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With over a decade of experience in interfaith organizing, youth empowerment training, and academic research in conflict transformation, Alicen Roberts has been named Site Director at Hands of Peace, an international non-profit organization that empowers American, Israeli and Palestinian youth to become agents of change.

Roberts has experience in the Middle East region, receiving several grants to study Hebrew, Arabic, and International Relations in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Bethlehem during the last 12 years.

“I am thrilled Alicen is joining our team,” says Scott Rasmussen, Executive Director of Hands of Peace. “Alicen’s background leading interfaith dialogue and youth leadership programs, combined with her experience in both Israel and Palestine, prepared her for this leadership position with Hands of Peace. She understands the urgent need for our work and the complexities involved. Our community will also value Alicen’s humility and commitment to putting the interests and needs of our young peacebuilders first.”

As Site Director, Roberts is responsible for Hands of Peace programming, including the three-week Summer Program, which brings together American, Israeli and Palestinian youth in concurrent dialogue-based encounters in San Diego and Chicago. She will lead outreach and engagement with alumni in the United States and coordinate alumni programming with Hands of Peace Regional Managers in the Middle East.

“I deeply care about the struggle for justice and positive peace,” says Roberts, who has a Master of Divinity from Yale University and a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Smith College. “I recognize the critical role of young people in this pursuit, who in time will take the reins. I am also not naïve about the challenges that young Palestinians, Israelis and Americans face in this time and age, in this tide of past and current tumultuous election seasons, concerns over threats of annexation, and ongoing economic and political asymmetry that does not allow for an even playing field.”

Hands of Peace

Hands of Peace empowers American, Israeli and Palestinian youth to become agents of change. The non-profit 501(c)(3) interfaith organization was founded by Gretchen Grad in Chicago, Illinois, shortly after September 11, 2001. The first Summer Program was held in  2003. Since then, Hands of Peace has expanded in size, strength, and scope with Summer Programs in Chicago, IL and San Diego, CA, alumni programs in Israel, Palestine, and the US, and multi-narrative tours to the Middle East for American youth and adults. Today, there are 670 alumni leading change around the world. For more information, go to