Southern California Mediation Association
2019 Family Mediation Institute
Empowering Mediators into the 2020’s and Beyond
* Both Keynote Speakers’ books will be available for purchase and signing by the authors at the Institute.
Stephanie Bell Blondell
Stephanie Bell Blondell is an Associate Director of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law and an Assistant Professor of Law and Practice. She supervises the Mediation Clinic and teaches Mediation Theory and Practice, Psychology of Conflict and Criminal Law. Prior to joining Pepperdine, Professor Blondell served as the Manager of the King County Alternative Dispute Resolution Program and Interlocal Conflict Resolution Group, a tri-county labor-management and public policy mediation program in the Seattle area. Prior to this she was the Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator for the City of Seattle where she designed and implemented a labor and employment mediation program for city government. Before joining Straus full time, Blondell served as an adjunct at Straus, Seattle University School of Law, and has taught at the University of Washington Master‘s in Public Administration Program for the last 15 years. Professor Blondell earned her B.A. with Honors in American Civilization from Brown University, and her J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law.
Terri Breer, Attorney Mediator
Terri Breer has been practicing law and mediation in Orange County for thirty-three years focusing primarily on Family Law and all forms of consensual dispute resolution. She obtained her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California in 1981 and obtained her law degree at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California in 1985. She was admitted to State Bar of California 1985 and the Central District of California 1986. In 1993 she completed family law mediation training at the Strauss Institute of Dispute Resolution and began her mediation practice. She has completed training in Collaborative Divorce, High Conflict Personalities and Domestic Violence. Ms. Breer has mediated hundreds of family law disputes, including divorce, custody, property division, support, pre-marital agreements, domestic partnerships, and surrogacy arrangements. She was Chair of the Orange County Bar Association – ADR Section in 2014 and is currently serving her second term as SCMA Board Member and Chairs the SCMA Annual Family Mediation Institute. Ms. Breer has presented workshops and seminars, and written several articles on Divorce Mediation, Collaborative Divorce, and ADR.
Michael Daniels, Founder & CEO of Fayr
As a separated father of two young children, Michael Daniels found himself overwhelmed by the legal, financial and emotional costs of divorce on his family. After 20 years in the homebuilding industry, Michael hung up his hard hat to create a tool that would not just improve his family’s life, but would also help the other 55 million divorced co-parents in the US. Despite his success on the Apple tv show “Planet of the Apps” and partnering with Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael’s guiding light remains the same: working everyday to be his best self for his kids.
Rick Faulkner, Esq.
Rick Faulkner is a family law attorney and educator. Rick graduated cum laude from Chapman University School of Law in 2004, then returned to Chapman as a professor and as the Director of Academic Achievement from 2007 through 2018. At Chapman, he helped students experiencing academic difficulties have a more successful law school experience and also taught a variety of courses including Legal Writing, Remedies and Wills/Trusts. Rick co-founded Faulkner Post Law Firm in 2018 in order to help provide a lower-conflict option for families experiencing difficult transitions.
Sarah J. Gross, M.Ed., J.D., LL.M.
Sarah J. Gross, M.Ed., J.D., LL.M. is an attorney licensed in California and a trained mediator specializing in family and elder care dispute resolution. Sarah received mediation training at Chapman University School of Law, where she also earned her J.D. She received advanced mediation training and completed a Master of Law degree (LL.M.) in Dispute Resolution at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University. While at Straus, she worked on an initiative dedicated to developing a dispute resolution option for high-conflict cases involving the care and needs of elders. Sarah then spearheaded a pilot program in eldercaring coordination in Orange County, California, and serves as Director of the Eldercaring Coordination Program at Orange County Superior Court (OCSC). Sarah is currently a Senior Associate and Director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Department at Faulkner Post Law Firm in Orange County, CA, practicing family law and family mediation. Sarah is passionate about serving the needs of families through mediation.
Susan Guthrie, Esq.
Susan Guthrie, nationally recognized as one of the Top Family Law and Mediation Attorneys in the country, has been helping individuals and families navigate separation and divorce for 30 years. As a leading dispute resolution professional, Susan is honored to be the incoming Co-Chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Mediation Committee and to serve on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA). As an online mediation expert and co-founder of Breaking Free Mediation, a fully online mediation and coaching practice, Susan also trains mediators and other professionals in the practical and ethical implementing an online platform into their existing practice through her company Learn to Mediate Online (www.learntomediateonline.com). She regularly presents and writes on the topic of online mediation and other family law and mediation best practices and procedures including workshops most recently presented for the ABA, SCMA and APFM.
Laurie Itkin, Financial Advisor, CDFA
Laurie Itkin is a financial advisor, wealth manager, and certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA). She has served as a CDFA on over 120 cases. Approximately 25% of the time she serves as a financial neutral for couples in mediation. The majority of the time she acts as a financial advocate and divorce financial planner to primarily women throughout all stages of the divorce process, whether in mediation or litigation. Her hourly rates are affordable and she also offers a flat-fee option.
Laurie has been selected by Investopedia as one of the 100 most influential financial advisors in the country. Her book, Every Woman Should Know Her Options: Invest Your Way to Financial Empowerment, became an Amazon best-seller in three categories.
Laurie is a 1990 graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a B.S. in economics with a concentration in finance. She volunteers as a speaker for both the Second Saturday and Divorce 101 Workshops, as well as a pro-bono financial planner for the San Diego Financial Literacy Center.
Marcie Kraft, MA, MS, JD
Marcie Kraft, MA, MS, JD, began her professional career as an Adult Education/Special Education Teacher, first with the Easter Seal Society of Los Angeles and then with the Los Angeles Unified School District. While teaching, she earned a Master of Arts Degree in Early Childhood/Special Education, and, later, a Master of Science Degree in Counseling, thereafter working for the National Child Abuse Hotline as a Hotline Crisis Counselor. Feeling as though she could not fully effectuate the changes for children she wanted via counseling skills alone, she went-on to earn her Juris Doctorate Degree. In 2000, she began employment as a Mediator/Investigator/CCRC with The Superior Court of California – County of Ventura, and found her true calling, assisting separated Co-Parents in the design and implementation of their Parenting Plans. In 2014, she “retired” from the Court, and, not doing retirement particularly well, founded Parenting Plan Peace, where she continues to work with separated Co-Parents as private Child Custody Mediator/ Parenting Plan Coordinator / Co-Parent Communications Specialist/Coach, and Custody Mediation Consultant.
Jennifer K. Kinnard, CPA
Jennifer K. Kinnard, CPA joined Leaf & Cole, LLP in 2002 and became a partner in 2015. Jennifer’s areas of expertise include tax planning and compliance with a focus on individual, and business tax services. She has significant experience with executive compensation including stock options and RSUs. Jennifer serves a variety of individuals and entities across many industries. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCSD and a Masters in Business Administration with emphasis in Accounting from National University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the California Society of Certified Public Accountants and is on the Board of Directors of Angels Foster Family Network.
Erin Levine, Founder & CEO of Hello Divorce
Erin Levine is a Certified Family Law Specialist, Founder and CEO of Hello Divorce, and owner of respected Bay Area boutique firm, Levine Family Law Group, As a teen, she was both a witness in a criminal case and plaintiff in a civil matter. She found the experience to be lonely, disempowering and confusing. In a system that prides itself on delivering justice – the whole experience felt unjust. This moment in her life was pivotal – and solidified her passion for helping people navigate the legal system while honoring their well-being. Since launching Hello Divorce in 2017, she has received acclaim from the Legal-Tech industry and beyond. In 2018, she was the Grand Prize winner of Duke University School of Law’s “Law & Technology Accelerator”. Earlier this year, the American Bar Association named her to the prestigious “Women of Legal Tech” list. Recently, she has been featured and/or quoted in various publications in the legal industry and beyond – including Ozy, Brit+Co, Forbes, Mind Body Green, Law Technology Today, Lawyerist, Above the Law, Conscious Company, and San Jose Mercury News.
Lydia Liberio, Esq. LLM, MCIArb, MBA, PMP, RMP, CFE
Lydia Liberio is a family law attorney and mediator who prefers integrating collaborative facilitative and evaluative mediation and arbitration over traditional adversarial solutions to improve parenting plan dynamics, resolve divorce disputes and preserve family sanity and assets. She teaches family law and alternative dispute resolution at several area colleges and law schools, introducing the next generation of family law professionals and first responders to more empowering and efficient alternatives. After completing an LLM in ADR at USC years after her law degree at Loyola Law School, she incorporates best practices learned from adapting ADR early in litigation, techniques derived from a semester clinic at Edelman’s Children’s Court, and giving back to the community volunteering both as a LACBA Family Law Daily Settlement Officer and LASC Judge Pro Tem handling Family Law Tier 2 matters.
Stephanie Maloney, CFP, CDFA
Stephanie Maloney earned her Certified Financial Planning (CFP®) credential from the College for Financial Planning in Denver, Colorado in 1991. She completed the training by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst in 1999. She has also taken Collaborative DivorceTM training and completed 30 hours of mediation training in 2005 and 40 hours of divorce mediation training in 2007. Stephanie has over 25 years of professional experience in the financial services industry providing a broad range of financial and advisory services for her clients.
Stephanie is a member of the Institute for Certified Divorce Planners, and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. She is a current board member of LACFLA (Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association) and the Treasurer of FDS (Financial Divorce Solutions.) She served as Vice President for six years of CPCAL (Collaborative Practice of California) and as the Treasurer for SCMA (Southern California Mediation Association.) She is the current Chairman of Training for LACFLA. Stephanie has conducted numerous training seminars and workshops and is a nationally recognized presenter for mediation professionals.
As a mediator with Peace Talks, Stephanie brings her expertise to help mediation clients make good choices for settlement. She helps determine the short-term and long-term financial impact of proposed divorce settlements, offers valuable insight into the pros and cons of different settlement proposals, and helps avoid common financial pitfalls of divorce.
John Madden, Partner at Moon, Schwartz and Madden
John Madden is a partner at Moon, Schwartz and Madden, a valuation consulting firm specializing in assisting individuals, family law attorneys and their clients in dividing community property interest in retirement benefits. Mr. Madden is qualified as an expert witness in actuarial pension valuations, stock options and (Q)DROs in the Superior Court of various Bay Area counties. He is a member of the “QDRONES”, which is an organization of attorneys and valuation experts who specialize in issues related to the division and valuation of retirement benefits. Mr. Madden has also been a guest speaker at various family law conferences in Northern and Southern California. John is a graduate of Temple University and was born in Philadelphia, PA.
Laura McGee, JD
Laura McGee spent the first 20 years of her career as a trial lawyer in Vancouver, Canada. Aware of the toll costly and inherently conflict-ridden litigation took on her clients Laura was drawn to the many benefits of mediation and began her training as a mediator in the mid 90’s.
Laura has accumulated over 350 hours of professional training as a mediator in both Canada and the US and is a sought after mentor for mediators seeking to grow their skills and their practice. Since founding Leave Strong Divorce Services in January of 2011 Laura has been mediating over 60 divorces a year.
Nancy Chausaw Shafer, Esq.
Nancy Chausow Shafer is a principal in the Highland Park IL firm, CHAUSOW SHAFER, PC, concentrating in Matrimonial Law, including Litigation, Mediation and Collaboration. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and has all the usual SuperLawyer/Leading Lawyer accolades. A focus of her energies is to increase the education of professionals and the public on options for the divorce process, including Collaborative practice. Nancy is a frequent presenter and organizer at CLE programs. Nancy is also the California, Illinois and Minnesota sales rep for Family Law Software, www.familylawsoftware.com
Zach Taylor, Mortgage Advisor – Commerce Home Mortgage
Zach Taylor graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in Economics. He is a licensed California Real Estate Broker and has the full NMLS licensing credential. He is the Manager and Loan Adviser with Commerce Home Mortgage. Zach specializes in assisting clients who are divorcing and need to determine the mortgage piece of the property settlement. He works with mediators, divorce attorneys and CDFA/financial advisers throughout Southern California.
Shawn Weber, CLS-F
Shawn Weber has a long history with Consensual Dispute Resolution and is known throughout the State of California as an expert in Mediation and Collaborative Practice. Known as a “dolphin” and not a “shark”, Shawn brings a peacemaking philosophy to his nearly 17 year career in family law and divorce work. Shawn understands that divorce is more than just a legal process; it’s a human experience.
He has a profound ability to get into the world his clients are experiencing and feeling to uncover the necessary clarity in each divorce relationship dynamic. From there, he uses his gifts to bring a rare sense of calm, resolve and hope.
Rebecca Zung, Esq.
U.S. News and Best Layer in America honoree, Rebecca Zung, has been revolutionizing the conversation about divorce since 1999, and has been privileged to guide thousand who were stuck in divorce, drama, trauma and chaos to step into lives of freedom, possibility, prosperity and purpose. Based in Los Angeles, she continues to serve the divorcing population through Breaking Free Mediation, and she is also still a partner in the esteemed law firm of Long, Murphy & Zung PA. Rebecca is the author of the best-selling book Breaking Free: A Step-By-Step Divorce Guide for Achieving Emotional, Physical ad Spiritual Freedom. Rebecca is also acknowledged by her peers and the judiciary as one of the top 1% of divorce attorneys in America.