Restorative Justice Summit: Shaping a Future of Healing and Transformation

By Brenda Waugh

Two Clarke County residents are taking their talents over the border to West Virginia for a statewide conference to be held in June. The West Virginia Restorative Justice Summit will be held on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College from June 14 through June 15, 2024.  The summit brings together community members, professionals, and justice-impacted individuals to explore their experiences with the educational and judicial systems and explore options for improvement by tapping into restorative justice. Berryville resident Mackenzie Collins is the conference coordinator, pulling together the speakers, exhibitors and planning for meals, housing, and entertainment. Berryville resident, Brenda Waugh, is on the advisory panel for the organization sponsoring the conference, the West Virginia Restorative Justice Project, and is taking a lead role in organizing the conference.

Brenda and Mackenzie will be joined by another Virginia resident and keynote speaker, Valerie Slater. Ms. Slater, executive director of the RISE for Youth Coalition, will shed light on innovative approaches to address systemic challenges for programs designed to provide services to youth. Her session is titled, “Looking for More Than Accountability to a Justice That Also Restores.” 

Professor Kathy Evans from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg will present two break-out sessions: “The Non-Negotiables of Restorative Justice in the Educational Setting” and “Promoting Healthy School Community Partnerships in the work of Restorative Justice. Jim Nolan, a former police officer and professor of criminology at West Virginia University will facilitate a discussion regarding policing in his session, “Restorative Justice and Police Reform. Federal Magistrate Judge, Hon. Michael John Aloi, who will describe how he brings compassion to his work in his session, “Restorative Justice from the Bench: Not So Random Acts of Kindness.” Amber Blankenship, a formerly incarcerated woman who is now a leader in Re-Entry, will facilitate a breakout session, “REACH back Reentry Navigators – Assisting Individuals Navigating Reentry into the Community”. Over thirty sessions are offered for community members and people interested in learning more about restorative justice. Continuing education credits are being sought for the professional attendees in these areas.

“We are thrilled to convene this summit, providing a platform for dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders dedicated to advancing restorative justice principles,” said Brenda Waugh, a member of the Advisory Group for of the West Virginia Restorative Justice Project. “Through an engaging keynote address, interactive breakout sessions, and meaningful networking opportunities, we aim to inspire actionable change and foster a community committed to healing and transformation.”

In addition to the enriching workshops, attendees will have the opportunity to unwind and connect at a live music event on Friday evening featuring the eclectic sounds of Lua Flora, a band from Asheville, North Carolina.

“Ensuring we have not only engaging speakers, interactive exhibits, and plenty of time for networking, it was important to the committee that we also foster an atmosphere of inclusivity and fun. I believe including a performance by Lua Flora will significantly contribute to setting the desired tone,” said Mackenzie Collins, Conference Coordinator. “Our goal is to ensure everyone has a fulfilling experience.”

The summit will begin at 8:30 a.m. on June 14 and conclude at 5:00 pm. on June 15, 2024. The early-bird registration fee is only $200 and provides attendees with access to all sessions and meals. Low-cost housing is available for an additional cost on campus.For more information and to register for the West Virginia Restorative Justice Summit, please visit