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Xavier Magazine | April 27, 2017

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Profile: Jill Yungbluth

Profile: Jill Yungbluth
By France Griggs Sloat

Jill Yungbluth: Bachelor of Arts in psychology 1999 | Executive director of the Center for Peace Education, Cincinnati

Immersion | Unsure about what she wanted to do, Yungbluth took a job after graduation with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Spokane, Wash., working with people with developmental disabilities. It was just the stimulation she needed to help her find her way.

Value Added | “One woman in a wheelchair was always so happy. She would just laugh, and if I would get frustrated she would just look at me. I was learning from how positive she could be. It made me more patient. I learned I have a general interest in other people.”

Southbound | Born in Cincinnati but raised in Atlanta, Yungbluth returned to her hometown to look for work. A former professor put her in touch with the Center for Peace Education, which was looking for a new program and training manager.

Never Look Back | Intrigued by the 25-year-old organization’s mission of educating school children to deal with conflict peacefully and without violence, she took the job, spending two years leading teams of trainers into elementary schools to work with the children. When the executive director left. Yungbluth was asked to serve as interim director. In the end, she realized she could do the job, and the board agreed.

Peace Education | The agency is all about conflict resolution—a real challenge in the inner-city schools where some students’ families practice different methods at home. “We’re teaching students how to resolve conflict constructively, that there are alternatives to physical fighting. We’re giving people skills they can use for a lifetime.”

Spreading the Peace | The agency now takes its training methods into 15 to 30 schools a year, reaching about 3,000 students and teachers. She plans to bring the program into every school in Greater Cincinnati—if funding can be found.

Useful Tools | “We teach them to look in their tool belt to decide what’s going to work in each situation—with their parents, or friends, or a stranger or a boss. Conflict is going to happen. It’s how do you choose to react to it.”

It Works | Several years of data from a Catholic school and a public school in different Cincinnati neighborhoods with high rates of poverty show significant declines in demerits and suspensions after the school-based training program was put in place.

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