Meet the STaff: Present and Past 

Maisha Winn

Widely known as “the grandfather of restorative justice,” Zehr began as a practitioner and theorist in restorative justice in the late 1970s at the foundational stage of the field. He has led hundreds of events in more than 25 countries and 35 states, including trainings and consultations on restorative justice, victim-offender conferencing, judicial reform, and other criminal justice matters. His impact has been especially significant in the United States, Brazil, Japan, Jamaica, Northern Ireland, Britain, Ukraine, and New Zealand, a country that has restructured its juvenile justice system into a family-focused, restorative approach.

A prolific writer and editor, speaker, educator, and photojournalist, Zehr actively mentors other leaders in the field. More than 1,000 people have taken Zehr-taught courses and intensive workshops in restorative justice, many of whom lead their own restorative justice-focused organizations.

Maisha Winn

Jonathan is the Associate Director for the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice. Jonathan has taught courses as an adjunct professor at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and in the Bible and Religion Department at EMU. Jonathan has been a guest lecturer in graduate and undergraduate courses in Restorative Justice. 

Jonathan enjoys reading broadly (but mostly focused in the areas of abolition, restorative justice, transformative justice, and race/whiteness), relating deeply (he’s not really that great at small talk), laughing bodily (the abs need work!), riding windily (motorcycles are wonderful stress relief), and writing parenthetically (!).

Along with serving as a certified trainer/instructor for the Green Dot violence prevention program at EMU, Jonathan has planned and implemented workshops and trainings to prevent sexual harm. In addition, Jonathan has served as a trainer with EMU’s STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) program - and has co-created and co-facilitated multi-day trainings on Restorative Justice, Trauma Awareness, and Resilience.

Maisha Winn

Katherine Evans has been a professor in teacher education at EMU since 2011. She teaches courses in educational psychology, special education, and restorative justice in education (RJE). She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville where her dissertation research employed phenomenological interviews with middle school students about their experiences with in-school suspension. Prior to graduate school, Evans was a middle and high school special educator for students identified as having learning, behavioral, and emotional challenges. Her research, teaching, and scholarship focus on ways in which restorative justice practices support educators in creating more just and equitable educational opportunities for all students, including those with disability labels, those who exhibit challenging behavior, and those who are marginalized for a variety of reasons.

While at EMU, Evans has been active in furthering the field of Restorative Justice in Education (RJE), both through scholarship and teaching, by working collaboratively with colleagues and local educators to develop both a Master's concentration and a graduate certificate in RJE. For more information, please refer to the website:

Evans has published several articles and book chapters related to zero tolerance policies, restorative justice, and school discipline practices and regularly presents at professional conferences. Along with Dr. Dorothy Vaandering, she is a co-author of The Little Book of Restorative Justice in Education, published through Skyhorse Publishing. She is a member of several professional organizations including the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice, the American Educational Research Association, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. 

Maisha Winn

Co-Director 2016 - 2021

Dr. Johonna McCants Turner served as Co-Director of the Zehr Institute and led the network through a strategic planning and visioning process. Johonna is now the Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel University College.

Learn More about Johonna

Maisha Winn

Director (2012-2016), Co-Director (2016-2021)

Dr. Carl Stauffer served as the Director of the Zehr Institute from its inception in 2012 until 2016 and Co-Director until 2021, leading the Listening Project and hosting several delegations in visits to EMU/CJP. Carl is now a senior expert on reconciliation at the US Institute for Peace.

Learn more about Carl

Maisha Winn

patience kamau was the Zehr Institute's technology coordinator and developed webinar programming, website content, and managed social media. 

Learn more about patience


About the Institute

The Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, founded in autumn 2012, is a program of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University.

The Zehr Institute advocates for restorative justice as a social movement, and is also a convener of spaces where knowledge about restorative justice practices and programs can be shared among practitioners and learners, by facilitating conversations and cultivating connections through activities such as conferences, webinars and both in-person and online courses.


A Timeline of the institute




January 2012

Inception of Zehr Institute

The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) developed the Zehr Institute (ZI) to cultivate restorative justice (RJ) conversations, connections and learning. 

Summer 2012

Beginning of webinar series

The ZI began a regular series of webinars covering a broad range of RJ topics that are broadcast on a monthly basis to a diverse audience. This series continues to the present day.

August 2014

Graduate Certificate in Restorative Justice offering

In 2014, CJP began to offer a Graduate Certificate in RJ with the expectation that a Master’s Degree program would commence in Fall 2016. The ZI played a key role in its development.

November 2014

Creation of the “Restorative Justice - The Next Generation” project.

On the social margins, there is growing research and experimentation with RJ as a tool for addressing structural harms and injustices. This project explored and documented these emerging practices in order to recapture the revolutionary intent of RJ. This was a three-year initiative with the following objectives:

  • To facilitate dialogue and debate between mainstream and marginal voices invested in best practices in the RJ field
  • To influence the evolution of the RJ field in its application from the micro-relational and macro-structural levels
  • To provide space for innovative applications and adaptive practices in RJ to be given public exposure

A proposal was submitted to funders including the Porticus Project to provide resourcing for this project. 

January 2015

25th anniversary of “Changing Lenses

The ZI celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 

publishing of Howard Zehr’s book, “Changing Lenses” 

with a series of programming that ran throughout the 


March 19, 2015

Launch of Harrisonburg Police Department RJ Program with Support of the Zehr Institute.

Dr. Howard Zehr and Dr. Carl Stauffer, ZI co-directors,

helped create a new program with the Harrisonburg 

Police Department and to embark upon a city-wide RJ coalition, making it the first of its kind in Virginia. The coalition is comprised of groups from JMU, EMU, Harrisonburg Public Schools and the Harrisonburg Police Department. The coalition meets quarterly.

Learn more at:

April 2015

Palaver: RJ Lawyers Gathering

This gathering brought together groups of lawyers interested in RJ from across the country.

April 22-September 21, 2015

Webinar Series: Restorative Justice and Education with Dr. Kathy Evans

Dr. Kathy Evans hosted a webinar series on RJ and education. The five webinars included the voices of a diverse set of RJ practitioners somehow involved in the education system. Topics included; “Possibilities for Interrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline”, a panel discussion on everyday RJ in school practices, and the importance of relational pedagogy. Episodes can be accessed at this link: 

May 2015 

“Restorative Justice - The Next Generation”: Consultation

The ZI convened 36 select thought leaders to imagine the next generation of restorative justice.

The process entailed the following:

  • Convene a diverse cross-section of RJ scholars and practitioners interested in using RJ to address structural injustices and promote relationship repair in communities. Participants produce a think-piece for web publication and other documents and media products to support others in the RJ field.
  • 36 select thought leaders convene and participate in a facilitated process called “Transformative Scenario Building”. Four probable scenarios describing maximum/minimum impact and maximum/minimum coherence of the RJ field and its progression into the future are grappled with.

October 26-November 1, 2015

Nepali Delegation of Judges, Prosecutors and Court Officials

Six experts developing curriculum to train Nepali judges and law enforcement in restorative practices came to Eastern Mennonite University and were hosted by the Zehr Institute. Learn more here: 

November 2015

Palaver:  RJ in Policing

This gathering brought together law enforcement professionals from across the country who are already engaged in applying restorative justice to their work.

Spring 2016

Dr. Johonna Turner joins the Zehr Institute

Dr. Johonna Turner, who joined the faculty of CJP in fall 2015, becomes an active member of the Zehr Institute leadership team during her second semester at EMU. Her initial role as a Faculty Associate will become named and institutionalized in January 2017.

June 2016 

“Restorative Justice - The Next Generation”: Conference

This public conference facilitated discussion around  ways to broaden the RJ field to address structural injustice and collective harm. The objective was to document and compare best RJ practices for structural change. A cross section of 170 practitioners, activists, organizers and academics attended conference to further reflect and deliberate on process of describing, framing and sustaining the RJ movement

November 8, 2016

Panel: Healing Legacies of Harm and Everyday Conflicts

The ZI hosted a panel open to the EMU campus and broader community entitled, “Healing Legacies of Harm & Everyday Conflicts: Integrating Restorative and Indigenous Justice Around the World”. The panel featured research presentations from CJP students, alumni and faculty from Indonesia, Colombia, Libya and the United States. The participants and their roles at that time were: Agnes Chen, a Master’s Candidate at CJP, Diana Tovar, a Master’s Candidate at CJP, Najla El Mnagoush, PhD Student and Program Officer for Peacebuilding and Traditional Law, Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, and Dr. Carl Stauffer (CJP ‘02), Associate Professor of Justice and Development Studies and Co-Director of the ZI.

The panel focused on how people around the world are using justice approaches from their own cultures to address civil war, genocide, historical harms, and everyday conflicts. They highlighted research on the realities and potentialities in Indonesia, Colombia, Libya and Sierra Leone

October 2016-May 2017

“Maximizing the Impact of the Restorative Justice Movement”: a Strategic Listening Project 

This project included a listening and framing phase to solidify learnings from the 3-year “Next Generation” project. Six regional focus groups were conducted across the US from December 2016-March 2017. The framing phase involves hosting 12 thought leaders at Eastern Mennonite University in April of 2017.


“Restorative Justice - The Next Generation”:

Writing Workshop

This creative writing workshop involved joint writing, peer-review and draft feedback processes with an aim at reaching a broad, public audience with RJ knowledge and education. Twelve author voices were included in the creation and publication of an anthology to get the message out to a larger audience. The anthology can be found at the ZI web site:

October 23-October 27, 2017

Brazilian Delegation of RJ Practitioners, Judges, Prosecutors and Social Workers

The Zehr Institute hosted a delegation of 25 practitioners from across Brazil with diverse professional backgrounds. They spent five days visiting Harrisonburg-area programs, contemplating RJ practices and pedagogies, and witnessing shared values. More details can be found here: 

April 2017

Listening Project Report Released

The culminating product of the Listening Project was released. The aim of this document is to provide strategic analysis and guidance to the Porticus Foundation on how they can most significantly leverage their allotted resources to maximize the impact of the RJ movement in the next decade. The full document can be found here:

February 2018

South Korean Delegation of Teachers

A delegation of teachers from South Korean visited Eastern Mennonite University to learn about the spiritual, cultural and historical backgrounds of the restorative justice movement. They were hosted by the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice. More information can be found here:

March 13-April 3, 2018

Online Training for Police

Dr. Carl Stauffer and Officer Vanessa Westley co-taught a course for police officers entitled; “Law Enforcement Through Restorative Justice: Peacebuilding in the Community”. The course was an introduction to restorative justice with an emphasis on its applications in law enforcement and community-engaged program partnerships. Officer Westley is a 27-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department

June 2018

“Life Comes From It” Fund is Launched

Life Comes From It is a grantmaking circle that funds restorative justice, transformative justice and indigenous peacemaking work led by people of color. It was launched in response to key findings in the ZI Listening Report about the need for funding mid-level and small RJ organizations and the need to address the need for racial justice much more explicitly within the RJ sector. Dr. Johonna Turner represents the ZI as a member of the advisory board. Please see their website for more information:

August 2018

Institute Co-Founder Shifts to New Role

Dr. Howard Zehr, co-founder of the ZI shifted to a new position as director emeritus. 

August 2018

Dr. Johonna Turner Named Co-Director of the Zehr Institute

Dr. Johonna Turner began serving as co-director as ZI entered its 7th year. Dr. Turner hopes to widen the institute’s reach by including individuals and groups involved in grassroots activism whose important contributions to RJ have not received the attention they deserve.

August 2018

Strategic Planning Process Commences

See grant proposal

Fall 2018

Everyday RJ Workshops on EMU Campus Initiated

The ZI began hosting Everyday RJ workshops on the EMU campus instituted in partnership with the Student Life Division. These are one-day informational trainings for anyone connected to EMU campus. They take place once per semester. The workshop was first conceptualized by CJP student Katrina Poplett.  Learn more at: 

Fall 2019

Area Specialists Added to the ZI Team 

The Area Specialists position is a way to recognize and amplify the work of experts in restorative justice on the EMU campus as well as strengthen the ability of the ZI to connect and collaborate with one another. Our Area Specialists, Dr. Kathy Evans (RJ in K-12 Education) and Jonathan Swartz (RJ in Higher Education):

  • Accept invitations for speaking engagements and facilitation requests directed to ZI scholars and practitioners.
  • Provide leadership with ZI Webinars. For example, they extend invitations, host webinars, and give online presentations.
  • Provide leadership in our emergent Campus RJ initiative, which involves capacity-building, education and training on the EMU campus.
  • Give general input and advising to the ZI, particularly though monthly meetings. This includes speaking into our ongoing strategic planning process.
  • Respond to inquiries directed to the ZI in their area of specialization.

Summer 2019

Second Brazilian Delegation of RJ Advocates 

54 RJ practitioners and advocates from Brazil attended the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. The Brazilian judicial system had been showing growing interest in RJ and for years CJP was developing relationships with people there. The SPI courses attended by these practitioners provided tools that will help broaden how RJ is used in Brazil. More information can be found here: 

As part of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, the Zehr Institute is exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.