Center for Conflict Resolution


Cassandra Lively, Ph.D.
Executive Director
[email protected]
312-922-6464 x29

​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 12 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 Tri-Chair for the Association for Conflict Resolution’s Community Mediation and Restorative Practices Section. 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

Finance and Operations 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

Administrative Assistant

​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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[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.


Rae Kyritsi

Programs Director

​Rae Kyritsi, J.D. is a certified mediator of civil, criminal, elder, and family disputes and a certified trainer. She also works as an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediation, as well as coaching students for the Vis Moot International Commercial Arbitration Competition. She has facilitated community forums and has organized non-profits and LLCs through consensus building. Rae earned her J.D. from Loyola (’12) and her B.A. from UW-Madison (’05).  

Center for Conflict Resolution
Center for Conflict Resolution

Leandra Ramos

Associate Director of Programs – Mediation Services

Lea is the Bilingual Programs Manager at CCR. Prior to joining CCR, Leandra worked as a parent liaison for the Illinois Migrant Education Program, providing services and assistance to Latino migrant workers in the Central Illinois area.  She was also a medical interpreter at Carle Foundation Hospital, where she acted as a cultural consultant to staff and as an advocate for non-English speaking patients and their families. She received her MA in Latin American Studies from the Complutense University of Madrid (’12) and her B.A. in Political Science from U of I (’10).

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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Jim Alrutz

Assistant Director of Programs - Early Resolution Program

Jim Alrutz, J.D., joined CCR in 2021 as a Programs Manager for the Early Resolution Program after previously serving as a volunteer mediator. He earned his B.A. from Northwestern University and his J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where he was an award-winning member of the International Academy of Dispute Resolution mediation competition team. Jim also serves as adjunct faculty for Loyola’s Professional Identity Formation course, teaching first-year law students about the impact of implicit bias and systemic discrimination on the legal profession.

Maia Buess

Senior Programs Manager - Mediation Services

Maia first became interested in alternative dispute resolution while pursuing a degree in Community and Justice Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 2014, Maia trained with the New York Peace Institute’s community mediation program and volunteered there. Since 2015, she has worked at the Center for Conflict Resolution as a Programs Manager and support staff for CCR’s training department.  Maia manages the follow-up portion of CCR’s Juvenile Victim-Offender and Family Mediation Program and acts as CCR’s community liaison in Chicago’s restorative justice networks.

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Elizabeth Boeringa

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program


Elizabeth Boeringa is one of the new Programs Managers for the Early Resolution Program. Before joining CCR, she was a Legal Assistant at Kathleen T. Zellner and Associates, a law firm specializing in post-conviction and civil rights litigation. In 2019, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies at Wheaton College, where she was first introduced to mediation work.

Penny Driver

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program

Penny Driver is from the south suburbs of Chicago and during the pandemic started a wellness business called 'Penny Makes Sense'. She was introduced to mediation in a civil procedure course in law school. Penny pursued her mediation certification last August and is now a Programs Manager for the Early Resolution Program.

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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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Kate Finch

Programs Manager - Mediation Services

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. 

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.

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Jessica Lusky

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program

Jessica joined CCR early in 2021 as a Programs Manager, primarily working in the Early Resolution Program. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies from Michigan State University in 2019, and will complete her Master’s in Conflict and Mediation at Roosevelt University in May 2021. Previously, Jessica has worked on engagement, programming, and fundraising with various nonprofit organizations, was a Program Mentee during her undergraduate studies, and worked as the Graduate Assistant while serving on the Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Council during graduate school. She has earned her safeTALK and Family Life Educator Certifications.  

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.

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Ethan Senser

Programs Manager - Early Resolution Program

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.

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.


Pari Karim

Training Director

​​Pari Karim manages numerous training programs, including CCR’s 40-Hour Mediation Skills Training. Since 2008, Pari has been a volunteer mediator and trainer at CCR.  She received her J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2010, earning a certificate in Labor and Employment Law. Additionally, she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. Prior to her current position, Pari served as the Assistant Director of Mediation Services, providing support and supervision to CCR’s vast pool of volunteer mediators. She mediates frequently in all of CCR’s programs and also provides facilitation services. Pari is also Adjunct Faculty at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her interest in ADR comes from a belief that the people experiencing the conflict are those best able to resolve the conflict.  

Center for Conflict Resolution

Larissa Hachinski

Assistant Director of Training

Larissa is the Assistant Director of Training at the Center for Conflict Resolution. While attending law school in 2012, Larissa became a CCR certified mediator and has continued mediating cases regarding civil matters, criminal misdemeanors and fee disputes.  After receiving her J.D. and L.L.M. in Trial Ad and Alternative Dispute Resolution from The John Marshall Law School, Larissa has been an involved alumnus by teaching at the John Marshall Conflict Resolution Institute (CRI) and coaching ABA mediation and negotiation competition teams.  Larissa is a presenter, facilitator and trainer for law firms, corporations, schools and government agencies.  A former member of CCR’s Volunteer Council, Larissa now serves on the Board at the Association for Conflict Resolution, Chicago Chapter.  Larissa’s interest in ADR comes from an appreciation that there are multiple ways to work through a problem.  She particularly enjoys introducing people to mediation and guiding new mediators through the process.

Jenna Silver

Assistant Director of Training

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.

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Amy Wang

Training Manager/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.