Mission High senior receives peacemaking award

Mission High student Leslie Mendez with her teacher Fakhra Shah.
Mission High student Leslie Mendez with her teacher Fakhra Shah. (Photo courtesy Fakhra Shah)

One Mission High School senior has made it her mission to bring peace to her school.

More than 50 mediation sessions after beginning her peacemaking work as an eighth grade student at Buena Vista Horace Mann Middle School, Leslie Mendez is poised next month to graduate from Mission High with more than just a diploma. This year, Leslie is one of three recipients of the San Francisco Peacemaker Awards.

Leslie has been honored with the Gail Sadalla Rising Peacemaker Award by the Community Boards, the nation’s oldest nonprofit conflict resolution center. Community Boards is celebrating its 8th Annual San Francisco Peacemaker Awards on June 1.

"It shows how far I’ve come from before," Leslie said of the award. "It makes me think that I could do things in the future and I am able to do better things."

Over the years, Leslie has helped resolve conflicts concerning a wide range of issues, including miscommunications, gossiping, bullying, teacher and student disputes, and name-calling.

Fakhra Shah, her Peer Resources teacher, first met Leslie when Leslie was in 10th grade. Ms. Shah recalled that Leslie started out shy in class, but gradually developed a sense of self and became one of the strongest leaders among her peers.

"That's when things started to turn around," Ms. Shah said. "Last spring, we had the opportunity to go to Santa Rosa High School. Leslie planned an anti-oppression workshop with skits and poems, and presented it with her classmates in front of 1,000 students at Santa Rosa High School."

The experience was eye-opening for Leslie, her teacher said.

"It showed her a whole different perspective," Ms. Shah said.

For Leslie, working with her peers has allowed her the chance to discover how she can truly make a difference in the lives of others. She conducts peer mediation sessions and has held more than 20 workshops educating students about sexual harassment.

"This gave me a lot of strength and more confidence with myself, and helped me gain communication skills," Leslie said.

About Community Boards
Community Boards, the nation’s oldest nonprofit conflict resolution center, is celebrating its 8th Annual San Francisco Peacemaker Awards at a benefit held on June 1. Founded in 1976, Community Boards’ mission is to provide all San Francisco residents with empowering, effective, and accessible conflict resolution services for resolving a wide range of personal, residential, neighborhood, consumer, and public disputes.

The San Francisco Peacemaker Awards recognize and celebrate the contributions of one adult, one youth, and one organization working towards making San Francisco’s neighborhoods and communities healthier and safer through peacemaking and anti-violence work. With the awards, Community Boards salutes and celebrates change makers, community builders, anti-violence advocates, and on-the-ground peacemakers.

Being held at The City Club of San Francisco, the event begins with an 8:30 a.m. workshop followed by a wine reception, luncheon, and Peacemaker Awards ceremony. Benefit tickets can either be purchased for the workshop and luncheon/awards or for the luncheon/awards only.

The 2018 Peacemaker Award recipients and their accomplishments demonstrate the many facets of true grassroots conflict resolution.

For more information, please contact Lisa Geduldig – lisag@igc.org

Community Boards’ 8th Annual San Francisco Peacemaker Awards
Workshop, Luncheon, Awards Ceremony, and Keynote Speaker
Friday, June 1, 2018
8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

The City Club of San Francisco, 155 Sansome St., San Francisco