David-C-JehnsenDavid C. Jehnsen
Chair and Founding Trustee (1978-Present)

David’s mission is to promote a reconciled world, develop and institutionalize programs and leadership education including research, training & education and public –information regarding the democratic way of life, Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation, Historic Peace Churches and the values and practice of democratic social change.

Fifty- plus years in long-range strategic planning and implementation of practical programs with fundamental systems has been the core of his experience and effectiveness since 1962.   Read more…

Additional Presenters

scotthollandScott Holland is the Warren A. Slabaugh Professor of Theology & Culture and Director of the Baker Peace Studies program at Bethany Theological Seminary. He works nationally and internationally with models of Just Peace that are ecumenical, interfaith and intercultural.

Matt Guynn
Director of On Earth Peace’s Nonviolent Social Change Program

matt-guynnMatt (Portland, OR) is an activist and nonviolent social change trainer grounded in the philosophy and methodology of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the broader US Civil Rights movement.

Matt works with the church-based nonprofit On Earth Peace, working with church and community groups around the United States to offer leadership development for efforts to challenge violence and build reconciliation. Read more…

rickpolRick Polhamous

Rick  is a member of the Pleasant Hill (Ohio) Church of the Brethren where he has served as church board chair, deacon and youth leader. He has also served as witness commission chair, Annual Conference delegate and in many other capacities.

He also works for the Church of the Brethren on a national level through On Earth Peace (OEP) where he has participated in witnessing for peace; leading conflict transformation trainings for OEP’s Ministry of Reconciliation; and leading retreats and workshops as part of OEP’s Youth Peace Retreat Leadership Team.   Read more…

samuelSamuel Sarpiya

President/Founding Faculty, The Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation Rockford, Illinois, where he lives with his wife and three girls. Samuel is a Doctoral Student at George Fox University and Nonviolence Community Organizer in Rockford, where he organizes the community to addresses issues of poverty, education, violence and racism, through Creative Community leadership, using Social Change.  Read more…

Ellyn Ahmer

My earliest experiences with conflict were growing up in an ordinary, middle class, white family of five children. I unconsciously learned about the power structure very early. Adults are in charge. Kids do what they do to get what they need. When their needs are not met, they resort to many different behaviors to survive. The variety & intensity of needs within a group of seven people caused much conflict, most of it unspoken & unresolved.

As a 50-something adult, I became fascinated with tension & conflict & how it plays out in human relationships. Reflecting on years in school & business, I wanted to learn how to resolve brewing or erupting tensions to keep friends & business partners from disconnecting. I quickly discovered the most crucial conflict to resolve was that within myself. Most of the last 10 years has been dedicated to studying & learning ways of being through various methods, processes & activities to enter conflict & facilitate connections, thereby bringing more peace into the world.

Bessie Alberty

Bessie Alberty is a Certified Manager and Director with an extensive business background and certification in Administration, Strategic Planning, Organization, Auditing, Team Building, and Workshop Facilitation.

She serves on the Board of Directors for several local organizations including, The Northern Illinois Institute for the Healing of Racism, Inc., The Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition, and is on staff at the Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation. She achieved the rank of 2nd Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and has taught classes in local community centers.

She was trained in the philosophy and methodology of Kingian Nonviolence by David Jehnsen in 2009, followed by Leadership Development Training in  2010.  Since then she has put this learning to practice in business settings as well as workshops and seminars on social justice, conflict resolution, racism and peace, and has been instrumental in helping to develop community based groups such as Rockford Partners for Excellence,  to bridge racial, economic, and social gaps in local schools, churches and neighborhoods.

Bessie was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, and she and her husband have 4 Adult children, and have coordinated a non-denominational bible fellowship in the Rockford IL area for over 25 years, receiving several certifications in advanced bible studies and classes.


Rev. Yakubu Bakfwash

Director of International Training and Research

Rev. Yakubu Bulus Bakfwash is the Director of International Training and Research at the Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation (CNCT), Rockford IL, USA. A graduate of Jos ECWA Theological Seminary (JETS), Jos Nigeria and African International University (AIU) Nairobi, Kenya, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Master of Divinity respectively.

The Reverend Bakfwash arrived in the United States in 2009 to continue his graduate study at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) Fort Worth, and later Dallas Baptist University (DBU), both in Texas where he earned a Master of Arts in Global Leadership in 2012. After which he moved to greater Chicago area, to study at Trinity International University, Deerfield Illinois where in 2014 he earned his Master of Theology (MTh).

Prior to coming to the United States, Bakfwash has taught at Jos ECWA Theological Seminary (JETS) in the greater Jos area of Plateau State Nigeria. Since 2005 Bakfwash taught several courses in Leadership, Church and Mission, Anthropology, Change Agent, Islam, Church Planting Practicum, and Urban/Rural Unreached among others. In addition, for the past ten years Bakfwash was the Senior Pastor and Head of Chaplains at Bingham University Teaching Hospital (BUTH) Jos, Nigeria.

It is exciting to join the Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation (CNCT) in its philosophy to using nonviolence approach to resolving ethnic, political, religious, school, and family conflicts. Bakfwash must important mission is to recruit and trained a Nonviolence and Peace Force. Bakfwash believes that CNCT is the place where this can happen. Bakfwash was greatly inspired by studying the principles and the teaching of three historical leaders namely: Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., who successfully used personal change to change their world. Bakfwash’s credo in life comes from the scripture “Blessed are the peace-makers for they shall inherit the earth.” 

Bakfwash continues his Phd Educational Studies at Trinity International University in Deerfield IL where leaves and enjoys being a full time husband and father, is married to his lovely wife Diana, and together they have three beautiful daughters namely: Nenrit, Faith and Tryphena

Kevin “Gus” Hall
Director of Operations

Gus is our new “Director of Operations ”, currently supervising our Mobile Lab Project. Along with many other administrative duties and tasks, Gus is preparing to facilitate our new Mobile Lab Classroom with an army of Volunteers and staffing that will aid and accommodate those who participate in this after-school program.

The Mobile Lab Project has turned a donated FEMA trailer into a High-Tech state-of-the-art portable mobile classroom, outfitted with 8 computer centers as well as a Digital Recording Music Studio! Our goal is to use this portable classroom as a tool and method to engage our under-served children and young adults in our Rockford Area Family Housing Developments, with the tools, tutoring and mentoring that will help to elevate each participant to “The next level”! From basic computer and internet skills to graphic design, photography, video-taping and editing, Website design, music-making and recording and many other programs, our goal is to engage our youth in “High-Impact” sessions- in our Mobile Lab, that will initiate and engage them in a life-long pursuit for seeking and enjoying educational assets currently available to them.

In the early 1990’s, Gus got heavily involved in Triton College’s “Access to Literacy Program”. Since then, Gus has developed a love and skill set for making reading exciting, enjoyable and fun! Through his “Creative Writing Program”, Gus engages children as well as young-adults and even adult learners how to enjoy reading- through writing!

Gus also has extensive experience in the Music Industry, Recording Business and a deep desire to teach as many as will come, how to begin learning and playing a host of musical instruments. Together with the teaching, playing and recording; Gus brings a lot to this Mobile Lab Project! Gus can be reached at 847-599-6000 or ghall@nonviolencect.com