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 LGBTQI elders, at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Before that, she worked in business litigation at Latham & Watkins LLP. Melanie serves on the Board of Directors of the Transgender Law Center and is the Associate Director for Public Interest Programs at UC Berkeley School of Law.
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, our Treasurer, is a mediator and collaborative attorney. 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 Association of Collaborative Professionals, and Northern Westchester Collaborative Divorce.
Randy Cheek, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has been in private practice in Petaluma since 1983. His specialties have included family systems therapy, couples therapy and divorce related counseling. Additionally Randy specializes in co-parenting counseling, reunification counseling and mediation regarding children’s issues in divorce. Since 2001, he has been active in the Collaborative Process in Sonoma County. He is a past president of the Board of Directors of the Collaborative Council of the Redwood Empire (CCRE) and a member of the Board of Directors of CPCal, and Randy is a past president of CPCal.
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.
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.
Lacey Wilson is a College Advising Associate at Oakland Promise. She worked for seven years as an educator then transitioned to the legal profession in legal support positions at Camille King Collaborative Law & Mediation and Disability Rights California, respectively. She believes at the core of change is solid relationship building and has a serious passion for restorative practices, particularly within marginalized communities, education, and law. Born and raised in the Austin, Texas area, Lacey made her way to the Bay in August 2015. She’s a published author and spends her free time working on creative writing and DIY projects or in the company of friends over coffee, boba tea, good food, or a hike in the redwoods! Lacey studied Special Education at Texas State University and received her mediation certifications at SEEDS and the Center for Understanding in Conflict in 2016. As a lifelong learner, she is continuously seeking out communities willing to have courageous conversations around cultural awareness and social change.
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