Breaking Barriers for Latino Children


From our country to our community, we are experiencing demographic changes that will alter how we serve our people and how we relate to each other. It is projected that by 2035, one in three children will be Latino. Currently, 51% of Latino children in Franklin County live in distressed (low-opportunity) neighborhoods. Therefore, we chose to acknowledge these changes by focusing the 2016 Champion of Children Report: Voices of Latino Boys on their experiences here in central Ohio. How we respond to these changes today will determine how many opportunities lie ahead and how successful these boys are tomorrow.

Key challenges noted in the report include:

  • Limited time and resources available to help parents prepare for the future;
  • Language barriers at home and in the community; and
  • Documentation status and the stress that goes with it.

Parents want more for their children than they themselves had. Many are working multiple jobs and long hours to support their family. Ironically, it was the boys that we spoke with that called for more resources and support for their parents. Additionally, the boys described how having positive influences, mentors, would help their peers “make better choices and not go down the wrong path.”

Language barriers present several challenges. Boys noted the difficulty in switching back and forth from one language at home to another at school. We heard about long appointment wait times for translators to become available. Additionally, overcoming the assumption that Spanish is the universal language of Latinos is a barrier for those needing to access their native language.

The fear of deportation can be subtle but powerful, regardless of actual legal status. Latino boys in our community are acutely aware of how delicate this situation could be. Many expressed anxiety over deportation and immigration issues for their family and friends. Estimating a number of immigrants in central Ohio, or even the U.S., without documentation is challenging for several reasons. However, we do know that in 2009, nearly 60% of Latino children in the U.S. lived in families in which at least one parent is an immigrant.

While describing challenges faced by our Latino boys the report simultaneously showcases their resilience and determination. They described great cultural pride and many credit their parents for their achievements. Latinos show strength in social ties to faith, family and friends and leverage each to support one another.

As a community, we can contribute to the future success our Latino boys. These recommendations are your call to action.

  • Create a diverse teacher pipeline to match the demographic pipeline.
  • Promote emotionally and culturally intelligent practices within the classroom.
  • Support dedicated advocates. From guides to help parents better navigate our systems to mentors to provide a positive influence in these boys’ lives.
  • Provide a dedicated place where affordable resources are available for parents and children. For children, the space would a safe place with educational and constructive activities. Resources for parents include job assistance, legal assistance, English classes, etc.

To download a copy of the report, go here


Delilah Lopez is the Director of Champion of Children for United Way of Central Ohio (UWCO). She develops and executes funding strategies to expand public awareness and education around issues impacting children in our community. Through branded events and communication, she engages and mobilizes the community around these critical issues. Throughout her 15-year career, Delilah has successfully demonstrated her ability to educate, mobilize and raise funds that have been invested in strategies to reduce poverty in the community, protect the environment, and fund medical research. Delilah’s UWCO career began in April 2011 as a member of the Corporate Resource Development team. During this time she raised more than $40 million by managing external year-round relationships with current and prospective donors, volunteers and advocates through community engagement, education, and workplace campaigns. She continues to co-lead United Way’s strategy for engaging the central Ohio Latino community. Delilah’s community involvement includes membership in the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) and E3 Initiative mentor. She also volunteers for and attends events benefiting women’s and children’s issues, animal welfare, and the environment. Delilah attended Bowling Green State University, majoring in Recreation and Tourism, with a focus in Commercial Tourism.  A native of Toledo, Ohio, Delilah has resided in Columbus since 2003.


Know Your Biases: Behavioral Health across Cultures


July is recognized as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and provides an opportunity to highlight the critical need to ensure diverse populations receive equitable behavioral health services. There is much improvement to be made in Ohio to reduce pervasive health disparities. Social determinants are crucial contributing factors, but an overall lack of cultural competence in the field is also to blame.

With innovative approaches such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aimed at improving access to care, the focus has now shifted to ensuring services are cognizant and respectful of cultural beliefs and practices. This is the foundation of providing culturally competent care. The catalyst for this change was the realization that disparities exist beyond socioeconomic status and are directly linked to racial, ethnic, and cultural background. For example, a child born to an African American woman in Ohio with a PhD is less likely to reach their first birthday than a child born to a Caucasian woman with no high school diploma.

Oftentimes it is assumed that a one size fits all approach is the most impartial; research on implicit bias has disproven this as it relates to health. Providers retain biases that impact their delivery of care resulting in disparate outcomes. In behavioral health, many providers have a higher propensity to diagnose diverse consumers as being schizophrenic or bipolar while their counterparts are thought to have a less severe anxiety disorders. Frequent misdiagnoses are also tied to prevalent over-prescribing tendencies that have afflicted minority communities.

Behavioral health services in Ohio must be tailored to meet the needs of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Franklin County continues to see significant growth in immigrant communities, namely the Somali and Bhutanese/Nepalese populations. Similarly, the Latino population is increasing in Northeast Ohio. New Americans face unique challenges related to behavioral health; many suffer disproportionately with trauma related disorders. The rapid diversification of the state underscores the urgency needed to implement practices rooted in cultural competence.

What are some actionable next steps? Conducting cultural audits and other self-assessments of systems and agencies must be the first step to improving the delivery of care to diverse communities. Implementation of the National Enhanced CLAS (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Service) Standards is also essential as they provide much needed framework. Standards listed under Theme II, Communication and Language Assistance, are federally mandated.

The Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence (MACC) remains committed to providing the support necessary for behavioral health providers, agencies and systems to successfully incorporate best practices. Together with our partners and members across the state, MACC remains steadfast in the fruition of our mission- “Enhance the quality of care in Ohio’s health care system and incorporate culturally competent models of practice into the systems and organizations that provide services to Ohio’s diverse populations”.

Editor’s Note:  We encourage our readers to check out MACC’s upcoming 2016 Statewide Training Conference taking place October 6th and October 7th at the Columbus State Community College’s Center for Workforce Development.  For more information, please click here.

Simone Crawley currently serves as the Executive Director for the Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence, Inc. (MACC). Throughout her career at The Ohio State University, Simone served as a Page in the Ohio House of Representatives. She earned her degree in Political Science. Expanding her public policy background, she served as an aide to Assistant Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares for three years. During her time at the Ohio Senate, Simone was also elected President of the Ohio Young Black Democrats where she aided in the successful campaigns of several legislative candidates. In January 2015, Simone began working to ensure cultural proficiency and improved health outcomes in Ohio as the Program Coordinator for the Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence, Inc (MACC). She has served as the Executive Director since March 2016.

Brexit and a Weaker Europe

In this photo illustration the European Union and the Union flag sit together on bunting on March 17, 2016 in Knutsford, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will hold a referendum on June 23, 2016 to decide whether or not to remain a member of the European Union (EU), an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries which allows members to trade together in a single market and free movement across it's borders for cirtizens.

In this photo illustration the European Union and the Union flag sit together on bunting on March 17, 2016 in Knutsford, United Kingdom.

On June 23, the U.K. held a referendum on whether or not the country would remain a member of the European Union. The next day it was announced that citizens had decided, by a very narrow margin, to leave. Termed the Brexit – or British Exit – the idea of the U.K. leaving the E.U. was not entirely unheard of. The U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) has been talking about divorcing the E.U. as far back as at least 2013, when the party and its leader Nigel Farage began to gain popularity as a counter-establishment party. As tensions, especially those regarding immigration, have begun to rise in recent years UKIP has gained massive amounts of popularity among local populations, leading them to ever more power within the British government. The party is right up with the trend of the rising right wing in Europe and the U.S., with Farage having stated that he supports both Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen in their respective electoral quests. Although it may be concerning for some, the issue with the Brexit is not quite as simple as worrying about the far right being in power. The most pressing issue that faces the U.K., Europe and the world as Britain begins her separation is one of peace and security.

One of the long-feared effects of a Brexit was a dip in economic and financial security. With many countries and individuals just reaching stability after the 2008 economic crisis, the exodus of one of the world’s largest economic centers from an international body like the E.U. caused worry among even the most armchair of economists. This fear seems valid; on the same day that the referendum results were announced, the pound dropped to a staggering $1.33 USD from $1.50 the day before. While economic effects may be seen and felt immediately, there are certainly going to be aftershocks of this decision for a long time to come.

Due to the very nature of the European Union, the Brexit will have reprecussions outside of the economic realm. Member states and citizens of the E.U. enjoy some of the best benefits of any international organization, including free trade, and open borders and residency in any of the 28 member states. Open residency has been a great boon for member states of the E.U., allowing workers to travel where there may be more job openings in their field, students to study in new locales, and even allowing people to just move on a whim. With such ease of access, many have moved from their native countries to the U.K. just as U.K. natives have moved throughout the E.U. themselves. By electing to divorce themselves from the European Union, the U.K. has opted, whether they realize it or not, for much harsher immigration regulations both for those who wish to enter the U.K. and for those who wish to migrate away. In fact, the U.K. may very well have just created the exact situation they were hoping to avoid – large amounts of illegal and undocumented migrants within their borders. Unless they can work out a very generous deal with the remaining E.U. member states, the U.K. may have to deport thousands of European citizens from their country, as well as see thousands of their own citizens forced to return as well.

Not only would such a vast exchange of labour and skill cause economic damages, but it would also hurt relations, both personal and political, between the countries involved in the exchange of residents. For example, if the U.K. is forced to deport 20,000 Portuguese citizens, and 15,000 U.K. citizens are required to move from Portugal back to the U.K., not only will their lives be uprooted and shaken about, but they may also feel a great animosity towards either of the governmental authorities involved. Animosity is not something that Europe requires more of at this time.

Europe is already facing great outside threat by members of terrorist groups such as ISIS, as demonstrated by the November 2015 attacks on Paris. In order for Europe to best confront this threat, it is necessary for governments to be united and strong in the face of their attackers. With the U.K. now stating their intention to leave the E.U., they are opening themselves and the rest of Europe to more attacks. The U.K. has the second largest military in Europe and arguably the most name recognition, causing them to act as a sort of protectorate over the other states. Even if the British military is not what it was at its heyday, it remains apparent that one does not want to cross them, and helps deter those who would wish to wreak havoc amongst the European countries. A now Britain-less Europe will have to face any potential future attacks on its own, and perhaps in an even weaker state if other countries follow in the wake of the U.K.

The U.K. has long been a believer in their own power, independence and separation from the rest of Europe, both physically and mentally. The Brexit, however, is taking all of these historical traits to another level. As can be seen already in exchange rates, the market may be on the verge of another economic freefall as people all over the world hold their breath to see how the global economic superpower will handle the situation. European citizens in the U.K., as well as U.K. citizens on the continent are stuck in limbo, waiting to see if their lives will be uprooted. Even more so, young adults and future generations are being stripped of future experiences, as without the E.U. they will no longer have the opportunity to work, study or reside in 27 other countries. In the most direct, and one of the most undiscussed, effects on peace, the remains of the E.U. are now more open than ever to the threat of terrorist attacks. Without a united front, Europe will be open to threats previously unknown, both domestically in the form of right wing victories, and in foreign affairs, with worries about both terrorist groups and foreign governments.

Gwendolyn Bell is a recent graduate from the Ohio State University with a degree in International Studies (Western European Studies) and French. She is passionate about the study of culture and cultural interactions, and believes that by sharing and discussing cultural practices the world can become a more understanding, peaceful place. During her time at OSU she was a member of the International Affairs Scholars, Collegiate Council on World Affairs, aided research within the Political Science Department and worked with the Columbus Literacy Council. She has studied in both Bolivia and France, which only fueled the fire of her passion for international affairs. Gwendolyn hopes to put these skills and passions to use in the future by working with UNESCO.

New Americans: Immigrants Ready to Take Their Place as U.S. Citizens


June is Immigrant Heritage Month, and it is a time to celebrate the many cultures represented in our country’s society. While we celebrate the heritage of the millions of people living in the United States, we know that immigration remains to be a hot topic that is constantly being debated. Recently, I’ve noticed the media reporting about the increase in citizenship applications, and that new Americans are eager and excited to vote. As a naturalized citizen myself, I too shared the feelings of eagerness and excitement to be politically engaged after becoming a citizen in 2009. Raising my right hand before a federal judge and reciting my Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America is my proudest moment.

I had wanted to become a citizen in time for the 2008 presidential election. At the time I was a student at Bowling Green State University with a part-time job. The money from that job wasn’t enough to pay for the citizenship application. I had to get a second job in order to save enough to pay for the $700 cost of the citizenship test. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to become a citizen in time to participate in the election that year, but I was very excited to send in my voter registration form immediately after my oath ceremony.

I know that there are millions of other immigrants in this country who want to become citizens, but have a difficult time navigating the process. The bureaucracy involved in this extensive process to becoming an American is confusing and expensive. While there have been many efforts made to improve this process, there have also been many setbacks. Just last week the Supreme Court decided to block President’s Obama’s immigration plan with a 4-4 decision. This decision will have a detrimental impact on families and communities across our nation. By keeping immigration reform in limbo the Supreme Court has placed more uncertainty and fear upon a population who is simply trying to work hard and support their families. As a naturalized citizen, I get to live my American Dream everyday, but I’m disheartened by the fact that many others who are not yet citizens are living an immigration nightmare.

As a naturalized citizen, I believe it is important to celebrate both my heritage and the country that I call home. I am without a doubt proud to be Brazilian by birth, and American by choice. As I listen to the candidates talk about several issues during this election cycle, I will be paying close attention to their plans for fixing our broken immigration system. It is imperative that we elect a president who is knowledgeable on this issue, and who is intelligent and sophisticated enough to know that just building a wall along our Southern boarder is not an appropriate solution. I hope that others will participate in this debate and truly listen to the ideas to fixing this problem because at the end of the day our immigration laws impact all of us.

Editor’s Note: In response to Leo’s post, and in keeping with our mission to provide solutions to issues that our bloggers discuss, we propose the following for our readers to consider: 

                  > Stay informed. Read, watch, listen, and discuss immigration. The more information you pursue, the better equipped you will be to make decisions on the topic.

                  > To more fully understand how immigration impacts families and the consequences of enacted public policies on immigrants and refugees, consider volunteering with a non-profit organization dedicated to serving these populations. In Columbus, there are numerous organizations in which you can volunteer or learn more about immigrants and their families, some of which are CRIS, US Together-Columbus, and World Relief-Columbus.

                  > Contact the Columbus Community Relations Commission. According to their website, the CRC was created to recommend ways and means of initiating and improving city government programs designed to eliminate discrimination or to remove the effects of past discrimination. On Friday, July 8th, the CRC will be hosting a Lunch and Learn Series focusing on immigrants and refugees from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM at 1111 East Broad Street. More information can be found at

> Advocate: Contact your Congressman or Congresswoman and share your concerns on the country’s immigration system and urge your member to enact legislation. (****okay, this seems lame, but you see what we’re getting at here****)


Leo Almeida is a government relations professional who works and lives in the Columbus area.  Leo moved to Columbus after graduating from Bowling Green State University where he majored in Ethnic Studies and minored in Political Science.  He is currently a policy associate for an environmental non-profit organization.  He is also a community activist who spends most of his free time working with community groups and political campaigns.  Leo serves on the board of trustees for the Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), which provides numerous services to many immigrants and refugees in Franklin County.  He is also the Chairman of the Franklin County Adelante Democrats, an organization focused on Latino voters and the general Latino community in Central Ohio.

Sex and Security

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s statement directing the Department of Defense to undertake a study designed to incorporate transgender individuals into the military follows relatively quickly on the heels of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gays serving openly, which took quite some time to overturn. These advances contrast with much more negative reports of continuing failure in attempts to address sexual assault in the ranks, and discrimination against female leadership in combat roles. Similar concerns have been raised about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses as well. These issues are united by an attempt to manage and contain sexuality among young people. But military service presents unique problems for young people, who often work in isolated and demanding circumstances far from home.

These issues are not new, nor will they be easily solved. But they do highlight some important, if indirect, ways in which gender and violence are too often united. The topic of gender in international relations was marginalized for many years, although it has made some meaningful inroads in recent years as more empirical evidence illuminating the relationship between gender and violence has become available. These critical issues raised by largely feminist scholars deserve wider public consideration and debate, precisely because it directly affects larger public policy issues such as those related to sexual assault in the military.

In a recent article reviewing a number of books on the topic, I discuss several of the central issues that divide many of the debates around the relationship between gender and violence. A few of these concerns present noteworthy problems for scholars and activists to consider when seeking to counter violence against women and other vulnerable populations.

First, despite arguments over whether gender is socially constructed or biologically determined, and of course it is a bit of both, the reality is that most victims of sexual violence around the world are women.   Even in the military, where men sustain more sexual assault than women in terms of numbers, women sustain more sexual violence as a percentage of their population.

Second, most violence is perpetrated by men. Women who commit murder are exceedingly rare relative to men; the majority of killing is of men by men, whether for personal or political reasons. This does not render women entirely innocent: encouraging men to fight for things they want, or providing rewards to those who have fought, implies some element of shared complicity. However, the reality is that men do most of the fighting and the vast majority of the killing. Elsewhere I have argued that some of this is explained by the uncomfortable reality that some men just like to fight; such individuals make the best warriors and we should not shy away from supporting them embodying such roles to achieve a more effective defense for all of us at lower psychological cost to those who do not wish to engage in direct forms of violence. Indeed, violence has long been used effectively to defend in-group members from predators, and to protect the vulnerable from victimization.

But of course the reality of the relationship between sex and violence is not so simple. People (usually men) often use violence to get sex, among other things. And of course both men and women use sex to get all kinds of things all the time, from children to resources to status and power, and even something as ephemeral as love. And this raises a critical point: Men and women have different reproductive goals, opportunities, and paths, partly as a result of the drop in fertility in women beginning in their 30s, which does not begin to affect men until decades later.   This means basic reproductive biology restricts men and women who want children in different ways, and at different times. This can have a particularly acute impact on gender relations when people are younger, as they necessarily are during times of military service.

Important psychological tendencies, including those related to the propensity for aggression and violence, follow from these different sexual and reproductive goals and strategies. Gay or straight, cis or trans, finding a mate is hard and important work whether or not a person wants children. And, over evolutionary time, natural selection has shaped human psychological architecture to privilege particular kinds of responses which are more likely, on average, to lead to the ability to have and raise children successfully. And because these processes operate through reproduction, a great deal of basic psychology is geared toward competing for and retaining mates, and guarding against interlopers. Those psychological tendencies affect the tendency toward aggression, and do so in a way which differs by sex, on average. This means that sex and aggression remain inextricably linked through deep motivational processes. It is critically important to understand the ways in which individual experiences of sex and aggression can affect widespread attitudes toward large-scale conflicts such as war.

But this highlights a critical point about the nature of sex and violence. Violence, like gender, results from a combination of nature and nurture.   This means that the family of origin unit proves critical in modeling the implicit assumptions about dominance between parents, and appropriate mechanisms for the resolution of conflicts. When children continually see men berating or beating women, they learn not only that violence constitutes an acceptable means of conflict resolution (and that might makes right), but they also learn that women must remain subservient to men because men possess greater physical strength on average, and are willing to use it against weaker people to get their way. Neither of these lessons are good, nor are they right, but they do become visited on the larger society as young people replicate the lessons they learn growing up onto their assumptions about wider society, and even appropriate relations between states.

So when sexual assault in the military or on college campuses is not addressed in a strong and swift manner, or when women are not allowed into, or are fired from positions of leadership in the military or elsewhere, we need not wonder where the source of such discrimination originates, or how it comes to be replicated across generations. There is no question that individuals are born with their own particular dispositions, but those tendencies exist in interaction with larger environments and cultural norms. And critical forms of early socialization which direct and shape strategies of conflict resolution become formulated in families of origin. And yet very little is done to help teach parents how to raise children within a context of nonviolent conflict resolution strategies.

This does not mean learning and progress are not possible. Thankfully, there is much less tolerance for racist sentiment in the military or on college campuses than there was 50 years ago. But somehow tolerance for sexual violence against women remains endemic and represents a continuing stain on any pretense of equality in the military or elsewhere in larger society.  Large societal laws, institutions and strategies for preventing and punishing violations are indeed important and need to be supported. But greater attention needs to be paid to how parenting strategies, and other patterns of early socialization in school and other large institutions like the military, inculcate particular patterns and assumptions about how dominance hierarchies work to privilege the powerful at the expense of the weak. And too often this dynamic privileges men over women, just as it privileges white people over those of color, the rich over the poor, the straight over the gay and so on.

The tendency to categorize humans into in-groups and out-groups lies deep, but that does not mean that strategies to shift the way such groups solve disputes cannot reduce the propensity toward violence between them. And it all begins with how we raise our children, and how we teach them about the rights and responsibilities of power in the home. And these lessons can, over time, infiltrate into a safer society for everyone.


Rose McDermott is the David and Mariana Fisher University Professor of International Relations at Brown University and a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She received her Ph.D.(Political Science) and M.A. (Experimental Social Psychology) from Stanford University and has taught at Cornell, UCSB  and Harvard.   She has held numerous fellowships, including the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies and the Women and Public Policy Program, all at Harvard University. She was also a fellow at the Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. She is the author of three books, a co-editor of two additional volumes, and author of over ninety academic articles across a wide variety of disciplines encompassing topics such as experimentation, emotion and decision making, and the biological and genetic bases of political behavior.

Pure Peace=Pure Water

Oftentimes the relationship between peace and public health can be a murky route to navigate. Both can be perceived to be influenced by alternative forces, where in reality, public health could often be looked at as one part of how peace is defined. In fact, Ashley Bersani put it best, “Public Health and Peace­ they go together like peas and carrots”. In her article highlighting the relationship between peace and public health, she argued that in order to have a peaceful society, members in this society must have their basic needs met. With that, and and understanding of basic human needs, we know the most quintessential basic need to survive is, water.

But what specifically does water have to do with peace? How do we solve this problem?

All around the world, water is distributed and consumed in various ways. For many of us, we wake up in the morning take a shower, brush our teeth, and drink a glass of water. However, we know that everywhere that is not the case. Each and everyday the lack of clean water creates many problems for those on the other end. When clean water is scarce, it creates tension and conflict simply because many people are vying for a limited supply. As water consumption continues to increase this problem will only continue to spread internationally. In fact the struggles experienced by these circumstances have developed what many have deemed, “The Global Water Crisis”. In fact, the World Economic Forum determined that this Crisis is the most severe Societal Global risk today.

Fortunately, there are many organizations working towards creating easier access to clean water for areas around the world. However, roughly 50% of clean water interventions fail. Why does this occur though? Many of the interventions that organizations take on are ill fit for the communities they are working with. To solve any issue it is important to gauge the political, economic, and cultural climates of the areas an organization may work with to ensure sustainable solutions to clean water access. In fact, one such company working towards this is a Columbus based company, the Pure Water Access Project (PWAP).

PWAP was created in response to the circumstances of “The Global Water Crisis” and aims to resolve common issues it incurs around the globe. The aim of this company is to promote the sustainability of pure water access initiatives, and to help educate about the issues associated with promoting this. PWAP works toward these goals through a combination of physical support and consultation with organizations and people that have already established networks within the regions we aim to, or are already working in. U​sing key data analysis and research skills PWAP is able to have a broad reach with the help of the interconnected nature of the world it interacts in.

PWAP’s founding by Ohio State students paved the way for its Fellowship program that employs undergraduate students to coordinate the company’s projects and initiatives. PWAP has worked in major projects in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Ghana, with plans to begin work in Sri Lanka and Peru as well. In El Salvador and Nicaragua, PWAP assessed the effectiveness of different water filters, and worked to help construct major filters in the communities they visited, while maintaining contact with locals to ensure their sustainability. Additionally, PWAP evaluated the community’s behaviors and attitudes towards common WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) practices to determine the impact that was having on issues with water access in the communities it worked in. In Ghana, PWAP worked in a similar capacity, through consulting “Global Brigades” in researching and determining the most practical filters for it to implement in the communities it worked in.

PWAP’s future involves maintaining the strategies it has implemented in its current projects, and applying the same practices to its work in Peru and Sri Lanka. PWAP hopes to also expand its work locally and have a greater presence within communities in the midwest and through the U.S.. Through implementing successful strategies from the past, while cultivating the innovation that new Fellows and Partners will bring, PWAP’s future is bright in helping address the Global Water Crisis one step at a time.



Trisha Barnett is a third-year business student, specializing in Operations Management at The Ohio State University’s Max. M. Fisher College of Business. She has passion for social entrepreneurship and loves the idea of using business practices to make an impact. Aside from her work in PWAP she is involved in Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship, Delta Sigma Pi, and Politics, Society, and Law Scholars. Upon graduation, she plans on pursuing a dual MPP/MBA degree.

Peace and Policy in the Age of Space Technology (Part 2, The Ambitious)

Today, we live in a world where sights have been set on the next big goal: Mars. This is an effort that many may not find to be a priority in their lives. Why go to Mars? Who the heck would want to go anyway?! To quickly answer the latter question, me. I would go. But let’s look at the former inquiry more in depth. As my stories usually are, this is a roundabout way to get to the answer to that question, but bear with me.

Mr. Elon Musk is the Henry Ford of two massive industries: electric cars and space vehicles. One of these businesses alone would be a major undertaking, but Elon doesn’t do anything halfway, especially when it comes to being an entrepreneur. Before I fangirl too much on how cool Elon is, let’s focus on the space stuff he does i.e. run the world’s most successful startup space company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation. SpaceX.


Mr. Elon “I Do Literally Whatever I Set My Mind To” Musk.

On the verge of collapse after three failed launch attempts in the mid-2000s, SpaceX seemed to be a poor investment of the self-made millionaire’s money after selling Paypal (yes, The Paypal) to eBay. Yet, their fourth launch was successful, and that was the beginning of an amazing shift in the space industry. SpaceX now has contracts with NASA and now the U.S. Air Force (after first trying to sue them) and conducts space launches at less than half(!) the cost of other launch providers, namely United Launch Alliance (ULA). To read more about how incredible this is, read this. Understatement of the century: Elon is changing the game.

So, again, why go? Mr. Musk has a comforting answer: we go to Mars to ensure the survival of the human race. And he is 100% serious. Now for some people who don’t work in the field of aerospace, this might be the first time you are hearing this. To you, this might seem laughable. But I assure you, if we do not become a multi-planetary species, humans will be just another blip on the screen of animals that once lived on Earth. Elon firmly believes that Mars is the back-up hard drive most accessible to us as a species. Should something happen to planet Earth whether it is a dinosaur-like extinction via asteroid, a nuclear holocaust, or just a slow, greenhouse-gas-driven melting of the planet, we are protecting our species by moving to Mars. Elon Musk believes not only that going to Mars is a good idea but a necessary one.

Whoa, right? Lots to think about here. For me, it is hard to argue with a man so seriously smart and with such similar aspirations to me. I have wanted to be an astronaut for 18 years, so when a guy says, “hey, I think we should go to Mars”, it is hard for me to not immediately kneel at his feet. But this is an important discussion for everyone, not just the space enthusiasts. This undertaking of ensuring the survival of the species is not for the shortsighted, and yet we live in a world where shortsightedness dominates our everyday decision-making. A president of a single country could never make this effort to back-up the human race on Mars a reality in his or her four- or even eight-year tenure. This is a global, species-wide effort. It will be a direct reflection on just how willing we are to operate on a species level rather than national level.

For fear of tiring you all out, I will cut myself off there, but I implore you to read “Wait But Why” blog author Tim Urban’s article on SpaceX, specifically How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars, Part 2: Musk’s Mission. This gives a greater outline to Elon’s objectives and the history this planet has of wiping out its own species. I promise you the Earth will be here long after any of us, but we are finally at a point in our evolution where we can use our technology to extend the species’ lifespan by a bit. So let’s do something about it.

I understand that I started this article sounding very rational and ended with an idea that someone who fears UFO abductions and wears a tin foil cap to bed every night might exclaim at a NASA conference they were not invited to. But I am a big thinker who loves glorious, crazy ideas like flying vehicles that takes passengers across the country in hours and sending men to the moon and small touchable screens that connect to a hub of information from anywhere in the world that also includes a way to talk to a person you can’t see.

I didn’t grow up in a time when airplanes, rockets, and smartphones were ludicrous ideas, but I’m growing up in one where living on Mars is a ludicrous idea. This is my generation’s power move, our sailing-to-the-New-World moment. I refuse to let the grandiose nature of living permanently on Mars intimidate me. I think it is the most amazing goal we have ever had as a species and to not be a part of that movement would be a shame. So what I beg of you is to open your eyes to the space industry. Watch more rocket launches, especially the SpaceX ones where they now have hosts talk to you about the payload mission, the launch itself, and these days, the rocket landings. Read more about the International Space Station and the research astronauts aboard do that might be affecting your everyday life. Follow NASA on Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook. Go to a lecture involving space policy. I promise you that you won’t find the field of aerospace boring.

This is the future of international relations and policy. The time has come for more people to realize the effort that it will take for policy to keep up with the ever-rapid pace of technology, especially space-based technology. It is the responsibility of policymakers to understand how important contested space, orbital debris, and human missions to Mars are to the entire population. If anything, I hope this “short” article has given you a new perspective to these issues of which I am infinitely passionate. Let us do something amazing as a species. Let space travel bring together all people from young to the old, the artists to the engineers, business owners to policymakers. This is a goal that can only be accomplished together and one that is as worth achieving as it is exciting to achieve.


About the author: Jillian Yuricich is a recent graduate from The Ohio State University in the Class of 2016. She studied Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering with a minor in International Studies, Security and Intelligence. Jillian participated in several internships during her undergraduate career including ones at Rolls-Royce North America, NASA, and the Naval Air Systems Command. In 2014, she became Ohio State’s first Astronaut Scholar, a grant awarded for excellence in STEM research by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation originally created by the Mercury 7 astronauts. She also participated in scientist-astronaut training through a program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she experienced high-G loads and microgravity and flew in a spacecraft simulator in an operational spacesuit. Starting in August of 2016, she will begin her PhD program at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Aerospace Engineering.

Peace and Policy in the Age of Space Technology (Part 1, The Obvious)

The space industry has been around for over a half century, and the introduction of this industry was born out of conflict. Many remember the Race for Space in the form of the United States versus the Soviet Union. However, as technology always does, the ability to access space reached the hands of the public and of entrepreneurs all over the world. We now live in a time where business is not only conducted around the world, but above it.

That is a pretty quick synopsis of how the use of space technology has evolved. What I really want to do in this post is describe just a few ways that the space industry has changed our lives from the perspective of diplomacy and international relations. Without space, we would not have a lot of things, but the way in which we conduct ourselves has also changed.

In this two part series, we will explore the consequences of living in the space age starting with the fairly well-known impacts and ending with the incredible possibilities of the future.


The Obvious:

Space technology started with government and military research, and both entities continue to make serious investments of money and energy in exploring this field today. Militaries around the world have an extremely varied portfolio of space assets. For the US, assets range from spy satellites to top-secret space planes. It also includes satellites responsible for tracking weather, ocean levels, the polar ice caps, and other geological phenomenon. This space-based data helps predict natural disasters and environmental activity, which drives many of the policy decisions related to science, geology, and protection of the environment.

A crucial diplomatic role for satellites today is their use in monitoring areas prone to conflict. This includes the plans to observe Georgia “to help prevent further incidents and to resolve disputes between Tbilisi, Moscow, and Tskhinvali.” The hope is that by tracking militia and border guard movements, security threats could be identified sooner[1]. This objective by the EU is just the beginning of what could be a revolution in preventing conflict around the world.

However, peace is not only important to maintain on Earth, but in orbit as well. This has probably never crossed your mind, but after nearly sixty years of space flight, the planet is surrounded by junk (aka orbital debris). Old satellites, broken satellites, satellites that have crashed into each other, and even natural debris including meteoroids all cocoon the blue planet.

Orbital debris

The orbital debris that surrounds the Earth (objects not to size, obviously).


Today, over 500,000 piece of debris are being tracked as they orbit at 17,500 miles per hour, but many pieces under the size of one centimeter cannot be tracked[2]. This is a problem because even the smallest pieces of debris at those orbital speeds can cause serious damage to satellites. Just look at the cupola of the International Space Station. A paint chip that smashed into the window last month caused that[3].

ISS chip

A paint chip smashed into the ISS cupola window in April 2016 causing this unnerving crack.


The rising population of debris is a threat to not only satellites used to broadcast TV, relay cellphone and GPS signals, track weather, and monitor greenhouse gases, but also to the complex networks of military space assets. Space is a contested environment, and one mistake from any satellite could cause a snowball effect of debris and eventual destruction leading to serious tensions between nation states. Space satellites are expensive to build and launch, so any loss of those assets, especially ones that relay vital military intelligence, could lead to strain on international relationships.

An example of this occurred in 2007 when the Chinese intentionally destroyed the Fengyun-1C weather satellite as a validation of the viability of a “kinetic-kill” Anti-Satellite (ASAT) device. Current ASAT methods mainly include launching a ballistic missile or space-launch vehicle at the satellite, but ground-based laser systems are in the works. And yes, there has been talk of ASAT technologies capped with nuclear weapons. It is a highly-debated technology with serious repercussions should they be aimed at a satellite you care about. The United States no longer conducts these kinds of launches (not since 1985, at least) for fear of the physical and diplomatic ramifications of such technology demonstrations. This made the 2007 Fengyun incident all the more interesting. Once the retired weather satellite was destroyed using the ASAT missile, a seemingly endless flotsam of shrapnel created a mess around the planet. The debris cloud rose from an altitude of 200 all the way to 3850 kilometers, which encompasses all of low-Earth orbit (LEO) where most satellites operate. Chinese officials claimed that test was simply that, a test. However, the White House condemned the demonstration, and the act was universally criticized as reckless. Scientists and engineers hoped that from this, more attention to space situational awareness (SSA) research would be given in order to track debris fields like the one the Chinese created. Six years later, a Russian nanosatellite was destroyed by debris from Fengyun-1C. Countless other satellites have lived out their lifespans dodging Fengyun debris.[4],[5]

Chinese debris

The Fengyun-1C debris field over the course of six months. Side note: SSA is my proposed field of research at Georgia Tech this fall while I pursue my PhD. I do not believe I will be short of any work.


While eyes in the sky and top-secret military satellites and nuclear ASATs can be controversial, the use of the space environment is not always so provocative. The United Nations has an Office for Outer Space Affairs (isn’t the 21st century just the coolest?!) which also houses the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. This committee was created “by the General Assembly in 1959 to govern the use of space for the benefit to all humanity[6].” Space will always be contested by various governments and militaries, but space is a very special environment.

The International Space Station (ISS) has been manned continuously since November 2, 2000. Every child that has been born since that date has lived in a world where humans make routine trips to space to conduct research, a reality that most today take for granted. In a time when things on Earth can seem so dark, so complicated, and so confusing, much of the amazing good that comes from the ISS goes overlooked. Medical research onboard the ISS observes how human physiology changes in space. Doctors over time have come to the conclusion that living in space has the side effects of rapid aging. However, the work conducted on space station isn’t just observing the astronaut’s health, but working to find solutions to health problems on Earth. This includes revolutionary new cancer treatment methods, advances in water purification for providing drinkable water worldwide, use of ultrasound technology for delivering medical care in remote areas, vaccine development and so much more.

These discoveries and advances in medical technology are happening because we went to space. NASA knew that the ISS would be an amazing feat of engineering. Pieces and parts were built around the globe and met for the first time in space. The jigsaw puzzle that is the ISS is an engineering success, but using the lab to conduct some of the most crucial research in the world is what makes it an international success. The ISS is a symbol of what we can accomplish as a human species rather than just individual nations.


This is what we have today. Part two of this series will cover the goals that have the aerospace community drooling today and discuss the political and diplomatic support that must be in place to achieve such ambitious goals for the human race.


About the author: Jillian Yuricich is a recent graduate from The Ohio State University in the Class of 2016. She studied Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering with a minor in International Studies, Security and Intelligence. Jillian participated in several internships during her undergraduate career including ones at Rolls-Royce North America, NASA, and the Naval Air Systems Command. In 2014, she became Ohio State’s first Astronaut Scholar, a grant awarded for excellence in STEM research by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation originally created by the Mercury 7 astronauts. She also participated in scientist-astronaut training through a program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she experienced high-G loads and microgravity and flew in a spacecraft simulator in an operational spacesuit. Starting in August of 2016, she will begin her PhD program at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Aerospace Engineering.







Finding Art & Peace

Finding Art & Peace

I believe art has the power to save people. I believe this because it saved me.

I am an artist. I am a poet. I am a peacebuilder. I am recovering.

Funny enough, art was not always something I believed in. At least not this strongly. I was a musician in high school. I did some journaling. And I even tried my hand at poetry when the season for poetry submissions came along in English class. I never saw art as something that changed anybody, even though I loved music.

Finally, I found my home in writing and poetry with a hint of music when I have the right instrumentation. Let’s be honest, trombones just don’t play parties alone.

I’ve always found solace in words, but I remember a time when I couldn’t even find words. Every time I started writing I spent more time scratching words out and doodling over them than I did creating anything. In retrospect, I wasn’t ready to start talking about what I knew. That is what the best writing is about – what you know – and what I knew was way too complicated to start talking about out loud. Just a few years ago, though, when I ran out of excuses to not deal with it and all other means of ignoring everything, I came face to face with a type of broken I can honestly say I hadn’t yet seen. Right when I should have been permanently, irreparably broken, I found my words.

It was finding my words that started to change the way I look at the world, healing, and eventually peace.

I started to see that art has a unique role in understanding pain, struggle, and conflict. That I could really uncover the causes of my own pain and conflict by exploring my art, and ultimately that exploring my experience through art could also help other people explore theirs at their own pace, in their own way.

My journey to seriously consider the role of art in peace began here. How can we do peace if we don’t take the time to understand the underlying, innermost causes of conflict – inner and interpersonal? And how can we possibly understand the underlying causes of conflict in a community if the people in the community haven’t had the chance to understand them themselves?

I didn’t understand what I was struggling with for a long time. Art helped me figure it out in a way that was comfortable for me. Sometimes sitting down with a traditional counselor isn’t enough, and often it’s not even an option. We have to find a way to better understand and identify the causes of conflict in individuals and communities, so that we all know better how to address them.

Art let’s you explore your life and experiences both directly and indirectly, and, for those who don’t do art, seeing and discussing art can help you uncover your own struggles.

What better way to promote agency in your own understanding and healing than art? Art helped me realize I was an agent in my own life, that I had the power to deal with my problems, and that I could do it through art, when so much else had failed. This was a pivotal moment in becoming the person I am today.

 The Theory Behind the Journey

Peace is both the ending of violent conflict and the removal of structures that promote violence. It is creating structures that contribute to sustainable, lasting peace. There are many opinions about how that happens, but most agree it has political, social, economic, security, and legal dimensions. My degree program broke it down into conflict analysis and resolution, human rights, and development and human security.

If you look at peace theory, it’s so clear that art has a place amongst those dimensions. The basis of conflict analysis and resolution is that to end violent conflict and create peace we have to figure out the causes of conflict. Art has the ability to uncover and explain the causes of conflict in new and more holistic ways.

Art can revitalize local economies and promote not only short-term relief, but long term, sustainable development. It can build up local artists and artisans while bringing in art lovers, collectors, philanthropists, and business people – thus boosting local, small business to meet the increased demand for housing, food, and transportation.

It has also helped record and remember lives lost to terrible human rights abuses. It’s often helped promote reconciliation. Things like storytelling are often used as traditional forms of forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation. Art is so often used for social recovery that art therapy is now a widely used tool for helping children, youth, and adults overcome horrible traumas and abuses.

 The Missing Link – Why Nairobi?

Art has a role to play in each and every aspect of peacebuilding. Peace is often seen as a systemic goal, and art has a role to play in that too, but what art really does is make an intentional connection between the creation of inner, personal peace and systemic peace.


The youth I met in Kariobangi and Mathare believed so intrinsically that their everyday actions could contribute to personal and community peace. That they could build peace by saving money from their car washing business to teach children about social issues through football. That they could build peace by doing free concerts for community events and schools, so they could use their art to contribute to individual and community development, while also pushing for deeper conversations through the subject matter their art explores. That a couple of djs could contribute to peace and social awareness by creating a mixtape that also talks about social issues during traffic jams.

The coolest thing about youth in Nairobi is they’re already on a journey to connect inner peace to systemic, and they want to do it in new, innovative ways. So in some ways, they taught me, at the end of the day, that art just makes sense. If we ever want to take youth seriously, and we should if we really take peace seriously, then we have to start speaking through mechanisms that youth speak through. Youth are not only the backbone of society, but also the backbone of peace. And I know from the youth I’ve met here that I would be completely lost to try to create peace with youth without including the very voice they speak through.

For me, the lesson at the end of the day is this:

For all those without the privilege, resources, and opportunity to be heard, art is the voice. For all those too broken, marginalized, and disenfranchised to speak, art is the platform.

Jessica Ciccarelli, the Recovery Poet


About the author: Jessica Ciccarelli is a recent graduate of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies with a Masters degree in Peace and Justice. She is currently living in Nairobi, Kenya collaborating with local partners to begin a leadership program that trains disadvantaged youth with a focus on art, peace, and conflict transformation. She runs a blog at, in which she focuses on the healing power of art to create peace.

Finding Peace with Faith as an LGBTQ Person

Leaving home and living on your own for the first time can be challenging. This event can be even more complicated if you are someone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or those who are just beginning to explore who they are in terms of their sexuality or gender identity. For some LGBTQ young people, being on their own might symbolize stepping into the freedom to finally explore and claim who they are. For others, it might mean leaving a place of safety and acceptance to enter new environment of unknown and unpredictable variables.

I want to just speak about one area where LGBTQ people, regardless of age, often find their lives conflicted and complicated…faith. Along with figuring out who you are as a person, college can be an opportunity to explore, adhere to, question, alter, or discard previous beliefs or find new ways of believing and being in the world. Just as in our relationships with our families, many LGBTQ people have been hurt by faith communities. Others have experienced an open and embracing community of faith. Additionally, many of our supportive straight allies don’t want to be part of a faith community that is alienating to us.

If you do desire to belong to a faith community or you wish to explore and learn more about a different faith tradition than you have previously known about or been a part of, that conjures up a whole other minefield of questions. Where should you go?   Where is safe? That brings us to the heart of what I truly want to provide you in this blog post. Below are a list of resources and congregations that you can use in finding a way of believing or worshipping that is right for you. I encourage you to use your time in college to truly allow yourself to explore who you are in all aspects, including spiritually!


United Methodist Resources: King Avenue United Methodist –; Summit on 16th United Methodist –; Broad Street United Methodist – The term for United Methodist Churches that are affirming of LGBTQ persons is “Reconciling”. You can find more churches inside and outside of Columbus at

Baptist Resources: University Baptist Church – You can find more “Welcoming and Affirming” Baptist Churches at

Episcopalian Resources: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church – Find more Episcopal “Welcoming” congregations at

United Church of Christ Resources: St. John’s United Church of Christ – The term for LGBTQ safe United Church of Christ churches is “Open and Affirming.” Find more safe congregations at

Mormon Resources:

Muslim Resources:

Jewish Resources:; Congregation Beth Tikvah –; Temple Beth Shalom –

Unitarian Universalist Resources:; First Unitarian Universalist Church –

Mennonite Resources: Columbus Mennonite –


Source: Flickr/B Tal

Josh Culbertson is a student at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio where he is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He is a member of Broad Street United Methodist Church in downtown Columbus, and he is the chair of their Reconciling committee. He has also worked in the arena of inter-faith organizing with Equality Ohio to bring voices of faith to discussions around LGBTQ rights and protections. You can read more about his struggles of coming to terms with being both a gay man and a person of faith at