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LeeAnn McKenna

Conflict Transformation, Peace-building, Gender, Economic Literacy, Interfaith, Strategic Planning

Trainer, Mediator, Facilitator, Writer

LeeAnn McKenna is a trainer, educator and facilitator based in Toronto, originally from southwestern Ontario. She is the Executive Director of Partera International, an organisation whose name means ‘midwife’ in Spanish. It’s an apt image for a kind of education – or training or facilitation or planning or intervention – that assumes that participants are not empty vessels but human beings pregnant with their own futures. Whether equipping for working well together, living well, planning a community’s or an organisation's future directions or intervening for the purpose of building and creating peaceful societies, the method assumes the wisdom and inherent strength of the participants in any process towards change.

The innovative methodology combines popular education, experiential learning and conflict transformation as effective routes into conversations about diversity, violence, bullying, war, gender, identity, culture, religion and economics. It’s all about ownership of the ‘product’ – the baby that has been gestating for a short time or a very long time within participants yearning for change, for peace, for an end to violence. The trainer is the midwife, helping to create safe space for labouring together; it is the participants, the community, who are pregnant; what is birthed belongs to them.

Lee has worked with NGOs and communities for almost 25 years, both in Canada and internationally, monitoring and reporting on human rights violations, accompanying organisations doing risky work or displaced communities in a process of return. She has conducted trainings, planning exercises and street theatre with NGOs committed to finding and implementing nonviolent solutions to conflict, to bringing about peaceful change from the ground up. Her work has taken her to dozens of countries on six continents – from El Salvador to India, the Philippines to the Netherlands, from Congo to Colombia, Thailand to Switzerland, Sudan and South Sudan.

Lee is fluent in Spanish, competent in French; she holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in linguistics and theology and is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, with a focus on peace studies.