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Lakshitha Saji Prelis


Saji is currently the Director for Children & Youth Programs at Search for Common Ground where he has the opportunity to support programs in over 30 countries.  He co-leads several policy-level platforms including the UN Inter-Agency Sub Working group on Youth Participation in Peacebuilding and the Global Partnership to enable children and youth participation in peacebuilding for societal transformation. He served as a co-founder and Associate Director at American University's Peacebuilding & Development Institute in Washington, DC and is currently one of the founding members and chair of the board for PDI-SL in Sri Lanka, an internationally recognized South Asia focused training and research Institution.  He has over fifteen years experience working with youth, youth movements and youth focused organizations in various conflict and transition environments.  Some of the experiences include addressing alternatives to gang life in Los Angeles, developing programs for street children from Northern Uganda, and enhancing youth capacities in Nepal to assessing Thai-Burma border issues for youth, training in youth leadership in Georgia and Abkhazia to researching motivating factors for children and youth to join armed groups, gangs and cults in North and South of Nigeria.  He has over eighteen years of combined developing country experience from Africa to South and Southeast Asia. Saji has dedicated his academic and professional career to strengthening youth capacities for peace, and providing technical expertise in inter-generational peacebuilding and conflict-sensitive development practice in conflict and disaster settings. His more than eleven years of experience at American University have resulted in the development of over 100 academic training courses covering gender, media, monitoring and evaluation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Outside of his work at the university, Saji has served as an adviser to governments and governmental agencies from countries such as Nepal, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Indonesia, Haiti and Uganda, developing training programs, drafting policy frameworks, and designing community participation programs. He also has over ten years experience working with donor and non-profit organizations to focus on coordination, beneficiary accountability, conflict sensitive humanitarian practice, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Mr. Prelis spoke at the United Nations around Peacebuilding and Peacekeeping for UN and UN affiliated NGOs as part of the UN Day 2009 to acknowledge 61 years of UN Peacekeeping.

He most recently was one of the key note speakers at the Nobel Peace Forum in Minnesota, USA and at the Empowering Youth Conference in Oslo, Norway co-sponsored by the Crown Prince of Norway. He also was a panelist at the World We Want People’s Voices Series in September 2013 focused on the importance of Peace in the Post 2015 process. Mr. Prelis is a Sri Lanka national who obtained his Master's Degree in International Peace & Conflict Resolution with a Concentration in International Law from the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC.