Mediation Center Staff
Director: Aimee Gourlay
Aimee Gourlay, Director of the Mediation Center at Hamline University School of Law, has been with the Mediation Center since 1993. She is a Senior Fellow at the Dispute Resolution Institute at Hamline Law, teaching Negotiation and Mediation skills courses. Gourlay is an adjunct faculty member with the Hamline MBA program, teaching Workplace Mediation Skills, Conflict Response for Managers, and Organizational Conflict Management Systems. Gourlay also serves on the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution National Roster of Environmental Dispute Resolution and Consensus Building Professionals and the Transportation sub-roster.
With expertise in providing conflict resolution assistance to people from diverse perspectives, Gourlay frequently facilitates resolution of workplace issues, public policy concerns and organizational problems. She is well known for her work facilitating processes with high emotions and multiple stakeholder groups. Her work includes conflict assessments, process design and mediations for: land use; watershed management; nonprofit organizations; systemic racial discrimination claims; allocation of public resources; legislative policy making dialogue; environmental conflict assessment; and, work with teams within state and local government. Gourlay's workplace consulting experience includes process design, negotiation and mediation. Her mediation work is focused on pre-litigation employment issues, working with individuals and teams to resolve problems before they escalate and to improve the quality of the workplace. Clients include corporations, non-profit organizations, professional associations, state and local governments, and educational institutions. She serves on the EEOC panel of mediators and as contract attorney for the MN Supreme Court ADR Ethics Board, and served on the United States Postal Service EEOC State of Minnesota Department of Human Rights mediator panel.
Mediation Center Trainers
Professor Larry Bakken's diverse background includes business, economics, politics, and scholarly achievement. As one of the founding professors of Hamline University School of Law, Bakken has served in various leadership roles. He has been a consultant to the Minnesota House of Representatives, the Administrative Conference of the United States, and the Minnesota Private College Council. Bakken has chaired the Federal Grants Committee of the Urban, State and Local Government section of the ABA and the Administrative Law Section, the Canadian-American Law Section, the Legislation Section of the Association of American Law Schools. He has also edited several journals and newsletters, authored Justice in the Wilderness and co-authored Minnesota Administrative Procedure. Bakken serves as chair of the International Advisory Committee to the Metropolitan Council and on the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities. He has taught and lectured in Canada, China, Germany, Moldova, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, and Italy. Bakken speaks on public dispute resolution topics for the Mediation Center.
Nancy Zalusky Berg
Nancy Zalusky Berg is a founder of Walling, Berg & Debele, P.A., a 13-lawyer firm limiting its practice to family, juvenile and adoption law. Berg has limited her practice to family law since 1985. She is certified by the National Board of Trial Examiners as a Family Law Litigation Specialist. She is a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, (www.aaml.org) International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (www.iaml.org) and past President of the IAML – USA Chapter and a member of the International Bar Association. She sits on the Minnesota Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility; she has been listed in the "Best Lawyers in America" and has been identified as one of Minnesota’s "Super Lawyers" of Law & Politics, Minnesota Monthly and Mpls-St. Paul magazines since 1993. Berg has been listed as one of the top 100 lawyers in Minnesota for several years and is one of the top 40 lawyers in the Family Law practice area by Law & Politics. She has received a peer review rating of AV Preeminent by American Registry since 1995. Berg has also served on a variety of community non-profit boards and is an active glass and mosaic artist.
Karen Irvin received her bachelor’s degree from Ball State University, majoring in secondary education. After teaching at the secondary level for six years, she obtained her master’s and doctorate in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota. She worked with Hennepin County Court Services Domestic Relations Division in Minneapolis for six years, serving as a mediator, counselor and custody evaluator, and working in a supervisory capacity for four of the six years. Dr. Irvin has been in private practice as the owner and director of Minnesota Mediation & Counseling Center since 1981. She specializes in working with separating and divorcing individuals, couples and families, providing mediation, parenting consulting, and custody evaluations. She has also provided mediation and parenting consulting workshops and training throughout the United States and internationally. Dr. Irvin was on the marriage and family therapy faculty of Argosy University for six years, with a teaching emphasis in ethics, human sexuality and mediation. Dr. Irvin has authored and co-authored articles related to her areas of expertise. Dr. Irvin is approved as a supervisor by the Board of Marriage and Family Therapy in Minnesota and is also an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Approved Supervisor.
Jennifer Joseph is an attorney in Saint Paul, Minnesota, who limits her practice to Family ADR. Previously, she was a trainer for the Solomon’s Surrogates Custody Evaluation course though the Minnesota Association of Custody Resolution Specialists (MACRS), and joined the Mediation Center’s panel of trainers in 2013 to continue to provide this important training in Minnesota.
Michael London, a family law attorney for more than thirty years, is currently a mediator and evaluator for Hennepin County Court Services. Previously, he was a trainer for the Solomon’s Surrogates Custody Evaluation course though the Minnesota Association of Custody Resolution Specialists (MACRS), and joined the Mediation Center’s panel of trainers in 2013 to continue to provide this important training in Minnesota.
Susan D. Mainzer was named a Leading American Attorney in the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) areas of employment, commercial law and family matters. She is an experienced ADR practitioner, a trainer, retreat facilitator, workplace coach and organizational development consultant. Mainzer is recognized for her expertise in helping people in highly conflicted relationships and from diverse backgrounds reach agreements. She frequently mediates family and other interpersonal cases, or serves as a parenting plan expeditor. She is often asked to serve as a moderator for divorce settlement conferences in Ramsey County. She regularly mediates workplace disputes, insurance and business matters. Mainzer has provided trainings in negotiation, family and civil mediation for the Mediation Center and the American Arbitration Association. She was among ten American mediators chosen to participate in an international cross cultural conflict resolution study held in Germany. As an organizational development consultant, she helps design innovative conflict management processes, coaches individuals in conflict resolution strategies; she creates customized trainings in communication and appreciative inquiry to improve the workplace climate. Mainzer is a practitioner member of the Association for Conflict Resolution. She is a qualified neutral for family, contracts, personal injury and employment cases under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice. Mainzer earned her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She previously staffed the Minnesota Senate’s Public Utilities Committee and the Minnesota House’s State Departments Appropriations Committee. From 1999-2001, she worked at the Metropolitan Council as an internal facilitator, trainer and organizational development consultant. Since 1986, Mainzer has served as an arbitrator and mediator on the American Arbitration Association’s commercial panel. She mediates family cases for Catholic Charities, Ramsey County Family Court, and the Mediation Center.
Mark McCrea supervises alternative dispute resolution services for the Workers’ Compensation Division of the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry. Over the past three decades, he has mediated hundreds of employment, workers’ compensation, special education, family, organizational and public policy conflicts for a variety of organizations and individuals. Also, he has conducted advanced mediation, negotiation and conflict management skills courses in several states, as well as Canada. McCrea was a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court ADR Review Board from 1996 to 2005. In 2007, he was presented a Distinguished Service Award by the Minnesota State Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section for his contributions to alternative dispute resolution in Minnesota. In 2009, the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions presented him with a Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the growth and development of ADR in workers’ compensation jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada. McCrea has a MS Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling and a BS in Urban Studies from Minnesota State University at Mankato.
Mindy Mitnick is a licensed psychologist practicing in Minneapolis. She received a Master of Education from Harvard University and a Master of Arts from the University of Minnesota. She specializes in work with families in the divorce process and with victims of abuse and their families. Mitnick has trained professionals throughout the country and abroad in identification and treatment of child abuse, the use of expert witnesses in child abuse and divorce cases, effective interviewing techniques with children, interventions in high-conflict divorce and the impact of psychological trauma. She has been a speaker for the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, National Association of Council for Children, the association of Family and Conciliation Courts and numerous statewide multidisciplinary training programs. Mitnick has written and taught extensively about the assessment of child sexual abuse allegations during custody disputes. She has served as an expert witness in both child abuse and divorce cases and has published several articles on these topics. She is a contributor to Investigation and Prosecution of Child Abuse, published by Sage and a co-author of "Sexual Abuse Allegations and Parental Separation: Smokescreen or Fire?" published in the Journal of Family Studies in 2007.
Karen Nevins, PhD
Dr. Karen Nevins has been mediating family and organizational issues since 1987. As a trainer and facilitator, she has taught hundreds of individuals communication, mediation, and negotiation skills. She has special expertise in large group conflict resolution and in disputes involving complex psychological issues. As a professor of psychology at Bethel University, she has done research on the impact of divorce on children. Dr. Nevins is a charter member of the State of Minnesota Special Education Mediation Service Panel, the Panel of mediators for the United States Postal Service, and the State of Minnesota Cooperation for the Children program. She is a qualified neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Civil Practice. Dr. Nevins holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota.
Andrea Niemi is a partner at the law firm of Niemi, Barr & Jerabek in Minneapolis. In practice since 1982, Niemi has a broad range of experience in family and juvenile law. She received her BA from Macalester College and her JD from William Mitchell College of Law. She currently limits her practice to alternative dispute resolution in family and juvenile law matters, including mediation, parenting consulting and parenting time expediting. Niemi is past president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Friends of Children Foundation and the Collaborative Law Institute. She is an adjunct professor of family law at William Mitchell College of Law and is a frequent lecturer at various state and national continuing legal education seminars. She currently serves on the Minnesota ADR Ethics Board. She has been named one of the top 40 Family and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Lawyers in Minnesota, one of the top 100 women lawyers in Minnesota, a Super Lawyer, a Minnesota Leading Attorney and has been named one of the Best Lawyers in America.
Sharon Press, Director of the Dispute Resolution Institute, joined Hamline University School of Law in 2009. Press served as director of the Florida Dispute Resolution Center for 18 years. She has been an adjunct professor, teaching mediation theory and general ADR survey courses at Florida State University College of Law, Hamline University School of Law, Capital University Law School and the University of Nevada Las Vegas Law School. Press is the recipient of numerous professional awards, including the Mary Parker Follett Award for Excellence and Innovation in Dispute Resolution presented by the Association for Conflict Resolution and CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution's Special Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field and Future of Dispute Resolution. She is a Florida Supreme Court certified county and family mediator and also has mediated in a number of community mediation centers in Florida and New York. Press is the co-author of an ADR textbook: Mediation Theory and Practice, with J. Alfini, J. Sternlight and J. Stulberg, 2001, second edition 2006 (LexisNexus). She is chair of the Association for Conflict Resolution Day Committee and serves on the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution's Legal Education Committee. Press also served on the committee that re-drafted the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (2005) which have been adopted by the American Bar Association, the American Arbitration Association and the Association for Conflict Resolution. She has worked with numerous states throughout the U.S. contemplating the use of court-connected mediation. Internationally, she has done work in Haiti, Argentina, Uruguay, Hungary, Jordan, and the Caribbean.
Ellen S. Velasco Thompson
Ellen Velasco-Thompson is the Director of Risk Management & Claims Division for the City of Minneapolis. Her expertise extends to cross-cultural issues in family, employment, health, and business disputes. She recommends and prefers co-mediation. Since 1990, she has participated in coaching mediation skills training for the Mediation Center and Hamline University. She is a panelist for the Minnesota Special Education Mediation Service roster working with parents and schools, and she serves on the Minnesota Human Rights Alternative Dispute Resolution Panel for employment issues and the Americans With Disabilities Act. Velasco-Thompson has a background in the areas of risk management, insurance, and health care. Prior to her work at the Mediation Center, she provided mediation/arbitration services at the Department of Labor and Industry for the State of Minnesota. Velasco-Thompson earned her BSN from Loyola University of Chicago.