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Tucson Youth and Peace
Leadership Training Program


The Youth Leadership Team for the 2020 Youth and Peace Conference created a mission statement that provided the foundation and inspiration for expanding the annual conference into a year-round peace leadership training program for youth ages 12-24 - Tucson Youth and Peace.  

The Tucson Youth and Peace (TYP) Youth Team organizes and promotes a series of monthly workshops with a unique theme each month, for example, Women’s History Month in March, Sexual Assault Awareness Month during April, Mental Health Awareness in May. The Youth Team dedicates the first half of the year to important events likes these, while focusing the second half of the year on organizing the Annual Youth and Peace Conference. 

Follow the TYP Youth Team on Instagram @TucsonYouthAndPeace.

About the Annual Youth and Peace Conference


The Annual Youth and Peace Conference (YPC) is a unique Tucson event empowering youth to become courageous leaders and creative peace builders in our community.  Youth violence is still considered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to be an epidemic problem in America. Arizona’s youth violence and homicide rates are higher than the national average. The conference started in 2011 as a community-based prevention project to help educate and inoculate youth against violence (e.g., bullying, relationship violence, sexual assault, hate, bigotry, negative self-talk, suicide, gun violence) and to empower youth to make healthy, life-affirming choices.


Youth Leadership for the Conference

YPC’s core mission is creating a conference for youth and by youth. Therefore, each year our planning process includes a Youth Leadership Team, which identifies both the focus and title of the conference, as well as being involved in key aspects of the planning process (e.g., selecting workshops and organizing the Opening & Closing Ceremonies to highlight the conference title). The YPC Adult Logistics Team serves the Youth Leadership Team by supporting them in creating a conference that embodies their vision. YPC is a true collaborative community effort where youth voices are centered and empowered.

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Tucson Youth and Peace


NOTE: Each year's Youth Leadership Team creates a mission statement along with a title for that year's Youth & Peace Conference. That mission statement helps direct TYP's programming going forward up until the next annual conference. Here are the Mission Statements created by the 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 Youth Leadership Teams.


Our 2023 Youth Leadership Team believes centralizing Empathy humanizes and unites our communities. Empathy requires us to take time to first recognize that each human being has their own unique story, and then reflect on the fact that we cannot fully know everyone’s story. By empathizing with those around us we are able to understand and connect with them on a deeper level because it allows us to better comprehend their emotions, experiences, and perspectives. When we do not create empathic spaces in our communities, we grow a fear of judgment and invalidation which prevents us from opening up about our mental health.  Our Youth Leadership Team encourages our participants to learn about empathy and commit to practicing it daily so that our friends, family, classmates, and others in our community feel a sense of belonging and connection.


To promote what a nourishing relationship with ourselves looks like by dismantling the stigma of talking about our mental health and fostering proactive, healing conversations amongst our peers in hopes that we all begin to promote nourishing relationships with ourselves and our mental health.​​


In an effort to resist systemic racism, we are creating safe and diverse community dialogue to protect equitable educational progress.    


​​To educate our peers in cultivating safer communities by centering women of color, as we recognize that when women of color are safe, specifically Black, Indigenous, and trans women, all women are safe. Our hope is to plant a seed for a healthier and safer community for all by offering workshops that unpack systemic and domestic violence, as well as violent ideologies like toxic masculinity, sexism, racism, colorism, and more, and promote healthy social environments and healing. Our growth as a community depends on our willingness to unlearn, learn, and  allow ourselves to abolish roots of violence within ourselves and our communities. Ultimately, by centering the health, safety, and happiness of women of color, we begin cultivating peace for all.     


Dennis D. Embry Peace Award

The Dennis D. Embry Peace Award was first introduced at the 2018 Youth & Peace Conference to recognize an adult whose life passion is focused on peace-building by and for youth. The award is named after Dennis D. Embry to celebrate his life-long commitment to youth-focused peace-building research and evidence-based curriculum development for elementary and middle schools in communities across America and around the world. Dennis was the first recipient of this award named in his honor.

Marisol Badilla
Hassan Clement
Alice O. Ritter
Rose Tederous
Beki Quintero
Dennis D. Embry


2022 Peace Award recipient Marisol Badilla (left) with Youth Leader Naomi Montgomery.

Marisol Badilla, Dean of Students at City High School, was awarded the 2022 Dennis D. Embry Peace Award. Marisol, who developed and directed the Restorative Practices program at City High, integrates her social justice/antiracist pedagogies and indigenous Tohono O'odham roots into all her teaching, acts of service and community building. 


"I have found that when facing a conflict, Marisol walks her talk," said Naomi Montgomery, TYP Youth Leadership Team member, in her introduction. "She has always been an advocate for her students and works tirelessly (quite literally) to make City High a community for everyone."

"Many, if not all, the amazing things she does is because of her students. She started the Restorative Practice Program at City High because of mistreatment and false accusations about students of color at the school. She made her room a designated safe space for BIPOC students when there is no other space for them. She freshened up on her algebra to help students on the basketball team when they were failing. She is making active efforts every day to decolonize our school, especially when it is not a popular way of thinking. She sees a need and acts upon it. Marisol Badilla is truly an example for educators and activists." 

Marisol also works with rescue dogs, training them to be gentle, calm working dogs. Many of Marisol's students have found their own inner discipline when she has allowed them to help train her dogs as part of a restorative practices approach. 

Marisol announced that she is directing her Peace Award of $150 to the creation of a City High School mural representing BIPOC, decolonization, and Black and Brown solidarity. 

Presentation of the 2021 Dennis D. Embry Peace Award to Hassan Clement and Alice O. Ritter during the 10th Annual Youth & Peace Conference. 

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2021 Peace Award recipient Hassan Clement.
2021 Peace Award recipient Alice O. Ritter. 

The video at left offers more information about the Dennis D. Embry Peace Award. It was filmed in September 2020 in the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association’s Peace Garden, where the idea to create a Youth & Peace Conference was originally suggested by a group of teenagers talking about how to end bullying.

2019 Peace Award recipient Beki Quintero presenting the 2020 Dennis D. Embry Peace Award to Rose Tederous in recognition of Rose’s lifelong dedication to empowering youth and supporting peacemaking projects including the Nonviolence Legacy Program and Youth & Peace Conference.
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Rose Tederous, recipient of the 2020 Dennis D. Embry Peace Award
Culture of Peace Alliance (COPA)


The Culture of Peace Alliance (COPA) operates as a nonprofit umbrella for various affiliated and fiscally sponsored groups that work to build peace, empower youth, and create a cultural shift towards compassion, nonviolence, civility, and sustainability in Tucson and beyond. COPA provides 501(c)(3) coverage for these groups to build the synergy of working cooperatively with other organizations. The mission of COPA is to promote peace, justice, and sustainability by creating and supporting peace-inspired projects and events that model cooperative decision-making, alliance building, resource sharing, youth leadership, and the use of nonviolent strategies. 


The Youth & Peace Conference is one of several programs affiliated with COPA. ​Each year COPA assumes responsibility for convening the Youth Leadership Team and Adult Logistics Team to collaboratively organize that year’s conference. For more information about COPA, contact YPC Coordinator Ann Yellott (520-991-6781; or go to the COPA website (

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Dennis Embry presenting the 2019 Dennis D. Embry Peace Award to Beki Quintero, Co-Founder of the Youth & Peace Conference.
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