John W. Byrd Education and Training Award for Community and Restorative Justice


NACRJ honors the memory of John W. Byrd with the biannual Education and Training Award for Community and Restorative Justice in his name.

John W. Byrd had an incurably positive attitude and modeled selflessness, humility, kindness, commitment to family, self-reflection, and genuine concern and respect for others. These attributes were magnetic and served as guideposts to many. He had a way of making everyone feel important. John wanted to improve society and envisioned what could be.

In 2001, John was at a National Institute of Corrections seminar on restorative justice on September 11 when the Twin Towers fell. Two attendees lost family members that day. That week was a galvanizing experience for John. He committed his professional and personal life to broadening the use of restorative justice in Texas and across the nation.

As a faculty member at the University of Texas at San Antonio, John introduced students to theory and research on restorative and community justice. His students learned to think critically about the justice system and consider the potential of restorative and community justice to prevent crime, reduce recidivism and promote higher quality of life in communities.

He used the emerging research to train practitioners and educate the community about the potential of restorative and community justice to provide more effective responses to crime, treatment of offenders under supervision, and reentry programming. For several years he led an effort San Antonio Restorative Justice Community Initiative which resulted in: a two year community education project; the creation of a community reentry roundtable and the development of neighborhood based applications of restorative and community justice principles and practices; and, the 1st National Conference on Restorative Justice in 2007.

John brought out the best in those around him and left the world a better and more positive place. He worked tirelessly to build a better, safer and more livable society.

Award Criteria

The award shall recognize individuals, organizations or groups for a record of sustained and important contributions to restorative and/or community justice education, training, or practice focused on producing safe, just, equitable and livable communities through:

  • K-12 Education,
  • Higher Education,
  • Employee/Staff Training,
  • Application of theory to practice, and
  • Program design and implementation.

Restorative Justice – promoting safer neighborhoods by healing individual harms:

  • Focus on healing the harms caused by crimes (or other harmful conduct) rather than the rules that have been broken.
  • Show equal concern and commitment for both victims and offenders, involving both in the process.
  • Work toward restoration of the victim or victim’s family by empowering them and attending to their needs as they see them.
  • Support offenders, while encouraging them to understand, accept, and carry out their obligations.
  • Recognize that obligations of an offender to a victim(s) may be difficult for offenders but those obligations must be achievable and should not be imposed as harms.
  • Provide opportunities for dialogue, direct and indirect, between victims and offenders as appropriate.
  • Find meaningful ways to involve the community and respond to the community bases of crime or other harmful conduct.
  • Encourage collaboration and reintegration of victims and offenders, rather than coercion and isolation.
  • Show respect for all parties-victims, offender, community, and justice officials.
  • Strengthen the capacity of residents for pro-social self-governance and collective actions.

Community Justice – Promoting higher quality of life in neighborhoods by healing communities

  • Promote social justice and ethics of care within the neighborhood and across the larger community.
  • Focus on strengthening the capacity of neighborhoods for self-governance and collective action to reduce, improve, or solve community problems.
  • Strengthen pro-social norms within neighborhoods.
  • Strengthen the capacity of residents to work collaboratively toward creating a safer community with higher quality of life.
  • Promote mutually respectful collaborations with government agencies (i.e., social service, code compliance, law enforcement and other justice systems, etc.) to improve social conditions within the neighborhood.

Past Recipients of the John W. Byrd Education and Training Award

2017 Recipient

Loyola Marymount University, Intercultural Facilitator Program

Loyola Marymount University, Intercultural Facilitator Program, 2017 John W. Byrd Education and Training Award for Community and Restorative Justice award recipient

Loyola Marymount University (LMU) is effectively challenging itself to establish authentic, non- traditional student engagement, by creating spaces for students to manage the dissonance between the promise of equality for all and the reality of their lived experiences. At the center of this multifaceted process is a revolutionary student-led effort called the Intercultural Facilitator (IF) Program. These students, educated in social justice pedagogy. are highly skilled in principles of mediation and facilitation. Such efforts relate to ongoing LMU projects focused on restorative justice, including the killing of unarmed black men and women by police which has divided our country.

Intercultural Facilitator Program, LMU Department of Public Safety and The Los Angeles Police Department collaborated to create a program that would allow students to candidly question law enforcement officers on police policy, tactics, training, and racial profiling. The Los Angeles Police Department committed more than 20 law enforcement participants, including division commanders, captains, sergeants and rank and file officers to the discussion. Consequently, this program provided an opportunity for students to gain greater clarity and awareness of LAPD policies and procedures, gain a better understanding of the myths and realities of policing and for the officers and student to see each other as human beings. It was an emotional, brutally honest conversation that confronted systems of privilege, fostered new understandings, and encouraged a greater appreciation of our common humanity.

2015 Recipient

Ms. Nancy Riestenberg, Restorative Practices Specialist for the Minnestoa Department of Education.

IMG 2029 Nancy Riestenberg receives the John Byrd Award for Education and Teaching from Pres. Mark Umbreit


Nancy Riestenberg has dedicated her professional life to helping communities and schools become safe, livable, and effective places for people to thrive. She has done this through education, training and writing.

She has worked with school districts across Minnesota and in 20 other states. Her work has had broad impact which can be seen in the growing rate of adoption of restorative practices by schools across the nation. This is, in part, due to her books Circle in the Square: Building Community and Repairing Harm in Schools (2012) and Restorative Approaches to Conflict in Schools: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Whole School Approaches to Managing Relationships (2014).

Signs of her work can be seen in Texas. Over the last several years she has worked on a project directed by Dr. Marilyn Armour, Director of the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue at The University of Texas at Austin, College of Social Work. This project has dramatically changed the school climate at the Ed White Middle School (Northeast Independent School District) in San Antonio, TX. The outcomes of this project have led to a new statewide effort to introduce restorative practices and restorative discipline in Texas schools.

2013 Recipient

Dr. Daniel Van Ness, Executive Director, Centre for Justice and Reconciliation, Prison Fellowship International. 

2011 Recipient

Lorenn Walker, J. D., MPH, Restorative Law Practitioner, Waialua, Hawaii.

2009 Recipient

Dr. Mark Umbreit, Executive Director, Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking, University of Minnesota.

umbreit byrd award dr gilbert 287wMark Umbreit receives the John W. Byrd Award, presented by Dr. Michael Gilbert.