I have been working in the restorative practices field since 2012 when I first read Howard Zehr’s The Little Book of Restorative Justice. I fell instantly in love with the simple and powerful philosophy of restorative justice. I remember thinking, “This is an idea that could change the world in so many beautiful ways!” I knew right away that I needed to be part of the restorative movement.
I started working in the criminal justice sphere with an organization called Longmont Community Justice Partnership (LCJP) in Colorado. I managed the Community Restorative Justice Program, which offers the opportunity to fully resolve criminal cases outside of the conventional justice system. I worked alongside police officers and community volunteers to make the restorative justice process available to juveniles and adults. I also worked with local high schools to implement restorative justice for student misconduct and to build a more connected and caring school community.
I left LCJP in 2015 when I received a Fulbright Fellowship to study restorative justice in New Zealand. New Zealand is widely considered the leader in restorative justice implementation, both in the criminal justice system and in schools, so it was an incredible opportunity to study restorative justice there.
After the culmination of my Fulbright Fellowship, I decided to stay in New Zealand to complete a PhD in Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington with support from a Rotary Global Grant. My research investigated how restorative practices work to transform communities. I graduated with my PhD in December 2019.
While I was at Victoria University of Wellington, I spearheaded the effort to design and implement the Restorative University model at VUW. This initiative involved both reactive and proactive components. Reactively, we established restorative justice as the first-choice response for all student and staff misconduct. This involved changes to university policy and forming, training, and coaching a team of restorative justice facilitators on campus who could lead processes.
Proactively, a colleague and I trained all residential advisors (RAs) and their supervisors in the residence halls as well as the leaders of many student clubs to use restorative practices such as the circle and restorative conversations to cultivate more connected and caring communities. The implementation of restorative practices in the dorm communities had a tremendous positive effect, which is documented in my article, “Restorative Practices in Residence Halls at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand” (Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 2018). I also received a grant from Quaker Peace and Service Aotearoa New Zealand to design and pilot a restorative approach to preventing sexual harm in universities. The resulting Sustained Restorative Dialogue method received very positive feedback from the student participants and has since been replicated internationally at several other universities. The results of the pilot are presented in my article, “Sustained Restorative Dialogue as a Means of Understanding and Preventing Sexually Harmful Behavior on University Campuses” (Contemporary Justice Review, 2019). Our work at Victoria University of Wellington led to opportunities to train other universities in how to use restorative practices to build, maintain, and repair relationships on campus.
One of my greatest passions is finding ways to share the transformational impact of restorative practices with others. In my teaching, I endeavor to align with the values of restorative practices. That is the topic of my first book, The Little Book of Restorative Teaching Tools: Games, Activities, and Simulations for Understanding Restorative Justice Practices. In March 2020, I also launched the website www.RestorativeTeachingTools.com, a free collection of games and activities for teaching restorative practices in trainings and classrooms.
I currently serve as the Assistant Director of the National Center on Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School. I treasure the opportunity to promote the advancement of restorative practices on a national scale.
I live in Colorado and love spending time in nature with my partner, Sam and my daughter, Fern. I also love writing, cooking, riding my bike, and listening to podcasts!
- 2016 Fulbright US Student Award for Restorative Justice Research in New Zealand
- 2017-2018 Rotary Global Grant Scholar
- 2017 Quaker Peace and Service Aotearoa New Zealand Grant for Restorative Circles for Preventing Sexual Harm in Universities Pilot
- 2018 Victoria University of Wellington Research Excellence Award
Pointer, L., Gaarder, E. and Gonzalez, T. “Panel: Restorative Justice Research and Theory.” American Society of Criminology Meeting. Washington, D.C. Accepted for presentation, 2020.
Pointer, L. “Keynote: Restorative Practices: A Transformative Way to Respond to Harm.” Administrators in Medicine Conference. Fort Worth, TX , 2019.
Pointer, L. and Chris Marshall. “Restorative Justice.” The Justice Conference. Auckland, New Zealand, 2018.
Pointer, L. and Sam Seiniger. “Exploring the Potential of Restorative Circle Practice in Prisons.” Restorative and Māori Justice Approaches to the Prison Crisis. Wellington, New Zealand, 2018.
Pointer, L. “Creating Transformational Space: Ritual and Restorative Justice” and “Teaching Restorative Practices through Games.” European Forum for Restorative Justice Conference. Tirana, Albania, 2018.
Pointer, L. “The Role of Ritual in Conflict Resolution” and “Teaching Restorative Practices through Games.” Conflict Resolution Conference. Wellington, New Zealand, 2017.
Pointer, L. “Creating Transformational Space: Ritual and Restorative Justice.” Pointer, L., Chris Marshall and Haley Farrar. “Building a Restorative University.” National Association of Community Restorative Justice Conference. Oakland, CA, 2017.
Pointer, L. and Chris Marshall. “Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices in Higher Education.” Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association Conference. Auckland, New Zealand, 2016.
Pointer, L. “Building Restorative Communities.” Social Movements, Resistance and Social Change Conference. Wellington, New Zealand, 2016.
Pointer, L. and Kathleen McGoey. “Restorative Conversations for Resolving One-on-One Conflict.” Colorado Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference. Denver, CO, 2015.
Pointer, L. and Kathleen McGoey. “Restorative Justice in Colorado.” Front Range Bioneers Conference. Boulder, CO, 2015.
Pointer, L and Kathleen McGoey. “Partnering with Police in Restorative Justice Organizations” and “Teaching Restorative Practices through Games.” Pikes Peak Restorative Justice Symposium. Colorado Springs, CO, 2015.
Pointer, L. and Kathleen McGoey. “Partnering with Police in Restorative Justice Organizations,” “Incorporating Assets and Strengths in Restorative Conversations,” and “Teaching Restorative Practices through Games.” National Association of Community Restorative Justice Conference. Fort Lauderdale, FL, 2015.