Final Check-Up

Just before Petra was officially born, 3 of Petra's 5 Board of Directors were privileged to meet up in January 2016 in southern California at the Rotary Peace Conference.

Rotary had flown me (Bianca) in from Spain to moderate one of the tracks. Sam made the effort to fly in from her home in Virginia. And there was no way that Californian Loretta would possibly miss it, since she was right up the road in San Francisco and she'd already made the effort to make it to Brazil for the Rotary Peace Symposium where she and I originally met.

Sam, Bianca & Loretta

Sam, Bianca & Loretta

Petra is as a highly globalized NGO with 5 directors in 4 different time zones living in 3 different countries, so we don't take these opportunities lightly! Thankfully, we had this chance before we legally incorporated for the majority of us to be in the same place at the same time.

It felt like a final doctor's check-up for the pregnant mom (Bianca) with her two very experienced and professional midwives, Loretta and Sam to make sure all was well before the long-awaited new arrival was born!

With DG Nick Frankle

With DG Nick Frankle

Thanks to Loretta's networking, I'd already been in touch with District Governor Nick Frankle, who was replacing Loretta as Rotary DG of District 5240. It's possible that one of the Rotary clubs within District 5240 will take the lead on the funding for Petra's pilot project in 2017, so it was a real joy to spend some time getting to know Nick and his wife Heather, and for them to get the scoop on Petra and our ambitions in the world of peacebuilding.

Meanwhile, Sam was running around the conference making all kinds of new connections and getting inspired on all the good work being done to stop her most detested of global scourges -- human trafficking.

A quick day-trip escape to Joshua Tree National Park

A quick day-trip escape to Joshua Tree National Park

It was an intense event for all 3 of us, each in our own way. Intensity notwithstanding, I left California refreshed, encouraged and super inspired to now give birth to this thing, especially after having had the pleasant experience of seeing Petra's leadership bond so well in person.

Lucas, we expect you there at the next Peace Conference!

Meet The Midwives: Petra's Board of Directors

After a long gestation, Petra's arrival into the world happened with almost no complications, thanks to some really great midwives in the form of Petra's Board of Directors.

Would you like to meet them?

Loretta Butts, Vice President

Loretta is a proud (and very active!) Rotarian and a prominent Past District Governor from District 5240 in California. She met Bianca during at the Rotary Peace Symposium in June 2015.

An instant connection and common passion led to Loretta and Bianca working closely together until Bianca asked Loretta to join the Board in late 2015.

Loretta Butts 01 sm.png

Despite living 9 time zones away from one another, they've had the chance to meet in person twice in the last 18 months. One of her favorite activities is to constantly confound Petra's leadership team with her networking skills, seeing that she shows up to every meeting with more and more connections and possibilities!

Petra progress thus far is due in large part to Loretta's advocacy efforts within Rotary on Petra's behalf. What a rockstar of a Vice President.


LUCAS WOLF, Secretary

Once Lucas heard about Petra Peacebuilders' efforts to boost resilience among the global peacebuilder community, he was all in. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, he has an instant bond with both Rotarian Loretta Butts and co-Rotary Peace Fellow Bianca Neff.

He is based in Managua, Nicaragua and serves as the International Director of Trees, Water and People, a great NGO with a passion to combine both sustainable development and sustainable livelihoods. As a Petra Director in the field, Lucas keeps our feet on the ground by consistently anchoring our programming decisions to the tangible results we seek in the lives of the people we serve.

Always kind, always bright, always upbeat, Lucas is a delight to work with. He serves as Petra's Secretary.


Sam Van Saun, Treasurer

Sam and Bianca have been friends for 5 years, in large part because of their common passion for justice for the oppressed (among other issues!). Her experience, education and view on the world make her a perfect fit for Petra's leadership team.

Having run her own nonprofit, Sam has also provided Petra with immense help in navigating the tricky legal and administrative waters of incorporation and tax-exemption status.

Meanwhile, her excellent perspective puts her in the position of asking key questions at just the right time so that our Board is making the best possible decisions. She is an all-around gem. Sam currently acts as Petra's Treasurer.

(Looks like the single women on Petra's leadership team have a thing for black dogs...?!)

Petra in Tahrir Square

April 2016 saw Petra Peacebuilders in Cairo, Egypt with on-the-ground presence for our first field assignment as a brand-new NGO!

We received our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS on April 5, and by April 19 we were already getting down to business with "boots on the ground" in the Middle East.

Tahrir Square in Cairo, famous site of Arab Spring demonstrations

Tahrir Square in Cairo, famous site of Arab Spring demonstrations

1st Field Assignment to Cairo

We sent Executive Director Bianca Neff for an intensive week of face-to-face coaching and support for the staff of one of our clients, Resource Exchange International (REI).

Petra has a 3-year relationship providing pro bono resilience coaching for REI's humanitarian workers. We've had the privilege of coaching their staff in Southeast Asia (Vietnam & Indonesia), the Horn of Africa (Djibouti), and now with a field visit to Cairo.

Just to explain our approach: Petra's outreach capacity is 3-fold:

  1. First, we have global reach through technology that allows us to connect with clients virtually anywhere in the world. (Petra's online coaching has been underway for many months now.)
  2. Second, we care for clients in Spain when they can come to our European base in Malaga.
  3. Third, Petra deploys to the field when clients have the need and when we have the staff and funding capacity to do so.

The Cairo trip was our first field deployment, marking an historic event in Petra's young but exciting history.


Strategic Partners

Why is Petra interested in Cairo? Think about it: The co-birthplace of the Arab Spring of 2011 is an epicenter where huge social challenges remain. Our client REI has staff in Cairo who are partnering with Aspire, an Egyptian consulting firm whose stated goals are to rebuild Egyptian society with stronger nonprofits and businesses by providing needed services in human capacity building. REI staff help represent Aspire in the area of conflict resolution, so that Egyptian companies and organizations learn these needed skills in order to conduct their work in a conflict-informed way, leading to more peaceful social transactions within Egypt's most influential business and social enterprises. Cool, right?!

Petra's behind-the-scenes support for REI peacebuilder staff makes Aspire's amazing work in Cairo even stronger. These are the kinds of strategic openings that we've been able to seize upon so far.

Back to the Middle East in 2017

We're looking forward to an expanded presence in the Middle East, in particular with a possible consulting project in 2017 in Jordan near the Syrian border with the aim of equipping Syrian refugee and local Jordanian youth with conflict transformation skills. AMAZING.

Stay posted as details about that potential Jordanian project emerge.

And thanks for rejoicing with us about our first successful field visit to Cairo!