With our experienced team of trainers and consultants, Mediation Center can be your resource for arbitration, conflict resolution, facilitation, and continuing education.
Aimee Gourlay, JD is the Collaboration Services Manager for the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. She has helped organizations resolve disputes, solve problems and manage conflict for more than thirty years. Her specialties include understanding systemic roots of conflict and supporting people to communicate across worldviews. She is well known for facilitating processes that involve high emotions and multiple stakeholder groups. Her work for the League includes conflict assessments, consulting, and facilitation and mediation to help cities manage risk. Before joining the League, Aimee worked on many public issues: land use, watershed management, nonprofit organizations and teams within state and local government, systemic racial discrimination claims, allocation of public resources, legislative policy making dialogue, and environmental permitting. She is also a Senior Fellow at the nationally ranked Dispute Resolution Institute at Mitchell Hamline Law School, teaching Negotiation and Mediation skills courses.
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, 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 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.
Arianna Bloom is an experienced communications professional with a background in public sector, private sector and nonprofit organizations. She has worked in research and communication for the Governor’s office, with a focus on equity initiatives. Ari is also an experienced event and social media coordinator and promoter. She has served in a variety of roles in the hospitality industry, assuming ever-increasing responsibility. Her communication degree is from Metropolitan State University.
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 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 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, 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.
Katherine Nevins, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at Bethel University offering courses in gender studies. She is a family mediator and trainer, and has mediated community, civil rights, and vocational rehabilitation issues. She has served on the Minnesota Department of Education’s Special Education panel since its inception.
Andrea Niemi, JD is the owner of Andrea Niemi Dispute Resolution LLC, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 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 has served as an adjunct professor at the St Thomas School of Law. She is a frequent lecturer at various state and national continuing legal education seminars. She previously served on and was chair of 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.
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 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.