Gretchen Grad first imagined Hands of Peace as a response to the horrific events of September 11, 2001, and the great divisions exposed in its aftermath. Much has changed since that time. With the changing and challenging realities around us, our commitment to peace, freedom, equality, and justice for all is needed now more than ever.

With the cancellation of the Summer Program for the first time in 17 years due to the pandemic, there is a silver lining. We have the perfect opportunity to assess our long-term impacts, and reflect on the context we are now working in and what we want to create. This year is dedicated to Reimagining Hands of Peace.

Hands of Peace remains grounded in its promise to empower young leaders to raise their voices as leaders of change. How we do that and how we make Hands of Peace more relevant and effective are the crucial questions we are asking today.

  • What impact do we want to have for our alumni?
  • How should our mission, vision, and values evolve to support these desired impacts?
  • What are the “must-haves” to execute that mission?
  • What resources and networks are needed to implement our programs?
  • What are the milestones, processes, and timelines to secure those resources and networks?

This five-step process of Reimagining Hands of Peace will unfold between now and the end of October. This month we launched Phase One as we dig deep for ideas about the impact we can have. Our Site Directors and Regional Managers have called together ten focus groups, two groups from each delegation. The groups include recent and older alumni, as well as participant parents. All are asked to bring their full voice to the table.

This is only the beginning. Coming soon is a recording of the Zoom Reimagining Info session with Adam Heffez and an easy to read Reimagining plan that describes the five-step process.