Our Staff

Program Leaders

Nike Carstarphen (Director) is an independent consultant and co-founder of the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT). She specializes conflict analysis and resolution, facilitation, peace building, cross-cultural relations, community building, civil society development, and conflict resolution systems design. She has trained over 3,200 individuals, including educators and youth, police, community and religious leaders, nongovernmental and governmental staff in the U.S. and abroad and has facilitated inter-group dialogue groups and problem-solving processes in communities. She speaks conversational German and basic Spanish. She has a Ph.D. from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University. Nike loves dancing, reading, the outdoors, dancing, music, traveling, and did I say dancing!

Thanos Gatsias (Co-Director) is a third year doctoral student at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR), George Mason University. His areas of interest include culture, religion and conflict/ conflict resolution, as well as the place of historical narratives in collective memory and their role in the articulation of collective aspirations and grievances. His professional experiences include five semesters of Graduate Research Assistantship at S-CAR and Sabanci University (Turkey), and three semesters of Graduate Teaching Assistantship in the Social and Political Science program at Sabanci University. He has, also, participated as a third party in a number of Interactive Conflict Resolution activities. Thanos holds an MA in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from Sabanci University, and a BA in Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies from the University of Macedonia, Greece. He speaks Greek and basic Russian and Bulgarian.

Mara Schoeny (Principal Investigator) is an assistant professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and the Director of the Institute’s Graduate Certificate Program. She teaches courses in research and evaluation methods and practice skills; her specialties include dialogue, participatory community processes, intercultural communication, team development, and program design.  She is a former youth camp director with experience in traditional camp settings as well as dialogue and co-existence camps for youth. Some of her favorite things to do include traveling, gardening, cooking, reading and watching wildlife.

Julie Shedd (Administrative Director/Co-Principal Investigator) is currently completing her doctoral dissertation for a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and  Resolution and holds a M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University and a BA in Political Science and Psychology from George Washington University.  Julie is currently the Associate Director for Administration at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University and teaches both introductory courses and courses on social dynamics of terrorism and dying for an ideology.  Prior to coming to Mason Julie managed several small business and restaurants and founded a consulting firm specializing in restaurant training.  She is currently also serving as the Youth Director at St. Peters in the Woods Episcopal Church in Fairfax Station, VA and is on the Fairfax County Public Schools Peer Mediation Program Steering Committee.  For the past 5 years Julie has conducted training in peer mediation with elementary, middle and high school students.   Julie has two kids, ages 11 and 7.  In her free time she enjoys reading, swimming, and hanging out in the stands at baseball and soccer games.

Nicole Grim (Administrative Assistant) is currently finishing her undergraduate studies in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and Global Affairs at George Mason University. Her academic interests include issues of trauma and narrative in peace-building efforts. She has previous travel and work experience in Palestine and plans to study abroad at the University of Oxford in the fall. She is currently studying to become fluent in Arabic.

Adrienne Harding (Program Assistant) is a Master’s candidate at the School for
Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and a graduate assistant for the Graduate Certificate Program. Her areas of interest include cultural, gender, security, and environmental conflicts. She served in the Massachusetts Air National Guard as a technician in a communications squadron from 1992-2003. She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Her undergraduate studies focused on American civil rights and liberties, with an emphasis on the Civil Rights Movement, and she completed her practicum working with the Massachusetts Air National Guard Headquarters Judge Advocate General. She has also taught alternative dispute resolution for federal employees as a consultant for Kommon Denominator, Inc. She traveled to Israel-Palestine to study environmental and geopolitical conflicts, as well as Cambodia to study post conflict peacebuilding. She also worked as an ESL teacher in South Korea in 2006. In high school she participated in a student cultural exchange and traveled to the Soviet Union.

Courtney Burkey (Home-stay Coordinator) is a certificate student at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR),George Mason University.  Her areas of interest include preventative conflict resolution training, dialogue processes, and narrative practice.  Her professional experience includes four years as program manager for the Jamaica Peace Education Programme, ten years as a Help Increase the Peace Program (HIP) facilitator, one year as a Peace Camp counselor, one year as a peer mediation/peace education trainer, four years as an applied public policy fellow in the civil society sector. Courtney holds in an MA in International Relations from the University of Indianapolis and a BA in International Affairs with a focus in Asian Studies from Sweet Briar College.

2012 Mentors

Alex Cromwell is in his second year at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution’s M.S. program. His academic interests involve addressing emotional and societal wounds caused by conflict and helping to rebuild relationships by facilitating mutual understanding between conflicting actors. He has lived for prolonged periods in Greece and Korea, and has traveled to Syria and Israel, which has helped him to develop a more global understanding. Alex has engaged youth as a mentor in various contexts, beginning at the age of 15 with middle school students at a foreign exchange program in Korea, and ending most recently in his role as a youth leader organizing weekly events for high school students. He is also fluent in Korean.

Gul Mescioglu Gur is a second year doctoral student at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University. Previously, she worked at the D.C. offices of Search for Common Ground, Institute of Economics and Peace and the Turkish Embassy as a researcher and currently working in Partners for Democratic Change as a fellow. Her main interest areas include, but are not limited to, conflict analysis, project/program evaluation in development and peacebuilding field, the role of history education in the construction of social identities, women and youth empowerment, and civil society capacity building. She holds an MA degree in European Studies from Sabancı University Istanbul with the thesis on “Multilevel Governance in the EU”. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Marmara University, Istanbul. She speaks Turkish and basic French.

Sarah Parshall is a third year undergraduate student at the School for Conflict Analysis   and Resolution with a minor is Dance Appreciation at George Mason University. Her areas of interest include social justice and using dance as a vehicle for peace and empowerment among youth. She enjoys running, the outdoors, dancing, biking, and poetry. Her passion for the field of conflict resolution comes from her many experiences growing up in Central and South East Asia. Sarah can read, write and speak fluent Mandarin.

Joseph Quarcoo  is a Junior, Government and
International Politics major, and a proud member of George Mason’s Honors College. Few things capture his heart as much as his love for Mason. In expressing that love, Joseph serves as a Resident Advisor, student Senator, and a member of the Community Adjudications Board.

Sarah Rose-Jensen is the Presidential Scholar for the Fall 2011 cohort at GMU’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She holds a BA in English from the
University of Mary Washington, with an emphasis in education. She completed her MS coursework at S-CAR and her thesis research focuses on the long-term effects of youth peacebuilding programs. Sarah has a background in activism and education, with a focus on youth work. For three years she has work at the Global Youth Village, a summer camp with a 32 year history of working with children and youth from conflict and post-conflict zones. Sarah is also a founding editor of Unrest Magazine, a publication dedicated to critical conflict theory.

Ava Sky is a fourth year undergraduate student at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. Her main interests include conflict prevention, philosophy, human rights, and addressing the needs as well as empowering the individuals who are suffering due to their surrounding oppression. Her professional experiences include training through S-CAR, the Northern Virginia Mediation Services, Help Increase the Peace Program, Peer Mediation Partners, and the Conflict Resolution Dialog and Difference Projects.

Hilmi Ulas  hails from the northern part of Cyprus, and is fluent in Turkish, English, and French. He has been in the United States since 2005, earning his BA in Political Science and French from Grinnell College in 2009, and his MS in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in 2011, where he is currently pursuing his doctoral degree. He has been a participant in many bi-communal dialogue workshops revolving around the Cyprus Conflict, and has worked with youth both as a part-time teacher of English and as a Program Associate at Communities Without Boundaries, Inc. He enjoys playing soccer (and is looking forward to the European Cup this summer!) and table tennis as well as video games, reading books, listening to music, and drinking tea, and is looking forward to working at the Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute.

Hussein Yusuf is a Ph.D. student at George Mason University.  He is from Somalia. At S-CAR Hussein studies Conflict Analysis and Resolution, he focuses on state collapse, reconciliation, ethnic and tribal conflict. Hussein worked in Yemen, Somalia, and Ethiopia on United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Projects, Partners for Development and the International Rescue Committee.