MEET OUR STAFF
Cassandra Lively, Ph.D.
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.
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. 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.
Carolyn D. Agee has been with CCR since 2007. She began her career in administration at Chicago Metropolitan Mutual Assurance Company as a Policy Adjuster and later an Accounting Clerk. She worked in administration at Sears, Roebuck and Co. in the Accounting, Buying, Controller’s, Credit, Quality Control and Pension Departments at Sears Tower and Hoffman Estates, IL. Carolyn worked as Executive Administrative Assistant to the President of United Insurance Company of America, the Vice President of Agency and the Vice President of Human Relations. Prior to coming to CCR, Carolyn worked in the Judges Department at the Chicago Board of Elections
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).
Assistant Director of Programs
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).
Senior Programs Manager
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.
Senior Bilingual Programs Manager
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.
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.
Julia Csernansky, J.D. is a bilingual Programs Manager. She joined CCR in 2020 after graduating from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. While in law school, Julia developed a passion for conflict resolution and certified as a mediator through the Center for Conflict Resolution. At the same time, she worked for the National Immigrant Justice Center’s Asylum Project and Loyola University’s Community Law Clinic. Julia taught high school students in San Salvador, El Salvador for four years before returning to Chicago, IL in 2016. She graduated from Drake University with a B.A. in Political Theory in 2012.
Elliot Heilman joined CCR as a Programs Manager for the Early Resolution Program in December 2020. Prior to working at CCR, Elliot worked at Illinois Humanities, the state affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he helped plan and implement the Envisioning Justice Initiative, which used the arts and humanities to push for criminal justice reform efforts, and led the Illinois Speaks Program, which promotes small, community-based discussions across Illinois. Prior to this, Elliot received his Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Northwestern in 2015, with a dissertation on the social reform efforts of the Mexican avant-garde in the 1920s, taught English at a public university in Puebla, Mexico, and received his B.A. in Classical Languages from Williams College.
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.
Patricia Mace is a Programs Manager at the Center for Conflict Resolution. Her interest in mediation began while interning at the New York Peace Institute. She completed a Master’s of Science at New York University in Global Affairs with concentrations in Transnational Security and Peacebuilding. While in graduate school, she had the opportunity to work with TED and UN Women. At TED, she helped assess the quality and content of talks from the TEDx initiative as well as put her Japanese and Mandarin language skills to use. During her time at UN Women, she had the opportunity to engage with various working groups on UN policies and training. Patricia has always had an interest in conflict from local to global.
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.
Assistant Director of Training
Larissa is the Training Associate 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.
Amy joined CCR as a Training Assistant in 2021. They first developed an interest in facilitation and training as a student organizer in the fossil fuel divestment movement. Since then, they have assisted with training programs at environmental justice organizations like the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Green Worker Cooperatives. Amy holds a B.A. in Psychology and Ethnicity and Race Studies from Columbia University, and they hope to develop their mediation skills in service of transformative justice practices that increase community self-determination and self-governance.
Emerson joined CCR as an Early Resolution Programs Manager in 2020, after working at Legal Aid Chicago as a paralegal and Community Legal Clinics Coordinator. They received their B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in English Literature, Philosophy, and Non-Profit Management. Before their work in Chicago, Emerson served on a variety of community campaigns in Pittsburgh, advocating for public transit equity, environmental justice, and labor rights. They also worked for the Alliance for Refugee Youth Support and Education in a variety of roles.
Jesse is one of the new Programs Managers at CCR. They were first introduced to mediation through their law school coursework at Loyola University Chicago. They joined CCR as a student mediator in the fall of 2018. After a hiatus, they returned as a programs manager in December 2020. Their interest in mediation stems from valuing the autonomy and empowerment of the parties in conflict.
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.