Staff

Community Service

LARRY LAWSON

Senior Adviser for Operations

Lawrence F. (Larry) Lawson is an expert in the criminal justice field serving over 35 years as a Florida-certified law enforcement officer. During this time, he served 15 years as the director of the Criminal Justice Training Institute and criminal justice department chair at Indian River State College in Ft. Pierce, Florida. Previously he served as a police officer, detective, detective supervisor, and investigator for the state attorney’s office for the 19th Judicial Circuit of Florida. Trained as a first responder, law enforcement instructor, and CERT instructor, Larry worked with Dr. Paul Forage as he brought the disaster relief and humanitarian aid program to Indian River State College from Florida Atlantic University. Lawrence was part of the original Indian River State College staff that brought the disaster relief and humanitarian aid program “Svetlina” (“The Light”) to the Republic of Macedonia (2007–2009) in conjunction with the Macedonian government and Saints Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia. Lawrence has a B.S. in management from Nova Southeastern University and an MPA from Troy State University.

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JESS BONNAN-WHITE (she/her)

Director of Education & Training

Jess Bonnan-White is a security studies scholar and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in homeland security, conflict resolution, peace studies, criminological theory, humanitarian history, and emergency management. Her work has been published in Contemporary Justice Review, PLOS Currents Disasters, Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Peace Review, Agriculture and Human Values, Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education, Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the International Association for Emergency Management Bulletin. Jess is also the recipient of an International Peace Research Association Foundation research grant for her recent work on policing in Northern Ireland. With domestic and international research and practice experience, her scholarship explores community dynamics, conflict analysis, and governmental response to public crisis. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from Northern Illinois University and the University of Iowa, respectively, as well as a postgraduate certificate in conflict and peace studies from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She also volunteers with the American Red Cross New Jersey Region as a volunteer for the Service to the Armed Forces and International Services programs as the regional lead for the International Humanitarian Law Instruction Program.

Publications

CHELSEA CORNWELL (she/her)

Program Manager

Chelsea Cornwell holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Connecticut and a master’s in disaster resilience leadership from Tulane University. She is currently working as a JSOCCP-certified clinician with juveniles in a residential treatment program to address inappropriate sexual behaviors with an accountability and strengths-based perspective. Her professional background includes work as a sexual assault victim advocate, AmeriCorps member working with educational programs for youth, and NGO representative to the United Nations on behalf of the International Association of Schools of Social Work as an intern. Chelsea came to the Forage Center as a program participant in 2016 and joined the program staff in 2017. She has served as controller/evaluator and exercise director with the education & training committee. 

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CHRISTY MCGUIRE (she/her)

Program Specialist

Christy McGuire is a learning scientist and lifelong learner. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of practice with the Center for Urban Education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. Her 2021 Ed.D. dissertation research focused on white teachers’ beliefs about discussing race and racism in the classroom. Since earning a Ph.D. in cognitive and experimental psychology from Georgia Tech in 2001, Christy has worked in various education-related workspaces, including an international nonprofit and national for-profit, as well as co-founding an educational technology startup. Christy participated in the 2018 Forage Center training at LaRoche College, then returned in 2018 as a role player and member of the education & training committee. She is particularly interested in collaborating with educators around racial equity and culturally relevant pedagogy, as well as in exploring humans’ various ways of knowing.

Community Service

LENA CHOUDHARY (she/they)

Program Specialist

Lena Choudhary, J.D., M.S., R.N., is an associate professor of nursing at Montgomery College. They have been teaching for over eight years. Their content focus is on legal and ethical issues in nursing along with worksite environments, particularly lateral violence or bullying in the nursing profession. They have presented at numerous conferences and faculty and student forums on this topic. They have taught at the undergraduate and graduate level as well. Lena’s specialty is in public health nursing, particularly vulnerable populations, domestic and international. Their experience with the Forage Center and the live training simulations for the past five years is supported by their continued professional development in nursing simulation, which has grown in use tremendously in the last decade. 

Publications

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SYDNA COOPER

Program Specialist

Sydna Cooper is a graduate from George Mason University receiving her master's of social work and master's of conflict analysis and resolution. Prior to graduate school, Sydna worked as a crisis counselor and an advocate for victims and survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and harassment. She currently works in alternative dispute resolution providing mediation services and development support for workshops and training on communication and conflict resolution skills. In 2015, Sydna was a participant of the Forage Center's Atlantic Promise simulation and returned in 2016 to work as a controller/evaluator of the program.

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WILL MUEHL (they/them)

Will earned their M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies with a concentration in International Peace Development in 2015, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Their research interests revolve around queer education policy, peer education ethics, curriculum development, and residential colleges. They are a Certified Peer Educator Trainer through NASPA, where they train undergraduate students in various leadership and health-related competencies in an effort to create critical and long-lasting community change. Will is currently a graduate assistant working with peer education techniques and student development with Grogan Residential College, housed at UNCG. Will first participated in a simulation with the Forage Center back in Spring 2014 and has returned three times to serve as an embedded in-role mentor and controller/evaluator for the other simulations. 

Program Specialist

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NINETTE IRABARUTA (she/her)

Ninette Irabaruta works at United Way of Southern Maine as the director of public policy and advocacy. Ninette is also contracted by Maine Community Foundation, where she coordinates the Investing in Leaders of Color program that focuses on building the field of people and organizations working to promote and increase racial equity in Maine. Previously, she served as global manager for The Nourishment Economies Coalition, where she worked on a two-year project with indigenous communities across North America, all while bringing in new business opportunities and donors. She supported research and outreach with the Mental Health & Racial Equity project at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She also developed workshops to help cultivate young talent in U.S. immigrants and underserved communities on leadership, cross-cultural communication, social justice, and civic engagement. A native of Burundi in Central-East Africa, Ninette moved to the United States in 2012. Ninette holds a B.A. degree in political science from Saint Joseph's College of Maine and an M.A. degree in sustainable international development from Brandeis University. 

Program Specialist

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LOGAN VARKER (he/him)

Program Specialist

Logan Varker is a graduate student at George Mason University's Conflict Analysis and Resolution program. He graduated with full honors from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a B.A. in International and Global Studies and a minor in Spanish language, and is an alum of the Forage Center's Coastal Promise full-immersion disaster simulation in Fall 2019. Logan is interested in pursuing a new political discourse through his studies at George Mason, which would include establishing durable relationships and dialogues between politically polarized groups.

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HEATHER PAYNE (she/her)

Heather is currently a training manager at a nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention and works for the DC Peace Team as an online unarmed civilian protection trainer. Prior her current roles, she worked outside of the U.S. mainly in South Sudan, Lebanon, and India. Heather has worked with local civil society nonprofits on educational and vocational projects for children, youth, and women, and has worked in conflict and post-conflict settings in civilian protection such as community protection, gender-based violence prevention, and child protection. She has additional experience working with youth in a correctional facility, as a teacher, and as a data collector. Heather has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma and a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution from the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University.

Program Specialist

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Sarah Gresham (she/her)

Sarah Gresham is currently working on her master's in e-education and distance learning from the University of Maryland Global Campus. She is a former behavioral technician specializing in autism and currently works as a freelance digital artist and substitute teacher for K-12. Sarah has a bachelor's degree in psychology and minor in social welfare from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Special Projects Assistant

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Priscilla Briones (she/her)

Priscilla is a seasoned nonprofit and association administrator with 15 years of experience in operations, human resources, financial management, communications, meetings and events, and membership. Her previous roles have introduced her to reinsurance, STEM learning, foreign exchange students, construction, technical writing, and journalism. When she's not working you can find her with her family, reading, hiking, or embroidering. Priscilla has a bachelor's degree in  English and Communications from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.

Administrative Assistant