Mediation Center is a recognized leader in the mediation and conflict resolution field. Established for over 30 years, and affiliated with the Dispute Resolution Institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Mediation Center has a long reputation for excellence in mediation training and conflict resolution training for professionals and organizations. Directed by experienced conflict resolution practitioner Aimee Gourlay, trainings are led by a hand-picked team of trainers/consultants, each with at least twenty years of experience in managing conflict.
Training participants learn to settle disputes, solve problems and manage decisions, enhance relationships and improve communication, negotiate with confidence, navigate workplace challenges, and hone leadership skills. Mediation Center training offers professional accredited ongoing education training for Rule 114 Roster Neutrals, attorneys in MN, LMFTs, and others. Please call 612-222-0023 for more information about professional education credits.
Aimee Gourlay, Executive Director of Mediation Center, has been with Mediation Center since 1993. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Dispute Resolution Institute at Mitchell/Hamline Law School, teaching Negotiation and Mediation skills courses. Aimee is an adjunct faculty member with the Hamline MBA program, teaching Workplace Mediation Skills, Conflict Response for Managers, and Organizational Conflict Management Systems. She also serves on the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution National Roster of Environmental Dispute Resolution and Consensus Building Professionals and the Transportation sub-roster.
With expertise in providing conflict resolution assistance to people from diverse worldviews, Aimee mediates and facilitates resolution of workplace issues, public policy concerns and organizational problems. She is well known for her work facilitating processes with high emotions and multiple stakeholder groups. Her work includes conflict assessments, process design consulting and mediations for: land use; watershed management; nonprofit organizations; systemic racial discrimination claims; allocation of public resources; legislative policy making dialogue; environmental permitting; and, work with teams within state and local government. Aimee's workplace consulting experience includes process design, negotiation and mediation. Her mediation work is focused on pre-litigation employment issues, working with individuals and teams to resolve problems before they escalate and to improve the quality of the workplace. Clients include corporations, non-profit organizations, professional associations, state and local governments, and educational institutions. She serves on the EEOC panel of mediators and as a consultant for the MN Supreme Court ADR Ethics Board, and served on the United States Postal Service EEOC State of Minnesota Department of Human Rights mediator panels.
Sunday Harholdt, Director, has been with Mediation Center since 2014. She earned her Juris Doctor from Mitchell Hamline School of Law (formerly Hamline School of Law), where she also earned a Certificate in Advocacy and Problem-Solving from the Dispute Resolution Institute. At Mediation Center, Sunday assists with program development collaborations, conducts research on issues relevant to mediation in the midwest, assists in the development of best practices advice, and administers the training program. As training director, Sunday expanded Mediation Center’s training lineup to include Custody Evaluation Training, Intractable Issues in Child Custody, and Family Arbitration and Consensual Special Magistrate Training. She is a mediation trainer and role play coach for civil and family mediation training. She has presented at Mediation Center on the topics of family law, statutes, rules and ethics for Rule 114 neutrals; the Dispute Resolution Center and Conflict Resolution Minnesota's annual conference on ethics for community mediators; Minnesota CLE's ADR Institute on mediation orientations; St. Cloud State University on ethics for mediators; and Gjesdahl Law Firm in North Dakota on ethics for mediators in MN and ND.
Sunday is an attorney admitted to the Minnesota Bar and a Qualified Neutral under Rule 114 on the Minnesota Statewide Civil and Family Neutral Rosters. Sunday also coordinates the Washington County Conciliation Court Volunteer Mediator Program.
Trainers and Presenters
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 presently serves on the Alternative Dispute Resolution Ethics Board. Dr. Irvin’s current professional focus is teaching, training, and consultation.
Jennifer E. Joseph, JD, is an attorney in Saint Paul who limits her practice to serving as a neutral within the context of family law matters. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota. She specializes in helping parents resolve custody, parenting, and co-parenting disputes through her work as a mediator, parenting consultant, parenting coach, custody evaluator, and ENE (Early Neutral Evaluation) provider. Joseph previously served on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Association of Custody Resolution Specialists (MACRS), and has provided training on conducting custody evaluations. She has also presented to Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (MN-CLE), and is a contributing author to the Minnesota Child Custody Deskbook (published by MN-CLE). Joseph has also presented to the Ramsey County Bar Association (RCBA) and nationally to the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC).
Susan D. Mainzer, JD, was named a Leading American Attorney in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) areas of employment, commercial law and family matters. She is an experienced ADR practitioner, trainer, retreat facilitator, life coach and organizational development consultant.
Susan is recognized for her expertise in helping people in high conflict relationships and from diverse backgrounds reach agreements. She frequently mediates interpersonal cases, acts as a Moderator for divorce settlement conferences and serves as a mediator on the Appellate Court’s Family Mediation roster. She regularly mediates workplace disputes, insurance and business matters.
Susan has taught negotiation, 40-hour family and 30-hour civil mediation training for Mediation Center and the American Arbitration Association. As Adjunct Faculty in Hamline University’s MBA Program, she teaches Organizational Conflict Management Systems and Conflict Resolution for Managers. She was among ten American mediators chosen to participate in Germany in a cross cultural conflict resolution study. She serves as a facilitator on public policy issues. As an organization development consultant, she helps design conflict management processes. She coaches mediators, managers and staff in conflict resolution strategies and individuals on career, transition and life choices. She creates customized workshops in creative problem solving and appreciative inquiry to improve the workplace climate.
Susan is a qualified neutral for family, contracts, personal injury and employment cases under Rule 114 of Minnesota’s General Rules of Practice. She earned her law degree from the University of Wisconsin. She worked at the Metropolitan Council two years as a facilitator, trainer, career coach and organizational development consultant.
Susan served as an arbitrator and mediator on the American Arbitration Association’s panel for more than 15 years. She has mediated family cases for Catholic Charities at Mediation Center and Ramsey County District Court since 1990. Susan was selected to join the Wisconsin and Minnesota State Special Education Mediation Panels; she has been mediating special education cases for Minnesota and Wisconsin since 1997. She mediates family business, healthcare, seniors’ end of life decisions and lake property inheritance cases. She consults with companies on conflict prevention approaches.
Mark McCrea supervises alternative dispute resolution services for the Workers’ Compensation Division of the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry. Over the past three decades, he has mediated hundreds of employment, workers’ compensation, special education, family, organizational and public policy conflicts for a variety of organizations and individuals. Also, he has conducted advanced mediation, negotiation and conflict management skills courses in several states, as well as Canada. McCrea was a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court ADR Review Board from 1996 to 2005. In 2007, he was presented a Distinguished Service Award by the Minnesota State Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section for his contributions to alternative dispute resolution in Minnesota. In 2009, the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions presented him with a Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the growth and development of ADR in workers’ compensation jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada. McCrea has a MS Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling and a BS in Urban Studies from Minnesota State University at Mankato.
Katherine Nevins, PhD, has been mediating family and organizational issues since 1987. As a trainer and facilitator, she has taught hundreds of individuals communication, mediation, and negotiation skills. She has special expertise in large group conflict resolution and in disputes involving complex psychological issues. As a professor of psychology at Bethel University, she has done research on the impact of divorce on children. Dr. Nevins is a charter member of the State of Minnesota Special Education Mediation Service Panel, the Panel of mediators for the United States Postal Service, and the State of Minnesota Cooperation for the Children program. She is a qualified neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Civil Practice. Dr. Nevins holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota.
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.
Marty Swaden, JD has practiced divorce and matrimonial law for 36 years, including cases with multimillion-dollar estates and hotly contested child custody issues. Marty has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 1997. He has been named in the “Top 100 Attorneys in Minnesota” (1985 & 2013) in the Mpls. St. Paul Magazine, “Top 40 Minnesota Family Law Attorneys” in the Mpls. St. Paul Magazine from 1994 to the present, and a Minnesota Super lawyer in Mpls. St. Paul Magazine since 1994. Marty is co-author of the Minnesota Practice Volume on Family Law, published by West Publishing, and he is the past President of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Swaden is a member of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Hennepin County Bar Association Family Law Committee, and the Family Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association. Marty also has taught as an adjunct professor at Hamline Law School. Swaden is doing extensive work in the area of Alternate Dispute Resolution in Family Law as a mediator, an arbitrator, a Consensual Special Magistrate, a Financial Early Neutral Evaluator, a Custody Early Neutral Evaluator, and a Parenting Consultant. A professional singer before he entered law school, Marty performed with the Minnesota Opera Company for 12 seasons and currently sings with the Mill City Summer Opera Company.
Ellen S. Velasco-Thompson
Ellen Velasco-Thompson is the Director of Risk Management & Claims Division for the City of Minneapolis. Her expertise extends to cross-cultural issues in family, employment, health, and business disputes. She recommends and prefers co-mediation. Since 1990, she has participated in coaching mediation skills training for the Mediation Center and Hamline University. She is a panelist for the Minnesota Special Education Mediation Service roster working with parents and schools, and she serves on the Minnesota Human Rights Alternative Dispute Resolution Panel for employment issues and the Americans With Disabilities Act. Velasco-Thompson has a background in the areas of risk management, insurance, and health care. Prior to her work at the Mediation Center, she provided mediation/arbitration services at the Department of Labor and Industry for the State of Minnesota. Velasco-Thompson earned her BSN from Loyola University of Chicago.