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Helen Winter

Helen Winter

Berlin, Germany

Title: CEO/Founder of R3SOLUTE

Company: R3SOLUTE



School of Law, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution Class of 2017

LLM in Dispute Resolution


What does being one of Pepperdine's Outstanding Alumni Abroad mean to you?

When I graduated from School of Law last year, I would not have expected that Pepperdine would choose me as an example for putting the University's mission into practice. Pepperdine has enabled me to follow my passion in becoming an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) expert, realizing my dreams, and making them come true. Pepperdine has not only laid the foundation for my work but has also taught me a mindset of believing in myself. I am truly grateful to belong to the Pepperdine community throughout what is still to come. This award will certainly keep me motivated to pursue my dream to bring social transformation through establishing peer mediation mechanisms in refugee communities. It fills me with gratitude and pride that Pepperdine continues to support my career and will always play a part in my life.

Describe any significant achievements in your life in vocation, service, and/or philanthropy.

While I was abroad studying dispute resolution at Pepperdine, over one million asylum seekers from countries such as Afghanistan, Albania, Iraq, Kosovo, and Syria arrived in Germany, making it the number one European country hosting the most refugees. This surge has resulted in increasing conflicts within the country as refugees and locals grapple with how to accept and work with one another. Upon witnessing this, I felt the urge to do something.

At that time, it was impossible for me to be actively involved in helping while in California. I thought about how I could still be of help by applying the knowledge I obtained through my master's degree at Pepperdine. I focused most of my research papers on refugees and alternative dispute resolution, thinking about ways to systematically and successfully mitigate all sorts of conflict connected to the so-called "refugee crisis." One day I was speaking about my ideas with a colleague from the United Nations, where I was a trainee after graduating from the Straus Institute, and I decided to put them into action.

The next day we stared working on R3SOLUTE. Shortly after, the team grew and now R3SOLUTE is a nonprofit organization based in Berlin, specializing in conflict management with a focus on empowering refugees to manage conflicts in their communities through peer mediation and mental health awareness. R3SOLUTE strives to accelerate mutual integration of refugee and local communities. It aims at fostering sustainable peace by reducing the social and economic costs of conflicts and maximizing the value of constructive debate for individuals, organizations, and communities.

R3SOLUTE currently offers several workshops that cumulatively sensitize participants to trauma-related issues—as trauma is one of the main reasons for conflict. We create a platform for open dialogue, build competencies in conflict management and dispute resolution, and train refugees as peer mediators in their communities to engage in conflict as third-party neutrals. R3SOLUTE trainings are designed to culminate in the establishment of a permanent peer mediation clinic able to address community conflict as it arises. Trainings are highly interactive and role-play based. 

Currently, within my capacity at R3SOLUTE, I work as the CEO, as well as a trainer for conflict resolution and mediation, and as a mediator and consultant for intercultural mediations. Next to my work at R3SOLUTE, I am pursuing my PhD in the same field, researching how Western peer mediation practices (trainings and mediations) can be best modified to suit the needs of refugees. I am also a researcher at European University's master's degree program in mediation and conflict management.

How has Pepperdine played a role in these achievements?

Getting an LLM in dispute resolution is the main cause for my professional achievements. At the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, I was not only provided with the best skills possible to become a professional in the field of ADR, but was also taught the values of an ADR expert that help me to master my job: persistence, patience, humility, curiosity, vulnerability, presence, warmth, competence, compassion, hyper focus, and connectivity. I believe that all these values can create and attract change. Those are the ideals that my professors at Straus, as well as my mentor Kim Deck, taught me during my LLM program at Pepperdine.

I would like to thank everyone at Straus for dedicating such passion and joy to their daily work. You are all truly inspirational and I am beyond grateful to be part of the Pepperdine and Straus families.

Who inspires you and why?

My father inspires me because he was always true to himself, and encouraging and kind to everyone around him.

What's next for you? Five-year outlook? Ten-year plan?

To make R3SOLUTE's mission a concept for social change in Germany, Europe, and beyond. To complete my PhD in ADR in the next two to three years, to become an expert in my field, to be an advocate for mediation and in particular peer mediation, and to inspire people who are still looking for their cause.

What is your "secret sauce?"

Never ever, ever, ever give up.

How do you prepare for a busy day?

I usually do a power pose (according to Amy Cuddy's research) before a busy and important day, which makes me feel more relaxed and confident after only two minutes.

What is your favorite quote?

"The secret to happiness is freedom...and the secret to freedom is courage." — Thucydides

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

In addition to R3SOLUTE, I am pursuing a career in academia and ideally would like to become a professor, maybe even at Straus one day.