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Ron Vero - President

Ron has over 18 years of experience in mediation and arbitration. He obtained his certificate in conflict studies from Cornell University and is currently business advocate of economic development for the New York State Department of Public Service.



Sarah Rudgers-Tysz President Elect

Sarah Rudgers-Tysz is licensed to practice law in Maryland and has been a mediator since 1996. She is the Executive Director of Mediation Matters, a non-profit agency offering conflict resolution services in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington Counties.  Sarah’s professional experience in conflict resolution includes: community, workplace, elder, youth, family, and criminal justice mediations; large group facilitation and team building; training for both educational seminars and undergraduate classes; and program design and implementation.


Niki Lee Rowe - Secretary

Niki is a mediator, arbitrator and licensed mental health counselor in New York State and is certified with the National Board of Certified Counselors. She holds a certification in biomedical ethics, is a certified anger resolution therapist, has served as administrator of Alzheimer's facilities and is a nationally published author in the area of abuse investigation in long term care facilities.


L.J. Freitag - Treasurer

A graduate of Syracuse University with a dual degree in Psychology and Communication, L.J. began his interest in mediation while working towards his master’s degree in labor and industrial relations at Cornell University. He spent over 20 years as Manager of Human Resources for companies including Chrysler Corporation, the Dial Corporation, Nabisco Brands, and the Rich Products Corporation where he negotiated labor agreements and mediated employee disputes. As an active member of NYSDRA for approximately 12 years, he currently mediates divorce, custody and visitation, special education, agricultural, landlord/tenant and community disputes in several counties. LJ also serves as a mediator for the Juvenile Restorative Justice program, Department of Justice, and as a panel representative for the NYS Surrogate Decision Making program. In addition, he is an arbitrator for the New York State Lemon Law program, member of the Arbitration Panel for the Erie County Bar Association, and is a member of the Corning Inc. Labor Grievance Arbitration panel. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation (NYSCDM) and is a member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM).




William Conine

Bill is a Navy veteran and a graduate of Cornell University with a degree in communications.  He retired in 2015 after 40 years in the insurance industry, including assignments in marketing/agency communications followed by division-leading responsibilities in information technology, operations, human resources, facilities and enterprise project sponsorship. Bill has led and served on several other volunteer boards.


Donna Durbin

Donna is the Director of Monroe County Programs at Center for Dispute Settlement in Rochester. She has worked with the Center for Dispute Settlement since 1993 and has been a certified mediator with the center since 1980. She implemented one of the first Custody & Visitation (C/V) Mediation Programs in the state and is a certified C/V trainer as well. Donna received her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Keuka College in 2011. Her insight into the workings of a CDRC make her a perfect fit for the NYSDRA Board of Directors.






David Karp

David is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Project on Restorative Justice at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. His scholarship focuses on restorative justice in community and campus settings and on prison programs preparing inmates for return to the community. He is also a volunteer mediator and a restorative justice facilitator and trainer. David received a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Washington.



Jack Kellogg

Jack is a freelance computer instructor with Kellogg Computer Training & Solutions who has owned several businesses for the past 35 years. He volunteers for the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce, serves on their ambassador committee, and is a Rotarian. He is also a volunteer mediator in C&V, FDM, and a certified arbitrator in Lemon Law and FDA.


Michele Kirschbaum

Michele is the Director of Programs at New York Peace Institute, which serves Brooklyn and Manhattan residents.  She currently oversees all direct service programs including community, court-based projects (criminal, family, civil and small claims courts) and specialized areas (custody, visitation child support, Special Education mediation, conflict coaching and restorative justice work in schools). Michele is trained in all of the specialized programs and restorative justice processes, and continues to be an active practitioner.  She currently serves as co-chair of the ADR and Restorative Justice Subcommittee, Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association.

Michele was formerly the Director of the Safe Horizon Brooklyn Mediation Center and was recognized for her leadership by receiving the Bertrum Beck Achievement Award, The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Extraordinary Woman Award and the Lawrence Cooke Peace Innovator Award for her work in Special Education Mediation. She is a graduate of Boston University School of Education.



Simon Kyriakides

Simon is Senior Counsel at American Arbitration Association where he manages the legal and regulatory issues arising out of the AAA's insurance and ADR programs, oversees general compliance and regulatory issues impacting the AAA, defends the AAA in employment matters and ensures compliance with federal and state employment laws, oversees compliance with HIPAA and other privacy laws, drafts and reviews contracts (including IP and large events), leases, and responses to RFP's, retains and manages outside counsel in the defense of litigation against the AAA. Simon earned his JD from Syracuse University in 1994 and has served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Corporate Counsel, Greater New York Chapter.



Julie Loesch

Julie is Director of the Center for Resolution and Justice (CRJ) at Child & Family Services. She has extensive experience as a mediator, facilitator, trainer and lecturer on a wide range of conflict management and dispute resolution topics. Julie was an instructor for Cornell University’s ILR School Alternative Dispute Resolution Certificate Program where she taught mediation courses. Julie is also a past president of NYSDRA's Board of Directors.




Tara Fishler - Immediate Past President
Tara is the owner of Customized Training Solutions which provides training to adults and children in schools and organizations on topics including mediation, communication, anger management, diversity, anti-bullying, conflict resolution.



Ron Vero - President-Elect

Ron has over 18 years of experience in mediation and arbitration. He obtained his certificate in conflict studies from Cornell University and is currently business advocate of economic development for the New York State Department of Public Service. 

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