Keynote Speaker

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Dr. Pushpa Iyer is an activist, practitioner, scholar, and teacher, in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Her work to bring peace between Gujarat's (India) divided Hindu and Muslim communities laid the foundation for her social justice work. Her research in South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and the United States, has focused on identity-based conflicts, non-state armed groups, and peacebuilding. Dr. Iyer’s current research centers on developing approaches to decolonizing the mind through a historical and contextual understanding of how colonized minds impact knowledge acquisition and dissemination. As Senior Technical Advisor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Catholic Relief Services, she designs and develops programs that facilitate attitudinal and behavioral changes for a more equitable and inclusive organizational/ societal culture.

Dr. Iyer published her coffee table book, “Gandhi’s Gujarat: Vibrant Diversity through the Center for Conflict Studies.” She is currently writing a book titled “Challenging the Binary: Decolonizing Antiracism Approaches with Compassionate Courage” (Routledge, 2023.)

Dr. Iyer is a Visiting Scholar at her alma mater, the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University, where she received her Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She also holds an MBA in International Management from the University of East London, U.K. After graduating from George Mason University, Dr. Iyer was an Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at the Middlebury Institute and served as the Institute’s first Chief Diversity Officer.

Dr. Iyer is the founder and director of the Center for Conflict Studies, which has successfully run many initiatives, including a Summer Peacebuilding Program, a Certificate in Conflict Resolution, and a research-cum-practice initiative for racial equity -Allies at MIIS. A current initiative of the Center is Compassionate Courage, an intervention approach for resolving identity-based conflicts.

Dr. Iyer serves on the Board of various non-profits, has organized eight conferences and symposiums, is a frequent speaker and trainer on various social justice issues and writes on topics that stir her conscience.