Our Board Members

The current board members of the Center for Understanding in Conflict are:

Melanie Rowen, our President, is a mediator and conflict coach who believes in the power of understanding-based conflict resolution to transform our world. She frequently trains individuals and groups on effective communication in conflict situations and on creating inclusive environments, particularly around gender, sexual orientation, and disability. Melanie previously litigated civil rights cases, including marriage equality, employment discrimination, issues involving transgender and gender non-conforming youth and their families, and issues facing LGBTQ+ elders, at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and served on the Board of Directors of the Transgender Law Center. Earlier in her career, she worked in business litigation at Latham & Watkins LLP, and for many years, she was the Associate Director for Public Interest Programs at UC Berkeley School of Law. Melanie currently works in attorney professional development at the Bay Area offices of a large law firm, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association for Law Placement.

Antoinette Delruelle has been a mediator since 2009 and an attorney since 1994. She currently serves as the Secretary for the Center for Understanding in Conflict. Before starting the Mediation Project in 2013, she was a senior attorney in NYLAG’s Matrimonial & Family Law Unit of which she also served as director from 2001 to 2004.  She has taught mediation to legal services attorneys and court staff professionals and has participated as a teaching assistant at mediation trainings of the Center for Understanding in Conflict.  She is has been a mediator for the New York City Family Court Mediation Program since 2013, on the rosters of the Kings and New York County Supreme Court Pilot Mediation Programs their inception.  She was the president of the Family and Divorce Mediation Council of Greater New York from 2014 to 2016 and is currently on the board of the Center for Understanding in Conflict.  She is a member of the state-wide ADR Advisory Committee formed by Chief Judge DiFiore in April 2018 to give her recommendations on how to increase the use of ADR in the NYS court system.

Katherine Eisold Miller is a Collaborative Lawyer and mediator with a practice located in Westchester County NY and New York City. Katherine is immediate past president of the Center for Understanding in Conflict, as well as the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals. Katherine is author of the New Yorker’s Guide to Collaborative Divorce (2015) and co-Author of the #1 Amazon bestseller A Cup of Coffee with 10 of the Top Divorce Attorneys in the United States (2014).



Catherine Conner is a mediator, collaborative attorney, a teacher at and a director on the board of the Center for Understanding in Conflict. Her practice focuses on family law alternate dispute resolution, including mediation, collaborative practice and private judging.  She co-authored Collaborative Family Law Practice Materials.  She was on the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals board of directors from 2008 through 2014 and was the President in 2013.


Ivan Alter is a collaborative attorney and mediator with offices in Westchester County and New York City. Practicing law since 1994, Ivan previously had a career as a commercial and matrimonial litigator before discovering the understanding based model at the CUC. Since then, Ivan has focused all of his professional energies on practicing, promoting, and teaching mediation and collaborative law. He is member of the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals, the Family and Divorce Mediation Council, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and Northern Westchester Collaborative Divorce.


Laurie Phuong Ertley is a licensed marriage and family therapist.  She’s worked in community mental health for 15 years and has been in private practice at Mindful Living, Inc. for 5 years.  Her work focuses on the resolution of trauma for individuals, couples, and families.  Laurie holds social justice as a core value and regards the impact of systemic oppression when working with persons of color.  She’s also trained other therapists in the art of family therapy at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California and served as an adjunct faculty member at the Somatic Psychology program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, California.  Laurie has a lifelong somatic practice, taught yoga for 14 years, and is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner.


Heba Nimr has worked in various capacities for more than 30 years with families and organizations challenging systemic barriers to equity, as well as navigating interpersonal conflicts and abuse.  Heba brings and builds on those experiences in her current practice, based in Oakland for ten years and counting, as a lawyer and mediator focused primarily in the areas of family law, and life, legacy and death planning.  She has particular strength and interest in conflict resolution in multicultural and multilingual settings.


Hansa Patel is an attorney, mediator, and teacher.  As an attorney, Hansa zealously advocated for abused and neglected children or defended their parents’ rights in the San Francisco juvenile dependency court for fourteen years.  Hansa is passionate about serving the underprivileged community.  Feeling depleted by the court system, Hansa explored new ways to empower her clients to resolve conflict.  Mediation empowers Hansa’s clients to choose how they want to engage with conflict, co-create resolutions, and even transform a relationship.  In the USA, Canada, and Africa, Hansa teaches mediation, including integrating mindfulness skills into conflict resolution.  Hansa wants her clients to have the same tools she cultivates in her children:  a mindful approach to resolving challenges in life.


As SAP’s Global Ombudsperson, Carsten Pöschl and his team are the first port of call for the company’s 100,000 employees when it comes to the confidential handling of work-related complaints and conflict situations. Before he became Global Ombudsperson, Carsten spent several years at SAP working in strategic HR roles and, before that, led international teams in the areas of Sales and Consulting. Carsten Pöschl is a qualified conflict resolution expert, mediator, coach, and mindfulness trainer with more than 15 years of management experience. His original studies include degrees in Industrial Engineering and Business Administration from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, the Royal Institute of Technology and the Stockholm School of Economics in Stockholm, Sweden.


Jennifer Sullivan is a mediator, facilitator, and litigator who brings the power of understanding to her work. Jennifer’s background as a commercial litigator informs her focus on mediating civil and business disputes. She presents and teaches regularly on mediation techniques, is a member of the ADR Section of the Colorado Bar Association; a co-owner of a litigation, mediation, and corporate boutique law firm; and is the Senior Assistant Dean for Administration and Program Development at the University of Colorado Law School. She is a strong believer in second chances and is involved in a Boulder non-profit that supports formerly incarcerated individuals who are re-entering society.


Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton, principal at Hamilton Law and Mediation, practices and teaches an alternative means of resolving disagreements between people over animals.  She works with pet owners, spouses, service providers, neighbors, rescues and governmental agencies to help them address misunderstandings, misstatements or oversights involving pets, enabling them to find a more peaceful and relationship saving solution which is in the best interest of all. Debra is the author of the bestselling book Nipped in the Bud-Not in the Butt-How to Use Mediation to Resolve Conflicts Over Animals. 

We appreciate their service!