I’m glad you found your way here.
I’ve been helping executives, teams, and mediators build alignment, forge better decisions, improve communication, and preserve or repair key relationships for 20+ years as a conflict resolution specialist and consultant.
Individuals, pairs, and groups seek me out to address friction that could impair teamwork, and help them create the conditions for robust collaboration, resilient team relationships, and effective conflict resolution.
My work is anchored in this question:
How can we talk out disagreements in ways that reinforce our most important relationships and lead to optimal decisions?
Concepts that ground my work
As with any profession, conflict resolution specialists orient themselves to their work in a multitude of ways, with differing values, beliefs, and theories about humans in conflict. Below is my attempt to put words to the ways I work that may be different from others in my field, offered to help you consider whether we’d be a good match.
Upstream conflict resolution concerns itself with approaches that prevent conflict from damaging important personal or professional relationships, and that address the systemic reasons that conflict becomes acute or chronic. To have lasting effect in ongoing personal and professional relationships, our conflict resolution efforts must do more than settle a single situation; they must also create conditions where those involved have agency and are positioned to handle future situations better.
I take a dim view of deficit-based conflict resolution, which treats people experiencing conflict as dysfunctional and needing “management,” or “handling.” I find it more effective and a lot smoother sailing to see the equal humans in front of me (perfect and flawed, like all of us), expect the best from people, and help elevate the good in what each brings to the conversation. This isn’t about ignoring difficult behaviors; it’s about raising up the best in people in order to grapple with the difficult behaviors. It’s about working with people, not on them.
I was an educator before I was a mediator and it shows in my work. I am less interested in tools and techniques that “get someone to do something” than in approaches that prepare people to continue what we started long after I’m gone from the picture, and that honor each individual’s sense of agency.
It’s hard work to divide lives or re-shape a workplace due to unresolved conflict, and there are many good mediators out there who excel at that work. I work only with individuals, pairs, and groups that want or need to be in continued professional or personal relationship. This goes to the very question I highlighted at the top of this page: How can we talk out disagreements in ways that reinforce our most important relationships and lead to optimal decisions?
I founded my conflict resolution firm in 1997 after a decade in higher education leadership, serving as a dean, vice president, and assistant professor. In addition to working with private clients, I’ve also served on the faculty of four U.S. graduate programs, including as co-founder of the world’s first master’s degree in mediation.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in world literature from Middlebury College, my master’s and doctorate in higher education leadership from The University of Vermont, and a post-doc certificate in mediation and conflict resolution from Woodbury College.
Why did I choose to become a conflict resolution specialist after starting out in higher education? I realized I had a knack for facilitating complex and knotty conversations, and that others saw this in me, too. Instead of facilitating, mediating, and coaching being a part of my job, I wanted it to be my job.
I live in New Hampshire with my husband of 30 years and an exuberant mutt. When I’m not working, you’ll usually find me hiking, competing in dog agility, gardening, or doing family history research (Scot on one side, German on the other).
- The 2012 Mary Parker Follett Award from the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) for innovative and pioneering work in the conflict resolution field
- The 2015 Pioneer Award from the New England Association for Conflict Resolution for significant contributions to the conflict resolution field
- Inaugural member of the Association for Conflict Resolution’s Academy of Advanced Practitioners, 2013
- 2003 Master Teacher Award from the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges
- The 1997 Sister Elizabeth Candon Distinguished Service Award from Vermont Women in Higher Education