Adar Cohen visited Dublin on Wednesday morning to talk about his work with at-risk communities affected by war or violence. Born and raised in Peterborough NH, Dr. Cohen came from an ethnically mixed emigrant background and was the first in his family to pursue higher education. He has worked with Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, with gang leaders and correctional officers in Chicago, and with Jews and Muslims in the Middle East, leading efforts to mediate peace in settings defined by conflict and uncertainty. A co-founder of the Civic Leadership Foundation (CLF) in Chicago, Cohen has helped over 15,000 at-risk, and justice-system-involved youth in Chicago become leaders in their communities. The mission of CLF is to “partner with schools and organizations in communities impacted by violence and poverty to teach young people critical lifelong leadership skills, preparing them for college, career, and positive engagement in their communities.”
His talk was spellbinding as he described the lives of inner-city Chicago gang members and his work in breaking the institutional, social and economic cycles that have made Chicago among the most violent places in America. He described how humor is a key tool in allowing him to break through the communication barriers that divide people.
Dr. Cohen is a recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, and the George Mitchell Scholarship, and he holds a B.A. in Conflict Resolution from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Peace Studies from the University of Dublin (Trinity College).