PeacePlayers Announces First Leadership Academy Cohort

ANnouncing a Game-changing global initiative for peaceplayers alumni

For two years we have been putting our all into a new global initiative that will take our alumni, and PeacePlayers as a whole, to the next level. We are excited – and extremely proud – to announce The Leadership Academy, founded in honor of Martha Buford.


For the past 20 years, PeacePlayers has reached thousands of youth around the world. Now is the time to deepen our investment in these young leaders as they go out into the world as PeacePlayers alumni. Through The Leadership Academy, set to launch in September of 2022, we will invest in our alumni’s futures: their interests, their skills – their careers. And they will emerge with the skills and opportunities to make real and lasting changes for greater peace and equity where they work and where they live.

The Academy's Offerings

Access to Scholarships and Tuition Assistance

Global Network of Resources and Connections

Internships & Fellowships at PeacePlayers & Partner Organizations


Specialized Certification Programs and Skills Training

Opportunities to Stay Connected with Fellow Alumni

Heba PeacePlayers Global

Meet Heba El-hendi

The Leadership Academy Director

“I recognized that it was a need while I was at PeacePlayers doing my fellowship. We had long term, lifelong participants and there is kind of like that tapering-off gap of what happens after. I got really excited about the fact that we can create a global movement in that sense and provide tangible, actual support for youth that really deserve it.”

Major Milestones

Leadership Academy Milestones Mobile
Leadership Academy Milestones

Meet the Youth steering committee

The youth and alumni behind the initiative’s conception and execution.

Sophie Kennedy Leadership Academy

Sophie Kennedey

5 years with PeacePlayers Northern Ireland

Age: 23

Occupation: Communications major at Ulster University and marketing intern for ESPN UK

Reason for joining: “I felt really passionately that other participants should be exposed to the same experiences I was lucky to have on PeacePlayers exchanges. When you connect with youth from other sites you can see the global movement for peace at work and it’s really inspiring to know it’s not just our site but many others creating moments of change!”

Beth Clark Leadership Academy

Beth Clark

10 years with PeacePlayers Northern Ireland

Age: 19

Occupation: Highschool Senior

Reason for joining: “I really wanted to further my career within PeacePlayers and do something extra with all that I have learnt over the years with PeacePlayers. It sounded like an exciting opportunity and I’m grateful to have been given the chance to take part.”

Sinem Yandas Leadership Academy

Sinem Yandas

8 years with
PeacePlayers Cyprus

Age: 20

Occupation: Education Major at Girne American University

Reason for joining: I thought it would be a great experience for me since it’s my first year as an alumni


Brady Rutherford

2 years with
South Africa

Age: 19

Occupation: High School Senior

Reason for joining: “I was nominated as a South African reprasentitive for the committee and one I heard the incredible goals and vision of uplifting PeacePlayers and it’s Alumni that this Committee would set out to do I knew that it would be a goal suited for me and it has been an honour being a part of this incredible program every step of the way.”

casey Pearson Leadership Academy

Casey Pearson

3 years with

Age: 22

Occupation: Communications Major at Michigan State University

Reason for joining: “I want to be someone who helps the community by taking leadership initiatives.


Noluthando Mandisa MsweliAge (Thando)

9 years with
PeacePlayers South Africa

Age: 28

Occupation: Operations Manager for PeacePlayers South Africa

Reason for joining: “I have a strong belief that if you invest in people, you invest in the sustainability of the organization. This [Global Initiative] is a platform to create and empower individuals, so I would love to be part of the creation of something that can affect a lot of positive change in and around our sites.


Sofia Niki Georgiou

9 years with
PeacePlayers Cyprus

Age: 24

Occupation: College Graduate with a Degree in Radiotherapy

Reason for joining: “PeacePlayers is a massive part of my life. Since I graduated from the LDP I’ve been involved with PeacePlayers in any part I can even when I wasn’t coaching. It will be cool to build something that can keep PeacePlayers alive for alumni.”


Malak Ayoub

12 years with PeacePlayers Middle East

Age: 22

Occupation: Communications Major in the Hebrew University

Reason for joining: “PeacePlayers has changed my life, it taught me a lot, I just want to encourage other and younger Palestinian kids to aspire for a better change and I hope someday I’ll be the person that I as a kid always searched for. And to basically walk them through their journey.”


Raishan Bernard

2 years with
PeacePlayers Brooklyn

Age: 21

Occupation: Computer Science Major

Reason for joining: I want to do more and impact the youth. I want to set an example kids can look to and I’m passionate about it.


Toot Imbar

11 years with
PeacePlayers Middle East

Age: 24

Occupation: Project Manager at PeacePlayers

Reason for joining: “I have been a part of PeacePlayers for nearly half my life, by now it has become more so that PeacePlayers is a part of me. This is the main goal for my joining [this new Global Initiative], to create a program that supports me and my peers from around the world to continue carrying PeacePlayers – the friendships we made, the values we were educated upon, the experiences we had and the skills we acquired – as we pursue our personal and professional goals.”

Our Global Partners:

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Global Partners

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