey Marriage & Family Counseling Center. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. Kongit’s interests sit at the intersection of communication, clinical psychology, marriage & family therapy, neuroscience and conflict resolution as she explores psychological mechanisms and relational dynamics that reduce maladaptive conflict. Her research as a CMM scholar is focused on understanding how to use Complexity Theory to psychologically modify triggering data input so that it evades or reverses fight or flight response during conflicts. She hopes that this research will contribute to a method that has universal application and leads to a reduction in violence across all categories, with a special focus on communities of color.


Alexandra Jagiello
Teachers College, Columbia University

Alexandra Jagiello is a Master’s candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University finishing up her degree in May 2022 in Instructional Technology and Media. It is her passion to create meaningful experiences for people, especially through digital learning environments. “As an Instructional Designer, it is my job to ensure that the learner has the best possible experience by incorporating authenticity, relevance, and personalized meaning into the content”. 

Alexandra’s project as an AC4-CMMi Graduate Fellow is to analyze the current state of communication among individuals and groups that are labeled or identified as “opposite” and facilitate experiences for them to find commonalities and create meaningful interactions. “I am using this project to pursue curiosity and inquiry, to dispel the tension among people to allow for new relationships to form. Gradually, as we untangle the mess of polarization through media and politics, we can begin to see and feel the very real imaginary walls of resistance begin to dissolve.” 


Simón Ruiz-Martínez
Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana

Simón Ruiz-Martínez is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political and Juridical Studies and a Political Studies Research Group member. Alongside AC4’s Youth, Peace and Security program, Simón has been applying CMM methodology to understand how everyday deeds and actions of people in a community shape and determine the concept of security. Specifically, how explicit discursive actions emerge as fundamental in the way people think of sustainable and innovative solutions to social problems in terms of artistic practices. In his doctoral studies, Simón is expanding this idea to understand how linguistic practices shape the understanding that people have about their fundamental rights, as well as the different attributions of responsibility to other relevant political actors (government officials, police officers and so on). CMM is used under such a perspective as a methodological input that is mixed with decision theory to generate, as an output, different policy options to be taken in consideration by the polity.


Mohammad Salhut
Business School & SIPA, Columbia University

Mohammad Salhut is a graduate student at Columbia University pursuing master’s degrees in business administration and international affairs, concentrating on value investing and international finance, respectively. He graduated with a BA from Yale University and began his career at his late father’s small business in New York City. He is the son of Palestinian-Israeli immigrants from Jerusalem to the United States and is interested in commercial progress in the Middle East, including Turkey. His fellowship project explores the role of newfound diplomatic relationships in the Middle East as sources of social and economic opportunity for Israel’s Palestinian/Arab citizens.


Jaymie Paige Stein
Graduate School of Education, Fordham University

Jaymie Paige Stein loves her kindergarten through 8th grade art students in Paterson, New Jersey and is currently personally concerned at the dramatic decrease of hugs she receives in a given day because of the pandemic. Teaching in an elementary school is a blessing for many reasons, but especially because of the hugs. She’s finishing up her PhD in Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education’s Contemporary Learning and Interdisciplinary Research program where her research interests include art education and poverty, rooted in social justice. Currently, she is finishing up her dissertation exploring the relationship between teacher perceptions of creativity in schools and their practices in STEAM education.

AC4-CMMI Graduate Fellows 2020

Ashley Causey-Golden
Teachers College, Columbia University.

Ashley Causey-Golden is a graduate from Teachers College-Columbia University who is actively learning and growing in the world of early childhood. She uses the educational philosophies of Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia while infusing unschooling principles into her teaching practices. Her platform within education is to raise the bar when it comes to race, identity, and cultural awareness using an anti-racist lens for students within the classroom but also for educators, parents, loved ones and community members. Her project, Other Mothers’ Gardens (OMG), is a yearlong intergenerational virtual learning space for parents, educators, and community members to learn about racial identity, racial justice, and liberation. The focus of OMG will be using a collection of modalities to help support and restore the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system  such as music, sound healing, movement, meditation and rest as we work on connecting the body and mind back to self. It is important to acknowledge what happens to the body when we talk about racism, trauma, white supremacy, grief, loss, and oppression because when we are not aware of the body-mind connection, communication, instead of a tool, becomes a barrier. While using the different modalities to help ground the body, OMG will also be using anti-bias/anti-racist education as a tool of communication to bring different racial and ethnic identities together as a community to unlearn, challenge, shift, and reclaim narratives about their racial and ethnic identity.


Yvette Deane
SIPA, Columbia University

Yvette Deane is a graduate student at Columbia University studying international affairs and conflict resolution. She is interested in the intersection of conflict resolution and education. She previously conducted research at Hebrew University on a Fulbright Student Scholarship, where she investigated how education impacted international student’s perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since then, Yvette has worked as a Breaking News Editor for an Israeli newspaper and a Research Analyst for the Office of the Quartet. Returning to her studies, she is dedicating her time to understanding alternative forms of education like role-playing simulations and how they can transform how individuals think about polarized conflicts. Yvette has a Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology from the Macaulay Honors College at Queens College (CUNY).


Jean Yves Taranger
Teachers College, Columbia University.

Jean holds a Bachelor degree in Education from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His passion in life is to learn from  indigenous communities around the world.  Through his undergraduate studies, he had several unique opportunities to participate in different projects in Eastern Africa, Panama, Mexico and the Canadian Arctic, where he explored the relation between local education systems, people’s beliefs and their relation to the natural environment. For the past 6 years, he has been collaborating with a group of communities in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, Mexico. Throughout the years, he has learned about the profound consequences that environmental collapse had on the region’s communities. In particular, he has been working with middle and high school students in the reconstruction of the history of their land from the Spanish conquest to the present. The objective of the project is to show the close relation that exists between environmental crises and human conflict. The Mixtec region suffered major bursts of violence through the 19th century, when environmental  degradation exacerbated historical disputes for the control of territory and natural resources among neighbouring communities. Massive deforestation, land erosion and water scarcity led to  several episodes of famine throughout the 1950s and 1960s which forced people to move towards major cities in Mexico and the USA. His project invites students from this region to reflect about their history, their land and their futures by exploring the different faces of economic development, its relation to their environment and their personal histories. Through the course that he offers at the schools in the region, he helps students develop research skills and critical thinking by showing them how to gather information about their community through interviews and the study of primary documents. He believes that by making history a personal matter, we realize our stakes in relation to the place we inhabit and our responsibility towards its future.

AC4-CMMI Graduate Fellows 2019


No scholarships were offered for this year.

AC4-CMMI Graduate Fellows 2018

Akri Çipa
Columbia University, School of Processional Studies
Challenges and Opportunities in the Reconciliation Process in Kosovo

Akri Çipa has a background in political science and international relations and is currently undertaking a Master of Science degree in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at Columbia University. Originally from Albania, he completed his undergraduate studies in Bulgaria and has devoted a lot of his research to the Balkan region. His research interests include nationalism, democratization, and human rights. His current research investigates the main causes and barriers that have prevented and delayed reconciliation in Kosovo following the war in the 90s. The project aims to frame and analyze the repercussions of past trauma, to locate the hubs of energy in the system, and identify opportunities to address the underlying issues and to move beyond the current impasse in the reconciliation process.

Kjerstin Pugh
Columbia University, School of Professional Studies

Kjerstin Pugh is a graduate of the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program at Columbia University. She previously studied Urban Studies at New School University and has a background in youth development and community engagement. Her research explores social cohesion and connection, specifically, how members of different groups connect to social and civic structures. Using CMM, she uses narratives to explore the influences and tipping points that lead individuals in the United States to connect themselves to nonviolence trainings, groups, and movements.

Sarah Stone
Columbia University, School of International & Public Affairs

Sarah Stone is completing a MPA in Urban & Social Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York.  She is dedicated to the field of informal education in divided cities, and to bringing youth together to develop empathy and advocacy skills to create a more just society. Sarah’s area of expertise is Israeli-Palestinian youth programming in Jerusalem; she has led programs with Seeds of Peace, Kids4Peace, and at the Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Jerusalem.  She also studies school integration in the American urban context.  At the 2018 CMM Learning Exchange, Sarah will explore equitable and inclusive facilitation practices in youth organizations in divided cities, based on her experiences in Jerusalem and studies in NYC.

Tamara Smiley Hamilton
George Mason University, School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Tamara Smiley Hamilton, a global coach, facilitator and professional speaker, has executed several critical leadership roles for the National Education Association: Executive Counsel for Leadership and Career Development, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, and Manager of Training and Organization Development. Her responsibilities included helping executive staff and management understand the core concepts of organization development, diversity and inclusion, strategic planning and leadership presence. She provided coaching to senior leadership and led the organization-wide employee morale and cultural transformative initiative. An expert in helping executives address tough issues related to race and diversity, she taught facilitation skills to sitting judges at the National Judicial College. She began her career in the U. S. Office of Education as an intern. She has been invited by the White House to teach “Mastering Public Speaking Skills” to Presidential appointees. The project she will be focusing on at the 2018 CMM Learning Exchange is “The Drew League: Making Better Social Worlds through Community Resilience: A Case Study of the Drew League of Watts, CA”.

AC4-CMMI Graduate Fellows 2017

Laura E. R. Peters
Oregon State University
Post-conflict transformations

Laura E. R. Peters conducts research on post-conflict peacebuilding and post-disaster recovery in Nepal, and she plans to incorporate CMM Models into understanding disparate visions of transformation. Laura previously conducted fieldwork in Nepal working with the reintegration of former female child soldiers into civilian life as well as in the Dominican Republic where she designed a peace education curriculum and community dialogues in conflict transformation. Laura is a Ph.D. student of Geography and holds two Master’s Degrees in International Peace and Conflict Resolution and International Development and Cooperation from American University and Korea University, respectively.

Julianne Parayo
Teachers College | Columbia University
Choral Music and Political Reflections

Julianne Parayo is a Master’s student in the International Educational Development program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Music, and prior to her studies at Teachers College, was a 2014-2016 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grantee to Poland. In July 2017, she will conduct ethnographic research on choral music as a dialogical and peacebuilding medium addressing political violence in the Philippines. Through the CMM Learning Exchange, she hopes to investigate choral music education and practices as socially responsive literacy within the CMM theoretical framework, and will examine the semiotic parameters of collective singing as tools for conciliatory and reflexive communication in formal educational spheres in conflict-rife spaces.

Tahleen Wright
University at Buffalo
Bridging Language Barriers between Interpreter, Patient, and Physician at End-of-Life

Tahleen Wright is currently working on her Master’s degree in Communication at the University at Buffalo, and has previously studied Communication and Linguistics with a focus on language and cognition. Having been involved in the Palliative Care Institute at Hospice Buffalo and studying American Sign Language, her research interests involve looking at Deaf patients at end-of-life, interpersonal conflict in healthcare interactions, and how language barriers can impact the achievement of a “good death”. While the goal of having a dignified or peaceful death is an idealistic wish of many, sometimes due to barriers such as language, this goal can be impeded. Therefore, her project focuses on the creation of more meaningful, purposeful interactions between Deaf patients, physicians, and interpreters, and how CMM can aid in the treatment of patients as well as in the construction of better narratives to give patients and their families the care they need and deserve at end-of-life.

April Bang
Teachers College, Columbia University
EdD Candidate
Aesthetic Experience in Leadership Learning

April Bang is a doctoral student in the Adult Learning and Leadership program of the Organization and Leadership Department at Teachers College, Columbia University.  Prior to her doctoral studies, she has taught “Leadership: Becoming an Agent of Change” to undergraduate students at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea and has worked in various positions across the fields of social entrepreneurship, human rights, criminal justice reform, international rule of law development, economic policy, and finance.  Through the CMM Learning Exchange, she hopes to develop leadership and faculty development curriculum that fosters empathic capacities for more constructive engagement with conflict and incorporates CMM and aesthetic experiences in the facilitation of difficult dialogues around race, gender, and other issues of diversity.

AC4-CMMI Graduate Fellows 2016

Wilfried Zoungrana
Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt
Third World Approaches in International Law and International Relations

Wilfried Zoungrana holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Erfurt and has recently successfully defended his PhD thesis on International Relations and Terrorism at the University of Erfurt. At the CMM learning exchange, he will be looking at how CMM and Third World Approaches in International Law and International Relations can mutually enrich each other in theory and practice.

Aleksandra Kasymova
California State University in Fullerton
Intergroup Peacebuilding Communication Program: Training U.S. American and Russian Young Leaders to Become Mindful Intercultural ‘Bridge-Builders’

Aleksandra Kasymova is a Fulbright scholar from Russia, who recently completed her Master’s Degree in Communication Studies at California State University. Her area of specialization is intercultural communication, conflict, and intergroup dialogue. In particular, she focuses on the transformative power of communication and how it can contribute to the development of better public diplomacy initiatives and peacebuilding actions between individuals of different nations. After completion of the program, she wants to return to Russia and work in the sphere of conflict transformation by fostering intercultural understanding and cooperation between the people of Russia and peoples of other countries. With her recently completed master-degree theory applied project, which draws from CMM models and interview data, she has designed a 4-day training program that will help future U.S. American and Russian leaders to move through the tensions of their differences to a place of constructive dialogue.

Kimberly Loh
Columbia University
Sustainable Peace through Mediation

Kimberly Loh is currently undertaking her Master’s degree in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at Columbia University, and has a previous background in law and ethical philosophy. In July 2016 she traveled to Uganda to undertake fieldwork as a research fellow, looking at peacebuilding and reconciliation work in post-conflict settings. Her research explores mediation and dialogue-based processes, and considers whether CMM Models can provide process tools to assist the mediator and parties in developing their perceptions and narratives within a conflict, thereby opening up opportunities to cultivate greater ownership and equity in sustainable peaceful solutions.

Santos Flores
University of North Carolina
Youth Development and Brazilian Capoeira Angola

Santos Flores’ research interest intersects youth development through sports, peace and social justice education, and Somatic (Kinesiological) treatments. Youth that are exposed to systemic violence, war, and other forms of social stress display syndromes referred to as stress-related somatic disorders. Understanding the relationship between violence, stress, and somatic syndromes will help in clarifying the consequences of violence exposure to long-term health and health related quality of life. From a Community Youth Development perspective, his research inquiry begins with Capoeira Angola a global phenomenon with roots in African and African diasporic cultures of Brazil. Through this sport, he looks at the way youth become empowered as informal “bodies” of knowledge that are living proof of successful ordinary ‘everyday resistance’ to historical and contemporary systemic conflicts. Youth sports as an embodied tool for assessing social constructs (e.g. race, poverty, gender) will require that a social analysis aims for conflict transformation through the development of critical consciousness and peace education.

AC4-CMMI Graduate Fellows 2015

Kelly Tenzek, Ph.D.
University of Buffalo
Clinical Assistant Professor
Transforming Conflict at End-of-Life: Critical Moments in Narratives for Creating Change

Dying has the potential to be a transformative process, but one must first engage in dialogue with others about the taboo topic of end-of-life (EOL).The current project focuses on interpersonal conflict in health care interactions. Multiple voices are involved in providing care at EOL. Questions related to whose needs are most important, become a focal point for conflict. By applying CMM to the EOL context, there is an opportunity for transformation in interpersonal relationships. This study begins to examine conflict experiences at EOL from multiple perspectives including family members, interdisciplinary team members, and patients. Preliminary results of qualitative analysis using CMM will be shared during the session including examples of socially constructed narratives at EOL, critical moments, and hierarchies of meaning in a world where biomedical and psychosocial-spiritual worlds collide.


Ann Ritter
Fielding Graduate University
PhD Candidate
Quaker experience of the divine and heuristic methodology

A native of the South Carolina Lowcountry, Ann Ritter has made her home in the Atlanta area for more than 35 years. She is a versatile performer, storyteller and business woman in addition to a published author of non-fiction, fiction and poetry. After a business career of some 25 years, Ann is pursuing her PhD in human and organizational systems at Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, CA. She also is on faculty at the Robinson College of Business at GA State University. She plans to resume a consulting practice in addition to teaching after graduation. To balance her work in the world, she teaches and practices Kundalini Yoga, and Integrative and Kundalini Yoga therapies in Decatur and Atlanta. A board member of Beacon Dance Company, Ann dances with Beacon, and regularly volunteers for CORE Dance and Synchronicity Theatre.

Aline Mugisho
Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt
PhD Candidate
Women’s Protection and Social Resilience in Great Lakes Region of Africa

Aline Mugisho is a doctoral student at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt. She has a Master’s Degree in Migration and Displacement from the African Centre for Migration and Society, Wits University and a Bachelor in Journalism and Communication. Her doctoral research explores Protection through Social Resilience: An analysis of Women’s Strategies for Protection in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Her research interest includes: Public Policy; Politics of Reconstruction in Post-Conflicts; Research Methods in Conflict; Transitional Justice; Gender, Migration and Integration; Social Cohesion and Diaspora Dynamics. She has substantive work experience in Southern Africa and Great-Lakes Region of Africa especially in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Post-genocide Rwanda and Burundi where is is also conducting her doctoral research.

Meredith Smith, M.P.A. in Development Practice
Columbia University
Teenagers’ Empowerment at NYC’s Possibility Project

Meredith is a versatile educator and project manager with professional experience in the academic, NGO, multilateral, private and philanthropic sector, where work has focused on community development, education and youth empowerment programming. She completed her Master’s program at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs in Public Administration in Development Practice. She is currently working at the Earth Institute’s Advanced Consortium for Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) on the grants and fellowships programs. Through the CMM Learning Exchange, she will explore the use of CMM as an evaluation tool and also as a theoretical framework to support the development of an arts-based program that engages at-risk youth in NYC through its use of performative arts and community action.

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