Merle Lefkoff is president of Ars Publica, a 501(c)3 social profit organization in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that applies Complex Adaptive Systems thinking to global conflict resolution.
Recently Lefkoff facilitated three back-channel dialogues on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, convening 20 participants from the Korean Peninsula, Iran, Israel, NGOs, the U.S. government, think tanks, academia, and some smart people interested in the issue. Testing new dialogue methodologies based on complexity science for reaching agreement at the "negotiating table," participants wrestled with the conundrum of a world no longer needing nuclear arms, but unable to figure out how to get rid of them. An interesting idea emerged around the idea of the "Nuclear Taboo" that will be exciting to pursue in future sessions.
When she was detailed to the Carter White House in 1977 to help implement an Executive Order, Lefkoff said goodbye to academia and hello to her future calling. She has been a "Track Two" facilitator and mediator for more than 30 years in conflict zones around the world, including Nicaragua, Belize, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Croatia, and the Middle East. Pursuing her interest in finding out about the new science of complexity, Lefkoff received an appointment as guest scientist and affiliate at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos Lab, where she peered into the virtual world of group dynamics searching for the natural laws that govern coexistence among competing identities.