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Presenter Biographies (2016)
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Conference presenter biographies below, listed alphabetically by last name.


AMY ALFONSO is a Program Coordinator at Mediation Matters and prior to that had been working with youth for over ten years in education, wilderness-based experiential adventure learning, and service-learning. Restorative practices overlap with that work in many ways, and now she is working to provide education, training, raise awareness, and build partnerships to further restorative justice and practices, mediation, and conflict resolution in schools and youth-serving organizations. 

MICHAEL BAEZ – Michael Baez is a certified facilitator for Schenectady Works Getting Ahead Trainings, a youth mentor and peer leader for Community Fathers of Schenectady, and a co-facilitator for Bridges Out of Poverty trainings. He has received training and certifications to facilitate groups for Restorative Justice, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, HIV and AIDS Prevention, and Anger Management. Michael is an Ambassador for the Breathing Lights Project, participated in the 2015 Million Man March and worked on the development and roll-out team for Community Fathers Getting Ahead While Getting Out Reentry Program. He was a featured speaker at Drug Court at the request of Judge Riley, a guest speaker for summer youth program at Schenectady County Community College, and a speaker at “The Father’s Conference.”

DEB BEST, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, has more than 25 years of business, change management and human resources leadership experience for Fortune 5, technology, manufacturing, consumer and supply-chain publicly and privately held companies, including General Electric, Trans World Entertainment and Boston Scientific, as well as non-profit, academic and public-sector organizations, including the State of New York. Central to her work as a practitioner is to partner with leaders at all levels to define and leverage both talent and challenges to meet needs, which in turn maximizes success for both the organization and the individual. Her growing practice, a New York state Certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE), provides outsourced human resources (HR), corporate recruiting and third-party employee complaint investigation services; strategic planning; change and project management; workplace dispute resolution; career / leadership coaching; and social media / reputation advisement services for leaders, businesses and nonprofit organizations locally and nationally. Her diverse client base includes employers ranging from 5 to over 13,000 employees. Deb is a member of the Capital Region Women@Work Executive Advisory Board. A graduate of The University of New York at Albany, Deb received her SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) certification from The Society of Human Resources Management in 1998. She is also a trained and certified community, family, legal and employment dispute Mediator, as well as an authorized Everything DiSC® and Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ Partner.

JASMIN S. BRANDOW, Co-Founder of HumanKind Workshop, is a consultant facilitator committed to empowering people through intentional conversations about identity, awareness, and impact. From 2007-2012, she worked across divisions of NYS OCA, including the Offices of ADR and Workforce Diversity, where she focused on policies and projects related to: preventing workplace violence, increasing access to justice, and eliminating disparities in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University at Albany, SUNY and an M.A. in Political Science from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs. Jasmin subscribes to the philosophy of never-ending self-improvement and is committed to fostering further development for all people.

DANIEL BURNS, Esq., is an attorney and mediator with offices in Latham and Glens Falls, New York. Since 1995 he has helped over 2000 couples obtain a legal separation or divorce without a court battle. He is also responsible for Ethics Opinion 736 which provides that an attorney/mediator can prepare and file the legal documents a couple needs after the successful conclusion of a mediation.

CHARLOTTE CARTER, J.D., became a community mediator in 1992 and specialized in family and divorce. In 2004 she became a staff member of NYS Dispute Resolution Association. At NYSDRA she was the Program Manager of the Independent Mediation Assistance Program for survivors of clergy sexual abuse in the Albany Diocese, the Program Manager and then Statewide Director of the NYS Agricultural Mediation Program, and, since 2013, the Executive Director. She is a past board member of the Greene County Cooperative Extension, currently serves as director of her local food pantry and on the board of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. Her J.D. is from Yale Law School.

DUKE FISHER has been a volunteer mediator and trainer of conflict resolution since 1988. He is a tireless advocate for respectful collaborative conflict resolution. In 1999, he founded Learning Laboratories, an independent training venture that finds creative ways to address difficult topics including workshops on restorative justice, family conflict resolution, responding to discrimination, and building collaborative teams to assemble care for a differently-abled child. He has brought powerful workshops to individuals, businesses, schools, universities, bar associations, law practices, prisons, agencies, and to graduate students at Hofstra Law School, where Duke was, until recently, a Special Professor of Law. He has a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

ELISE R. FRIELLO, Esq., joined NYSDRA in 2015 as the Lemon Law Arbitration Program Manager. She has a background in public administration and earned a Master of Public Administration in 2013. Prior to joining NYSDRA’s staff, Elise interned with NYSDRA for nearly a year while attending Albany Law School. While at Albany Law, Elise helped research and conduct an Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility audit of the school's facilities. She presented the outcome of this audit as a member of a panel on ADA Compliance in Private and Public Institutions at a conference sponsored by the school. Elise is admitted to practice law in New York State.

DONA FRAGNOLI is the owner and founder of The Pebble Effect, LLC, a corporate training firm offering customized, motivational trainings and presentations. After spending 9 years working for a nationwide provider of corporate trainers, Dona created her own consulting company and has enjoyed success working with non-profit and corporate clients. She has developed several trainings for The City Mission of Schenectady, The Diocese of Albany, Schenectady Metroplex and many others. She is currently under contract with the City Mission of Schenectady as a coordinating consultant for their Bridges Out of Poverty trainings.

BRAD HECKMAN is the Chief Executive Officer of New York Peace Institute, one of the nation's largest community mediation centers. Each year, New York Peace Institute helps more than 10,000 people resolve their conflicts creatively, durably, and peacefully. He is an Adjunct Professor at New York University's Center for Global Affairs, where he received the Excellence in Teaching Award. Brad has served on the boards of the National Association for Community Mediation and the New York State Dispute Resolution Association. He has trained labor unions, the NYPD, NASA, community organizations, United Nations programs, and corporations in more than twenty countries. He was previously a Vice President of Safe Horizon, where he oversaw the Mediation, Families of Homicide Victims, Legal Services, Anti-Trafficking, Batterers Intervention, and Anti-Stalking Programs. He also served as International Director of Partners for Democratic Change, where he helped develop the first mediation centers in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union and Latin America. Brad received a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

DIAN KILLIAN, PhD, is a Certified Trainer with the international Center for Nonviolent Communication, a certified life coach (a graduate of the Coaching for Transformation program) and author of two books, Urban Empathy: True Life Adventures of Compassion on the Streets of NY, and Connecting across Differences: How to Connect with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere (now in its third edition, and in German). Founder and former director of the Center for Collaborative Communication, she now offers coaching and training via her company, Work Collaboratively, to diverse organizations from small and large NGOs to multinational and Fortune 100 companies. She also leads the annual East Coast Women’s Retreat and has regularly offers programming at Kripalu, the 92nd St Y, Omega, the NY Open Center, NVC Academy, and in the Bahamas and Europe.

REBECCA KOCH, Co-Founder of HumanKind Workshop, facilitates dialogues with people interested in strengthening self-awareness and exploring how our identities and lived experiences affect the ways we engage with each other. Rebecca also leads NYSDRA’s advocacy efforts to position the Community Dispute Resolution Centers as a prominent and highly valued conflict resolution resource for the State. Rebecca began working with the CDRC network in 2005, first as a youth program director with the CDRC in Chemung, Schuyler, and Tompkins counties and later with the Office of Court Administration as a liaison to the centers. Rebecca’s work is informed by her earlier education and experience as an AmeriCorps VISTA and social work student supporting elementary and middle school students and their families and co-facilitating intergroup peer dialogues on race, gender, and social identity.

MARK W. LEUTHAUSER is the Executive Director of The Peacemaker Program. He holds a degree in Human Services with a Counseling focus, and worked in his local Department of Social Services for over nine years. Mark is a mediator with training and certification in over a dozen mediation programs, as well as civil practice arbitration and Lemon Law arbitration. Over the past 8 years, Mark has been a trainer and facilitator for groups ranging from children to local landlords to ADR professionals, from coast to coast. Mark has authored trainings and interactive educational software, including the Playing Peacemaker database of experiential learning activities. Mark regularly practices as a mediator, arbitrator, and facilitator at The Peacemaker Program for over a decade.

JULIE LOESCH is the Director of the Center for Resolution and Justice (CRJ) and Employee Assistance Program at Child & Family Services. Julie focuses her efforts on developing programs and services that match community needs. She has extensive experience as a mediator, facilitator and trainer. Julie is currently a CDRC member of the Board of Directors of NYSDRA. She is also a Past President of this organization and served as Chair of the Contracts and Nominating Committees.

NATHAN MANDSAGER currently serves as the Director of Schenectady Works and Schenectady Bridges based out of the City Mission of Schenectady managing programs aimed at empowering employment by focusing on retention and productivity while supporting individuals in workforce preparation and career advancement. After completing the FEMA Disaster Management and Coordination Training, he directed the Flood Recovery Coalition for Schenectady County after Hurricane Irene. His work history includes serving as an associate pastor for 10 years, co-founding the Haven Family Center, and working as an elementary teacher. Nathan earned his BA in World History at the University at Albany, graduating with honors. He went on to study Missional Leadership at The Resurgence Training Center in Seattle, WA, earning his MA in 2011. Nathan’s leadership has been recognized as a recipient of The Schenectady Foundation’s Community Hero Award (2014), the Chamber of Commerce’s Good News Award (2012), and the Albany Business Review’s 40 Under 40 selection (2015).

ANNIE J. MONACO, LCSW-R, is a New York State licensed social worker. She is presently in private practice specializing in trauma treatment and work with teenagers and children. Annie is also a trainer with the Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute founded by Ricky Greenwald, PsyD. She travels extensively teaching other therapists how to work with traumatized clients. Previously, Annie was the Director of Restorative Justice programs at Child and Family Services in Buffalo, New York, where she oversaw juvenile and adult offender programs for more than ten years.

PATRICK NAGLE is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Assistant with the Quality Assurance/Monitoring Unit in ACCES-VR Central Office in Albany, New York. He has worked in the New York State Education Department for 27 years, and has worked with ACCES-VR in this capacity since 2005. His educational background includes obtaining his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Empire State College and his Associate in Science Degree from Hudson Valley Community College. His duties in Quality Assurance/Monitoring Unit includes being the primary responder to email inquiries from consumers and works with Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors in scheduling ACCES-VR Quality Assurance/Monitoring Unit provider reviews conducted throughout New York State. Patrick Nagle also participates in both of these provider and district office reviews that include analyzing consumer cases to insure the reports are completed and the records are documented correctly in compliance with federal guidelines. He assists Ms. Anne Sternbach in coordinating the ACCES-VR Due Process System which includes the mediation contract with NYSDRA. Patrick Nagle is also a member of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Trainer Network and is authorized to use a nationally vetted curriculum developed by the Northeast ADA Center at Cornell University's K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. 

GLEN PARKER, Esq., studied at Cordozo School of Law and has been a mediator/mentor and civil court coordinator at the New York Peace Institute and is now a Restorative Justice Specialist, working with schools leading community building circles, building a restorative climate, and hosting conferences for incidents of harm.

RUTH PEARCE, CiPP, PMP runs ALLE LLC, and is also Director of Special Events at the Wholebeing Institute, founded by Megan McDonough and Tal Ben-Shahar. Having managed teams for 20 years, she uses a wide range of techniques to help teams flourish, including character strengths, and conflict resolution skills such as reframing and active listening. In her most recent leadership role, she led her 110 strong, multinational team to success by focusing on strengths-building. She works with managers and individual team members to build high functioning strengths-based teams. A certified Strengthsfinder coach, and avid proponent of VIA Character Strengths, Ruth has been refining the art of Advancing Our Advocacy & Bringing us all Together for her whole career. She is particularly interested in the role that positive psychology and strengths building can play in creating more effective mediations. If Ruth had to distill the learnings of her career into one word it would be “ENGAGE”.

LISA RENEE POMERANTZ, Esq., has more than thirty years of legal and dispute resolution experience. After graduating from Harvard University and Boston University Law School, Lisa clerked for a federal judge. Following a stint as a litigation attorney, she worked for fifteen years as a senior-level in-house counsel for a major corporation. Since 2003, Lisa has practiced law in Suffolk County. She serves on the AAA’s Roster of Neutrals as a commercial mediator and arbitrator and has served in a variety of leadership roles with the Association for Conflict Resolution, the New York State Dispute Resolution Association and the Suffolk County Bar Association. Lisa has received numerous awards for her professional activities. She was named Member of the Year by Moxxie Network for 2015. Lisa also received an award in 2015 from the Association for Conflict Resolution for exemplary leadership. In 2010, the Long Island Business News named Lisa as a recipient of its Top Fifty Around 50 Award and in 2011 as a recipient of its Leadership in Law Award. In 2007, Lisa received the Suffolk County Bar Association Directors’ Award in recognition of her service as ADR Committee Co-Chair and also received Awards of Recognition in 2004 for her contributions to continuing legal education and as IP Committee Co-Chair.

DONNA RAMLOW is currently the Executive Director for the Dispute Resolution Center of Orange, Putnam, Sullivan & Ulster Counties. I have been with the agency since 1994. Have been instrumental on developing numerous programs for the DRC to include the Re-entry program.


KIM REISCH, Esq., is the Director of Ontario/Yates Programs for the Center for Dispute Settlement and a member of the Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee for the NYS Unified Court System Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution. A mediator with 20 years of experience, she mediates Community, Custody and Visitation, Parent/Teen, Special Education and Divorce Mediation cases for the Center. She facilitates Restorative Practices, such as Juvenile Restorative Conferences, Transition Circles and Peace Circles, as well as educational task forces, collaborative initiatives and local boards. In addition she provides experiential communication and conflict management workshops for teens and adults. Kim received her Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell University and her J.D. from Syracuse University - College of Law.

JEFF SHEPARDSON, CDRC Director of Training & Facilitation Services, has served CDRC as staff member, mediator, facilitator, and trainer since 2005, mediating and facilitating cases both public and private in a wide variety of contexts and settings.  Jeff provides Mediator, Facilitator, & Conflict Resolution Skill Trainings on a local, state and national level.  Jeff holds a deep belief in the power of alternative dispute resolution skills to transform conflict interaction that serve to strengthen individuals, relationships, and communities.  Jeff is a Fellow and certified mediator with the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation, Certified Trainer and member of the Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee for the NYS Unified Court System Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution, Adjunct Instructor for Hofstra Law School, Cornell Law School, and Cornell School of Industry & Labor Relations, and holds degrees in Literature, Communications, and Theology.

JESAN SORRELLS is the Founder and Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant at Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT) based out of Endicott, New York. He currently serves as the Membership Chair on the board of the Association of Conflict Resolution of Greater New York City (ACR-GNY). He maintains an active blog presence through the HSCT #Communication Blog as well as an ever-expanding digital content footprint on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Jesan hosts and produces The Earbud_U Podcast and blogs regularly on marketing for peace builders on Jesan was selected in 2015 by Biz Events and the Central New York Business Journal as one of Central New York and the Southern Tier’s Top Forty Young Professionals Under 40. Jesan occasionally guest lectures at Binghamton University and SUNY-Broome Community College. He teaches as an adjunct instructor in the Madden School of Business at Le Moyne College, in Syracuse, New York.

ANNE STERNBACH is a Masters’ level Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. She has worked in the field of vocational rehabilitation for over 30 years. She has worked for the New York State Education Department – Adult Career and Continuing Education Services - Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) since 1993. As a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, she has worked with hundreds of individuals with all types of disabilities who are looking to enter or reenter the labor market. Since 2007, she has been a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in the Quality Assurance and Monitoring Unit of ACCES-VR. She monitors both ACCES-VR District Offices and private agencies who contract with ACCES-VR throughout New York State. She also coordinates the ACCES-VR Due Process System including the mediation contract with NYSDRA. As a member of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Trainer Network she is authorized to use a nationally vetted curriculum developed by the Northeast ADA Center at Cornell University’s K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability.

DANIEL WEITZ, Esq., is the Deputy Director of the Division of Professional and Court Services and Statewide Coordinator of the Office of ADR for the New York State Unified Court System. As ADR Coordinator, Dan oversees a statewide program of court-annexed ADR initiatives and directs the Community Dispute Resolution Centers Program. Dan serves as Co-Counsel to the Board of Governors of the New York State Attorney-Client Fee Dispute Resolution Program, and is a past Chair of the New York City Bar Association ADR Committee.

INGRID WELCH is the Ontario County Program Manager for the Center for Dispute Settlement. Employed by the Center for over ten years she provides intake and case management services for over 350 cases per year. She is an active mediator and facilitator for a variety of conflict management processes, including Community, Custody & Visitation, and Divorce Mediation and Juvenile Restorative Conferences, Peace Circles and Transition Circles. Ingrid received her B.A. in Psychology from Wittenberg University.

MICHAEL WEST is a trainer, certified mediator, and executive leadership and conflict coach. He provides dynamic experiential dispute resolution related training drawing on 22 years conflict resolution experience, academic study, and leadership coaching. He has presented at various national conferences focusing on conflict resolution techniques as well as law schools in the Washington, D.C. area. He has trained mediators in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal sector on mediating workplace disputes, divorce and multi-party disputes well as creating a teambuilding program for intact teams. He was an adjunct professor George Mason University where he taught mediation and conflict resolution skills. He specializes in addressing conflict through a system approaches to improve relationships, develop conflict prevention and resolution strategies and behaviors. As a coach, he works with leaders to create opportunities for themselves and their teams by identifying their priorities, clarify choices, leverage strengths, build new competencies, and take action.

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