Joe Grabill is a retired professor of history and co-founder of the environmental, religious, and women studies programs at Illinois State University, where he taught for thirty-two years until 2001. Prof. Grabill co-founded and co-directed the peace studies minor at Illinois State. To commemorate this program, a scholarship award named the Grabill-Homan Peace Prize began in 2004.

He authored the prize-winning book, Protestant Diplomacy and the Near East: Missionary Influence on American Policy, 1810-1927 (University of Minnesota Press).

In his community of Bloomington/Normal, Illinois he was the first president of the Vladimir/Canterbury Sister City Association , a movement begun in 1986 to help bring an end to the cold war. He has visited Russia ten times. He is also the founding and continuing co-director of Nazareth & Ramallah Sister Cities, one of only a few sister-city programs in the world to foster three-way communication among Arab and Jewish Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans.

He has made seven research trips to the Holy Land.

Since his retirement he has helped initiate and lead a local group to plant groves of trees, Children & Elders Forest (, and a group to promote sustainability, Imagine Green Bloomington/Normal (

He lives with two miniature Schnauzers, dozens of house plants, and his wife, Donella Hess-Grabill, a professional life coach. In their family are six children and ten grandchildren.

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Interview with the Author