Celebration XV’s Presenters
Click on a presenter’s name below to expand their biographies.
Russell is an experienced litigator who has used his advocacy skills to win many family law trials for his clients. But he also understands the emotional and financial costs of litigation, which is why Russell works to resolve as many cases as possible without going to court.
Russell Alexander Family Lawyers was founded in 1998 and provides family law services to clients in five locations throughout Canada. As the firm’s founder and managing lawyer, Russell dedicates his entire practice and those of his firm’s lawyers to achieving results in a compassionate, collaborative, and client- focused manner.
Lisa is a sought-after industry leader in visual facilitation and management consultancy. She is an expert at designing meeting process to engage people and align them towards action. Her visual meeting strategies have helped organizations all around the world tackle a wide range of deep-rooted and cutting-edge issues.
During her personal divorce experience with family mediators, she saw a significant lack of preparation, empathy and questions that would actually get to the root of the conflict. On top of that, agreements weren’t documented in the sessions.
Her goal is to change that. Her unique approach to mediation blends the power of visual communication and certified mediation skills.
Hal has been a mediator for nearly 40 years. He has been president of the Sacramento Collaborative Practice Group since its founding in 1998, and in 2005 became the founding president of Collaborative Practice California, which embraces a non-litigious, cooperative approach to settling conflicts. The resolution, he says, tends to be less costly and less hostile. It was his experience with the contentious side of divorce that led him to conclude a less adversarial approach would benefit both families and counsel. “Before collaborative divorce came along,” he says, “our best clients were ones who’d been to counseling before they came to us.”
Beverly holds an MBA in Taxation and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting. She is a member of the California Society of CPAs, the American Institute of CPAs, and is a past president of the Sacramento Estate Planning Council. She is also past president of the California CPA Education Foundation and is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Sacramento Foundation. She also holds the designation of Personal Financial Specialist (accredited by the American Institute of CPAs) and has her Series 7 and Series 66 licenses. Beverly is a frequent speaker and educator serving as an expert in tax issues related to divorce.
Kathy is a family law attorney focusing on collaborative practice and mediation through her practice: Campbell Family Law, located in Campbell. When not mediating or collaborating regarding divorce, she volunteers at the Santa Clara Superior Court as a judge pro tem for Mandatory Settlement Conferences or Settlement Officer Conferences. Kathy is a board member of Collaborative Practice Silicon Valley, a member of the CPCal Public Education Committee, CPCal Divorce Options Liaison, and a CPCal delegate.
Bart has a busy private practice in Orange County with offices in Anaheim Hills and Irvine. As a family dispute resolution professional with 22+ years of litigation, 20+ of mediation, 12+ of collaborative family law, and a full spectrum of unbundled family law services, Bart’s practice for the past several years has been limited to non-court, non-adversarial, client centered process options including interdisciplinary team approaches. Bart is an adjunct professor at Western State University College of Law, teaching mediation concepts, skills and techniques. A past Eureka Award winner.
Tina has been a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, since 1983, and has been in private practice, seeing adults, families, couples and children, both in California and New York. She has been a divorce coach since 2008, and is currently a member and on the board of directors of CCRE, and co-founded a collaborative practice group, CDACD, in Albany, NY.
Randy is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (1983) who has been in private practice in Petaluma and Santa Rosa. His specialties have included family systems therapy, couples therapy and divorce related counseling. Additionally Randy specializes in co- parenting counseling, reunification counseling, mediation regarding children’s issues in divorce and Collaborative Process.
Sharon Clark, PhD is a psychologist with a private practice in San Jose for twenty- three years. She is a therapist that works with individuals, children, teens and families. Dr. Clark provides services as a Mediator, Co-parenting Counselor, Collaborative Coach and Child Specialist. Sharon performed custody evaluations for 15 years and works with high conflict families of divorce. She started training and experience in Collaborative practice in 2006 and dropped custody evaluations from her practice and never looked back.
Cathleen has been practicing as a sole practitioner in Irvine since 2000. She has been retained as a forensic accountant and expert witness to provide services in the area of family law for almost 20 years. As a member of Collaborative Divorce Solutions Orange County since 2007 she has provided services as a Neutral Financial Specialist and team facilitator. recognizes those who have made significant contributions and demonstrated an abiding dedication to establishing and sustaining Collaborative Practice in California.
Catherine Conner has been a mediation and collaborative practice trainer since 2004. She is a frequent presenter at collaborative conferences and family law workshops. She authored Collaborative Practice Materials with Steven Neustadter and Margaret Anderson. Catherine Conner’s private practice focuses on family law alternate dispute resolution, including mediation, collaborative practice, and private judging. She is a founding partner of Conner, Lawrence, Rodney, Olhiser & Barrett, LLP.
Jason is a founding partner at Divorce Capital Planning, LLC, in the San Jose area which specializes in divorce financial planning and analysis. Jason provides expert guidance, education, and support on complex financial issues to help couples make smart financial decisions during divorce. He is a frequent speaker on financial and tax issues in divorce for Bar Associations, CPAs, and divorce professionals.
As a leader in Collaborative Practice, Cathy continues to emphasize the development and evolutionary nature of the financial professional’s role. Completing ongoing trainings in a variety of family law, estate, facilitation, and dispute resolution subjects since 1998, she specializes in no court, working with families utilizing Collaborative or mediation structures for conflict resolution. A sought after neutral financial professional, facilitator, team member, speaker and trainer, Cathy’s most recent endeavors offer practice group retreat workshops. As a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA®) and CPSV member since 1999, she was instrumental with CPSV’s shift to an interdisciplinary practice group and was its first financial professional President in 2006.
Gisette, owner of Denker Mediation is a Mediator and Collaborative Attorney in San Jose. She is a member of the California and Santa Clara County Bar Associations and a board member of Collaborative Practice Silicon Valley. Gisette also serves as a Settlement Court Officer with the Santa Clara County Superior Court.
Kathleen’s began her first career as counselor working with children. In 1996, she transitioned into the Financial Planning Field and currently is the Managing Member of Faulkner Financial Planning, LLC. Her emphasis is guiding people through the financial and emotional maze of life changing events like divorce. Kathleen is a founding Member of Sacramento Collaborative Divorce Training Team which has completed over 18 statewide 2-Day trainings since 2007 for Attorneys, Mental Health and Financial Professionals working in the divorce field. Kathleen has trained financial professionals and family law attorneys in Family Law Software® a nationwide leader in software for family law.
Pam is the principal of her business Flournoy Wealth Management in the San Jose Area. She is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and has been a Certified Financial Planner for more than ten years. Her own life story compelled her to help others through financial planning and investment management. She was suddenly widowed with two young children in 2000 and was able to go forward and provide a stable life for her family because she had a financial plan in place . As a result of her personal experience she focuses her practice on people in transition through divorce or widowhood.
Bruce is board certified in clinical hypnosis has been a licensed therapist since 1982. He has extensive training in mediation and in the interdisciplinary team model of collaborative practice as a divorce coach, child specialist and case manager. He also is trained and experienced in the management of chronic pain, dealing with trauma, chemical dependency and addictions. He has published numerous articles, appeared on TV and audio learning programs and is an award winning public speaker.
Gary J. Friedman has been practicing law as a mediator with Mediation Law Offices in Mill Valley, California since 1976, integrating mediative principles into the practice of law and the resolution of legal disputes. Co- founder of the Center for Understanding in Conflict (formerly the Center for Mediation in Law), he has been teaching mediation since 1980. Prior to his work as a mediator, he practiced law as a trial lawyer with Friedman and Friedman in Bridgeport, Connecticut. After several years as an advocate, he sought a new approach to resolving disputes through increasing the participation of the parties in the resolution of their differences. At that time, he and his colleague, Jack Himmelstein, began to develop the Understanding- based model that is now practiced extensively in the United States and Europe. As one of the first lawyer mediators and a primary force in the current mediation movement, he has used this model to complete over one thousand mediations in the last four decades.
Dr. Furze is a psychologist with thirty years of experience in the Bay Area helping people overcome life changes and transitions. Her specializations include clinical psychology, marital therapy and mediation. She is a member of the Collaborative Practice of Silicon Valley.
Ross Garcia, CDLP is a Managing Partner at PREI Capital Group, and Founder of Divorce Mortgage Advisors. Prior to joining PREI, he worked for the Private Mortgage Bank at Wells Fargo located in Beverly Hills where he funded over $400 million in loan volume. Ross’ extensive experience with complex cases provides him with critical insight into the way lenders think and operate. He has earned a unique designation as a Certified Divorce Lending Processional (CDLP). As a result, he has a high-level of expertise as it pertains to loan structuring, loan underwriting, and loan processing. Ross is a Member of the Forbes Finance Council and frequently contributes mortgage relates content for Forbes. He is well versed in navigating complex divorce scenarios which require specifically structured financing and sophisticated planning. Ross earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Karen has operated a private practice in Ontario, Canada for 15 years specializing in custody and access, separation and divorce, parenting, and blended family issues. She provides parent coaching, parenting plans and consultation to families and professionals. Karen is a Parent Coach and Child Specialist within the Collaborative Practice model, and is able to assist clients to resolve their separation and divorce issues in a respectful manner.
Chris is a Professional Snowboard coach who has worked with Olympic and X Games athletes like Shaun White, Toby Miller, and Hanna Teter. Chris will share his experiences as he guides you through philosophies and methodologies to inspire and work with your collaborative team.
Carrie founded Fairmore Family Law Financial Solutions offering independent, fact-based financial analytics and settlement insights to individuals and couples working through separation and divorce. Carrie has been developing education programs focused on legal, individual and financial engagement of those people within the Family Law system for over a decade. Carrie serves on the Board of Directors of York Collaborative Practice; and is an active member in Collaborative Practice for Durham, York, Kawartha and Toronto.
Carol is a California licensed psychotherapist, Board Certified hypnotherapist who has been in private practice in Laguna Hills since 1983. She has provides services as a divorce coach, child specialist and case manager. She has extensive training in mediation and collaborative divorce. She frequently trains and mentors collaborative practitioners and has appeared on the Time Warner Public Television series “How to Get a Divorce”.
Jarret practices primarily in Family Law specializing in collaborative, litigation, and traditional settlement work in Ontario Canada. Jarret also offers services in Wills and Estates, and Real Estate. Jarret sits on the executive for the Kawartha Collaborative Practice and the executive for the Victoria Haliburton Law Association. Jarret is passionate about getting his clients the best result possible with the least amount of financial, mental, and emotional cost which is why he really enjoys working in the Collaborative Process.
Jason is a member of York Collaborative Practice and the Collaborative Practice Durham Region as a financial professional. He provides business valuation and litigation support services to law firms, private and public companies as well as non-profit organizations and individuals. Services include rendering of conclusions on the value of businesses, intellectual property and economic damages.
Jen is a debt and credit attorney and owner of Jen Lee Law, Inc., a law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Ramon, and Tracy, California. She is a leading expert on debt, credit, and financial stress, having been featured in Consumer Affairs, US News & World Report, and other national publications. She often speaks and presents on the topic of bankruptcy, financial stress, and debt problems.
Natalie has been in practice since 1989 and a CDFA since 2000. She is active in Collaborative Practice, working with the Collaborative team since 2000 in the role of a financial neutral. When working as a financial neutral on the collaborative team, Natalie helps to educate the clients about the short-term and obvious, and the long-term and not so obvious financial results of suggested financial settlement options.
Natalia is a Family Law Mediator/Attorney with offices in San Francisco and Oakland. She is a bi-racial woman: Mexican and German; first woman in her family to attend a four year University; and first attorney in her family. She sits on the CUC Board of Trustees. She is focused on advocating for a more racially diverse community of Family Law practitioners (Attorneys, Mediators, and Mental Health Professionals) who will create and implement a new way to resolve conflict.
Diana is a Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator practicing in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. Her practice is dedicated exclusively to consensual dispute resolution processes, primarily in family law matters. She is a lecturer and trainer on the topics of consensual dispute resolution processes, ethics and professional responsibility, and cultural competency and awareness, both locally, nationally, and internationally as a faculty trainer with the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.
Barbara is a Certified Specialist, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. Her practice is based in the West Silicon Valley. She has been a member of the State Bar of California since 1996 and started her own law practice in 2005. She just recently learned about Collaborative Practice, and joined Collaborative Practice Silicon Valley in 2019. Her practice focuses on estate planning, trust administration, and probate. Ms. Nesbet provides individuals and their families with estate planning services to give them peace of mind and to let them rest in peace knowing that their loved ones have been taken care of and provided for.
Bryan is a licensed marriage and family therapist who received his Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology with emphases in correctional and health psychology from Santa Clara University. He specializes in addiction treatment and has worked with adolescents, adults, and families struggling with substance use and mental health issues throughout several clinics in the Bay Area. Currently he is director of the Chemical Dependency Outpatient program at the Meadows in Silicon Valley. He is passionate about helping patients find healing not only in treatment but also in local support resources as patients reintegrate into daily living. Bryan guest lectures at Bay Area universities on the topic of addiction treatment and brings expertise in evidence-based treatment to The Meadows.
Louise is a founder of QDROCounsel, a legal technology company for pension division. She is a nationally recognized QDRO expert. Since 1994, she has practiced law specializing in retirement benefit division and QDROs and is founder and president of the law firm QDRO Benefits Law Group. Louise is a frequent speaker regarding the division of retirement benefits at divorce. Ms. Nixon serves on the Board of Directors for the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law (hbcfl.org), and has been awarded the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award.
Alan L. Nobler, J.D. practiced law from 1969 through 2016, spending most of his time in general litigation, becoming a Certified Family Law Specialist in 1980. He became involved in the Collaborative Practice movement in the early 1990’s and in 1999 he limited his practice to Mediation and Collaboration. Since then he has worked primarily resolving disputes between family members. His work over the past 5 years has emphasized settling estate disputes headed for trial.
Jaye-Jo is an experienced adult and child psychiatrist specializing in mediation, co-parenting counseling, collaborative law, attorney/client consultation, and family therapy. She is board certified in both adult and child psychiatry. Dr. Portanova is an experienced mediator with expertise in complex, challenging, and high-conflict family law cases. Dr. Portanova practices collaborative law as a divorce and child specialist coach with A Better Divorce, the Center for Conflict Resolution and Peace Talks. Dr. Portanova mediates divorce cases privately and is a parent plan coordinator for high-conflict custody issues. Dr. Portanova has been practicing in the Los Angeles area for over 30 years.
Beth is a divorce communication coach and child specialist. She is the owner and founder of the Child and Family Counseling Group, Inc., in San Jose, CA, a private practice mental health clinic for children and their families. Beth is the author of the Trailblazing Parenting Series, and a co-author of The Magic of Positive Parenting on Blackstone Audio. She has been an active member of Collaborative Practice Silicon Valley and serves as a CPCal Delegate and Divorce Options Liaison. She has been instrumental in bringing CPSV’s Divorce Options class attendance from zero to more than 25.
As a co-founder of the collaborative interdisciplinary team approach, Nancy has worked for over 30 years with families and couples as they go through the difficulties and challenges of divorce. Whether serving as a divorce coach, communications specialist for Collaborative Trusts and Estates, or mediator, she helps each individual be the best s/he can be during a difficult and trying time. She has taught “Healing the Chemically Dependent Family” at the University of California, Santa Cruz and worked with individuals and families to help them in their battle with chemical dependency. She is also an author of Divorce: A Problem to be Solved; Not a Battle to be Fought and numerous articles on collaborative practice.
Matt is a founder of QDROCounsel, a legal technology company for pension division. His is a nationally recognized Valuation and QDRO expert. He is also 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. Matt is recurrent expert witness in actuarial pension valuations, stock options, and (Q)DROs in the Superior Court of various California counties. He is a member of the “QDRONES,’ a national study group comprised of QDRO attorneys and pension valuation experts.
After practicing law as a family law litigator and minors counsel, Shawn became interested in finding a more collaborative and solution oriented approach to family law cases. She began her mediation practice in 1999. Since then, she has successfully mediated hundreds of family law cases. In addition to maintaining her own family law mediation and Collaborative Divorce practice, Shawn is an educational consultant, speaker and trainer with the High Conflict Institute. She speaks frequently on issues related to mediation and family law. She has been a guest lecturer on mediation at the University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego Christian College and Legal Assistance at Marine Air Station, Camp Pendleton. Shawn was an intensive care and trauma nurse in her early professional life.
Shawn 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 20 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. Shawn has a private practice with Weber Dispute Resolution and served as President of Collaborative Practice California (CP Cal) in 2015-2016. He is a co-founder and trainer at the Family Resolution Institute where he regularly provides divorce mediation training. A father of five, Shawn understands the human side of family law and brings his real life experience to the table for his clients.