Jean M Best, Director and Creator of the Peace Advocate Project
Jean Best was born in Yorkshire but has lived in Scotland for the last 27 years. Jean has been involved with education for over 38 years, first as a teacher in England and then moving on to Head teacher in Scotland. Her final two years were spent working as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Education, which involved inspecting 58 schools across Scotland.
Now retired, Jean has more time to spend in Rotary and is Peace Officer for District 1020 where husband Keith was District Governor during 2011/12. It was during that time of training as DG’s spouse that Jean became aware of the growing problem in our society, as our young people struggle to come to terms with living in 21st century. Her work as Peace Officer enabled her to work with The Peace Centre in Bradford to look at ways to encourage Rotarians to use their expertise in working with our young people to develop peaceful conflict resolution strategies. She has developed these strategies with secondary pupils for the last five years, raising awareness of Peace and Conflict Resolution across Great Britain and Ireland.
Jean believes that it is our young people who will ensure peace in the world and we must empower them to tackle this through peaceful conflict resolution, transforming conflict into success. Their role is in developing the skills that youngsters need to allow them to make the right choices with confidence. In June 2014, at the RI Convention in Sydney, Jean and Keith launched the new skills-based ‘Rotary Peace Project’. The project creates school Peace Advocates who develop their leadership capacity to bring about more service in their schools, local communities and the world. Currently they have set up Hubs in Mexico, US, Australia and Germany and the UK.
Jean’s work in developing Peace and Conflict Resolution was recognised by RIBI when she received a Presidential Citation in 2012. She also became a Paul Harris Fellow for her contribution to developing Peace Strategies and in 2014 she was recognised as Rotary International Champion of Change for District 1020. This was presented at The House of Lords, London and led to TV appearances for the young Peace Advocates and herself.
In November 2017, as part of Rotary Day at the United Nations, Jean was honoured with the prestigious award of Rotary’s People of Action: Champions of Peace at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.