Profiles

Lauren McCarthy  

BA 2013

Country Camp Management Coordinator
Danish Refugee Council

Biography

Lauren graduated with a BA from SFU's School for International Studies in 2013 and soon began an internship with a French humanitarian NGO in South Sudan. She started her career in the finance and program development sector and transitioned to camp management and humanitarian coordination when the ethnic-political civil war broke out at the end of 2013. Since then, she has worked in South Sudan, Iraq and Yemen.

In 2017, Lauren completed a Masters degree in migration and development at SOAS in London, UK. Her research focused on humanitarian “accountability” and how humanitarian systems perpetuate, rather than challenge, the power imbalance between providers and receivers of humanitarian assistance.

Since early 2019, Lauren has been in Yemen, where she works with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). She is the country coordinator for the agency’s camp management operation, which supports civilians displaced by the ongoing proxy war. Her work involves managing camps and humanitarian programs to increase the quality and effectiveness of service provision (water, sanitation, shelter, food, protection, and health care) for displaced people in camp-like settings. Her experiences at SFU – notably, the opportunity to take a leadership role in SFU’s chapter of Schools Building Schools (an NGO), and mentorship from this organization’s founder, Craig Vandermeer (MAIS 2011) – are key factors that Lauren credits for launching her career in the humanitarian sector.

Krystal Renschler

BA 2012

Portfolio Manager, Community Partnerships and Engagement
Vancity Credit Union

Biography

Krystal Renschler graduated from the School for International Studies in 2012, while working as an intelligence officer with the Department of National Defence. At the DND, she focused on conflict analysis and human security in the Horn of Africa. With a desire to shift from analyzing conflict to transforming it for good, Krystal further trained in mediation and conflict resolution. She was fortunate to join the Berghof Foundation in Berlin, an organization focused on conflict transformation in many conflict regions of the world, where she served as a consultant with the Peace, Mediation and Dialogue programme. Her work with Berghof included process design and analysis of group dialogue for transforming conflict into positive social change. Krystal has also worked with Mediators Beyond Borders in Sierra Leone, supporting community dialogue processes for sustainable peace and community resilience following the civil war and the Ebola epidemic.

From 2014 to 2016 Krystal served as a Rotary International Peace Fellow at Uppsala University in Sweden, where her research focused on post-conflict memory and reconciliation. As a fellow, she conducted in-depth field research with former Khmer Rouge soldiers and survivors of the Cambodian genocide to better understand what forms of memorialization contribute to individual and community healing following mass atrocity.

With a desire to better understand colonial impacts at home and put into practice the skills she developed abroad, Krystal returned to Canada in 2016 to work with Reconciliation Canada, an organization focused on revitalizing relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Her role included co-leading a series of national engagements across the country to advance reconciliation through the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.

Krystal is currently a Portfolio Manager with Vancity’s Community Investment team. She leads a portfolio of work focused on building partnerships with local not-for-profits, Indigenous organizations, social enterprises, universities, and other entities, to contribute to social and economic inclusion. She sees this as an extension of her peace work in a more localized context, working at the systemic level to ensure those who have been socially and economically marginalized have equitable opportunities to participate in the economy and civic life. From her early work in conflict analysis and mediation, to her current work, Krystal considers herself equal parts process designer, strategist and facilitator, always working with collaborative and dialogic processes to foster innovation and generate shared solutions to complex social problems.

For Krystal, what stands out most about her time with SIS is the caliber of outstanding faculty she had the opportunity to learn from, and the value of a truly interdisciplinary degree. Her experiences in IS taught Krystal the value of approaching global issues through multiple lenses – as an economist, an anthropologist, a political scientist, etc. She learned that trying to apply as many of these perspectives as possible would uncover a picture that comes the closest to reality, and she has tried to hold to this insight in the variety of contexts where she has worked.

In addition to a BA in International Studies from SFU, Krystal also holds an MA in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala, Sweden.