Board of Directors

Bianca M. Neff-Uribe, FOUNDEr

President, Petra Peacebuilders, Inc.
rotary peace fellow (2010-2011)
ACC, International Coach Federation
MA, Conflict Resolution
BA, Cultural Anthropology


Bianca is the daughter of an American father and a Basque mother from the historically conflict-ridden region of northern Spain. She is a humanitarian coach, credentialed as an Associate Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Her academic background in Conflict Resolution and Cultural Anthropology combines with her coaching credentials and expertise in global transitions to uniquely qualify her to help lead the current movement toward peacebuilder resilience. She serves as Founding Director of Petra Peacebuilders.

Bianca has been active in global humanitarian work for 20 years, beginning in Latin America in the 1990s as an interpreter for English-speaking professionals. She then moved into cultural anthropology in Central Asia (the ‘–stan’ countries) and Arabic-speaking North Africa, helping development expats in understanding and respecting their local context. Her grassroots work in various nations combines with her experience at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva (UNOCHA), affording her an exceptionally broad perspective on the global non-profit enterprise.

Her passion is to assist local grassroots leaders in the developing world, particularly those working in reconciliation and conflict transformation, in receiving the personal and organizational support they need to remain strong and resilient. As Petra's founding director, Bianca combines her drive for excellence with an overarching and decidedly people-focused goal of team harmony, a highly effective combination of leadership gifts in today's global climate. Her Myers-Brigs profile is INTJ ('Mastermind') and on the Enneagram she is a Type One ('Reformer').

Bianca's professional associations include membership in the International Coach Federation (ICF). Her extensive international experience naturally brings a unique and well-rounded perspective to her coaching. As a coach and social entrepreneur, her primary professional interests outside Petra include: Reconciliation, Conflict Transformation, Radical Disagreement and Engagement, and Sustainable Development.

In 2012, in keeping with her commitment to reduce her carbon footprint, she moved into a beautiful eco-friendly yurt. For fun, she loves cycling, tennis, DIY home projects, playing with her two rambunctious Dobermans Ninja & Neska, spending time with third-culture kids, and curling up with any book by Ahmed Rashid or Henri Nouwen.

Bianca has lived in Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Morocco, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the USA. She is a dual citizen of Spain and the United States. She runs Petra Peacebuilders from Malaga, Spain.

Loretta R. butts

Vice President, Petra Peacebuilders, Inc.
Past Rotary District Governor, District 5240
Rotary Club of Atascadero, CA

Loretta is a Registered Principal and independent financial advisor. Since moving to California's Central Coast in 1989 from the San Francisco Bay area, she has served as the Chair of the San Luis Obispo County Commission on the Status of Women, on the Board of Directors of the North County Women's Shelter and Life Span Services, and as Chair of the program advisory committee for the EOC Adult Day Care program in Templeton, CA.

Loretta joined the Rotary Club of Atascadero in 1994 and has since served on several of the club's boards and as Treasurer and Rotary International Foundation chair. In 2001 she was instrumental in the charter of the Rotary Club of Templeton and served as its Charter President from 2001-2003. In 2005, she returned to her home club in Atascadero.

Loretta has seen the wider impact of Rotary as the world's largest service organization by attending Rotary International Conventions in Barcelona, Los Angeles, Lisbon, Sydney and most recently Sao Paulo, Brazil.

She has witnessed Rotary's direct impact during her travels to Nigeria to assist in the goal of eradicating polio while identifying the need for other Rotary-sponsored programs and services. Loretta has also traveled to Uganda representing District 5240 Rotarians responsible for a significant grant to provide furnishings and supplies for a medical clinic and living facilities for staff in a remote village outside of Lira.

Prior to her selection as an incoming District Governor, Loretta served District 5240 as International Service Chair, STEPS Chair, Assistant Governor, GSE Group Coordinator, district Paul Harris Society and Annual Giving advisor as well as advisor to the Grants Committee and member of the Future Vision Planning Committee.

She has had the honor of being selected Rotarian of the Year while also being a multiple Paul Harris Fellow, a Benefactor and a member of the Paul Harris Society. Her husband John is also a Paul Harris Fellow as are other members of her family.

Shannon L. Buckmaster

Treasurer, Petra Peacebuilders, Inc.
Former Nat'l Spokeswoman, Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation
M.Div, Yale University Divinity School

Shannon Buckmaster, LinkedIn.jpg

Shannon’s passion is to encourage people to welcome challenges, rise from failures and mistakes, and rebuild. In addition to often finding refuge in foster care as a minor, she has survived child abuse (emotional, physical, sexual and neglect), on-campus sexual assault as a college student, domestic violence in her first marriage, and sexual assault as an adult, yet she uses that pain to create hope for others. She helps individuals grow in personal resiliency, hope and compassion. Investing in the re-creation of the self creates stronger relationships and stronger communities. Embracing obstacles and growing through them, while releasing shame and fighting social stigmas, opens up a greater possibility to love oneself and others. 

Her relevant experience to the mission of Petra Peacebuilders includes teaching religious studies at George Fox University (2005-2011), mentoring and training sales force members as a Senior Sales Director for Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. (2010-2017), being a national spokeswoman for the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, advocating for awareness and prevention of domestic violence (2014-2017), serving on the Board of Directors and as the Family Selection Chair for Newberg Area Habitat for Humanity (2014-present), and co-chairing a non-profit concert series with the Young Professionals of Yamhill Valley. Shannon is also the Membership Chair, a Board Member, and D5100 Peace Committee Member with the Newberg Rotary Club in Newberg, Oregon.

In 2017, Shannon launched her own company, Shannon Buckmaster, LLC, for the sole purpose of public advocacy work for vulnerable populations. This work includes presenting keynote speeches, breakout sessions and emceeing events for non-profits, government agencies and educators. She addresses stereotypes of and stigmas against survivors, teaches more compassionate responses to trauma and abuse, and creates safe spaces for difficult conversations.

Shannon is a Pacific Northwest (USA) native, enjoys cooking (eating), gardening, books, movies, music and harmless shenanigans with her family in Newberg, Oregon. She is married to Paul and together they parent two compassionate, fun and intelligent humans, Anna and Bennet.

Craig W. Lewis

Secretary, Petra Peacebuilders, Inc.
MA, Leadership
BA, Cultural Anthropology

Craig Lewis 01, cropped.jpg

Craig is husband to Katie and dad to his 8-year old son who they adopted from Taiwan. They currently live in South Carolina. 

He was born and raised in Ohio and holds academic degrees in both Cultural Anthropology and in Leadership. He is a trained coach and spiritual director who has a keen interest in walking with individuals through a process of awareness and wholeness.

He and his wife lived in Spain from 2008-2012 working on a team that developed programs designed to prepare immigrants and refugees for life in their new context as well as communicating to these marginalized peoples their eternal value as human beings. This type of work required navigating the complexities of understanding the host country's language and culture as well as that of the immigrant and refugee communities in order to bridge the gap between the two. 

Craig is also a budding artist who loves working with his hands, with a strong appreciation for the role that the creative process has on life.

DR. benjamin P. dean

PhD, Organizational Leadership
LLM and Juris Doctorate, Law
BA, International Studies & Political Science

Benjamin Dean earned a PhD in organizational leadership, specializing in organizational development applied to international and intercultural contexts. He has acquired extensive global experience in business management education as well as in corporate coaching, results-oriented training and multicultural team-building. His certifications include Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) awarded by the Human Resources Certification Institute. His professional memberships include the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the International Leadership Association (ILA).

Dr. Dean is also an experienced attorney and certified mediator. He acquired more than sixteen years of professional practice in law, including in the private sector serving business clients and not-for-profit organizations. He practiced law in Raleigh, North Carolina for ten years, providing legal and operational counsel to corporate executives and managers, including major health care and insurance companies.

He has high-level professional and leadership experience serving in the public sector. As an attorney, he served on the White House staff in the role of Assistant Counsel to the President. He regularly met with individuals selected as prospective presidential appointees to provide counsel and advice, while also meeting with various members of Congress to conduct one-on-one briefings. He has also acquired extensive practical leadership and organizational skills as a former active duty military officer, where his work included providing legal counsel and organizational advice to senior military officers and government officials.

Dr. Dean brings to Petra Peacebuilders his broad international experience, including on-site work in more than thirty countries, engaging directly with key organizational and policy leaders in more than twenty of those countries. From 2003 to 2011, he worked for various private international humanitarian organizations during which time he lived abroad in both Italy and France, from where he planned and organized an international leadership conference for global diplomats and national leaders in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, he served as the Director of Global Partnerships for an international nongovernmental organization (INGO) based in Orlando, Florida, launching and overseeing strategic partnerships in thirteen developing countries.

Dr. Dean founded and directed the Business and Organizational Leadership program at Columbia International University, a private university in Columbia, South Carolina. He is currently a professor in the United States, where he holds the position of Head of the Department of Leadership Studies at The Citadel, a public university in South Carolina.

samantha C. van saun

Co-Founder, center for awareness and influence (CAI)
M.Div, Inter-Cultural Studies
BA, Economics

Samantha lived out her middle and high school years and her 20’s in the Washington, DC area where she was greatly influenced by the arts, diverse culture, international and political atmosphere. She has also resided, worked and traveled in various areas of the United States, East Africa, Turkey, England, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. She received a B.A. in Economics and a B.A. in Dance in 1998 from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and a M.A. in Dance in 2003 from American University, Washington, DC.

From 2003-2008, Samantha served as Executive Director of Victory for the Nations, a non-profit organization that partnered with orphanages and churches in East Africa. Her experience in international relief and development grew at Operation Blessing International in 2009 where she helped manage finances and worked closely with OB's offices in ten Latin American countries.

In May 2012, Samantha earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) in Inter-Cultural Studies from Regent University with her Master's thesis focusing on human rights abuses faced by Muslim women in the Middle East. Her work included on-site research in Turkey in March 2012 to interview Central Asian and Middle Eastern women concerning abuses they faced.

In January 2013 Samantha co-founded the Center for Awareness and Influence (CAI). With a mission to serve as a catalyst for ending trafficking and abuse, CAI is in the process of establishing a publishing imprint for personal and academic works to raise awareness and affect policy making to end trafficking and abuse worldwide.

Samantha is a real estate agent on the Northern Neck of Virginia and Manager of Premier Sailing, a sailing school for children and adults. She resides in the beautiful village of Irvington, VA on the Rappahannock River which allows her to indulge in her love for the water, sailing and kayaking with her faithful dog, Skee.