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Board & Staff

The Dispute Resolution Center includes a Board of Directors, Executive Director, and staff. We also thank many volunteers who donate their time, serving as mediators, trainers, and facilitators.

Our Board

Jennifer Symanns

Jennifer Symanns

PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Jennifer is an HR professional, Mediator, and Ombuds Assistant at the University of Michigan, who has been a Dispute Resolution Center volunteer since 2012. She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and Washtenaw County Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution sections. She is proud to be a part of the DRC because it provides accessible, affordable, and effective conflict resolution services that contribute to positive outcomes in our community.

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Michael Fried

TREASURER OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Michael Fried has been a mediator with the Dispute Resolution Center since 2002, primarily mediating divorce and special education cases, and considers volunteering at the Center as part of his effort of tikkun olam. Michael Fried retired from the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorneys Office in 2001 where he was Chief of Administration. He served on the State of Michigan Criminal Justice Information System Policy Council; and founded and led the Wayne County Justice Information System.

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Judy Hallas

SECRETARY OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Judy joined the Board of Directors in 2015 and she serves as the Secretary. She is an Organizational Effectiveness Consultant with Michigan Medicine and specializes in change management. Judy believes in empowering others to have constructive and healing conversations and supports the Dispute Resolution Center in its mission and values.

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Cherisa Allen

BOARD MEMBER

Cherisa Allen is a proud native of Ypsilanti, Michigan. She is a proud graduate of Eastern Michigan University, completing both her Bachelor and Master’s Degree. She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Cherisa’s career of over twenty-five years in Social Work has given her the opportunity to touch many lives in a positive way. She has worked on several committees throughout her life, in her church, community, and in her career. Cherisa is the President/Founder of Women and Men Working for Change, a non profit organization, serving the Ypsilanti Community and Washtenaw County as a whole .

Cherisa is a member of the Community Action Board, and is also an Ypsilanti Parks Commissioner.

Cherisa works in her community on a daily basis promoting positive change.

Cherisa’s commitment to women is not just limited to her career as a Social Worker. She is devoted to making changes and transforming the lives of women everywhere. She is the Owner/Operator of Do You See What I See, LLC? She is a Motivational Speaker and a Transformational Life Coach. Cherisa tackles tough issues that inhibit women from living productive and healthy lives. She is committed to educating them on how to become strong, independent, and loving women; the primary objective being…Breaking historical cycles of self-destructive behaviors, while encouraging a sense of purpose, belonging and pride.

In 2018, Cherisa was awarded the Blazing Star Award “ In Appreciation for your efforts to Blaze and Inspire others.”- AA-National Association of Negro Business Professional Women’s Club.

In 2020, Cherisa was awarded the African American Achievement Award “For your dedication to the Mentorship of students and your aid in sustaining Mental Health awareness”- Communities In Schools and Ypsilanti Community Schools.

If Cherisa could be known for anything desires to see all people living their best lives!

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Gregory L. Curtner

BOARD MEMBER

Curtner is at home in a courtroom. A widely-recognized advocate, Curtner has tried complex cases involving antitrust, business transactions, defamation, intellectual property, securities, and sports law. As much as Greg thrives on trying cases, his primary mission and passion is understanding and helping to solve his clients’ business challenges.

At RSHC, he leads the antitrust and competition practice. He is also an active member of the firm’s class actions and commercial litigation groups. He is committed to providing effective and creative counsel to support the strategic goals of his clients. His understanding of, and experience in, economics, accounting, marketing, distribution, and finance help him to team effectively with clients. Greg will frame, present, and try a case when that’s the best solution or craft creative settlements when that option is the wiser course. In Greg’s view, solving problems born in the past is only part of his job. He aims to offer advice and strategy that his clients can use and rely upon as they do business in the future. Through four decades of representing athletic associations, manufacturers, trade associations, and academic institutions, Greg has cultivated an unparalleled depth of knowledge about antitrust, sports, entertainment, and education. He has successfully represented many high-profile defendants, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association, in precedent-setting cases.

Greg frequently serves as lead counsel in nationwide antitrust disputes and class actions for clients in a wide range of industries and has appeared in numerous state and federal courts. He is a former chairman of the Antitrust Section of the State Bar of Michigan, and was the primary drafter of the Michigan Antitrust Reform Act.

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LaSonia Forte

BOARD MEMBER

LaSonia Forté is Associate Director of State Outreach in the Office of Government Relations at the University of Michigan. In this role, she builds strategic partnerships in the business, institutional, government, education and non-profit sectors throughout the east side of Michigan. She holds an AAS in Computer Information Systems, a BS in Psychology (Communication minor), and a Master's in Public Administration/Affairs (MPA). LaSonia joined the Dispute Resolution Center's Board of Directors because she believes in constructive dispute resolution and restorative justice for young adults. Her commitment to education, mentorship and building character is reflected in her collaborative nature and informs her community service and civic engagement. Her favorite statement on social justice is by Artika R. Tyner: "Seek justice: Make a commitment to serve the needs of the ‘least of these’ and give voice to the voiceless."

LaSonia also serves on the Community Board of Ele's Place, the Board of Directors of Girls Group and is the co-creator and co-sponsor of the annual Frank J. Forté Laptop Scholarship along with her husband, Prof. Michael Awkward. She has been engaged in community outreach for more than ten years in Metro Detroit and the greater Ann Arbor area.

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Laura O'Connor

BOARD MEMBER

Laura O’Connor is a senior associate with Burness, a social change communications firm. She develops and supports strategic communications plans for national public health foundations and nonprofit organizations that address children's health issues. She leads campaigns and storytelling projects to help expand afterschool progams in all 50 states and create policy changes that address health equity. She joined the Board because of her beliefs in the positive power of community building and kids’ advocacy and voices.

Wade Smith

BOARD MEMBER

Hello my name is Wade Smith and I am currently a Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Coordinator with the Ann Arbor Housing Commission (AAHC). I assist our AAHC tenants by connecting them with community based resources, and performing individual and family needs assessments to set goals and determine potential obstacles in achieving self-sufficiency. I also collaborate with other Michigan based agencies to create beneficial events for the Washtenaw residents. Previously I’ve worked various positions within the Criminal Justice Field in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County. I graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Criminal Justice.

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Laurie White

BOARD MEMBER

Laurie White, a native of Flint, MI who moved to Ann Arbor in the mid-1980s, is a documentary film maker, family therapist and Dialogue facilitator, as well as a certified mediator. She has been connected with the Dispute Resolution Center in various capacities for almost 10 years, and loves connecting with others who share her passionate belief that it is possible and necessary to find solutions to conflict.

Our Staff

Belinda Dulin

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Belinda Dulin began her employment with The Dispute Resolution Center 2003 as the Mediation Services Coordinator and assisted in launching the Small Claims Mediation Program and the Domestic Relations Motion Day Program.  In 2006, she became the director of mediation services and was responsible for the development and administration of various civil and family mediation programs as well as facilitating workshops to community organizations.  In 2007, Belinda accepted the position of Executive Director and continues to expand the DRC’s services. Under her leadership, she has expanded the small claims mediation program, where mediation is the first step for problem solving in the 14A, 14B and 15th District Courts; and, developed and implemented school-based conflict programs serving students, families and school staff in identifying and resolving barriers and issues that affect students. Specific services include attendance mediation to identify the barriers consistent school attendance and create solutions that break the pattern of poor attendance, support the family structure and, academic improvement. Also, the DRC implemented the restorative practices services to address student-student and student-teacher conflict in a non-punitive, supportive manner that allows relationships to be restored, problems to be resolved and support services to be identified to support positive behavior and academic improvement. In 2013, also under Belinda’s leadership, the DRC partnered with the Peacemaking Court, providing restorative justice model to families in the child protection and delinquency systems The Dispute Resolution Center serves Washtenaw and Livingston Counties.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master of Arts degree in Dispute Resolution, both from Wayne State University.  Prior to becoming involved in community mediation, she worked in the corporate setting assisting with employment disputes -- preserving the working relationships between co-workers and employees and management. Belinda can be reached at: dulinb@ewashtenaw.org.

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Gail Einhaus

MEDIATION SERVICES COORDINATOR

Gail Einhaus joined the DRC staff in August 2021 and has served as a DRC volunteer mediator since 2017.  Mediating at the DRC has been an impactful experience for Gail.  She has gained insight into her personal strengths and weaknesses, and her love and respect for the differences in people and her understanding of the roots of and resolution to conflict has deepened.

In her past life, Gail had a rewarding career in health administration.  This included serving as a health educator on the Navajo Nation, a health care analyst for General Motors, and a Compliance Director for Trinity Health System.   A reoccurring theme through all these experiences has been the importance of listening, being curious, then listening more to strive to solve problems in a positive and creative manner.

Free time is spent with Gail’s beloved family, dogs, and friends and volunteering with the Interfaith Hospitality Network/Alpha House and Special Olympics.  Gail earned her Bachelor of Health Science from the University of Kentucky and Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan.

Gail coordinates Small Claims Mediations for the Washtenaw County 14A-1, 14A-4 and 14B District Courts and can be reached at:  einhausg@washtenaw.org

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Gillian Jackson

Office Assistant
Gillian Jackson began her employment with the DRC in 2021. Gillian has served as an administrative assistant in a medical office, a Certified Nursing Assistant in end of life care, and currently works as the Event and Communications Coordinator for the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation. One recurring theme in these experiences has been supporting people and organizations through periods of change. Gillian looks forward to supporting the DRC in this period of growth, change, and expansion. Gillian received a BA in Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Michigan.
In her personal time, Gillian enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, canoeing, hiking, volunteering in her children's school, and playing the cello.
Gillian can be reached at jacksong@washtenaw.org
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Andrei Leahu

DATABASE ASSISTANT

My name is Andrei Leahu, and I am the database assistant for the DRC. This being my first official job, it excites me, and makes me proud to know that I work for an organization that aims to change and improve the surrounding community. Currently I am studying at Washtenaw Community College to involve myself into the world of business and finance with a strong emphasis on communication. Previously I attended an internship at M&O Marketing in the summer of 2020. I am also an active member at my local church serving as a co-manager in our production team, and as an assistant teacher for our Sunday School. I am thrilled to be working for a wholesome organization, and hopeful that our surrounding community can be helped and nurtured towards greater healing and success.

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Stephanie Myers

MEDIATION SERVICES COORDINATOR

Stephanie Myers joined the DRC staff in 2020. Stephanie is passionate about mediation, adaptable conflict resolution, and restorative justice practices. Stephanie enjoys mediating small-claims cases and community disputes. Stephanie understands how mediation and restorative justice practices can shape not just the dialogue around conflict but also how we as a society respond and move forward from conflict. Stephanie will be assisting the DRC in its efforts to expand alternative dispute resolution to online forums. Stephanie is excited about the future of online dispute resolution and believes in conflict resolution and access to justice. The DRC has the opportunity to help members of the community that otherwise would not be able to participate in conflict resolution practices.

Stephanie earned her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and Criminal Justice from the University of Michigan - Dearborn before earning her Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. She is a member of the Michigan State Bar Association and Washtenaw County Bar Association.

Stephanie coordinates Small Claims and Civil Mediations for the Washtenaw County 15th District Court & Livingston County 53rd District Court. She can be reached at: myerss@washtenaw.org

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Germaine Smith

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Germaine joined the Dispute Resolution Center in April 2018 as the Administrative and Development Assistant. Prior to joining the DRC team, Germaine has been deeply involved in non-profit mission driven work originating at Growing Hope and immersed herself in programmatic development around food sovereignty and healthy food access.  In that time, she developed her skills in policy advocacy and campaign development work in sustainable agriculture through the Washtenaw County Food Policy Council, Bee Safe Neighborhoods, Bee City Ann Arbor, and the Agricultural Land Area Preservation Advisory Committee of Washtenaw County. She transferred these skills to another local non-profit, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, helping to build and strengthen capacity for the organization. There she gained a lot of experience in organizational development, particularly in fundraising and donor cultivation strategies and approaches, outreach and social media planning and coordination, event planning, trained in non-violent communication practices, and helped develop the Bystander Intervention Training Program. Germaine currently serves as the Chair for the Community Advisory Board for Law Enforcement (CABLE) of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office and the 21st Century Policing Commission - Policy and Oversight Committee. In her spare time, Germaine enjoys beekeeping and growing food. She received a Bachelor's of Arts and Sciences in Literature from Michigan State University and is currently working toward her Master's in Ecojustice Education at Eastern Michigan University.

Germaine coordinates Domestic Relations/Family mediations and can be reached at smithger@washtenaw.org

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Carolyn Stilwell

MEDIATION SERVICES COORDINATOR
Carolyn Stilwell is a conflict resolution specialist with over 10 years of experience in community mediation, facilitation, and teaching conflict resolution skills. She began her work at the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County in Maryland conducting outreach and providing conflict management training. She became passionate about community mediation and conflict resolution when she saw the transformative power of the processes used at the center. She continued on to become the executive director for several years. In Maryland she was certified as an evaluator mediator in the Inclusive Model and to served as a volunteer mediator, trainer, and evaluator for local community mediation centers. Her work then took her to FEMA where she currently serves as a temporary reservist ADR Advisor on disaster sites.
Carolyn received her MA in Cultural Anthropology from Washington State University. She also has bachelor’s degrees in Social and Political Studies and Graphic Design from Wilmington College, Ohio. She speaks both Spanish and English. (Se habla español y ingles.)
Carolyn coordinates Juvenile Peacemaking Court cases & Restorative Justice cases and can be reached at: stilwellc@washtenaw.org
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Kyoko Yamamoto

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROGRAM COORDINATOR

Kyoko has been volunteering with the DRC as a mediator and peace making circle facilitator since 2012.

Born and raised in Hiroshima Japan, she believes that the ability to see the humanity in others and restoring interconnectedness are keys to bringing people together. She believes that we all have a deep caring for others inside of us, and is passionate about supporting people tapping into that part of themselves. In doing so we can fully live our purpose to create a world that works for all. Her dream is to live in a world where we know our lives are enriched because of our differences, not despite them.

She has been studying Nonviolent Communication and on the path to being a certified trainer. Her hope is to make a little contribution for people to experience the value of interdependence in the community she serves.

Her other passion is dogs, and is a former foster mom with the rescue “Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan”. One of her dogs was trained in the correctional facility by inmate trainers.

Kyoko can be reached at: yamamotok@washtenaw.org

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