Our Team

The Center for Restorative Practices team is currently comprised of Director Suzanne Belleci, Assistant Director Fabio Ayala, Program Assistant Ji Chung, Program Leader Yaquelin Montes de Oca, Faculty LIaison and Advisory Board Chair, Allen Hart and 4 student interns. Our work is guided and supported by the Center's Inaugural Director Allen Hart.  In the coming semesters, we look forward to expanding our team to include student facilitators, additional student interns, .

Suzanne Belleci

Suzanne Belleci

Director of the Center for Restorative Practices

79 Pleasant Street, First Floor

Director

Pronouns: she/her

Rita Suzanne Belleci taught conflict transformation, intercultural communication, peace education, and foundations in intercultural service, leadership and management courses at SIT Graduate Institute throughout the years of 2000-2017. There she served as SIT’s first Ombudsperson, bringing groups together, facilitating restorative circles for community building and mediating disputes. She taught global peacebuilding, conflict analysis, conflict Interventions, and restorative justice practices to domestic and international students in SIT's Graduate Certificate program in Peace and Justice Leadership.

Nationally and internationally, Susie has led workshops and trainings for peacebuilders in conflict and post-conflict zones in Iraq, Macedonia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Israel, and Palestine. She has also led trainings for youth from Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Iraq, Jordan, and the United States. She taught Peace and Conflict Studies in the English Language Department at the Arab American University of Palestine. In the US she served in the office of Senator Nick Petris, in Oakland, California, providing constituent affairs in the most economically depressed city in the wealthiest state in the union. In this role, along with her colleague, she represented the senator in the district for the 9 months each year that he was in the Capitol. Continuing her work in advocacy, Susie was the developer and director of Jardin de Maestros, a program to create pathways for students of color to become teachers in the very districts in which they were raised and have their roots. She was a teacher and trainer in Florence, Italy; Porto and Lisbon, Portugal; Jenin, Palestine; and Pohnpei Island in the Federated States of Micronesia and was the associate director of world studies at Marlboro College. Most recently she was the executive director of the Greater Falls Community Justice Center in Southern Vermont and currently teaches Principles of Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School.

Married to a Dane, Susie spends her summers in Denmark with her husband and young son. When not working and mothering, Susie enjoys vegetarian cooking, sharing the same YA fantasy fiction books with her son, picking fresh tomatoes from her garden and swimming in Vermont's lakes and rivers in the summer.  Her skiing still needs work.

Fabio A. Ayala

Fabio A. Ayala

Assistant Director of the Center for Restorative Practices

79 South Pleasant Street Suite 120

Assistant Director

Pronouns: he/him

Fabio Arnaldo Ayala joins our community with rich experience in school and college-based restorative practices, conflict transformation, group facilitation, and training. With two undergraduate degrees in Spanish Studies and Religious Education from Andrews University, and a Masters of Arts in Intercultural Peacebuilding & Conflict Transformation from SIT Graduate Institute. Fabio has committed himself to being a life learner and reflective practitioner.

Prior to joining Amherst College, Fabio served neurodivergent learners at Landmark College as their Assistant Director for Student Conduct & Community Standards and Residential Dean. During this time he was able to put into practice his training in circle facilitation, program development, and community building with the goal of creating more inclusive and restorative spaces on campus.  

Fabio’s professional journey also brought him to work with the Greater Falls Community Justice Center in Bellows Falls, Vermont where he served as a restorative practices’ trainer, community conflict mediator, youth advocate, and circle facilitator. Through his work at the GFCJC Fabio was able to complete his master’s thesis which centered around understanding how circles can be used as a tool for men identifying teens to reflect on, and engage with, their masculinity with the hopes of cultivating a more nuanced view of masculinity and its expression. In May 2019, Fabio was able to co-present his restorative practices work on cultivating empathy at the International Institute of Restorative Practices' European Conference on Community Well-Being & Resilience. 

Fabio grew up in Windsor, Connecticut with deep cultural and familial roots in Puerto Rico. He is a lover of music and nature, avid swimmer and adventure seeker. He also enjoys tending to his houseplants and spending time with his cat Pippen. His next adventure will be taking on community gardening. 

Sam N. Young

Sam N. Young

Green Dean-Center for Restorative Practices

Program Manager

Pronouns: they/he

Sam Young ‘23 is from Union Point, Georgia but considers the Northeast home. They graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and Biophysics with a focus on biochemistry and many interspersed fine arts courses. They plan to pursue a graduate degree in biology or biochemistry, with the end goal of becoming a staff scientist. Their positive experiences participating and co-facilitating Amherst’s Being Human in STEM course sparked their interest in restorative practices, and they hope to bring the ideology into laboratory science’s structure to promote growth and wellbeing in the field. Working with the Center for Restorative Practices has helped give a name to practices they were already dedicated to in their personal life, and they are excited to see how much more they will learn in their time here. They believe working with the CRP will help further the sense of community they strive to create at the college, and help cultivate their own skills in conflict resolution and repair for wherever the world takes them.

As an Amherst student, Sam worked as both a research assistant for Professor Jaswal in the chemistry department and worked under Jason Williams, the college’s Chemical Hygiene Officer. They also served as the president of oSTEM at Amherst College, and as a percussionist in the Amherst Symphony Orchestra. During their downtime, you can find Sam drawing or cooking, racking up hours in their favorite platformers and roguelike video games, or incessantly tinkering with their home PC setup.

Yaquelin Montes de Oca

Yaquelin Montes de Oca

Consultant / Special Projects Assistant

Program Leader

Pronouns: she/her

Yaquelin Montes de Oca ’21 goes by Yaqui (pronounced "Jackie") and is from Miami, Florida. She was a Psychology and Asian Languages & Civilizations double major with a concentration in Arabic. Interested in the intersections between psychology and criminal justice, she is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work and Master's of Science in Criminology at Florida State University. She plans on obtaining her LCSW to conduct group and individual therapy in prison settings. Working with the Center for Restorative Practices has and continues to teach Yaqui about effective alternatives to dealing with the population she is interested in working with. She is also very excited to see how these restorative practices improve and unite the Amherst community she is proudly a part of.

Outside of the CRP, she is a remote research assistant for Envisioning Justice Solutions in California. She loves to share her Cuban and Honduran roots as a former member of La Causa and the African and Caribbean Students' Union (ACSU). You will almost always find her listening to Drake.

David Rosa

David Rosa

Consultant / Special Projects Assistant

Consultant / Special Projects Assistant

Pronouns: he/him

David Rosa ’21 is from Brooklyn, NY. He was a Psychology major interested in the intersections between psychology and law. He plans to attend law school and become a public defender, eventually starting up his own restorative justice non-profit organization. In working with the Center for Restorative Practices, David has continued to expand his understanding of community building and repairing harm. He knows that the introduction of restorative practices to Amherst will have an amazing, positive impact on our ability to address conflicts and be in community with one another across our differences.

In addition to working with the CRP, David served as a Senator in the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) and a research assistant for Dr. Lisa Navajits, Ph.D., Director of Treatment Innovations. In the past, David has served as both Vice President and Interim President of AAS and has been a research assistant for Professor Moore in the Philosophy department and interned for the U.S. Attorney’s Office S.D.N.Y. On campus he was a proud member of the African and Caribbean Students' Union and La Causa (shoutout to all the Dominicans at Amherst ayyy!). Other than academics, you can often find David throwing personal concerts in the shower, watching an episode of Girlfriends, or teaching himself Arabic.

Allen J. Hart

Allen J. Hart

The Manwell Family Professor of Life Sciences (psychology); Special Assistant to the President

Inaugural Director, Board Chair and Faculty Liaison to the CRP

Pronouns: he/him

Allen Hart holds the Manwell Family Professorship in Life Sciences (Psychology) at Amherst College.  He attended Amherst College (’82) before earning his doctorate at Harvard where his interest in Psychology and the Law was sparked. As a social psychologist, Allen’s research has explored the social and neural foundations of stereotyping and prejudice, and the role of interpersonal expectations in guiding human behavior, judicial behavior, and jury decision-making.  He has also been the Dean of Students, the Interim Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, the creator of the Bias Education Response Team as well holding several other postions of import in his 30 years at Amherst College.

Allen has devoted his professional and personal life to helping people struggling for racial equity and educational access. This often involves difficult conversations and addressing cultural pain. At Amherst, he has introduced students, faculty, and staff to restorative practices through co-facilitated circles, intergroup dialogue, workshops, structured encounters and creating and running the Center for Restorative Practices.

Allen is an avid tennis player, swimmer, and is learning to play the piano. He has been married to Meg Mack Hart (another Amherst alum) for over 35 years (despite the Amherst Student identifying her as his "current wife" when he returned to Amherst to teach in 1996). Together they are the parents of two grown children, and recently joined the ranks of insufferable grandparents.

Student Interns

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A photo of Jason Nuñez at the beach

Jason Nuñez ’24

Pronouns: he/his

Jason Nuñez ’24 is from Lawrence, MA. He intends to major in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought (LJST) with a concentration in Computer Science. He plans to pursue a postgraduate education either for a masters program or law school. Prior to Amherst College, Jason has led school-wide discussions on equity and inclusion. He also founded and served on the Community Standards Council where restorative justice practices, like facilitating circles and mediating conversations between victims and perpetrators, was the central theme. His passion for justice and community building has manifested in an interest in public and family law. Jason is interested in pursuing further research in any of these areas.

As an intern for the Center of Restorative Practices, Jason is excited to engage with members of the community in a dialogue about what social justice should look like at Amherst College. He also believes that building partnerships with similar offices at other colleges will teach the Center how to improve our methods and approaches to building a beloved community.


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A photo of Olly Ajao

Olly Ajao ’25

Pronouns: she/her

Olamiposi Ajao ’25 is originally from Nigeria but has lived in Amherst, MA since she was 8. She intends to double major in Computer Science and Economics with a certificate in Chinese from the Five Colleges. Prior to Amherst College, Olly was president of the Student Council, where she helped create a new handbook for the school that centered on Restorative Practices. Olly’s main passion is for technology and its impact on marginalized youth. Since May, she has been a part of the Alliance for Identity Inclusive Computing Education (AiiCE) student advisory board. This Duke University-based alliance aims to ensure computing education, at both the K-12 and higher ed levels, is participating in identity-inclusive practices to broaden participation among historically excluded groups. Through her work with the Center for Restorative Practices, she is hoping to empower others to feel heard and secure in themselves and what they need on campus.

Outside of the CRP, Olly is part of the Ed Prose Fellowship, a club focused on helping meet the needs of all students in an era of rapidly increasing racial, ethnic and linguistic diversity and technological change. She is a community Advisor and is part of DASAC, ACSU dance and Skate club. This summer, she practiced self-care by spending time at the beach and teaching 7th grade math with the organization Breakthrough Miami. On campus, you will often find Olly with her headphones on, going on daily walks, and learning new jazz groves songs on the drums.

 


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A photo of Jack O'Hara

Jack O’Hara ’25

Origin: Melrose, MA (suburb just outside of Boston).

Majors: Planning on double majoring in Math and History.

Post grad plans: I plan to work for a couple of years before moving onto graduate school where I will pursue a master's degree and potentially a PhD.

Within CRP: Before Amherst, I have worked with a group designed to hold difficult conversations through circle practices, so I understand the efficacy and importance of what the CRP does. Within the organization itself, I hope to be a part of creating a more understanding and inclusive environment at Amherst.

Hobbies/Interests: Love watching soccer, growing hot peppers, and sucking at the piano.


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A photo of Karina Maciel

Karina Maciel ’25

Pronouns: she/her

Karina Maciel ’25 is from Kailua, O'ahu, Hawai'i, but she has also lived in several cities and towns across the United States. She is a prospective Education Studies and History major with an interest in racial and financial inequities in K-12 education, and hopes to eventually pursue a career in public policy or research. On campus, Karina is a staff writer for the Amherst Student and an archival research assistant for Professor Peralta, and she is also a member of La Causa and the Asian and Pacific American Action Committee (APAAC).

Through the Center for Restorative Practices, Karina hopes to learn more about restorative justice and how it can be incorporated into policy work and educational institutions. She also hopes to engage in meaningful dialogues with the wider campus and learn how circle work can build solidarity, repair harm, and create a deeper sense of understanding amid differences, both at Amherst College and in communities at large.


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A photo of Atheek Azmi

Atheek Azmi ’25

Pronouns: he/him/his

Atheek Azmi ’25 is from Colombo, Sri Lanka. He is a mathematics and economics double major interested in consulting and social entrepreneurship. Outside class, Atheek is a Student Assistant at the Office of Admission, the Coach for the Model UN club, and the Outreach Chair for the South Asian Students Association. He enjoys brewing, drinking, and spilling tea or surveying new boba establishments.

Atheek has experience engaging with grassroots movements in Sri Lanka, working in a post-civil war environment and the social unrest following the ousting of the government in 2022. He has also formulated volunteering projects and led corporate social responsibility initiatives at many internships, including improving education standards in rural tea estates by partnering with local factories.

As a student intern at the Center for Restorative Practices, Atheek hopes to polish and learn new skills that can aid him on his journey while working towards improving interactions within the Amherst community.