Harvard grad Katie Mansfield hired as director for STAR: Strategies for Trauma Awareness
The first leg of her journey toward directing Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) began in 2001 when Katie Mansfield, then a divisional vice president of Goldman Sachs, lived through the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York.
Subsequent legs in her journey:
- Three years with Mennonite Central Committee in Kenya, where she did STAR work with Doreen Ruto, a master’s degree graduate in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University (EMU).
- Four years with the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, where she studied under and then apprenticed with John Paul Lederach, founding director of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP).
- Beginning a PhD in expressive arts and conflict transformation from the European Graduate School in Switzerland.
It began here
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Mansfield was on the 18th floor of an office building in lower Manhattan when she noticed scraps of paper floating by her window. She and her colleagues evacuated the building and began walking rapidly northward to get away. She heard and then saw the collapse of the twin towers. Dozens of people from her home suburb of Garden City died in the attack.
“For over a year I couldn’t plan more than five days out,” Mansfield recalls. “A Somali friend later told me, ‘Now you know how we feel every day.’” Ultimately she quit her job at Goldman Sachs, traveled for a year, and found her way to teachers and mentors working in peace education and conflict transformation.
One of these teachers was Elaine Zook Barge, who co-facilitated Mansfield’s STAR cohort in 2010. Now they are working as a team, together with program associate Jennifer Fawley and trainer Vernon Jantzi. Zook Barge’s focus is on curriculum development and training; Mansfield’s is on administering the program, developing the STAR network (“learning community”), and producing communications.
In late 2001, STAR was born as a partnership between CJP-EMU and Church World Service to provide resources for responding to trauma in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
“What began as a program to provide tools to pastors working with traumatized congregations in New York City and Washington,” says CJP executive director Daryl Byler, “has blossomed into a valuable resource for peacebuilders from East Africa to the Middle East to Central America.”
STAR has trained over 5,000 people from 62 countries on five continents. The program has been a springboard for: Coming to the Table, which deals with the wounds of racism; Journey Home from War, addressing veterans’ re-entry; and Youth STAR, emerging from post-Hurricane Katrina work with teenagers.
“STAR is proof that even out of the most dreadful violence it is possible to grow life-giving and peace-supporting responses,” says Jayne Seminare Docherty, CJP’s program director.
Becoming the director
Mansfield was named director of STAR in early 2015, a position she will hold while continuing to pursue her doctoral studies focused on dance-based and movement-based healing, restorative justice and transforming the wounds of trauma. She succeeded Zook Barge, who had led the program as both its top administrator and chief instructor for eight years, until her requests for splitting the duties bore fruit.
Mansfield’s first job after earning a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1996 was at Goldman Sachs. She started as an analyst, then became an associate and finally a vice president in the investment management division. She spent four years in New York City and four years in London.
In STAR trainings, participants create a drawing called the “river of life.” Reflecting on the flow of her river, Mansfield says the powerlessness she experienced immediately after 9/11 set her on the path – and helped prepare her – for her new role with STAR.