The Peace of Mind Team

Peace of Mind is a mission-driven, socially responsible organization (501c3 pending).  We are passionate about bringing mindfulness-based social and emotional learning to elementary school teachers and students, helping schools become more positive and inclusive places in which children thrive.

Peace of Mind arises out of the work of teacher and curriculum author Linda Ryden.  Linda began teaching her “Peace Class” at a public school in Washington DC in 2003, focusing on social and emotional learning and conflict resolution lessons.  Her young students grasped the lessons intellectually; however, when children found themselves in challenging situations on the playground, at recess, or in their classrooms, they were unable to access what they had learned, overtaken by challenging emotions. Linda realized that by adding mindfulness to her curriculum she could offer students simple, powerful tools to manage challenging emotions, empathize with others, and resolve conflicts peacefully.  Since 2003, Linda has invested well over 10,000 hours teaching mindfulness, social and emotional learning, brain science and conflict resolution skills to her elementary school students.

Jillian Diesner adapted the curriculum for early childhood and has invested over 6,000 hours developing and teaching Peace of Mind to the youngest students.  We feel strongly about sharing what has worked for us with integrity. We also honor and welcome the creativity, passion, and experience other educators will bring to this work in order to adapt it to the needs of the children they care about.

The Peace of Mind Team

Linda Ryden      Founder, Peace Teacher, Curriculum and Storybook Author, Advocate

Linda-RydenLinda Ryden is the creator of the Peace of Mind Program, a cutting-edge combination of mindfulness, conflict resolution, and social emotional learning. Linda is the author of the Peace of Mind Curriculum Series and is the full-time Peace Teacher at Lafayette Elementary School, a public school in Washington, DC, where she teaches Peace classes to more than 700 children every week.

Linda’s work on the Peace of Mind program has been recognized in The Washington Post and The Huffington Post, and her program has been featured on local CBS, ABC and Fox5 news stations. Linda was recognized as one of the “Faces of DC” by the George Washington Hatchet.

Linda brings a passion for teaching peace and over 25 years of teaching experience to her work with children and adults.  Linda holds a BA from Wesleyan University.

Linda lives in Washington D.C. with her husband Jeremiah Cohen, owner of Bullfrog Bagels, their two children, and their dog Phoebe.


Cheryl Cole Dodwell    Executive Director

Cheryl manages outreach, publishing, operations and fundraising for Peace of Mind and serves as managing editor for the Peace of Mind Curriculum Series and Storybooks.  She works with Linda and Jillian to ensure that Peace of Mind’s strategy, activities and culture remain true to its mission and vision.

Cheryl brings a well-rounded skill set to Peace of Mind, including experience in banking, publishing, managing community organizations, and in helping startups organize and grow. She is also a nationally certified massage therapist and Reiki Master and brings a mindful and peaceful approach to her work in all fields.  Cheryl holds a BA from Princeton University and an MBA from Stanford University, with a focus on public and nonprofit management.

Cheryl enjoys traveling,  hands-on volunteering with A Wider Circle, yoga, and the continual cultivation of mindfulness and compassion.  Cheryl lives in Maryland with her husband James and her two kind and fun children (when they’re home from college).


Jillian Diesner     

Director of Early Childhood Programs, Peace Teacher, Early Childhood Curriculum Author, Advocate

Jillian directs the Early Childhood implementation of Peace of Mind and collaborated with Linda to create the Peace of Mind curriculum, Early Childhood edition.JIllian Diesner  Director of Early Childhood Programs, Peace of Mind Teacher, Counselor, Author, Advocate

Jillian is a dual-certified School Counselor and Special Education teacher who works with students at Lafayette Elementary School, a public school in Washington, DC. She teaches weekly Peace of Mind classes to all Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students at Lafayette. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the District of Columbia, holds Masters’ degrees in Early Childhood Special Education from the George Washington University and in Marriage & Family Counseling from the University of Florida.

An avid traveler, Jillian previously lived abroad and speaks Spanish and Italian. She currently lives in Maryland with her husband and two rambunctious boys.



Janine Rudder     Teacher Mentor

Janine is an educator who has worked primarily in districts with a concentration of under-resourced schools; a dedicated Pilates instructor consistently seeking opportunities to grow and continuously improve; and a professional who understands the critical importance of incorporating wellness-enhancing practices to build the capacity of students, educators, parents, and the broader community.

Janine started her career in education as a middle school special education teacher in Oakland, CA. She also trained primary school teachers and started several initiatives aimed at supporting and providing resources for teachers in Belize, Central America. After returning to the United States, Janine worked as a Master Educator, evaluating teachers’ instructional practice and conducting targeted professional development.

Through her work at the U.S. Department of Education, Janine currently supports State Education Agencies in building the capacity of school districts in order to support teachers and school leaders in their efforts to provide an excellent education for all students. Janine received a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Northeastern University and a Master of Arts from Teachers College at Columbia University. 

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