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Our Team and Board


Program Associate

Abby Heath is a Program Associate supporting the Community Mediation, Civil Court Diversion and Lemon Law teams at New York Peace Institute. Abby has extensive customer service experience from working in the service industry for more than a decade. Abby graduated from Hunter College with a Liberal Arts degree. Having admired the work of Community Dispute Resolution Centers since she was in high school in Boulder, CO, Abby is delighted to join the team at NYPI and assist clients with varying disputes.


Director of Training & Conflict Consulting

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.


Coordinator, Civil Court

Cai is the Civil Court Coordinator for NYPI’s Community and Civil Court Diversion program. As a case manager, he works with the courts to help parties resolve cases on their own terms. He was first certified as a mediator in 2015 and since then has mediated a variety of conflict types, including small claims court, divorce, and citizen-police cases. Cai graduated from Cardozo School of Law with JD and an Advanced Certificate in Dispute Resolution. During law school, he worked with Cardozo’s Mediation Clinic and Divorce Mediation Clinic. He has conducted research and written on the interplay of mediation and technology, and believes strongly that emerging technologies can support parties in navigating conflict.

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Senior Manager, Family Programs

Carol Lieb Himes is the Senior Manager of Family Programs. She supervises family-related mediations, including those for the Special Education, Early Intervention, ACCES-VR, Co-Parenting, Surrogate’s Court, and Family Care programs. 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.

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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 is a Leader on the Horizon at Safe Horizon, supporting the mission of empowering victims and survivors to find safety, support, connection and hope. She is also a past Director at the Association for Conflict Resolution’s Greater New York Chapter (ACR-GNY). Chris is dedicated to identifying innovative approaches to bringing people together so they can manage disagreements creatively and constructively.


Coordinator, Special Education

Hannah Resnick is the Program Coordinator for the Special Education and Early Intervention Programs. These programs provide mediations to help resolve disputes between parents of children with educational and health disabilities, and the NYC DOE/Department of Health. In addition to being a qualified mediator, Hannah has years of experience working as a litigation attorney. Hannah received her Bachelor’s Degree from Binghamton University (SUNY) and her Juris Doctorate from New York University School of Law. She began her work with NYPI as a volunteer mediator, and is trained as a mediator in Special Education, Early Intervention, Community, Custody/Visitation, Divorce, and Surrogate’s Court matters. Hannah is dedicated to helping individuals resolve their conflicts through open dialogue.


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.



Manager, Community and Civil Court Diversion

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.


Senior Manager, Restorative Justice 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 earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology from Delaware State University and CUNY Hunter College, respectively, and a master’s degree in Restorative Practices from the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP).


Program Associate, Restorative Justice

Katie Plummer joined New York Peace Institute in 2024 as a Program Associate for the Restorative Justice team. As a recent graduate of American University in Washington, DC, Katie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Justice and Law, with a minor in International Relations and a concentration in Peace and Conflict Resolution. Before joining NYPI, Katie served as the Social Media Coordinator for the national watchdog organization, Solitary Watch, where she advocated for policy changes surrounding solitary confinement in the United States. Her education and work experience has honed her passion for criminal justice reform and deepened her commitment to pursuing equity within the legal system.


Coordinator, Co-Parenting

Laura is the Program Coordinator for the Family Court and Surrogate’s Court mediation programs. Although an attorney by training, she is a devoted mediator and is especially passionate about helping families navigate through conflict and their most difficult times. She began her work with NYPI in the Civil Court Diversion Program, and is trained as a mediator in Civil Court, custody/visitation, divorce, and Surrogate’s Court matters. She received her B.A. in Psychology from New York University and J.D. from UC Davis School of Law. She is also a member of both the State Bar of California and New York State Bar.

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.


Coordinator, Housing

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 Coordinator

Rachel Bai joined New York Peace Institute as an intern and is now our Training Coordinator. She is a certified mediator, circle keeper, and conflict coach. Rachel also leads training for individuals and organizations in conflict resolution and restorative practices. 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 and training through different after school and summer school programs. She also advocates for mental health awareness through workshops for teachers, students, and parents in schools all over New York City with the Youth Advocacy Corps’ Mental Health Awareness Project.


Coordinator, Restorative Justice

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 Associate

Sabrina is the Program Associate for the Family Programs. She is passionate about mediation and nonviolent methods of conflict resolution and helping to empower clients to handle difficult conflicts. Sabrina received her B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from Kent State University, minoring in Political Science and earning a certificate in Mediation. Prior to her employment at New York Peace Institute, Sabrina interned with the Growing Democracy Project, and worked as a Service Leader at Kent State University, partnering with non-profit organizations in her community.

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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.


Operations Coordinator

Shepherd Lantz, our Operations Coordinator, handles a wide range of day-to-day logistics for NYPI. Shep is a certified mediator through both New York Peace Institute and Phoenix Dispute Solutions. They are a trained volunteer rape crisis and domestic violence advocate through Crime Victims Treatment Center and a Domestic Violence Counselor through Casa de la Familia.They are also a versed Human Rights Consultant, accredited by the US Institute of Diplomacy and Human Rights. They are additionally a 500-hour certified yoga teacher, having learned in India. Shepherd is very passionate about conflict resolution and excited to be a part of New York Peace Institute.


Manager of Program Operations and Data

Shirley Chikukwa is the Manager of Program Operations and Data. She serves as the primary user for the organization’s database, CLM, and works to systematize NYPI’s quantitative and qualitative data. Shirley previously worked in administration for an arts non-profit for five years in Southern California. She completed her degree in Music History and Theory at California State University, Fullerton, and she is currently pursuing her PhD in ethnomusicology at Columbia University, where she expects to submit her dissertation by May, 2025.

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.


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.



Gladys Chen is an HR executive with over 20 years of experience partnering with leaders across financial services, fintech, digital payments, aerospace, and real estate. She has worked in a variety of organizations including JPMorgan, Citigroup and E*Trade. Specifically, Gladys has deep experience in DE&I, talent development, performance management, executive coaching, mentoring and conflict resolution. Gladys will soon be joining RBC Capital Markets as a Director and HR executive for Global Markets. Gladys is thrilled to join the NYPI Board; she previously sat on the Board of the NY Asian Women’s Center (now Womankind) and NPR’s StoryCorps. Gladys holds an MBA from Hofstra University and an MPS in Art Therapy from the School of Visual Arts.


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.


Barbara Shatz Goldstein is a passionate mediator, specializing in high-conflict family matters, including Surrogates’ Court, Family Court and Special Education matters. She has been a long-time partner and friend of New York Peace Institute, where she received her mediator certification and has been involved as a mediator and staff member. Barbara is currently an Apprenticeship Mentor and Role Play Coordinator at New York Peace Institute. Barbara received her undergraduate degree from Duke University and JD from Harvard Law School, and she clerked for the Honorable Ronald R. Lagueux, Chief Judge, Federal District of Rhode Island. A former attorney focusing on mediation and settlement, Barbara is presently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work at NYU.




Sushil Raj is the Executive Director of Rights + Communities at the Wildlife Conservation Society leading their global work with Indigenous Peoples, and Local Communities.  Previously Sushil worked as 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 Member from the Asia Pacific region on the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (UN Special Procedures).  He holds 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.


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.

Our Ambassadors


Grace Hewitt is an Associate for the Introduction to Mediation class in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program Columbia University. Grace also previously served as an Associate for the Advanced Conflict Resolution and Skills Practicum classes.

Grace graduated from the NECR program at Columbia University in 2012. Following graduate school, Grace trained with the New York Peace Institute and officially became a Mediator in 2018.

Grace currently does community and civil court mediations with the New York Peace Institute. She also is a mentor for Apprenticeship program at the New York Peace Institute and has coached NYPD and prospective Community Mediators.

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Bernadette Jentsch is a Supervising Attorney at Mobilization for Justice, Inc. and currently a Supervising Attorney-Mediator/Adjunct Professor in the Mediation Clinic at CUNY School of Law. She has been mediating with the New York Peace Institute for over a decade and also serves as a conflict coach. She has been a member of the Mediation Panel for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York since 2017, and was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit Pro Bono Appellate Mediator Panel in 2021.

She is a former member of the New York City Bar Association’s ADR Committee and helped organize panels highlighting the work of Community Dispute Resolution Centers.


Céline Monnier has spent the last decade working on violence prevention and peacebuilding. She currently works at the New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, supporting the United Nations’ secretary general prevention agenda by producing policy analyses and organizing strategic convenings. Previously, she worked at the United Nations (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – OCHA) and in the International Center for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC). At the ICPC, she advised international organizations, local and national governments on effective crime prevention strategies, including on the prevention of radicalization leading to violence. Prior to that, she worked for almost two years in Colombia and Mexico on human rights and in the diplomatic sector on security and conflict analysis. She has a Masters in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva with a Master’s Thesis on the “Legal Involvement of Non-State Armed Groups in the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons.”