Rochelle Arms Almengor

Rochelle Arms Almengor is a professor, mediator and restorative justice practitioner. She is currently Assistant Professor in the Peace and Social Justice Studies Department of Berea College. Before joining Berea, she was Assistant Professor in the Dispute Resolution Program of John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY). She received her Ph.D. in 2018 from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University (now the Carter School). Her research focuses on critical reflective practice, restorative justice, participatory action research and epistemologies of conflict practitioners. Before entering academia, she managed mediation and restorative justice initiatives in Brooklyn and Manhattan as Restorative Justice Coordinator of New York Peace Institute. Since 2000, she has worked in the U.S. and abroad in collaborative processes and restorative justice projects with a variety of groups, including civil society organizations in India, indigenous peoples in Argentina, immigrants and refugees, and homicide offenders and victim survivors in Kentucky.  Dr. Arms Almengor has a B.A. in Religion and Peace Studies from Swarthmore College, and an M.A. in International Relations through a Rotary Peace Fellowship at Universidad del Salvador in Argentina. She lives with her multigenerational family in Kentucky.

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"Co-Opting Restorative Justice in Higher Education"

Rochelle Arms Almengor provides an illuminating narrative about her experience in restorative justice, one that stretches back at least twenty years. Almengor worked as a restorative justice coordinator (RJC) in a school with predominantly White teachers and administrators. Being an RJC, she countered the school culture that normalized harm to youth by shaming them. Despite the many school cultures that embrace punitive disciplinary measures, she nonetheless sees schools as sites where restorative practices can take root.

Moreover, not unlike her sisters of color contributing to this volume, Almengor has witnessed restorative justice becoming more mainstreamed (e.g., in K–12 schools). But she also points out, as others have, that organizational leadership remains problematic—out of reach—for women of color. Based on her own work experiences, she observes that the leadership in RJ/RP organizations does not reflect the communities they serve.

Almengor shows that Black and other women of color, not surprisingly, are willing to take calculated but exceptional risks to colorize restorative justice, despite Whites’ expressions of fragility as they do so.