OUR TRAINERS

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BRAD HECKMAN
Chief Executive Officer

Why I work at New York Peace Institute:
How could I pass up the opportunity to help thousands of people be heard, heal relationships, prevent violence, and build peace in their communities?

Most memorable training moment:
I was training a group of community leaders in Uzbekistan about organizational development, through a Russian-speaking translator. A big part of my spiel was about fundraising. Unbeknownst to me, my interpreter didn’t know the word fundraising in Russian, so she described it as “raising resources” – which the participants understood to mean “growing crops.” So, the trainees’ financial sustainability strategies ended up skewing toward agriculture (particularly melon farming). The confusion and mistranslation actually led to some creative ideas. By the way: the Russian word for fundraising is fundraising. With a Russian accent.

What I do to get in the training zone:
As a visual learner and amateur (and I do emphasize amateur) artist, one can find me furiously drawing and coloring enormous and elaborate illustrations before our trainings.

Life before the Peace Institute:
Just before the “Velvet Revolutions” of Eastern Europe in 1989, I hightailed it to Poland, where I witnessed how peaceful dialogue could transform entire societies. After getting an MA from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, I helped set up the first community mediation centers throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, as International Director of Partners for Democratic Change. At a certain point, I realized I needed to serve my own community, so I joined Safe Horizon – the Peace Institute’s former parent organization – where I oversaw the agency’s mediation, anti-trafficking, batterer intervention, legal services, and families of homicide victims programs. In 2011, I was fortunate enough to become New York Peace Institute’s founding CEO. I also teach Global Affairs at New York University, and purport to play the accordion.

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WILL NASSAU
Training Director

Why I work at New York Peace Institute:
It is a privilege to be part of someone’s learning experience and there is something special about facilitating ‘ah-ha moments.’ And of course, our mediators are infinitely inspirational.

Most memorable training moment:
During our closing circle, one participant spoke about mediation as turning compassion into a skill set. That has been a useful framing for me since – that our Basic Mediation Training teaches us to hone our communication skills to practice compassion in the most literal sense.

What I do to get in the training zone:
I will exercise in the morning. It helps me focus. A good playlist is also important.

Life before the Peace Institute:
I worked in the international education and human rights fields and had the privilege of traveling to India, Thailand, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia – all with work and all in service of advancing understanding across cultures.

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TONY YOST
Mediator Education Coordinator

Why I work at New York Peace Institute:
I get to constantly use and develop my research, practice, and training skills, towing the line of conflict resolution theory and practice. Even better, I get to do this while working with an amazing team of mediators.

Most memorable training moment:
The chance to connect with people through learning conflict resolution skills never fails to introduce memorable moments. The moments that are most memorable to me are the ones where the participants teach something new to the trainers.

What I do to get in the training zone:
Coffee and some loud upbeat music almost always does the trick.

Life before the Peace Institute:
I earned my BA and MA in Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution from Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland. I worked in the ADR field blending conflict resolution theory and practice. I have been involved with research projects studying the many facets of conflict resolution and mediation, while developing dispute systems design, mediating community, civil court, and prisoner re-entry cases and conducting training for clients.

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REBECCA PRICE
Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court Improvement Programs (ADRCIP) Certified Trainer

Why I work at New York Peace Institute:
I did my basic training at the NY Peace Institute (back when it was still Safe Horizon) and it was a life changing experience for me. My career had been focused on ways to support others through social work and then law, both systems that rely on removing external barriers to help people move forward. Mediation is about supporting people as they remove whatever barriers (internal or external) impede understanding, decision-making, and growth. It’s an endlessly interesting way to work and I’m grateful every day that I’m able to do it.

Most memorable training moment:
My memorable moments always involve watching people transition through thinking mediation is easy, realizing how complex it is, feeling like they can’t do it, and then realizing they can.

What I do to get in the training zone:
Lots of preparation. There is nothing about teaching mediation that is rote. At the same time every trainee is different so maintaining a sense of flexibility is key to delivering material in the ways that are most useful.

Life before the Peace Institute:
I’ve been very blessed to work in areas that matters to me. Before the Peace Institute I was a civil rights attorney and did social work. I’ve also been a trainer since 1996, initially working with LGBTQ youth.
Now, in addition to training for CDRCs, I run a mediation program for the federal court.

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ELENA SAPORA
Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court Improvement Programs (ADRCIP) Certified Trainer

Why I work at New York Peace Institute:
Working with an amazing team of peacemakers committed to the field of conflict resolution is a dream come true.

Most memorable training moment:
At the end of our Basic Mediation Training we facilitate a closing circle. After five intensive days, the ritual of reflecting on our experience together helps to bring closure and solidify the connection of the group. The first time that I led our Basic Mediation Training, I was awed by the sentiments participants shared. I felt such gratitude to be reminded of how life changing this process and these tools can be, and felt reinvigorated in my work toward peaceful conflict resolution.

What I do to get in the training zone:
Make sure I get plenty of sleep and take some extra time in the morning to reflect on the experience I’m hoping to create for the group. Having time to myself, to meditate on my intentions, helps me to get focused and clear and ready to be present with the training.

Life before the Peace Institute:
From the Rocky Mountains of Montana to the rocky shores of Maine; from the Cockney streets of London to the manicured lawns of Massachusetts academia, I’ve lived in many places and learned to communicate with many different types of people. My work in mediation began as a teenager when I introduced a peer mediation program at my secondary school in London. Since then my life has never been the same and I have been committed to living my values of peaceful communication in action. My undergraduate education at Brandeis University only strengthened my commitment to social justice. Since then I’ve worked as a trainer and teacher with groups of all ages, and since 2005 have worked professionally in the community mediation field in New York City.