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Community Spotlight: Meet Roslyn Harmon

Executive Director at Dispute Resolution Center and member of the planning team for the 2021 Community Peace Celebration. Interviewed by Mayumi Park, Curator of Community Engagement at Public Art Saint Paul.

Healing work, Circle work, and Restorative work are central to Roslyn’s life. She is committed to helping open up our minds in the midst of conflicts through recognition of our own biases, guiding our understanding that each individual’s experience within the shared conflicts is different, and teaching us how to demonstrate compassion.

During her 23 years in educational programming and curriculum building, she discovered her passion and gift for healing and restorative practice. Through this newfound passion and her dedication to the faith community as a pastor, she founded the Circle of Healing Ministry which worked through the complexities of people’s mental health in healing circles rooted in biblical foundations.

She later attended graduate school for Marriage Counseling and Family Therapy at Adler to advance her work in restorative practice, but also because she wanted to help Black marriages strive and do well.

After spending more time working with diverse community members, she eventually found her way back in the education world, namely Osseo school district, where she began her restorative practice between students and students as well as students and teachers. The ability to see opposite sides of the conflicts are a crucial part of repairing and restoring broken relationships. Roslyn wanted her contribution to expand beyond schools and into the general community, including domestic abuse cases. As her experience in this very important work continued to grow, an opportunity to lead the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) as their new Executive Director called out to her. At DRC, Roslyn and the staff partner with community members, groups, schools, and businesses to problem-solve conflicts using peaceful resolution methods and restorative practices.

WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO CREATE COMMUNITIES OF PEACE? “Healing, pursuing unity, engaging in restorative practice, and the willingness to demonstrate compassion for the different experiences people go through. “As many communities across the US continue to experience police brutalities, people are initiating conversations on ways to minimize our contact with the police. The moment you pick up the phone to call the police, the lives of everyone involved in the conflict including yourself can potentially take an abrupt turn for the worse. How do we prevent this downfall from happening? This is where community resources like the Dispute Resolution Center come in, to help resolve disputes using a healthy, peaceful, restorative approach.”

WHO INSPIRES YOU TO KEEP DOING THE WORK? “The youth and students that I have worked with. I have witnessed so many children face daily challenges just to survive, robbed of their childhoods. It is glaringly apparent that the system needs to change to improve the lives of families. I strive to be a positive agent of change. It takes a whole community to create the changes we need. Even if you cannot change the lives of all students right away, making a difference for even one person means so much.

“It is when a young person that I have worked with in the past reaches out to me and expresses their appreciation for the positive impact I have had on their lives that I am encouraged to keep doing what I am doing."


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