Steven Botkin, Ed.D.
Steven Botkin founded the Men’s Resource Center of Western Massachusetts in 1982 and received his doctoral degree in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts several years later. He guided the MRC from a grass-roots group of volunteers into a successful non-profit community-based organization, whose programs became a model for men’s organizing in communities around the world. In 2004 Steven founded Men’s Resources International (www.mensresourcesinternational.org) to support the development of masculinity awareness and men’s engagement as allies and partners with women within a global network.
Since then, Dr. Steven Botkin has been instrumental in the formation of many local, national and global men’s groups, organizations and networks, including the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre, the Congo Men’s Network and the MenEngage Network. He has developed a toolkit for organizing “Masculinity Reflection Groups” for men and women with CARE International in Mali and Niger, a Partnership Model for women and men in family and community peace building in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, a Healthy Manhood curriculum for the YMCA in the United States, a National Action Plan for engaging men and boys in domestic violence prevention and gender equality for UN Women in Albania, and a Change-Maker Training curriculum for engaging men and women as community change agents for violence prevention and gender equality for Concern Liberia and CARE Myanmar. Consultations to other organizations include International Planned Parenthood Federation, Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, RutgersWPF, the YWCA and the Women’s Peacemakers Program. Steven currently serves on the Steering Committee of the North American MenEngage Network and the Board of Safe Passage (his local domestic violence organization).
James Arana is a social worker, facilitator, mediator, and community organizer with 35 years experience working with people of all ages and diverse cultural background. James inspires and challenges individuals, youth programs, community organizations, and international NGO’s to strengthen their work in transforming masculinity, domestic violence prevention, gender equality, organizational visioning and program development, and cultural competence.
As a MERGE Senior Trainer, James supports the development of men’s initiatives to reduce gender-based violence and promote a healthy, compassionate, and responsible model of masculinity. James facilitates a consciousness-raising process, using a popular education methodology, to assess and analyze the privileges and challenges of traditional masculinity with communities all around the world. James served as the Co-Founder and Associate Director of the former Men’s Resources International (MRI), where he worked with organizations such as CARE International, the International Rescue Committee, the YMCA and the Women’s Peacemakers Program in Zambia, Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire and Niger.
As director of the Dragon’s Den School Of Martial Arts, James Arana, 4th Degree Blackbelt, has been mentoring youth and adults through the martial arts since 1976.
Laura Penney has been working in the field of domestic and sexual violence for over eight years, both professionally and personally. She is a graduate of the Social Thought and Political Economy program at UMASS Amherst and a current candidate for a Masters of Social Work at Westfield State University. In 2009, Laura joined the staff at Safe Passage in various roles, including both direct service and administrative capacities. She is presently the Director of Community Engagement at Safe Passage. A major aspect of her position is the role of Project Director of Say Something, a newly developed Prevention Initiative. Laura has been involved in the creation and strategic planning of the Healthy Men and Boys Network, now MERGE, since its inception. Laura enjoys social media and has a passion for engaging everyone in discussions of all social justice issues. She believes strongly in connecting community members as well as service providers in this important work.
Oswaldo Montoya, M.A.
Oswaldo Montoya is one of the founders of the Men´s Group against Violence in Managua, one of the first men’s groups of this kind in Central America. For over twenty years he has served as an educator, activist, program officer, researcher, college professor, consultant and counselor working with men and boys for gender equality.
A former Fulbright grantee, he holds a Master´s degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology from Boston College. Oswaldo worked with Puntos de Encuentro, a Nicaraguan feminist organization, with EMERGE a domestic violence program in the Massachusetts, with Save the Children, promoting children’s rights and with the Global Secretariat of the MenEngage Alliance.