Passion and experience on the conflict
We have been working with university and school students in Europe for over 7 years. By showing students from different backgrounds that the conflict is complex and that the majority of citizens in the region on both sides just want peace, we help to push back against anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish hate that is linked to this conflict, as well as simplistic, one-sided misconceptions about the history.
Sharon Booth, Founder & Director
Sharon Booth has an MA from Cambridge University in Theology and Religious Studies, specialising in Islam and Biblical Studies. Following her graduation, she taught English at Amideast in Tunisia and then went on to work in Amman, Jordan as a Productions Manager for a publishing company with programmes aiming to promote a reading culture in the Arab World. In Sharon's final year in Jordan, she was employed as PA to the Defence Attaché at the British Embassy, then returned to the UK and began work in Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution, setting up the Solutions Not Sides Education Programme in 2010. Sharon speaks Arabic and French and has studied ancient Hebrew. In January 2016, she was awarded a Master's degree with distinction from King's College London, in Terrorism, Security and Society, specialising in nationalism and religion.
Jess Brandler, Middle East Director
Jess Brandler graduated from Cambridge University in Politics, Psychology and Sociology, specialising in conflict development, and the role of religion in politics. Following her graduation, she was awarded a fellowship at the Central European University in Budapest, where she completed her MA in International Relations and European Studies. During this time, she wrote papers and ran seminars on Palestine and Israel, and volunteered with The Human Rights Initiative (HRSI). After graduating in Budapest, she moved back to London, where she worked with an education sector in universities and schools as Business, Sales and marketing Manager of the company Yearbook Machine. She previously volunteered with the charity Football Beyond Borders, and she is fast on the road to becoming a speaker of Arabic.
Laurence Conneely, Communications & Media Manager
Laurence Conneely graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies, MSc Violence, Conflict & Development programme, focusing on South East Asia. Prior to this, he graduated from Kings College London with a BA in Development Geography with a focus on India and on land use and control. Before joining the Solutions Not Sides team, he volunteered and subsequently worked for Link Ethiopia, a small but dynamic not-for-profit educational development NGO, pioneering the delivery of profound grassroots educational change across developing communities in Ethiopia and connecting communities around the world. He was responsible for two of Link Ethiopia's major programmes, School Links & Child Sponsorship, as well as overseeing the charity's communications. He is an experienced communicator, and has more than 3 years' experience working on international development projects rooted in an educational context.
Celia Hart, Outreach & Administration Manager
Celia Hart is a recent graduate of Cambridge University, having studied there for her BA in Theology and Religious Studies. Whilst at university she was an active and founding member of a number of societies, including OneVoice Cambridge which she established alongside a number of other students after having attended the 2015 SNS Student Leadership Programme.
Solutions Not Sides Advisory Board:
We are pleased to have the following educators and community leaders advising Solutions Not Sides.
Sadia Akram - Forum of Discussion on Israel and Palestine
Mohammed Ali Amla - Cohesion & Integration Manager at Kirklees Council, Founder of Global Village & Christian Muslim Encounters
Amy Braier – The Pears Foundation
Ashfaque Chowdhury – Association of Muslim Schools UK
Josh Dubell - Jewish Community Worker currently with UJIA
Peggy Forell – Advocality
Alex Goldberg – Jewish Chaplain, University of Surrey
Ed Kessler – The Woolf Institute, Cambridge
Sahdia Khan - former Director of the Encompass Trust and currently a secondary school teacher
Paula Lent – Art Masters Design Solutions Ltd.
David Mason - Muswell Hill Orthodox Synagogue
Jonny Newton - Community Security Trust
Sajeela Shah – Teacher at Bingley Grammar School
Rafia Shaheen – Teacher at Oasis Academy Lister Park
Bruce Thompson – the Methodist Church, Lincolnshire