I am the founder and Director of PeaceMeals, a program which brings individuals together in the kitchen and around the table for catharsis and nutrition education, often in the wake of trauma or difficult seasons of life.
Influenced by my childhood travels and experiences in conflict zones, I have interests both in global cuisine as well as trauma rehabilitation, which carried me into my later studies and work.
I earned a Master’s Degree in International Relations in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where I researched post-conflict trauma rehabilitation, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco, where I studied transitional justice and rehabilitation for survivors of human rights abuses. I also worked at a national security nonprofit in Washington, DC and in other countries.
As I worked in post-conflict policy and politics from a 10,000-foot-view, I became more and more interested in the individual survivors and what they do to rehabilitate themselves and their communities. I saw that no matter what anyone has been though, we all benefit from nutritious food and authentic community. I went on to work at a mental and behavioral health hospital, where I learned more directly about trauma and mental health and – not surprisingly – the way that nutrition is integral in healing. Pursuing this interest, I became a certified Natural Foods Chef from the Nutrition Therapy Institute in Colorado. And PeaceMeals was born.
PeaceMeals uses holistic, science-based nutrition targeted for mental health and mood, and cooking as an informal form of art therapy. These are useful tools for those who have experienced the difficult things life throws – as a creative outlet which is both practical and fun. I seek to create a safe space for survivors (and really, we are all survivors of something, aren’t we?) to nourish ourselves and to share a table with support network of like-minded individuals.
I have conducted PeaceMeals in Iraq, Northern Ireland, and across the United States. I am currently based near Washington, DC, in the US.