Effective in February 2020, Thomas Battles joined the Divided Community Project as the Lead Mediator of the Project’s Bridge Initiative @ Moritz.
Mr. Battles recently retired as a regional director for the Community Relations Service (CRS) division of the United States Department of Justice. The unit was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to serve as a “peacemaker” in communities with tension from race, color and national origin-related conflicts. It is the only federal agency dedicated to working with state, local officials, and community groups in, “restoring racial stability and harmony” in regions impacted by racial tension. In 2009, the agency’s mission was broadened to include hate crimes related to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and disability.
Mr. Battles became a regional director in 2003 — overseeing eight states including Florida — after working more than two decades in a front line role in Miami, Florida. As a director, he was responsible for mediating racial and ethnic disputes. His unit gained national attention in 2012 during the racial unrest that erupted in Sanford, Florida, after an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman.