Meet Our Trainers


Bernard LaFayette

Bernard LaFayette, Jr. EdD. I have been a Civil Rights activist for over fifty years, beginning as a co-founder and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Nashville Sit-ins, a Freedom Rider, and associate of Dr. King in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). As the founding Director of the URI Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies for nine years, I have led education and training programs in Kingian Nonviolence on state, national and international levels, focusing on the strategies of nonviolent social change. I am currently a Distinguished Senior Scholar at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Every year I return as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar for the International Nonviolence Summer Institute to conduct the advanced Level II training program.

(w): 404.727.2974,

PaulPaul Bueno de Mesquita, PhD. For more than thirty years I have worked as a professor, a psychologist, and advocate for youth’s mental health. My scholarship is focused on violence prevention and positive psychological development, particularly in under-represented and underserved low-income communities and schools. As a Level III Nonviolence Trainer, I have enjoyed directing the Annual International Nonviolence Summer Institute and training individuals from the US and across the world. I also enjoy singing and sharing the music of peace, justice and nonviolent social change.

(w) 401.874.2875, (c) 401.207-6928,

 Kay Bueno de MesquitaKay Bueno de Mesquita. Level II Kingian Nonviolence trainer.
For the last 20 years I have taught in the School of Education and supervised student teachers at the University of Rhode Island. I infuse nonviolence into the teacher training curriculum and helping teachers create peaceful instructional environments. The highlight of my year is the trainings Paul & I facilitate in Nepal & India, and meeting people from many nations and cultures at Summer Institute. Recently, Bernard LaFayette and I co-authored a book, In Peace and Freedom, about his civil rights experiences in Selma during the AL Voting Rights Campaign, 1963-1965.

Thupten 3Thupten Tendar. Level II Kingian Nonviolence trainer. Born of Tibetan parents, I joined a monastery in India at age 12 where I studied for over 18 years, earning a doctoral level Geshe degree in Buddhist Philosophy. I am currently enrolled in a Ph.D. Program at URI in Adult Education focusing on inner peace. I work as a graduate administrative assistant at the Center and teach an Honor’s course, “Tibetan Buddhism: Journey to Nirvana.” I want to promote compassion for individual and universal peace. The Center published my first book of poetry, Peace – Rhythm of My Heart.

(c) 510.610.5060,


gail_000Gail Rashed Faris. Level III Kingian Nonviolence trainer. I have been involved with the Center since its inception. In 2005, I created the course “Academic Alternative Spring Break: Classroom without Borders.” This social justice/service learning class engaged students in the classroom and in the field, working with Habitat for Humanity in areas of acute and chronic poverty. I was one of the coordinators of the 2010 Honors Symposium on “Race.” I am retired as Asst. Director of the URI Women’s Center. I have assisted Bernard for several years in Level II.

Kazu HagaKazu Haga. Level III Kingian Nonviolence trainer. I am the founder and Coordinator of the East Point Peace Academy in Oakland, CA. Born in Tokyo, Japan, I have been engaged in social change work since the age of 17, when I participated in the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage, a 6-month walking journey to retrace the slave route. I have since played leading roles in many movements and organizations, and have been trained by elders such as Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Joanna Macy and Rev. James Lawson. I work to empower incarcerated communities, youth and activists around the country.

Mecca portraitMecca Smith. Level II Kingian Nonviolence trainer. Hello everyone! In 2013 I graduated from URI focusing on Cultural Anthropology and documentary filmmaking with minors in Leadership and Nonviolence & Peace Studies. My journey with nonviolence started with my parents and my name: it has fostered a sense of wanderlust in me and led me to travel and to seek understanding in myself and others. I got involved with our campus’s student nonviolent club, was trained in Level 1 Kingian nonviolence, and traveled the world to Nepal and other countries with some of my best friends and favorite professors. I gained valuable experience as a trainer throughout my college years, presenting as a tour guide, teaching as a mentor, and received the Robert L. Carothers Rainville award for Servant Leadership. All the while staying involved with the Center, I’ve had the honor to return for the past two years to be a part of the International Nonviolence Summer Institute.

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