Beverly Prestwood-Taylor

Beverly has spent a lifetime acquiring the varied experience, skills and training to facilitate healing from trauma. Her undergraduate degree in science from Bucknell University, Master of Divinity from Boston University and her Doctor of Ministry degree in community healing from trauma from Hartford Seminary, provide the academic foundation for her work as Executive Director and co-founder of the Brookfield Institute. Beverly has conducted numerous trainings in trauma healing in the United States and Latin America.  She has worked with people from a wide cross section of trauma recovery including returning veterans, populations affected by natural disaster, communities recovering from political oppression and congregations in the wake of pastoral misconduct. 

Involved in connecting incarcerated men and women with the wider society in programs in Muncy, PA, Framingham, MA, and Jackson and Kalamazoo, MI, Beverly has worked in the field of restorative justice since its inception.  Her paper Restorative Justice Approaches to Clergy Misconduct inspired a radically new approach in the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ. Additionally, Beverly is schooled in Community Conflict Mediation and Training through Plowshares Institute in Hartford, CT, and is a certified trainer with the STAR program at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA. Beverly is an ordained pastor with the United Church of Christ and has served congregations in Michigan and Massachusetts.

Karen Nell Smith

Karen Nell Smith received her Doctor of Ministry at Hartford Seminary with a focus on conflict transformation and interfaith dialogue and has been a member of the Building Abrahamic Partnerships facilitation team since 2007.  She holds certificates in mediation and conflict transformation skills from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, and in trauma healing through Eastern Mennonite University’s Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resiliency program (STAR 1).  Committed to growing resilience in communities through learning new ways to respond and relate in the midst of conflict and trauma, she is Program Director of Interfaith Engagement and a founding member of the Brookfield Institute.

In 2000, Karen Nell and the Rev. Dr. Beverly Prestwood-Taylor created the Walking in the Way program for churches in transition or turmoil. For the past twenty years, she has assisted faith-based organizations representing a number of denominations and traditions throughout New England by providing facilitation and training as they work through issues of conflict, engage in discernment and visioning, or seek to strengthen their peacemaking skills as communities of faith. Karen Nell received her B.A. from Mary Washington College and received a Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School, where she has also served as a member of the adjunct faculty teaching conflict management and communication. She is ordained in the United Church of Christ and is presently serving as pastor of the Congregational Church of Christ, UCC, in North Leominster, MA.

Peter Wells


A church consultant, coach and social justice advocate, Peter is Associate Program Director of the Walking in the Way program at the Brookfield Institute.  He recently ended 11 years as an Associate Conference Minister with the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ.  His time with the conference allowed him the opportunity to work with over 170 congregations and hundreds of pastors and lay people.  He also was the coordinator of the conference’s justice and witness programming.  He leaves conference work with lessons and insights on what it takes to nurture and maintain a vital congregation.  

Prior to coming to Massachusetts, Peter pastored the new church start New Ark UCC in Newark Delaware for nearly 18 years.  His experience taught him what it takes to grow a church, and he discovered that the work of justice is a boon not a hindrance to church vitality.  During this time Peter also was a consultant working to support the development of the UCC Justice and Peace Action Network.  Ordained in 1974 Peter served two congregations in Massachusetts and Connecticut and was a community organizer in Hartford, CT.