PPS Spotlight on Peacebuilder Colleen Passard

Published: February 26, 2021 | Last Updated: August 30, 2023by Nezia Munezero Kubwayo

Throughout her career, Peacebuilder Colleen Passard has focused on the role presence and consciousness play in actuating leaders, organizations, teams and individuals to live into their highest potential. Deeply inspired by the work of C.G. Jung and her own lived experience, Colleen combines psychology and the alchemy-of-being to incite peace, courageous conversations, and the WEvolution of Team Human.

Colleen has over a decade of experience in Employment Dispute Mediation and is a certified EEO Counselor currently serving on a mediation panel for The Department of Homeland Security. Colleen is also a Well-being Coach for Berkley Inc, an expert in communication, interpersonal and leadership effectiveness and a motivational Team Builder/Trainer, facilitating successful change.

Canadian born, Colleen was living in London in the process of becoming a psychotherapist when she discovered Coaching which was in its pioneering phase in England. Colleen found the ontological coaching model’s focus on transformation a good fit for her personality and when she moved to the USA, she began a coaching practice.

Colleen’s initiation to peacebuilding and mediation work began when she filed a civil lawsuit against the Catholic Church in Canada in the late 90’s and won a landmark settlement in mediation. (In Canada mediation is mandatory in all civil lawsuits.) This process introduced her to the restorative and transformative power of mediation and initiated her studies and subsequent work in the field of conflict resolution.

Conflict Resolution Strategies

For Colleen, a potent element of successfully resolving conflict is to destigmatize conflict for the parties — to get parties to think in terms of us all being on Team Human and that conflict is a normative part of the human experience. Colleen resonates with Mary Parker Follet that “all polishing is accomplished by friction.” Furthermore, Colleen invites her clients to practice what she calls “the ABC’s of conflict resolution” which she defines as “a bigger container than right/wrong/good/bad/win/lose two-valued binary logic”. This enables clients to see things in their complexity, explore the underlying causes of conflict and shift behavior and mindset. Most essential to Colleen is the role her own consciousness plays in the process of resolving conflict. She is committed to “being peace in the room” and abiding in a space of non-judgement, engaged neutrality, and eloquent listening.

Challenges in Conflict Resolution

Colleen describes one of the biggest challenges in conflict resolution is oftentimes people’s attachment to their stories and unwillingness to shift their positions. A student of quantum physics, Colleen sees humans as having tremendous creative power and that they do not always cooperate or act to actualize that power.

According to Colleen, the most recent challenge in the conflict resolution arena is the lack of “real-time, real-space communication” due to COVID-19. Science confirms that this is the ideal form of communication in terms of trust-building and felt safety. Creating a space of trust remotely in the absence of sensory experience is a challenge for conflicted parties. This is why Colleen incorporates mindfulness practices in her work that help to fortify trust and safety.

Colleen considers her work a great honor and privilege. She is inspired by Desmond Tutu who said, “my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” Additionally, she has been inspired by Werner Erhard, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama, Ram Dass, and all heart-centered people who embody love and kindness.

Advice for New Peacebuilders

Colleen extends the same advice as the spiritual teacher Ram Dass in terms of making this world a better place: “If you are in truth, attempting to make this a better world to live in, the most leverage you have is not on other people, it’s on yourself. You make yourself a statement of love. You make yourself a statement of truth. You make yourself a statement of consciousness.”

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Nezia Munezero Kubwayo