In the lead up to Haiti’s November elections and the March run-off elections, the United States Institute of Peace teamed up with the National Democratic Institute to mobilize and train a local civil society network to help prevent election-related violence in their communities. Potential for violence was high, amid an already tense environment and slow and arduous efforts to rebuild after Haiti’s devastating earthquake in January 2010. Ms. Jessop will describe the training initiative and its impacts to date. She will also discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by civil society organizations in preventing conflict and promoting dialogue in Haiti.
Maria Jessop is a Senior Program Officer with the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) where she conducts education and training programs in conflict and post-conflict contexts. Jessop has led USIP’s civic and human rights education projects in Iraq since 2008. As part of State Department’s Africa Contingency Operation Training and Assistance (ACOTA) Program, she regularly conducts negotiation training in Africa for UN Peacekeeping Officers. Jessop also specializes in facilitated dialogue approaches to resolving intergroup conflict, fostering reconciliation, and engaging civil society. Jessop has trained civil society leaders in Iraq, Colombia and Haiti in facilitated dialogue and also teaches a course on Intergroup Dialogue at USIP’s Academy in Washington, DC. Prior to joining USIP, Ms. Jessop was a mediator, facilitator and cross-cultural specialist. She founded the Dialogue Development Group at American University which engages the university community in facilitated intergroup dialogues on topics related to social identities, differences and inequalities. Jessop served in the Peace Corps in St. Lucia (1994-96). She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University. She is fluent in French and Spanish.