Imara Rolston

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My last eight years of professional work has moved between crime prevention in major social housing districts in Toronto; HIV/AIDS prevention in Botswana and Zambia; and gender equality and women’s rights work in East Africa. I worked at the national level in Botswana developing operational plans for major multilateral initiatives including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). I developed and managed large CIDA funded Gender Equality and Women’s rights organizational and social change programs focused on Ethiopia and Tanzania. In Canada, I worked on a pilot restorative justice program that supported youth charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). This work centred on alternative dispute resolution processes utilizing talking and healing circles to bring the victim, perpetrator, and community together to heal the harm.

Each of these experiences is shaping and contributing to my PhD research. My doctoral research explores the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s use of the Community Conversations approach to HIV/AIDS as a prevention approach that aims to address social and structural drivers of HIV/AIDS in the Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape province. This research is driven by deep interest in methodologies and approaches that create social spaces that engage communities in the cultivation of critical consciousness and strategic action to address the root causes of AIDS.