Faculty Bio

Cynthia Shackleford
I was born into a family that gave me lots of opportunities to deal with differences -- a family with the faiths of all of Abraham’s children: Sephardic Jews, Christians, and Sufi Muslims and a family with diverse ethnicities and races. My Dad and Mom were both union activists. One of the most memorable incidents of my youth was when I won a Chrysler- UAW Merit Scholarship.

The labor relations manager at my Dad’s plant ‘forgot’ to tell us about a special dinner honoring recipients and their families. My Dad had had a contentious relationship with this man for many years. My Dad didn’t get angry, but I remember his words to me: “Don’t worry what is important is that you won this scholarship and that is exactly why he ‘forgot’ to tell us because he didn’t want us to be there. Just keep going.” I have drawn on that advice ever since.

I believe God called me to work with folks on their differences and how to resolve the conflicts arising from those differences.

When involved with CORE and SNCC I found myself mediating conflict that arose among the staff and volunteers.

I became fascinated by how people who share beliefs can have significant differences that lead to conflict. I spent 40 +years working on transformational change, strategic labor negotiations, and conflict resolution in Fortune 100 companies, community and public interest organizations, and government in North America and Europe.

In the last five years I have been working with my sisters and brothers in Christ who are in communities of believers who are struggling with dealing with differences and addressing the conflicts that have arisen from those differences. I want the witness of our communities of believers to be strong and to ensure that we have to become adept at dealing with differences and addressing conflict.