Phoenix, Ariz., - Arthur Montoya feels like he is home.
“It's been over 34 years since I first went to work with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Akron, Pennsylvania and in Central America.” says Montoya.
He served as the assistant to the country representatives in Nicaragua for two years in 1984. He also served as the Director of Peace Education in Akron, Pa for four years in 1986.
Montoya just started in a new position as Restorative Justice Center Director in Phoenix with MCC.
“It feels like coming home and being part of a great organization that works at making a difference in people’s lives in the US and around the world in the name of Christ.”
For over six years, In the city of Reedley, California MCC has been committed to working directly with over 370 young offenders and their families, to help steer them toward restored relationships instead of the criminal justice system. West Coast MCC program, Reedley Peacebuilding Initiative (RPBI) is focused on prevention and intervention of juvenile criminal behavior by using restorative justice and conflict resolution skills in mediation sessions.
West Coast MCC is looking forward to developing its ongoing restorative justice services to young offenders and their families in the greater Phoenix area.
"Two years ago Balsz School District officials and some Phoenix City leaders traveled to Reedley to study the RPBI program." explains Nate Yoder, Executive Director of West Coast MCC. "This expansion of restorative justice work to Phoenix is the result of ongoing discussions with these leaders. We are excited to partner with these leaders in this expanding work."
The Restorative Justice Center is a new partnership with the City of Phoenix and Balsz School District. It seeks to transform schools and communities in Phoenix by using restorative justice principles to address school discipline issues and juvenile criminal activities.
MCC photo/Arthur Montoya
Montoya will work to provide the necessary training to schools and law enforcement for the implementation of local restorative justice programs. He will also lead outreach efforts to local churches, non-profits, schools, and law enforcement to connect mediators with needs and to enroll more partners in the work of restorative justice.
Montoya is looking forward to building relationships with schools, law enforcement officials, churches and community leaders. He hopes the new restorative justice center can make an impact in transforming young people’s lives by reducing expulsions and suspensions.
“I grew up in Arizona in the Latino community and have been living here for the past 22 years," explains Montoya. "I feel honored to be able to make a difference in this community and promote restorative justice practices that can transform young people’s lives."
“My experience and background can help to build collaborative relationships with various community, school, and church leaders to promote peace and justice.”
Montoya is a member at Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale, Arizona.