Elizabeth first heard the words “conflict resolution” in connection with a professional career while serving in the United State Peace Corps. She worked and lived in a squatter settlement in the foothills of San Jose, Costa Rica called Los Guidos de Desamparados – a place tourist would never see, and police would never go. She lived there from 1994 and returned a RPCV in 1996.
She was assigned to the project Urban Youth Development where she helped kids living in the street to reconnect to the community. Here, the community resolved their own disputes and the amazing people of Los Guidos de Desamparados gave Elizabeth one of the most formidable experiences of her life. This experience continues to light many aspects of the work she does today.
On her return to the United State, Elizabeth immediately enrolled in Columbia University – School of Social Work, and received her MSW in 1998 with a Law Minor. Her intention was to work with the intersection of social work and the law. She received her basic mediation training from Carol Liebman at Columbia Law School in her second year of graduate studies and spent a year interning at IMCR – the state funded community mediation program in the Bronx, where she was certified as a mediator in 1997.
After graduation, she went to work at Safe Horizon as the Director of the Manhattan Mediation Center and was later promoted to Senior Director of the Safe Horizon Mediation Programs (now the New York Peace Institute). She worked there from 1998-2004. In 2000, she became a certified mediation trainer – a certification she still holds, and is administered by the New York State Unified Court System Office of ADR and Court Improvement Programs.
In 2004, Elizabeth left Safe Horizon and opened Planning Change – an ADR training center where Elizabeth takes on 12 trainees a year and personally teaches and mentors them to become – what she would consider – “the best mediators in the city”. She takes them from basic training, to advanced practice, to mastery and ends with a course in ‘how to start your ADR business’. Planning Change also hosts other trainers from around the world who come to teach conflict resolution practices of various kinds.
Elizabeth began to train in the energy healing practice of shamanism in 2007 after she met and had a profound life changing experience with a shaman in New York City. She went on to study at the Four Winds Society. Since then, she has trained with various healers and shaman throughout the Americas, and has a thriving shaman practice where she sees clients in New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco.
She has been integrating her work as a healing practitioner and her work in conflict resolution ever since, and lectures on many related subjects throughout the year. Training and teaching is one of her most rewarding endeavors, and to that end, she has worked as an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Cardozo Law School, Fordham Law School and The New School for Social Research – Graduate Program in Psychology.
Elizabeth opened the Small Business Arbitration Center (SBAC) in 2014. SBAC is an innovative and cost effective way for small businesses to resolve conflicts without going to court. SBAC uses the concept of timeline contracts to both bind a final award, set in place opportunities for settlement without prolonging the final award date, and set the cost before the case has even begun. This allows the parties to be able to plan and budget for the conflict resolution process in advance.
In 2015, Elizabeth founded Hidden Water, a non-for-profit committed to working to end intra familial child sexual abuse. Hidden Water uses a restorative justice response to work with all the individuals in a family system to work toward accountability, healing, and moving forward in a powerful and healthy way. Hidden Water works with both individuals and family systems using Peace Keeping Circles to affect change in the family system as well as the individuals. Elizabeth is both founder and president of the board of directors for this organization.
Elizabeth has been an active member of the ADR community in New York City since 1997. She has served on many committee, worked with many organizations, and has spoken at hundreds of events and conferences. She is the immediate past president of the Association of Conflict Resolution – Greater New York Chapter (ACR-GNY), a board she has served on since 2007. Elizabeth is currently working on a book about the spiritual practice of conflict resolution.
Elizabeth lives and works in lower Manhattan.