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Cassandra Lively, Ph.D.
Executive Director
[email protected]
312-922-6464 x229

​Cassandra Lively, Ph.D. has been on staff at CCR since 2005 in a variety of roles, and now leads the organization’s staff of 26 and dedicated group of more than 180 volunteers in providing the highest quality mediation services and training to the Chicagoland area. During her time at CCR, Cassie has mediated over 350 cases and assisted in the training of more than 250 new mediators. Cassie serves as a Co-Chair for the Association for Conflict Resolution’s Community Mediation and Restorative Practices Section, and as Board Treasurer for National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM). She earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago in 2010 with a focus in work, family and gender.

Center for Conflict Resolution
Center for Conflict Resolution

Whitney Trumble

Deputy Executive Director

​Whitney Trumble has more than 18 years of experience volunteering, interning and working in the non-profit sector, with a specific focus on international relations, women’s human rights and conflict resolution. After completing her Master’s program from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Whitney returned to her home state of Illinois to work in alternative dispute resolution, first with Resolution Systems Institute and then with CCR in 2010. Before assuming her current position, Whitney worked with the Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program as a case manager and then Supervisor of Case Management. 

Erin Woolard

Finance and Operations Manager

​Erin Woolard joined CCR in June 2022 as Administrative Assistant. She first became interested in non-profit administration while attending Southern Illinois University, where she obtained her B.A. in Anthropology and B.A. in International Studies. Erin is passionate about using her organization and communication skills in service of others, and prior to joining CCR, she worked in administrative roles for healthcare, environmental sustainability, community building, and education organizations.

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Katey Baker-Smith

Administrative Assistant

​Katey Baker-Smith is the Administrative Assistant at CCR. She earned her M.A. in Social Justice and Human Rights and B.A. in Spanish and Political Science. She previously worked as the Operations Manager at a non-profit mental health center, and has worked at various non-profit organizations, most often as a researcher and writer. Her work includes detailed reports on peasant farming and land grabbing in Romania that have been utilized by international groups including the UN FAO, and producing research and reports on the Middle East and North Africa that have been published in books, textbooks, and articles.

[email protected]

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Israel Putnam

Volunteer Director

​Israel graduated from Wheaton College with a B.A. in Communications and from Pepperdine University with a Master's in Dispute Resolution. In his working life, he's been employed in construction, farming, outdoor retail, small business development, and state government. Israel entered the Mediation Mentorship Program at CCR in 2013 and volunteered for about a year before eventually landing a staff position. Spending seven years as a Program Manager, he was fortunate to mediate or supervise volunteer mediators in thousands of cases across highly diverse areas of conflict.


Leandra Ramos

Programs Director - Mediation Services

 Lea Ramos has been on staff at CCR since 2013 and now leads the organization’s Mediation Services team. Lea is a certified mediator and trainer who has mediated over 300 cases during her time at CCR. She has been an instructor for the Institute for Workforce Education (IWE), teaching courses related to conflict management and communication skills. Prior to joining CCR, Leandra worked as a parent liaison for the Illinois Migrant Education Program, providing services and assistance to migrant workers in the Central Illinois area. Lea received her MA in Latin American Studies and Nonprofit from the Complutense University of Madrid (’12) and her B.A. in Political Science from U of I (’10).

Center for Conflict Resolution
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Jim Alrutz

Programs Director - Early Resolution Program

Jim Alrutz, J.D., joined CCR's staff in 2021 after previously serving as a volunteer mediator. He earned his B.A. from Northwestern University and his J.D. from Loyola University Chicago, where he was an award-winning member of the International Academy of Dispute Resolution mediation competition team. Jim also serves as classroom facilitator for Loyola’s Professional Identity Formation course for first year law students.

Gabriel Herrera

Assistant Director of Programs – Mediation Services

Gabriel Herrera joined CCR as a Bilingual Programs Manager in 2018 after completing a Master’s in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. While in graduate school, Gabriel worked with Migration and Refugee Services, supporting refugee individuals and families navigate the resettlement process and begin their new lives in the United States. He also served as a research fellow for George Mason’s Center for the Study of Narrative studying the impact of gentrification on community belonging. Previously, Gabriel taught English in Madrid, Spain as a North American Culture and Language Ambassador after earning his B.A. in Nonprofit Public Relations from Boston University.

Center for Conflict Resolution
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Elizabeth Boeringa

Assistant Director of Programs - Early Resolution Program


Elizabeth Boeringa joined CCR in 2021 as a Programs Manager in the Early Resolution Program, and shortly after gained her mediation certification. Before joining CCR, Lizzie was a Law Clerk at Kathleen T. Zellner and Associates, a Chicagoland law firm specializing in post-conviction and civil rights litigation. She has a background working for, or volunteering with, non-profits in a variety of sectors including refugee resettlement and human trafficking prevention. In 2019, she earned her B.A. in Political Science with a certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies from Wheaton College, where her interest in restorative justice practices, and the field of alternative dispute resolution in particular, began.

Lauren Asher

Programs Manager - Mediation Services


Lauren Asher is a New Mexican native, born and raised in Santa Fe. In 2017 she earned her MS in Conflict and Dispute Resolution from the University of Oregon School of Law and has used her conflict resolution and facilitation knowledge in her work within tech, healthcare, governmental organizations and for individuals. Before she found her way to mediation and facilitation in 2015 (and career coaching in 2020), she worked as a cook, and owned and operated a therapeutic massage practice in Napa. Her enthusiasm for all things food and her ability to help others in their healing process is still a strong part of her identity. After falling in love with Chicago over a short NYE trip in 2021, she relocated 6 months later and is the Windy City’s biggest fan. She now brings her conflict resolution skills and to the local community as one of CCR’s Case Managers and Mediators.  

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Sarah Farrukh

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program

Sarah Farrukh, J.D., joined CCR in January 2022 as a Programs Managers for the Early Resolution Program. Prior to joining CCR, she worked as a Case Administrator for FINRA’s Office of Dispute Resolution and as a Mediation Supervisor with the Milwaukee County Small Claims Court Mediation Clinic. She earned her B.S. in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a focus on design. She earned her J.D. with certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from Marquette University Law School, where she was first introduced to mediation work and was an award-winning member of several mediation competition teams.

Dominique Fenichell

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program

Dominique joined CCR in 2022 as a Programs Manager for the Early Resolution Program. Prior to joining CCR, they worked at 9to5, National Association of Working Women, an economic justice organization where they focused on developing their climate justice campaign. Dominique has a background in design having graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2016. Additionally, they are a certified trauma-informed yoga instructor whose interest in conflict resolution is born from a deep commitment to love, justice, and liberation. 

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Abigail Johnston

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program

Abby Johnston joined CCR in January 2022 as a Programs Manager for the Early Resolution Program. She first developed an interest in conflict resolution as the Policy and Communications Associate for a Chicago-based park advocacy organization where she was exposed to many differing points of views about park and city policy. Prior to that, Abby managed a district office for an Illinois State Representative. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from DePaul University.

Jessica Lusky

Programs Manager - Mediation Services

Jessica began her work at CCR late in 2020 as a Programs Manager for the Early Resolution Program, then transitioned to the Mediation Services team in the summer of 2022.  She holds her Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies from Michigan State University and her Master’s in Conflict and Mediation from Roosevelt University.  She has earned her safeTALK and Family Life Educator Certifications. Prior to joining CCR, Jessica held a variety of leadership and mentee roles, as well as worked on engagement, programming, and fundraising with various nonprofit organizations.

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Ryland Rich

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program

Ryland joined CCR in 2022 as a Programs Manager for the Early Resolution Program. Prior to CCR, Ryland worked at The School for Ethics and Global Leadership’s London program. Her experience as a member and negotiator with the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers initiated her interest in conflict resolution. Inspired to gain skills in effective resolution methods, Ryland completed CCR’s mediation training in June 2022.

Ethan Senser

Programs Manager - Mediation Services

Ethan Senser joined CCR at the start of 2022 as a Programs Manager for the Early Resolution Program. Their experience in conflict resolution stems from their time as a climate justice organizer in Los Angeles, where they facilitated grassroots strategy meetings, community trainings, political canvassing and direct action interventions. They believe that navigating conflict can help foster a foundation of agency, care and accountability that aids in the growth of deep community relationships and power. Ethan is currently pursuing a Masters in Conflict and Mediation at Roosevelt University.

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Vic Soto

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program

Victoria Soto, MSW, better known as Vic, joins the CCR team as a Bilingual Programs Manager for the Early Resolution Program. Vic earned her Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also a Badger Alumna of the Class of 2022, in which she earned her Master of Social Work degree, with a focus in Policy and Administration. Upon her return to the Chicagoland area, Vic worked as a Legal Advocate, supporting survivors of domestic violence in understanding their rights and resources. Vic is passionate about supporting the well-being of underrepresented and under resourced community members by working with them to access needed opportunities and resources. 

Laura Warren

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program

With over 15 years of experience serving in a variety of non-profit positions, Laura comes to CCR as a Programs Manager and Certified Mediator in the new Early Resolution Program. Prior to coming to CCR, Laura worked in development, corporate relations, marketing and events at Clearbrook. She also held organizational and leadership development positions at Baxter and Ameritech. Laura holds a B.S. in psychology and M.S in organizational development both from Loyola University Chicago.

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Njeri Williams

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program

Njeri Williams, J.D., M.S., joined CCR in 2022. Prior to working at CCR, Njeri worked in both legal and non-legal positions with the goal of using her knowledge and experiences to serve others. Njeri has always had a passion for serving children and families, which largely ignited her interest in community engagement work and alternative dispute resolution. Njeri earned her B.A. in Political Science and Africana Studies from the University of Notre Dame and her J.D. with a certificate in Family Law from DePaul University, where she also earned her M.A. in Public Service Management. Njeri completed CCR’s mediation training program in June 2022 and looks forward using the tools gained from this training to continue her work as a practitioner of alternative dispute resolution and as an advocate for community and social change.

Yehemy Zavala Orozco

Programs Manager - Mediation Services

Yehemy Zavala Orozco (they/them/elle-español) joined CCR as a Bilingual Programs Manager in 2023. Originally from Mexico City, Yehemy emigrated to the United States 12 years ago. For the first 11 years, they lived in Utah and focused their work on reducing ethnic and immigrant health disparities related to nutrition, food access, mental health, reproductive justice, access to clinical care, immigrant rights, LGBTQ+ rights, women empowerment, and access to comprehensive and equal housing for all. They studied Visual Arts at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). They also have an Associate’s Degree in General Studies from Salt Lake Community College. In 2021, they were awarded by the National Association of Community Health Workers with their Equity and Justice Visionary Award for working as first respondent during the COVID-19 pandemic ensuring all Community Health Workers working directly with underserved communities were vaccinated regardless of their immigration status. They love to ride bikes, hike and listen to music. They moved to Chicago to connect with the lake and continue their gender transition.

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Jenna Silver

Training Director

Jenna began working with CCR in 2016. She has since served as an administrator and conflict resolution professional at Loyola University Chicago, where she was instrumental in implementing mediation principles and restorative justice practices. She works across the country as a training consultant, developing tailored workshops on conflict resolution and communication, including programs centered on working with youth and young adults. Jenna is a former middle school teacher and current adjunct faculty member at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Roosevelt University. She earned her BA from Brown University, MEd from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and her JD from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Kate Finch

Assistant Director of Training

Kate Finch, J.D. began her work at CCR with the support of the Public Interest Law Initiative. She is a certified mediator with a longstanding interest in community engagement and alternative dispute resolution. Kate earned her B.F.A. from Drake University and her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she gained experience facilitating community circles. Prior to joining CCR, she worked in healthcare, hospitality, and the arts. 

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Amy Wang

Training Manager and Outreach Coordinator

Amy Wang joined CCR in 2021. They first took an interest in facilitation and training as a student organizer in the fossil fuel divestment movement. Since then, they have supported training at environmental justice organizations and workforce development programs. Amy holds a B.A. in Psychology and Ethnicity and Race Studies from Columbia University, and they hope to use their mediation skills in service of community self-determination and self-governance.

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