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Meet the Team


Lisa Dietrich


Lisa has worked for CRIS since leaving Ulster University in 2002 and was appointed Director in 2010.  At the core of the passion for her work is to counter the ‘separated/segregated’ nature of the education system in Northern Ireland and engender greater participation in peacebuilding work at the grassroots level by utilising schools as focal points for transformation.

Lisa believes it is essential to present narratives that counter polarisation and that share good news stories that inspire hope and celebrate diversity and our common humanity. 

Lisa is a mediator, has a Masters Degree in Communication, PR and Advertising, and has further studies in business management and intercultural facilitation in divided societies.  Other loves include being a Mummy, taking walks in mountains with her dog Stella, and dreams of getting back into painting – all of which help create the necessary balance in life.


Dr Emily Stanton

Director of Programmes

Emily joined CRIS as Programme Manager in October 2020 having worked within the peacebuilding field both in Northern and internationally for over twenty years. Emily was awarded a doctorate in International Conflict and Peacebuilding with INCORE from Ulster University in 2018.

Her professional practice includes research, teaching, and training in peace and conflict studies, education, mediation, trauma and resiliency, and community relations. She is also experienced in conducting community-based monitoring and evaluation on topics of peacebuilding and social cohesion. Emily has two children and lives in East Belfast with her husband, cat, and dog.


Gerard Hughes

Senior Practitioner Growing GRACE

Gerard took up the role of Development Officer at CRIS in December 2019. Previous work includes experience of delivering youth work, community relations work, and collaborative partnership work. He has spent 16 years engaged in the education sector under various guises – from volunteering at local community sports and arts events, to organising large-scale creative industry events in partnership with young people and creative industry agencies. Through this experience, Gerard has developed a strong interest in and passion for peace education and community relations initiatives. Having delivered on both Peace III and Peace IV projects, he carries with him plenty of experience of exploring real-life and everyday community relations issues with young people in creative spaces.

Gerard has personal interests in travelling, football & other sports, food, culture and books. He grew up in North Belfast and studied at undergraduate level at QUB, and at postgraduate level at UUJ.

Damon Henry 

Project Coordinator Buddy Up!

Damon is Project Coordinator for ‘Buddy Up!’ programme and will be working to deliver the project across the five Urban Village areas in Northern Ireland.  Damon hails originally 

from the Colin area of Belfast and is passionate about improving aspirations and outcomes for young people in Belfast and the country as a whole. Damon joins us from Southampton FC where he worked as a youth worker in their offical charity, the Saints foundation, as well as a small coaching role. Damon currently coaches at Cliftonville FC and plays gaelic football for East Belfast. He has a masters degree in Maritime Archaeology from the University of Southampton and an undergraduate in History and Politics from Queens. 


Elizabeth Castillo

Administration Officer

Elizabeth is an accountant from Colombia who has been living in Belfast since 2014. She first joined CRIS as a part-time Administrative Assistant in July 2015. Elizabeth has vast experience in working with different types of public corporations and private companies ranging from services trade, electricity, horizontal property managers, and health. This is her first time working within a charitable organisation.

We asked Elizabeth what she thought of her time at CRIS so far and here is what she had to say; “I love working for CRIS because I can share new ideas and have refreshed the administrative management and accounting systems. I love working for a charity that does work to support the breaking down of stereotypes and divisions”

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Mary Potter


Mary Potter has a professional background is in Community Education and Youth Work. Most of her work is with student teachers and with staff, governors, and parents in schools, exploring themes such as identity and diversity, inclusion, welcome and Anti-Bias in Education, and their application within school ethos and practice.


Gordon McDade


Gordon has been an Associate with CRIS since 2021. He recognises the vital importance of creating creative contexts within the separated Northern Ireland education systems and empowering local school communities to engage in adventurous peacebuilding exploits. Gordon believes passionately that peacebuilding begins with personal encounter, relationships, seeing through the eyes of others and stepping positively into a new space for the co-creation of a better future. Building peace is doing small things in the everyday by everyone for the whole community.

Gordon works as an executive coach, mentor, mediator, trainer and facilitator with a wide variety of organisations and groups. He also works as a community chaplain in North and West Belfast and is chair of a thriving foodbank in the East of the city.

Gordon enjoys reading biographies, engaging in his own creative writing in prose and poetry and playing guitar.


Ally Armstrong


Ally Armstrong (she/her) has been a Children's Associate with CRIS since Spring 2022. She is a facilitator and yoga teacher who is passionate about exploring the intersection of social change, trauma informed practice, and collective wellbeing. Ally studied Sociology and has over a decade's experience in community development and youth work. Originally from Texas, she now resides in Belfast and works in a variety of roles across the Good Relations, Community, and Wellbeing sectors. 


Stefania Gualberti


Stefania has been an associate with CRIS since November 2019. She is a trainer, facilitator, and mediator. She has a degree and a Masters in Peace Studies (University of Pisa, Italy). She moved to Belfast in 2008 and has been involved in the peacebuilding and community relations sectors in different roles since then. She is passionate about nonviolence, conflict transformation, diversity and migration, and language.

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Laura Doyle


Laura joined CRIS as an Associate member of the team from January 2022.  Laura is currently undertaking a PhD study at Queens University Belfast, exploring the relationship and impact on neighbourhood deprivation on safeguarding outcomes for adults in Northern Ireland.  Laura’s professional practice includes a wide range of leadership roles within the voluntary and statutory sector in Northern Ireland supporting children, young people, families and adults with a range of complex needs and supporting them within their communities.   Laura has a keen interest in research and teaching.  She is a holder of a Law Degree, Social Work and Master of Social Work and is a member of the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and British Association of Social work.  Laura has two children and lives with her husband in Co. Armagh.  Laura is passionate about travelling and loves new experiences.  She enjoys yoga, walks in nature, and has a keen interest in holistic and complementary therapies.


Deborah Erwin


A professionally qualified youth work practitioner, Deborah (known to most as Debs) has over 20 years’ experience of full-time youth work and youth service management. She has led a number of initiatives bringing together young people from divided inner-city communities to explore solutions to the issues that divide them and has an ongoing interest in youth work in ‘contested spaces’. Working independently since 2015 she has built a successful consultancy portfolio including research, strategic development, evaluation, training, and facilitation. She authored a resource on ‘Young People & Extremism’ for the British Council/SALTO Cultural Diversity in 2017 and has presented on active citizenship and youth civic engagement in relation to this issue in a number of forums both locally and internationally. Debs gets a buzz from enabling individuals and organisations to view young people as experts of their own experiences and from supporting young people to be co-creators of social change.

Ann Burke


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