Our Team

With our experienced team of trainers and consultants, Mediation Center can be your resource for arbitration, conflict resolution, facilitation, and continuing education.

Aimee Gourlay

Aimee Gourlay, JD, past CEO of Mediation Center for Dispute Resolution, has worked with the Center since 1992. Ms. Gourlay is also an Adjunct Professor at Mitchell Hamline University School of law, teaching Mediation Skills and Alternative Dispute Resolution, and is a frequent presenter at national conferences and seminars. Ms. Gourlay is a mediator and facilitator. With expertise in providing assistance to people in highly conflictual relationships and diverse backgrounds, she frequently mediates workplace disputes, public policy issues, family cases, and organizational problems. She is a facilitative mediator who focuses her workplace mediation on pre-litigation employment issues, working with individuals and teams to resolve problems before they escalate and to improve the quality of the workplace. Ms. Gourlay also serves on the United States Postal Service panel of EEO mediators. She provides consultation and administration of Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) processes within organizations, and conflict management coaching. Her work includes consulting with the Midwest and Atlantic area consortia of electric utilities to design and implement an ADR system for member utilities as required by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission. Her public policy mediation and facilitation work includes cases involving nonprofit boards, funders and staff; racial discrimination; allocation of public resources; and, work with teams within state and local government. She also facilitates communication between community members, elected officials, city staff and developers about redevelopment projects. She received a B.A. with honors from Macalester College, and graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Tobin Lay

Tobin Lay, JD, MBA, is the Director of Operations at Mediation Center and the City Administrator/HRA Executive Director at the City of Landfall Village in Minnesota. He is a facilitator, a Minnesota Supreme Court Rule 114 qualified civil and family mediator, and occasionally works as an Adjunct Professor for the Dispute Resolution Institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Mr. Lay received a B.S. from University of Phoenix, a J.D. and Certificates in International Business Negotiations and Advocacy and Problem Solving from Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and an M.B.A., from Hamline University.

Susan Mainzer

Susan Mainzer, JD, 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 organization development consultant. Susan is accustomed to mediating cases in which emotions are raw and to helping high conflict participants from diverse backgrounds reach agreements. She serves as a mediator on the Appellate Court’s Family Mediation roster; and mediates employment discrimination claims, dog bite cases, and business disputes. Ms. Mainzer has taught family, workplace, and civil mediation for Mediation Center and the American Arbitration Association. She creates customized workshops in creative problem solving, negotiation strategies and appreciative inquiry to improve the workplace climate. Susan consults with companies on conflict prevention approaches. She coaches mediators, managers and staff in conflict resolution interventions, and individuals on career, transition, and life choices. Susan earned her law degree from the University of Wisconsin. She is a qualified neutral for family, contracts, personal injury, and employment cases under Rule 114 of Minnesota’s General Rules of Practice. She is on Minnesota’s master contract roster to facilitate public policy disputes. She worked for two years at the Metropolitan Council as an internal facilitator, trainer, executive coach, and organization development consultant. Susan served as an arbitrator and mediator on the American Arbitration Association’s panel for more than 15 years. She often mediates Minnesota and Wisconsin special education cases. Susan Mainzer also mediates family business, healthcare, seniors’ end of life decisions and lake property inheritance cases.

Abdi Ali

Abdi Ali is the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Multicultural Mediation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Certificate in public Dispute Management from Hamline University.

James Coben

James R. Coben, JD, is emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law and a senior fellow in the law school’s internationally acclaimed Dispute Resolution Institute (DRI), which he directed from 2000-2009. He teaches negotiation and mediation, as well as civil procedure and advocacy. He is a co-author of the Thomson Reuters trial practice series treatise Mediation: Law, Policy & Practice (2022-2023), a co-editor of the four-volume Rethinking Negotiation Teaching Series (DRI Press 2009-2013), and a former editorial board member of the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Magazine, for which he co-writes a Research Insights featured column. As a consultant and trainer, he works with state and local government boards and agencies to improve the quality of public deliberation and decision-making. As a facilitator, he plans and conducts strategic planning and helps private and public organizations to build and maintain a culture of collaboration.

Karen Irvin

Karen Irvin, PhD, LMFT, 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 for six years, serving as a mediator, counselor, and custody evaluator, and worked in a supervisory capacity for four years. Dr. Irvin has been in private practice as the owner and director of Minnesota Mediation & Counseling Center since 1981. She recently retired from her clinical practice in which she specialized in working with separating and divorcing individuals, couples, and families, providing mediation, parenting consulting, custody evaluations, and closure therapy. 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, and is currently adjunct faculty at St. Mary’s University. She is the past Chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Ethics Board. Dr. Irvin’s current professional focus is teaching, training, and consultation.

Stephen Blair Venable

Stephen Blair Venable, is a management consultant, attorney, and author of the book entitled “The Commencement Odyssey: Why We All Have a Stake in Transforming the American Workplace.” In addition to having had a successful career as a corporate attorney, he has successfully owned and ran a $23 million business, ran a nonprofit organization representing 300 minority-owned businesses across the Upper Midwest, and was a member of a congressional trade delegation to the Middle East.

Jennifer Joseph

Jennifer E. Joseph is an attorney; however, her practice focuses solely on providing neutral services in family law matters. Ms. Joseph specializes in helping parents resolve custody, parenting, and co-parenting disputes through her work as a mediator, parenting coordinator, parenting coach, custody evaluator, and SENE (social early neutral evaluation) provider. Ms. Joseph is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School. In addition to her private ADR practice, she serves as an adjunct professor of family law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and provides training through the Mediation Center. Ms. Joseph presents regularly on family law and ADR issues to professional associations and organizations across the country. Ms. Joseph a long-time member of the international Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), and begins her term as President of the Minnesota AFCC Chapter in July 2020. She is also on the Board of Directors for Overcoming Barriers, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding more systemic solutions to families experiencing parent-child contact problems.

Sia Lo

Sia Lo is an attorney and mediator in MN. He has partnered with Mediation Center to train and support a project that brings culturally appropriate mediation for Hmong families in the MN court system for the past twenty-five years.

Mark McCrea

Mark McCrea, was Director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Services and mediated and arbitrated workers’ compensation claims for the MN Department of Labor and Industry. He has also mediated special education and civil rights mediation in MN and partnered with Mediation Center to develop its EVOLVE model for addressing worldview conflicts.

Milt Thomas

Milt Thomas is an organization development specialist for the State of Minnesota, focusing on change management, leadership development and continuous improvement. He designs, coaches and facilitates large and small group initiatives, projects and meetings. He also consults with and coaches leaders and employees at all levels. Milt teaches Leading Through Change for Hamline University graduate programs, graduate communication courses for the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas, and various communication topics for Metropolitan State University. Milt also spent several years as a lead trainer and volunteer mediator for Dispute Resolution Center in St. Paul, MN.

Ellen Velasco-Thompson

Ellen Velasco-Thompson has her original degree in public health and rehabilitation nursing working catastrophic cases. She moved into mediation/arbitration with the MN Dept. of Labor & Industry. She has done family co-mediation, business mediation, & mediation coaching but spends most of her time now in special education as a facilitator/mediator. She was the former Litigation Manager at Honeywell and later the Director of Risk Management at the City of Minneapolis. Currently, she is an independent consultant, trainer and mediator with a specialty in helping people problem solve issues across cultural divides.


Heron Diana

Heron Diana, B.A., is a Qualified Neutral under the Minnesota General Rules of Practice for the District Courts Rule 114 and has practiced as a mediator, consultant and coach for over twenty years. She has worked in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEI+B) field since 2000, coaching organizations and individuals working towards equitable and inclusive goals and facilitating dialogues on racism, equity and equality. Ms. Diana has a B.A. in Medical Anthropology, is certified in Mind-Body Medicine through the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C. and has authored the book “Memory Stored, Memory Waiting; A Journey and Roadmap of Recovering From Trauma.” She works with multi-cultural groups in high conflict and coaches individuals and leads workshops and classes in Mind-Body-Medicine. She is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Developmental Inventory® tool. She is a former EMT with three-years experience on a rural ambulance and has extensive training in many integrative-medicine practices and healing modalities.

Dr. Joseph Reid

Dr. Joseph Reid, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), mediator, and coach in the state of Minnesota, and a previous adjunct faculty member at North Central University and previous faculty at Argosy University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program. Dr. Reid graduated from East Carolina University with his Masters, and his doctorate from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Reid practices from an experiential, structural and solution focused approach. His mission is to provide education, training, mental health services and validation to individuals, couples, family and community that is inclusive, respectful and relational while practicing and inspiring self-awareness. His vision is creating a space where every relationship is valued. His values are: Providing service with Integrity * Respect * Knowledge * Curiosity * Accountability and Inclusiveness while valuing the individual and the collective. Dr. Reid believes feminism and cultural responsibility are roots to change, respectful service, and relationships.

Leslie McEvoy

Leslie Sinner McEvoy, JD, is a mediator, arbitrator, teacher, trainer and consultant. Prior to the COVID pandemic, Leslie was the Web Education Director at Minnesota CLE where she and her team developed and produced up to 300 webcast continuing legal education programs per year for Minnesota attorneys in a spectrum of practice areas. Prior to joining Minnesota CLE, Leslie was in private practice as a mediator, arbitrator, teacher and trainer. Leslie was initially trained as a mediator in 1993 in Hamline University’s summer dispute resolution program. She is a Rule 114 Qualified Neutral and has been a member of the Commercial and Employment Panels of the American Arbitration Association. Since 1994, she has arbitrated a variety of commercial and employment disputes as both a sole and panel arbitrator. As a mediator, she has mediated both commercial and employment disputes. She has been a mediator with the USPS REDRESS program, and she has also served on mediation panels for Community Mediation & Restorative Services, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.

Leslie has served as an adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law and Mitchell Hamline School of Law, teaching (in-person) the ADR survey course in 2008, 2009 and Fall 2015. Since the fall of 2017, she has served a number of times as an online adjunct in the Hybrid and Blended Learning programs, teaching: ADR Survey, Mediation, Cross-Cultural Dispute Resolution, Organizational Conflict Management, Negotiation, Facilitation, Justice and Dispute Resolution, and Civil Dispute Resolution. She is also a frequent continuing legal education speaker and trainer in the area of ADR and ADR Ethics. In 2011 Leslie co-authored the Minnesota ADR Handbook with Gary Weissman and Linda Mealey-Lohmann. Leslie has served in various capacities on the Executive Council of the ADR Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association, including Secretary Co-Chair of Programs, Vice-Chair for Legislation and currently serves on the council. She has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for Community Mediation & Restorative Services and as a member of the Community Dispute Resolution Program Advisory Council of the Minnesota State Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution, from 2015 to 2016. Leslie is also active in the international Association for Continuing Legal Education, serving on the newsletter and conference planning committees.

Prior to her ADR practice, she was a trial attorney practicing with the firm of O’Connor and Hannan (1983-1985) and with the firm of Fruth & Anthony, P.A. (1985-1994). As a litigator, she handled a wide variety of commercial and employment matters, including securities fraud, shareholder disputes, contract claims, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and non-competition clause disputes. Leslie is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School (cum laude 1983) where she served on the Minnesota Law Review. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from the College of St. Benedict (summa cum laude 1980).

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