Early on in my legal career, I gravitated toward working with kids and families in conflict. I founded a legal aid service in Chicago called First Defense Legal Aid which, among other things, offered peer mediation services to teens and won recognition from the U.S. Department of Juvenile Justice. After moving to New York City in 1997, I was asked to create the New School University’s first Ombuds Office to mediate disputes among students, staff and faculty, and led two large non-profit agencies in Manhattan where I developed award-winning programs serving youth, single parents, and families.
Although I’ve been a certified Community Mediator since 1996, I became a Certified Divorce and Family Mediator in 2009 because I witnessed its benefits and positive outcomes for couples with children. In 2005, when my son was only 5, I went through a painful divorce myself. At the time, I recall feeling very alone, overwhelmed, angry and afraid. When you feel like your world is collapsing, it’s difficult to know where to turn or how to organize your thoughts and make rational decisions. A friend of mine suggested that my husband and I go to mediation rather than litigate, and it was probably the best decision we could have made.
Sure, it would have been easy to hand off our problems to lawyers and let them fight things out for us. But the process of mediation helped insulate our son from the courtroom drama, it allowed us to work through our separation and eventual divorce in a way and at a pace that made sense for us. And we saved a ton of money – money that we both needed in order to make the transition to living separately.
During mediation, my former husband and I negotiated a parenting arrangement that was balanced and that maximized the time we each devoted to our growing child. Mediation also taught us both how to communicate more openly and negotiate more constructively. While we were hardly perfect in the beginning, we got better over time.
I decided to train as a divorce mediator in 2008 because of my strong belief that mediation is a far more effective way for couples, families, and small businesses to resolve conflict. Couples who have worked with me to mediate their divorces have thanked me years later, stating that the process gave them the tools to speak openly for the first time with their former partners, and it taught them how to be cooperative, amicable co-parents, all to the benefit of their kids. There’s nothing more gratifying than that!
In addition to a J.D. from Harvard Law School, I have an M.A., magna cum laude, from Northwestern University, and a B.A.,summacum laude, from the University of New Hampshire. I am a Certified Mediator and Arbitrator with over 400 hours, collectively, of advanced training in Divorce and Child Custody Mediation, Community Mediation, Commercial Mediation and Arbitration. I am certified as a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer and have recently completed training in Divorce Financial Planning. I served as a University Ombuds for the New School University, an Administrative Law Judge for the City of New York’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings; a Commercial Mediator for the NY Supreme Court’s Commercial Division; and as an Arbitrator for the Queens County Civil Court’s Small Claims Division. I’m an active member of the Family and Divorce Mediation Council of Greater New York, the NYC Bar Association’s Committee on Family Law, and the NY Women’s Bar Association ADR Committee.
I’m the proud mother of a son who has now successfully graduated from college. When not mediating, I love to spend my spare time skiing, hiking and cycling and playing with my Boarder Terrier, Leo, in both New York City and Burlington, VT.