‘Bringing people together to resolve conflict’

‘Bringing people together to resolve conflict’

Because she wants people to treat each other humanely, Maralise Hood Quan will find herself in December at one of the epicenters of efforts for a more harmonious world.

The Tacoma woman will attend this year’s Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony and related events in Oslo, Norway as the guest of Greater Tacoma Peace Prize. The latter organization annually honors a local community member who promotes peace at home and abroad, and then sends them to the Nobel festivities as part of its Laureate award. While in Norway, Quan will also visit and meet with several peace-related organizations, including the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue (located in Lillehammer), and the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights.

It’s fitting company for Quan. Greater Tacoma Peace Prize leaders noted, in announcing her award, that in a career spanning four decades, she “has dedicated herself both within her community and abroad to developing tools and systems for bringing people together to resolve conflict,” starting with coordinating the Conflict Resolution Program at the United Nations University of Peace in Costa Rica and now as executive director of the Tacoma-based Center for Dialog and Resolution.

The center (CDR) was founded in 1994 by community members seeking low-cost ways to resolve differences. Originally named the Pierce County Center for Dispute Resolution, CDR receives more than 20,000 requests per year from people looking for help handling a conflict in their lives.

In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic and ongoing local and national racial injustices, Hood began “Refresh Friday,” going live on Facebook once a week to discuss opportunities for achieving peace. And as the pandemic eviction moratorium began to be lifted across Washington, she joined with other dispute resolution centers across the state to develop the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program to reduce the financial burden faced by landlords and keep financially strapped tenants off the streets.

The board of directors for Greater Tacoma Peace Prize hailed Quan’s dedication to “open conversation about conflict in the community.” They praised her efforts to increase the public’s access to CDR’s services, which often are a diversion from the legal system, and to build a diverse corps of mediators who reflect and understand communities. Christine Gleason, who nominated her, wrote Quan “is guided by a key principle: She wants people to learn how to treat each other more humanely.”

Quan, writing on CDR’s website, said, “When we look around at a society rife with conflict and division, I believe the best gift we can give ourselves and others is the ability and willingness to listen.”

The Greater Tacoma Peace Prize, a non-profit organization that has been honoring its Laureates since 2005, is rooted in Norwegian-American culture and the Norwegian dedication to peace processes. Modeled after the Nobel Prize for Peace, it was founded by Tom Heavey Sr., a longtime Pierce County resident who is retired from the Coast Guard Reserve and is a former AmeriCorps program manager, and was established by a committee representing the three largest Norwegian-American institutions in Pierce County (Sons of Norway, Daughters of Norway, and Pacific Lutheran University).

Along with giving its Laureates a trip for two to Oslo, the Tacoma group awards them with a perpetual plaque and glass artwork created especially for the honor by the Hilltop Artists in Residence of Tacoma.