Jamelah Zidan was born in New York City to Palestinian immigrants. She earned her B.A. in Political Economics from Sarah Lawrence College, where she was the recipient of the Scholarship for the Environment. She then pursued her M.S. in Education from Sarah Lawrence, where she was the recipient of the Regina Arnold Memorial Scholarship. She also spent a year at Oxford University in the United Kingdom studying Arabic and Poetry. For several years, Jamelah worked as a teacher in New York City at the Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School and Little Red Elizabeth Irwin. Desiring to work in a more spiritual atmosphere and impact the quality of people’s lives, she changed careers, taking up a position as Assistant Director at the Abode, a Sufi and Interfaith retreat center in the Berkshires. She moved to Colorado in 2020 to be with her husband and is now happy to be joining the team of compassionate and skilled people at Naropa.
To her work as Restorative Community Coordinator, Jamelah brings years of experience in mediation and restorative practices. As a teenager, she was involved in her local Youth Court (an alternative to the criminal justice system) and peer-to-peer mediation. In college, Jamelah took part in summer peace-building programs in Palestine and Israel. Once she became a teacher, she was trained at the IIRP (International Institute for Restorative Practices) and used restorative circles in her classroom and throughout the school. Later, in her role as Assistant Director of a retreat center, she implemented restorative practices throughout the volunteer and resident programs. Jamelah believes strongly that how a community reacts to conflict is an indicator of its health and ability for all to thrive.