Environmentalist, Peacebuilder, Educator
Friday, May 31, 2019 1:30p.m.
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Becca Farnum is an environmental peacebuilding educator working with communities to “love kindness and do justice” through conflict resolution. Her PhD from King’s College London explores how nature can help bridge political and cultural divides. As part of her research, Becca spent several years living and serving with water activists in North Africa, peace journalists in the Middle East, and conservation divers in the Persian Gulf. Her work has included contributing to United Nations legal policy, managing the UK Tour for an Israeli-Palestinian youth choir, and serving a stint on Michelle Obama’s Correspondence Team at The White House.
Currently based at Syracuse University London, Becca teaches courses on environmental justice and global citizenship...though she doesn’t spend much time in traditional classrooms. Instead, Becca takes students to the Arctic Circle to spend time with the indigenous Sámi reindeer herders, southwest Morocco to learn from Amazigh women, and Lockerbie to work alongside rural Scottish youth. Through her teaching, students are encouraged to uncover, critique, and develop their own values, rather than being “conformed to this world.”
Becca's global leadership can be traced to her time growing up in the United Methodist Church, which included her first international adventure: a service-learning trip to Haiti led by Reverend David Morton. While representing Michigan at a Jurisdictional Young People's Conference, she was chosen to attend the first Global Young People's Convocation and Legislative Assembly in South Africa; at the age of 16, she was elected to the 2008 General Conference and invited to present part of the first Young People's Address. During her university years, Becca maintained close ties with the Wesley Campus Ministries at Central Michigan and Michigan State, participating in alternative spring breaks to Quilali, Nicaragua, and Washington, DC.
Experiences with the worldwide United Methodist Church increased Becca’s passion for global justice, vulnerable communities, and the environment. Mentors in the Michigan Conference guided her toward the goal of her professional life: To help people build the skills they need to transform society, so they can be makers - rather than victims - of global change.
In 2012, the British Government offered Becca a Marshall Scholarship to study environmental leadership in the United Kingdom. After connecting with a Methodist church in Edinburgh during law school, Becca now lives close to Wesley's Chapel in London. In all things, she seeks to answer Wesley’s call to “Do all the good you can” and obey Jesus’ commandment to “Go, and do likewise.”
Foreign Service Officer, US Department of State
P.K. Turned Diplomat
*Speaking in her own capacity
Saturday, June 1, 2019 10:00 a.m.
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Kristen Grauer is a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State. She has served abroad 14 out of the last 17 years, completing tours in Benin, Russia, Liberia, Iraq, France, and Cote d’Ivoire. She has worked on everything from truth and reconciliation commissions in post conflict countries, to maritime pollution, to visa and refugee processing, to helping U.S. businesses expand abroad. She is most proud of her work on small scale development projects like schools, wells, and orphanages in Africa that made an immediate difference in communities. She worked closely with the U.S. Military on terrorist financing and sanctions in Baghdad and earned a mid-career military master’s degree at the U.S. National Defense University. Now she is serving at “Main State” in Washington, DC and is learning that some of our most difficult diplomacy actually happens within the U.S. Government as we work among agencies to formulate policy. Beginning in summer 2020, Kristen will assume the role of Consul General in Marseille, where she will be responsible for U.S. interests in the south of France. Through it all, she is honored to represent the best of the United States to the rest of the world and strives to make a difference wherever she is stationed.
Kristen is a proud Michigan UMC PK (daughter of the late Rev. Charles D. Grauer) who credits much of the resilience she needs for her day job to her childhood in the church. Not only is she really good at moving, her experiences gave her tangible skills that have paid off in very specific ways. For instance, Kristen learned the parliamentary procedure she needs at Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development meetings in Paris twice per year at the Lansing District Youth Council. Her colleagues were shocked at her ability to nail in shingles during a Habitat for Humanity project in West Africa, but that was a skill she picked up on a mission trip in 8th grade to inner city Grand Rapids. Likewise, youth group, CROP walks, countless summers at UMC camps, and a stint in Poland as a UM Volunteer in Mission all helped foster a sense of purpose and compassion that keeps Kristen going through even the most stressful of tours.
Much to the amusement of her foreign interlocutors, Kristen talks endlessly about her Michigan roots. She’s a big Wolverine fan, having earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. She has served “Michigan Riviera” wine on three continents, and even her French friends said certain bottles “weren’t bad.” No matter where she is living, she is most at home in St. Joseph, where she hopes to give her two “diplotots” a place to hang their hearts when they’re bouncing around the world too.
The family has ties to the United Kingdom too as Kristen’s husband Tim Warren is British. He shares her passion for international development and works as an accountant for non-governmental organizations. They met in Liberia. Kristen passed the in-law test when she visited his family during one of her study trips to the University of London International Programmes – London School of Economics, where she earned a Diploma for Graduates in Development.
The family enjoys services at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, DC and Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church in Arlington, VA.
*Ms. Grauer speaks in her personal capacity as a preacher's kid (PK) raised in the Michigan Conference.