For the Press

Conflict Resolution, Reconciliation, and the Intersection of Experience and Brain and Behavioral Science

Tim Phillips | Founder and CEO of Beyond Conflict

Tim Phillips is the founder and CEO of Beyond Conflict. Using the unique approach of shared experience, Tim helped catalyze the peace and reconciliation processes in several nations, including Northern Ireland, El Salvador, and South Africa. In recent years, Tim has led Beyond Conflict’s work with scientists and community leaders to apply lessons from brain and behavioral science to address a range of challenges, such as toxic polarization, racial justice and inclusion, conflict resolution and reconciliation. 

Expertise: Peace and reconciliation, conflict resolution, the role of leadership, and political polarization in the U.S.

International Peacebuilding

Karen Bernstein |  Program Director

As Program Director for Beyond Conflict’s work on International Peacebuilding, Karen Bernstein leads the strategy and execution of initiatives focused on peacebuilding in the U.S. and abroad. For most of her career, she has worked in entrenched violent conflict and post-conflict reconstruction contexts, specifically in Israel and occupied Palestinian territory, Cambodia, Nepal, Ireland/Northern Ireland, and South Sudan. Karen has 20 years of working in conflict zones including as a UN civilian peacekeeper and as the Middle East Peace Process Advisor to the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Expertise: Evidenced-based peace-building, conflict mediation in entrenched conflicts, and programming focused on vulnerable communities.

Mental Health and Armed Conflict

Michael Niconchuk | Program Director 

As Program Director for Beyond Conflict’s work on Trauma and Violent Conflict, Mike Niconchuk leads the strategy and execution of initiatives focused on trauma and violence prevention in the U.S., Germany, Jordan, and Lebanon. These initiatives target two major themes: the link between neuroscience and participation in group violence (e.g., gangs, extremist groups, etc.), and the mind-body effects of conflict, forced displacement, and violence on youth and adults. 

Expertise: Trauma, neurobiology, public mental health, social belonging and group behavior, complex emergencies, conflict and fragility, and the Middle East.

Democracy and Social Identity

Michelle Barsa | Program Director

As Program Director for Beyond Conflict’s work on Democracy and Social Identity, Michelle Barsa leads the strategy and execution of initiatives focused on democratic legitimacy and movement building both in the US and abroad. She has served as a senior advisor on US government policy and has extensive experience leading initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Southeast Asia.

Expertise: social and behavior change communications, democratic governance, movement-building, police reform, and US foreign policy related to women, peace, and security.