Our Team and Board


Operations & Development Associate

Ana originally joined New York Peace Institute as an AmeriCorps Member with the Family Team.  She now works as an Operations & Development Associate providing administrative and project support to the Administration team. Ana graduated from Bard College at Simon’s Rock where she earned a BA in psychology and sociology.  Prior to joining NYPI, she interned at Ayuda to help bring accessible and affordable language access services to the Washington DC metro area.


Operations and Grants Manager

Aphia joined New York Peace Institute as the Operations and Grants Manager and is a member of the Leadership Team. She oversees operations and administration for both Manhattan and Brooklyn office locations.  Aphia comes to NYPI with over 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, primarily working in operations and management roles.  Prior to joining NYPI, Aphia was the Head of Operations, Participant Experience at IIE, an organization that supports educational and cultural exchange programs.  Aphia is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI).  She holds a BS in Applied Mathematics & Statistics and Sociology from Stony Brook University.  Aphia is an innovative leader and is passionate about supporting mission-driven organizations. 


Manager of Training and Business Development

Ayanna comes to New York Peace Institute with a strong background in mediation; she has served as a volunteer mediator with NYPI since 2016. In addition to being an experienced mediator, Ayanna is also a NYPI Apprenticeship Mentor and has been coaching the NYPD and mediators-in-training since 2017. Ayanna received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and her Juris Doctorate from Fordham University School of Law. She has been a practicing attorney since 1999, is currently the President of Brooklyn’s District 13 Community Education Council, and is a Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Board Member. Ayanna is a wife, the mother of two New York City public school students, and an advocate for peace and equity.


Program Coordinator

Barbara mediates and coordinates the Surrogate’s Court and Co-Parenting program. She received her undergraduate degree from Duke University and a JD from Harvard Law School. Barbara was formerly a lawyer specializing in mediation and settlement and a member of the New York State Bar. She clerked for The Honorable Ronald R. Lagueux, Chief Judge, Federal District Court of Rhode Island. She was also a volunteer for CASA as an advocate for foster care children.


Restorative Justice & Criminal Court Coordinator

Charlie, works tirelessly with our clients – in her native English and Spanish – to ensure they receive mediation and conflict coaching services. She also assists with our NYPD trainings, to provide officers with communication skills to de-escalate conflict. In addition to her passion for conflict resolution, Charlie has a strong interest in disability advocacy, as evidenced by her work for the Florida Division of Blind Services. She has also served as a mentor and a tutor for students K-12, and worked in the Chemistry Department of Florida State University. Charlie received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and International Affairs from Florida State University. An avid art, food and film lover, Charlie is always on the lookout for the most unique art exhibits, delicious cheap eats and charming theatres in all five boroughs. Now a New Yorker, Charlie is a first-generation American raised in Venezuela. Using alternative dispute resolution and restorative justice skills we have gained from established indigenous and historical practices, she believes that as conflict resolution professionals, we are most successful when we act as a silent partner with a goal of strong and resilient communities.

Carole Himes headshot NYPI Team


Senior Manager

Carol Lieb Himes is the Program Manager for the Special Education, Early Intervention, Family Care, and ACCES-VR Mediation Programs. The Special Education, Early Intervention and ACCES-VR programs provide mediations to resolve disputes between individuals with disabilities, parents of children with disabilities, and service-providing agencies, including the NYC DOE and Department of Health. The Family Care Mediation Program is being developed to provide conflict resolution services for interpersonal disputes between participants in the foster care system. Carol also enjoys mentoring new program mediators. In the past, Carol practiced law in several areas and is very happy to have found her work in mediation. Carol is a member of the New York State bar.

Chris Daly headshot NYPI Team


Director of Mediator Training & Quality Assurance

Chris Daly is an attorney, state-certified trainer, mediator, conflict coach & circle keeper. She loves teaching the craft of mediation, and she oversees the growth and development of New York Peace Institute’s certified mediators from the start of their training throughout their time on NYPI’s roster of neutrals. Chris leads the Basic Mediation Training and manages our competitive Apprenticeship Program, an education program for aspiring conflict resolution professionals. Prior to joining New York Peace Institute, Chris was a domestic violence prosecutor for 10 years at the District Attorney’s Office in Bronx County managing a caseload ranging from harassment to homicide cases from investigation to trial. She was also a public high school teacher in Texas. Chris has a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a law degree from Boston College. She first learned about mediation and restorative practices in 1998 as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji, where she promoted cross-cultural understanding and earned a degree from the University of Waikato. Chris currently serves as a Director on the Board of Directors at the Association for Conflict Resolution’s Greater New York Chapter (ACR-GNY). She is also actively involved in the New York State Bar Association, particularly in the Law, Youth & Citizenship Committee. Chris is dedicated to identifying innovative approaches to bringing people together so they can manage disagreements creatively and constructively.


Development & Outreach Manager

Christine brings almost a decade of experience in development and nonprofit management to New York Peace Institute. Prior to joining NYPI, Christine worked at a number of nonprofit organizations in the Washington, DC area, including: six years at Elevate, a grant writing consulting firm; Mines Advisory Group (MAG) America, a humanitarian demining nonprofit; and Voices For Sudan, an international advocacy organization. Christine earned her BA in English Literature at the University of Sussex and her Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University.

Deborah Shapiro headshot NYPI Team


Program Associate

Deborah Shapiro provides programing, outreach, training and mediation services in the area of Special Education and Early Intervention. Deborah received her BA from Tufts University and her JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Deborah is a former corporate attorney and a member of the New York State Bar. She is grateful to be providing a service that can make a difference in a child’s education and development.

NYPI - image placeholder


Chief Executive Officer

Prior to joining  New York Peace Institute as the Chief Executive Officer, Jennifer was Founder and Executive Director of Youth Advocacy Corps, an organization that empowers and mobilizes young people in NYC to combat poverty and become advocates and catalysts for change in their own communities.  Before that, Jennifer worked for almost ten years as a public interest attorney in New York City, with the Special Litigation Unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group and at the Urban Justice Center. Jennifer has also served on the Boards of Directors of multiple NYC-based non-profits and offered her services at a legal aid clinic in Cape Town, South Africa, at UNESCO in Paris, France, and at the AIRE Centre, a human rights organization in London, England. Jennifer received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and her B.A. from Yale University. Jennifer is a strategic thinker with a demonstrated passion for and interest in conflict resolution.



Program Associate

As a Case Manager, Jessica oversees client intake for community mediations and our Small Claims Diversion Program. She completed a vocational training in the Human Services Field which then led her to the New York Peace Institute to complete her internship. She interned for a year in the Manhattan office where she learned about mediation and developed an interest in learning how to resolve conflict in a peaceful manner. Jessica is very passionate about helping others and has been improving her communication and listening skills to better assist her clients. Jessica is also fluent in Spanish.

Kailani Capote headshot NYPI Team


Manager, Youth Programming

Kailani Capote is the Manager of Youth Programs at New York Peace Institute (NYPI). She is a certified mediator, circle keeper, conflict coach, conferencing facilitator, and a lead trainer for circles, restorative practices, and conflict resolution. Since joining NYPI in 2016, Kailani has been working with staff and youth in schools and community groups, training and supporting their implementation of restorative practices. Kailani is also the Manhattan coordinator for our Community Resolve Initiative (CRI), offering youth a restorative pathway during their adjustment period with the Department of Probation. Kailani earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology from Delaware State University and CUNY Hunter College, respectively, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Restorative Practices from The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP).


Program Associate

Laura Young is a graduate of UC Davis, School of Law and has passed the California and New York Bar Exams. Although an attorney by training, she is a devoted mediator and is especially passionate about helping families. Having started with NYPI in the fall as an intern in the Civil Court Diversion Program, she is now a Program Associate and splits her time between our Family and Civil Court programs.

NYPI - image placeholder


Restorative Justice Manager

Lynne comes to NYPI with over 20 years of experience in program design and operations, advocacy and strategic planning in the child welfare, juvenile justice and youth development fields. She has worked at the Administration for Children’s Services, the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society, the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), Covenant House International and Good Shepherd Services, with a focus on building the highest quality programming and supports for young people in the foster care, juvenile & criminal justice, and youth homeless systems. At CAS, Lynne designed and launched the Next Generation Center, a one-stop multi-service center for young people in the Morrisania section of the Bronx that used Restorative Practices to build community and repair harm to that community. Since learning about Restorative Practices over a decade ago, Lynne has sought to integrate them whenever possible into all her work. Lynne received her Bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and her Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.

Michelle Kirschbaum headshot NYPI Team


Director of Programs

Michele is a member of the Leadership Team and is regarded as a leader in the field of conflict resolution. She is regarded as an expert in mediation, conflict coaching and restorative justice, and oversees all New York Peace Institute programs that are offered in the courts, schools, workplace, and community. Prior to New York Peace Institute, Michele was formerly the Director of the Safe Horizon Brooklyn Mediation Center.

Michele is a recipient of the Lawrence Cooke Peace Innovator Award, given by the New York State Dispute Resolution Association for providing innovative leadership in her work in Special Education Mediation. She was also given the Bertrum Beck Achievement Award by Safe Horizon and distinguished by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office with an Extraordinary Women’s Award.

Nicholas Schmitt headshot NYPI Team


Program Manager

Nicholas manages and administers the court-annexed mediation programs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Harlem courts for NYPI. He graduated from Cardozo School of Law in 2015 where he studied under the tutelage of renowned mediator, trainer, and professor, Lela Porter Love, in the Kukin Program for Conflict Resolution. He is the co-author of a paper on mediating Intellectual Property disputes and was one of the subjects of a U.S. News & World Report article on the changing landscape of lawyering skills in law school. Nicholas is also on the panel of mediators for the Civilian Complaint Review Board.


Program Associate

Onawa Gigliotti supports the Civil Court Team at NYPI as a Program Associate specializing in the fast-paced Housing Court Mediation program and the presumptive Small Claims Mediation Program. She has always been drawn to helping people navigate uncertain times; with her degree in Psychology from Bradford College, she first worked with Dual Diagnosis individuals as a case manager, then in the Human Resources field, and then as a recruiter helping people secure jobs and transition in their careers. Most recently, she has been teaching yoga, meditation and mindfulness to private clients. Onawa is enthusiastic and grateful to work for and support such an amazing organization.


Training Associate

Rachel joined New York Peace Institute as an intern and is now our Training Associate. She earned her B.A. in Criminology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice; she minored in Psychology and earned a certificate in Dispute Resolution. Prior to interning at New York Peace Institute, Rachel interned at the Better Business Bureau as a Dispute Resolution Analyst. Rachel has experience teaching through different after school and summer school programs. She also advocates for mental health awareness in schools all over New York City with the Youth Advocacy Corps’ Mental Health Awareness Project.


Program Associate

Ruby Phillips is a recent graduate of Northwestern University, who studied American Studies, critical race theory and History. She comes to New York Peace as a storyteller, former health teacher, and most importantly an AmeriCorps fellow on the youth services track. Ruby has a passion for working with youth, particularly young women of color, and empowering marginalized communities through difficult conversations. As a Brooklyn native, Ruby is thrilled to be resolving conflict and building relationships within her community. She plans to grow as an ADR practitioner at NYPI and continue her work to bring people together and build empathetic connections across identities.


Program Manager

Samantha oversees the Internship Program and Lemon Law arbitration program and manages the Civil Court and Community Programs. She earned her B.A. in Political Science at the University of Delaware. She then earned her M.S. at NYU studying Global Affairs and concentrating in human rights, international law, and conflict resolution. Samantha wrote her graduate thesis on unusual forms of international and local conflict resolution and is excited to be part of mediation on a local, community level.

NYPI - image placeholder


Program Associate

Shana-Kay Parchment recently joined New York Peace Institute as a Program Associate. She earned her BA in History at The University of the West Indies-Mona, Jamaica and then went on to earn a Bachelor of Laws at The University of Technology, Jamaica before immigrating to the United States in August of 2012. Her study of the Law introduced her to Alternative Dispute Resolution which would later spark her interest in Mediation. Prior to joining NYPI as a staff member, Shana-Kay interned in the Civil Court Diversion Program and worked as a volunteer mediator.

Our Board of Directors


Board Chair

Michael has worked a lawyer in the government and nonprofit sectors for his entire career. He has been working by day as General Counsel of Safe Horizon since 2007. Michael has served on the Board of New York Peace Institute since its inception in 2011 when he helped establish the organization as a spin-off of Safe Horizon, the largest non-profit victim services agency in the United States. He has served as Board Chair since 2014. Michael also co-founded and serves as Board Chair of start-up nonprofit called Cuala Foundation. Michael received a JD from Brooklyn Law School and a BA in Sociology from Tufts University.


Vice Chair

Hugh LaRoche is the Chief Executive Officer of Tandem HR, a Chicago, IL based Professional Employer Organization (PEO). Before joining Tandem, Hugh spent over sixteen years in the PEO industry taking on various leadership roles at the Ambrose Group and TriNet (NYSE: TNET). Prior to entering the PEO industry, he was an Investment Banker at Salomon Smith Barney and worked at pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. Hugh holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

Hugh currently serves as the Vice Chair for the New Yok Peace Institute and has been an active Board Member for several years. He is also a Trustee for The Jack & Jill Foundation, a proud Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and devotes his time to other charitable endeavors focused on supporting and uplifting the community.

Hugh has been happily married to Chrystal Dyer LaRoche, Esq. for over twenty-two years. They have three loving children: older daughter Tyler, younger daughter Jordan and their little brother Hubie. The LaRoche family is rounded out by their two faithful dogs: Whiskey and his little brother Koda.

Tanya Goldfarb headshot NYPI Team






Yxa is an Executive Director at JPMorgan, where she is a Wholesale Payments Product Manager in the Corporate and Investment Bank division. Yxa served as Americas Head for Bank Network Management and as Global Head of Relationship Management and Americas Regional Sales within the Depositary Receipts business. Yxa also worked as a Client Experience and Compliance Program Manager at the firm.

Before joining JPMorgan in 1999, Yxa worked as an Investment Banker and Equity Research Assistant at Credit Suisse in New York. She was also a Fixed Income Research Analyst at Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank in Paris and London.

Yxa has a degree in International Business from Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business, where she serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board. She also holds a Master’s degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University, where she teaches a Negotiation course and serves on the Alumni Advisory Committee.

Yxa is a Board member of the New York Peace Institute and has served as a volunteer judge in negotiation competitions for Law students. She speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese and resides with her family in New York City.


Hal Gessner is a certified mediator and conflict coach, and has been with the New York Peace Institute since 2014. His areas of expertise encompass community, housing, surrogate, co-parenting, civil and criminal court cases. Hal is a mentor in the Peace Institute’s apprenticeship training program and also coaches NYPD officers in the Peace Institute’s conflict de-escalation program.

In 2019, Hal was named to the New York Peace Institute board.

Before becoming a certified mediator, Hal worked for 35 years in the network news and entertainment business as producer and executive producer for CBS and ABC. He is the recipient of four national Emmys, a Peabody Award, an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and an Edward R. Murrow Award.


Gay Rosenblum-Kumar is a peacebuilder with 25 years’ experience designing and managing conflict transformation projects with the UN and international NGOs. After a dozen years of anti-apartheid work, she spent two years as a UN Peace Observer in South Africa in the run up to the election of Nelson Mandela. She spent the next twenty years at UN Headquarters developing the UN’s Programme on Building National Capacities for Conflict Prevention and the UN Peace and Development Advisor (PDA) cadre.

Gay now serves as the UN Representative for two peacebuilding NGOs, Nonviolent Peaceforce and Peace Direct, and advocates for unarmed civil protection, building peace side by side with local communities, amplifying the voices of local peacebuilders, and for systemic change in how peace operations and peacebuilding are done.


Sushil Raj is the Senior Director of Foundation Relations at World Food Program USA. He has developed strategies and programs in various countries during his twenty+ year career with the United Nations, Asia Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. At the UN, he worked in different country contexts ranging from UN Peacekeeping Operations such as MONUSCO, UNAMID and UNMIS to the Nepal Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, where he focused on indigenous peoples, minority, and women’s rights while facilitating discussions between affected communities and local authorities.

Sushil is a trained mediator and has been practicing with the New York Peace Institute since his apprenticeship in 2015. In addition to his own mediation craft, Sushil previously supported the UN Standby Team of Mediation Experts and UN Special Envoys at the UN Department of Political Affairs, where he led a team that mobilized over $90 million for conflict prevention and mediation.

Sushil is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) with a BA in Philosophy from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi. He also has a Diploma in Public International Law from the Indian Academy of International Law and Diplomacy, an MA in International Political Economy & Development from Fordham University, and an Executive MSc in Nonprofit Management and Public Policy from New York University’s Wagner School.

Sushil believes in building diverse, equitable, mindful, and compassionate organizational cultures as pathways for nurturing leadership and retaining talent. In his free time Sushil loves the outdoors and travels off the beaten path.