As part of the Peace Institute’s focus in promoting peace and respect in the community, the CHAMPIONS FOR PEACE AWARD has been established as a way to recognize the talents and accomplishments of individual activists and community organizations for their contribution in the field of promoting peace, diversity and respect in the community.



Reverand Bryan Fulwider

Fulwider serves as Founding President and CEO of the nonprofit Building US.  During the 2012-13 academic year he was a Visiting Fellow with the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College.  He is an ordained minister who has served as a local church Pastor for over 30 years in both the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ.  He has served congregations in Colorado and Arkansas, then in 1999 was called as the 17th Senior Minister of the historic First Congregational Church of Winter Park, Florida where he served for 13 years. Fulwider lectures and writes widely on interfaith and diversity issues,  and among other subjects teaches in areas related to “InterDiversity,” “Bowen Theory – Family Systems,” “Process Theology,” “Leadership,” and “Sexual Orientation and Faith.”


Mr. Nelson Betancourt

He accepted The Peace Award in memory and honor of his father, Alonzo Betancourt, who died of nuclear poisoning, as a result of working in a nuclear test-site in Amchitka, Alaska. Upon his death, he swore to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons from the earth. "When the love of peace, security and cooperation is greater than the fear that makes us solve our problems through war, then we will surely evolve, and nuclear weapons will cease to be a false solution to our common dreams and hopes."
Nelson Betancourt is an educator, community organizer and executive director of Awakening/art & culture, a non-profit organization dedicated to artistry, heritage, imagination and the public interest.


Professor Rachel Allen

Rachel Allen began teaching at Valencia in 1997. She is a professor of Humanities on the East Campus and coordinates the Peace and Justice Initiative, which aims to nurture an inclusive, caring and respectful environment on campus and within our community one where conflict leads to growth and transformation, rather than violence or aggression. Along with colleagues across the college, Rachel works to develop a peace studies curriculum, sponsor co-curricular activities, partner with community organizations and model the practices for developing a culture of compassion and nonviolence.

2018 Peace Award Recipients

2018 Peace Award Recipients

From left to right:

Patrick White: Canstruction and Habitat for Humanity

He is an architect who is blessed to have started working for RLF Architecs back in 1994.  He is fortunate that RLF Architects has given him the opportunity to work all over the world, and fortunate to work for such a great company to allow focus on volunteer work outside of the office.  Board member of Canstruction Orlando, & Habitat for Humanity, Winter Park – Maitland.

Kathy Baldwin : The Mustard Seed of Central Florida

Kathy joined The Mustard Seed of Central Florida as the Executive Director in February of 2013.  Her passion to help others improve their lives is evident in her desire to make a difference in the community.  In 2011 – 2012 she became a part of the Heart of Florida United Way Resource Development Department overseeing the nonprofit agencies campaigns. Kathy’s background includes 30 years of experience in business with emphasis in sales and marketing, education, fundraising, management and leadership. In 2017 she received the Certification in Business Management for Nonprofits from Rollins Crummer. She received her Bachelors degree from Metropolitan State University of St. Paul, Minnesota.  She has resided in Orlando since 1986 with her husband and two daughters.

Imam Muhammad Musri: The Islamic Society of Central Florida

He is the President & Senior Imam of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, and President of American Islam. He is a member of the interfaith Council of Central Florida, He is a member of the Valencia Peace & Justice Institute. And he is one of “The Three Wise Guys”, on the weekly radio program “Friends Talking Faith”, on 90.7 FM., the NPR affiliate.

Dr. Joel C. Hunter: Northland Church

He is former pastor and faith community organizer. He is recent past Chair of the Commission on Homelessness and now serves as Chairman of Community Resource Network focused on family homelessness.  In 2018, Orlando Magazine listed him as the #1 most powerful voice for philanthropy and community engagement.

Gary H. Becker: Congregation for Reform Judaism

Gary Becker was in the field of education since 1965, retiring in 2007 as a district, technology administrator with the Seminole County Public schools in Sanford, Florida.

Starting in 2007, Gary attended a two year combination online/residence (in New York) training program for lay leaders to assist clergy in all of their functions and to act as clergy for small congregations without clergy. He is the clergy aide (para-rabbi) for the Congregation of Reform Judaism in Orlando. He is also a volunteer at the Coalition for the Homeless in Orlando and is a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council, a division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando.

Sarah Smith: Student and Veteran

She has struggled through her life with poverty, but has focused on finishing college and as a veteran of the US military has been able to be successful in her college career by beating all the odds.

If you would like to be considered for the award or you would like to nominate an individual or organization please complete the following information:

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