About Us

Our Approach

Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center (MCRC), Inc., is a nonprofit organization that assures community access to conflict resolution services and maintains control and responsibility for alternative dispute resolution throughout Howard County.

MCRC, Inc. strives to:

  • Train community members as volunteer mediators and facilitators to provide mediation, youth restorative services, school-based services, and conflict management education. Our volunteer recruitment process is selective, seeking to build and maintain a volunteer roster representative of the community’s diversity regarding age, race, gender, ethnicity, income, or education.
  • Provide conflict resolution services at no cost or on a sliding scale.
  • Provide flexible scheduling to accommodate clients’ work and school schedules.
  • Encourage early use of mediation, youth restorative practices, and school-based community building and conflict resolution services to prevent violence, reduce the need for court intervention, and provide these services at any stage in a dispute.
  • Mediate community-based disputes from referral sources, including self-referrals, police, courts, community organizations, civic groups, religious institutions, government agencies, etc.
  • Educate community members about conflict resolution, mediation, and youth restorative practices.
  • Provide intensive, skills-based training, apprenticeships, continuing education, and ongoing evaluation of volunteers to maintain high-quality volunteer mediators and facilitators.
  • Work with the community to govern the conflict resolution programs based on collaborative community program support and collaborative problem-solving among staff, volunteers, and community members.
  • Provide conflict resolution services and education to community members who reflect the community’s diversity in age, race, gender, ethnicity, income, education, and geographical location.

[adapted from 10 points of Community Mediation]

Board of Directors

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Cindy Johnson

Board President

Cindy Johnson is a native Nebraskan who has been a Howard County resident since 1991. Cindy transitioned to Maryland in 1983 to attend the University of Maryland, College Park. She obtained a B.S. in Journalism with a Public Relations concentration, a Liberal Arts and Business certificate and a General Honors citation in 1987.

Cindy was an academic advisor at Prince George’s Community College, before attending the University of Maryland, School of Law. At Maryland she served on the law school’s Moot Court Board and Dean’s Advisory Council. She obtained her J.D. and was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1992. She served as a law clerk for the Honorable Dennis M. Sweeney before beginning her career with the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office in 1993 and retired after 31 years with the County in 2023. She prosecuted in all divisions of the office before retirement concentrating in the area of Juvenile Law and was assigned to the Drug/DUI Court. Through the State’s Attorney’s Office, Cindy presented bi-yearly Guiding Good Choices seminars for parents of children 9-14 years of age.

Cindy has also been trained as a Family Resiliency facilitator,  a mediator and Restorative Practices facilitator. She currently volunteers for MCRC as a mediator and is a member of the following MCRC Board committees: Board Development Committee; Finance, Fundraising and Outreach. She also volunteers for Neighbor Ride and is President of her local HOA.

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Tammatha O’Brien

Board Vice President

Tammatha O’Brien, the Founding Director of an Applied Graduate Program at the University of Maryland College Park, is dedicated to service, contributing to various committees focused on food insecurity, equity, and justice for local communities. She has also taught a wide range of courses at various Colleges and Universities in the DC metro area. She earned a Ph.D. in Entomology with an emphasis in molecular genetics.

Her volunteer work includes involvement with the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct and at the Office of Student Conduct at the University of Maryland. Additionally, she has held the elected position of University of Maryland Senator, demonstrating her extensive experience in service, teaching, and research.  Her contributions towards Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) were acknowledged by the University of Maryland’s Office of Multi-ethnic Student Education (OMSE). Tammatha was also honored with the Excellence in Service Award for Outstanding Faculty Member from the President’s Commission on Women’s Issues and Women of Influence Award from the University of Maryland for her work in promoting social and political justice, for being so actively engaged on behalf of diverse communities of women. Her dedication is evidenced by her service on the MCRC Board, demonstrating Tammatha’s commitment to positively impacting the community. She currently serves on the outreach, fundraising, and finance committees at MCRC.

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Derek Robertson

Board Vice President (Past President)

Derek Robertson, along with his wife Shantá, is co-founder of the Maryland Sickle Cell Disease Association (MSCDA). Derek and Shantá have three sons, two of whom have sickle cell disease (SCD).  As President of MSCDA, Derek oversees the overall direction of the organization and has served on various SCD related committees.

Professionally, he is a healthcare attorney/consultant with a particular specialty in the Public Health Service Section 340B Drug Pricing Discount Program (the “340B Program”). Derek has worked extensively with hospitals and universities on federal grants management and program income calculation and reporting.  He presents nationally at conferences on government pricing programs, specialty pharmacy trends and conflicts of interest in healthcare.

Derek also holds an MBA from City University of New York – Baruch College and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law Center. He is licensed to practice law in both Texas (currently inactive) and Washington, DC and is certified in Health Care Compliance by the Health Care Compliance Association.

Derek has been a volunteer mediator, group facilitator and staunch advocate of MCRC since its days at Howard Community College and in 2019 agreed to serve on the MCRC Board of Directors, offering extensive education, training and professional experience, as well as his love and support of Howard County.

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Rob Duru

Board Member (Treasurer)

Rob Duru is a Senior Business Banking Relationship Manager focusing on supporting small business clients and is a member of the Talent Acquisition Ambassador (TAA) program. Additionally, He has supported several initiatives within the bank including the Mutual Mentorship program, Mission Maryland and a former graduate of the Relationship Manager Sales development program.  He is currently a member of AARG, IGEN and the RM Roundtable, he also served on several projects within Business Banking ProfitLink and Janus to name a few.

He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Kinesiology and held leadership roles for New York Life, Target and TekSystems before joining the Relationship Manager Sales Program in 2015. Rob is passionate about learning, sports and servant leadership. He plans to support the bank mission in creating new opportunities for all communities within the bank. He lives in Highland, MD with his wife, two sons Jeremiah, Jacob, and daughter.

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Susan Bottomley

Board Member (Secretary)

Susan Bottomley grew up in New York. She went to Duke University and completed a degree in Biomedical Engineering and then went on to earn a PhD in cardiac physiology. After working in research, Susan and her family moved to Howard County in 1994. In Howard County, Susan and her husband, Paul raised four children. All four of their children graduated from Howard County public schools. Susan decided to join MCRC in 2010. She has been trained and is currently an active MCRC volunteer providing services, such as re-entry mediation, restorative practices, school circles, group facilitation and community mediation.

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Dennis Gilbert

Board Member

Dennis Gilbert advocates peaceful conflict resolution. He has proudly engaged in MCRC’s evolution and expansion in his community for over 25 years. As MCRC’s early Steering Committee and later Advisory Board member, Program Coordinator, and volunteer mediator, he has a unique long-time insider perspective.

Dennis’s experiences include a tour as an army officer, education in business (BBA in economics; MBA in computer methodology), and 35 years of work in private and public sectors as a computer scientist, analyst, IT consultant, and member of the team administering the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award Program. Concurrently, he co-founded a national organization that explored the impact of sexism and sex-role stereotyping on men and women and was an Alternative to Violence Program trainer.

For over five decades, Dennis has found expression as a nature and art photographer. He exhibits and sells his photographs, taught digital photography, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the Columbia Art Center. Dennis and his wife, a retired Chinese medicine practitioner and educator, share five children and delight in keeping track of their 13 grandchildren. They have been residents of Columbia for over fifty years.

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Roger (Rod) Meade

Board Member

Roger Meade is a labor arbitrator and mediator. He received his BA from Dartmouth College, with distinction, and his law degree from William and Mary, where he served on the Law Review. With over 40 years of experience as a labor and employment lawyer, Roger has held positions as a trial lawyer with the National Labor Relations Board and many years as a partner with Littler Mendelson, the nation’s largest labor and employment law firm, with over 750 lawyers, and as in-house labor counsel for a large, multinational corporation. In addition to volunteering with MCRC, he serves as a mediator with the Howard County District and Circuit Courts. Roger also served on the Board of Directors of Florence Crittenton Services, a residential home for unwed mothers. Roger proudly served as an officer with the U.S. Navy’s Underwater Demolition and SEAL teams. Mr. Meade published his Memoirs in 2018 and his first novel in 2024, titled “The Maltese Connection,” a book of international intrigue.

He is married with four children and two grandchildren and has lived in Columbia for over 40 years.

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Kimberly Pfeifer

Board Member

Kimberly Pfeifer is the Director of Knowledge for Impact at Oxfam America where she co-founded and co-directed the Oxfam Research Network. She has worked on social justice issues in international development and humanitarian action for over two decades. Prior to her work with Oxfam, she worked in research to support organizing campaigns and collective bargaining with the AFL-CIO.

Kimberly has lived abroad and worked with the Aga Khan Foundation in Zanzibar, Tanzania while doing her dissertation research. She has a B.A. in International Relations from Goucher College and went on to receive her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science and African Studies from the University of Florida. A native Marylander, she moved to Howard County in 2006 with her family. She lives in Ellicott City with her husband, Richard; son, Luca, who currently attends high school at Mount Hebron; and their two dogs.

Her daughter Sophie graduated from Mount Hebron in 2021 and now attends college in North Carolina. Having worked at the global and national levels in public service, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in and support the work of MCRC in her own community of Howard County.

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Jane Porter

Board Member

Jane Porter, a dedicated advocate for unity, has contributed to the MCRC community since 2006. As a volunteer mediator, she has facilitated community mediation, group facilitation, restorative dialogues, and parenting plans and provided community workshops on conflict resolution skills. In 2007, she was thrilled when her son Alex, who was still in high school, became one of MCRC’s first youth mediators.

Jane’s commitment to fostering unity and dialogue extends far beyond MCRC. For four years, she led the coordination of the committee of local faith and government leaders to host Howard County’s Race Unity Day event. She also served on the organizing team of SpeakUpHoCo!, a platform that encourages dialogue among Howard County high school students on challenging topics. Her involvement in the Core Group coordinating Courageous Conversations, an interfaith annual community dialogue on race and religious prejudice, further demonstrates her dedication. Additionally, Jane has been a member of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Howard County, MD since 1994.

As a management consultant and trainer, Jane worked with such companies as the Sara Lee Corporation, JCPenney, Bell Canada, Delmarva Power & Light, Whirlpool Corporation, and Grupo Bimbo in Mexico to improve performance and organizational effectiveness.

She received her MBA from Yale University and holds a BA in International Relations from Beloit College.

Tammy Saunders

Board Member

Alec Taylor

Board Member

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Roxie Tossie

Board Member

Roxie Tossie, after a life of living in Germany, Panama, and Hawaii, has been a resident of Howard County, Maryland since 1994. She has experience as Chapter President of the American Business Women Association- Central America Panama, as well as Central Texas Junior College instructor in Central America. While living in Hawaii she worked in the Governor’s Office of Children and Youth and volunteered with The Junior League.

Roxie became a volunteer in 2001 with the Howard Community College Mediation & Conflict Resolution Center as a trained Community and Victim Offender Mediator. She holds a Master’s of Science Administration Degree from Central Michigan University-Hawaii Campus and Bachelor’s in Political Science from Cameron University in Lawton Oklahoma and an AA in Business and Life Coaching from Howard Community College. Roxie also works as a full-time Security Specialist for Xcelerate Solutions.

Staff

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Kerry Stephen

Interim Executive Director

Kerry Stephen has been a mediator since 2001. She has a Master’s Degree in Negotiations and Conflict Management from the University of Baltimore and served as Director of their University Conflict Management Service for three years. Kerry has been trained in the community, facilitative, transformative and narrative models of mediation.  She has also been trained in the Cinergy model of Conflict Coaching.

Kerry helped to conduct research which indicated the cost of conflict for a company with around 6K people, unproductive, mismanaged or avoided conflict was costing them $76,000 per week. Conflict, when mismanaged can be very costly. Successful conflict engagement can lead to growth, better problem-solving, stronger solutions, healthy relationships, higher morale, increased productivity and less stress on government systems. In her work with MCRC, Kerry hopes to act as a conduit for strengthening conflict engagement skills within the community, encouraging these benefits and more for Howard County.

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Tanisha Bhattacharya

Intake Coordinator and Case Manager

Tanisha Bhattacharya grew up in Howard County, Maryland. She went to Howard Community College for an A.A. in Social Sciences before completing a B.S. in Psychology from Towson University. Tanisha is passionate about providing social Services and education for the community. Since 2022, she has served as the Intake Coordinator and Case Manager for MCRC while completing mediation and restorative justice training. In her free time, she enjoys reading every adventurous novel she can find, hiking, collecting unusual fountain pen inks and hosting game nights.

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Jazmyn Padmore

Youth Intake and Outreach Coordinator

Jazmyn Padmore started her journey with MCRC as an intern in August of 2022. She was hired as the Youth Intake and Outreach Coordinator in May of 2023 after her internship concluded. Jazmyn was born and raised in Montgomery County, Maryland. She is currently attending Montgomery College completing her associate degree in General Studies with a concentration in Social Sciences. Jazmyn plans to transfer to Salisbury University to study Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution. She is excited to use this knowledge and experience to continue working with youth in the community through restorative programs.

Apart from MCRC, Jazmyn works at a physical therapy clinic in Howard County part-time and volunteers most Saturdays at a church in Olney giving food to people in need. In her free time, she likes to watch movies, finger knit and explore new cultures.

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Margie Wiedel

School Outreach Coordinator

Margie Wiedel joined MCRC as a volunteer in May 2014. She came on board as staff in October 2021, supporting staff and students in the Howard County Public School system (HCPSS). Margie has extensive training in Restorative Justice including facilitating restorative reflections and dialogues, peace circles, and community building circles. Margie recently retired from HCPSS where she worked as a school counselor for 26 years. During her time as a school counselor, she played an integral part in bringing Restorative Justice into the school system, training other educators and administrators in the county.

Margie was part of the team that implemented a restorative justice program at the Homewood Center, where she spent 20 of her 26 years in HCPSS. She is excited that she is able to continue her passion with students and staff.

Our Partners

Department of Juvenile Services

Department of Juvenile (DJS) is a primary referral partner for MCRC, Inc.’s restorative youth restorative services. DJS refers youth offenders meeting specific criteria to MCRC, Inc. to acknowledge and reflect upon their actions and have a conversation with two professionally trained facilitators, the youth’s parent(s)/guardian(s), and possibly other people involved in or affected by the situation resulting in the youth’s referral to MCRC. Outcomes often involve the youth writing an action plan about how to plan to ensure the same behavior and/or action is not repeated. This process encourages accountability in the youth, provides an opportunity for learning through the prior incident, and reduces the flow of youth entering the school-to-prison pipeline.

Howard County Public Schools

The MCRC, Inc. partnership with Howard County Public Schools System (HCPSS) provides the school system with school circle teams led by highly trained MCRC, Inc. volunteers who act as liaisons in numerous schools throughout the county. Circles are held throughout the year focusing on two primary areas: community building circles to broaden understanding and acceptance of all occupants of the school – students, staff, and faculty; and restorative circles, which are utilized when there has been an incident that has caused or may cause tension within the school community, within smaller groups or between individuals. In addition to circles, MCRC, Inc. also provides restorative dialogues and restorative reflections when a student has committed a wrong to promote accountability for the student’s actions and provide a plan for the student to return to the school community.

Howard County Detention Center

Through this partnership with Howard County Detention Center (HCDC), select teams of MCRC, Inc. volunteers make presentations to insiders about re-entry mediation services and conduct intake and screening conversations with insiders who wish to utilize services. Once approved, outsiders and insiders can be brought together with two neutral, professionally trained mediators in a private meeting space within HCDC to discuss topics about their lives when they are released from the detention center. Insiders are encouraged to use this time to plan to return to the community with people they feel are essential to their success. Research has proven that insiders who participate in the re-entry mediation process before release have a lower recidivism rate than those who do not.

State’s Attorney’s Office

The State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) refers youth offenders to MCRC, Inc. for youth restorative services led by two professionally trained MCRC, Inc. volunteer facilitators. The SAO recommends these services when they believe the youth offender and type of violation would be better served by an opportunity to thoroughly examine their actions and identify and consider those affected through alternative methods instead of a more formal court process. Outcomes often involve the youth writing an action plan to ensure the same behavior and action is not repeated. This process encourages accountability in the youth, provides an opportunity for learning through the incident, and reduces the flow of youth entering the school-to-prison pipeline.

District Court

MCRC, Inc., through its partnership with the District Court, is referred to pre-trial cases that the Court believes may be better served by an opportunity to find mutual resolution through mediation instead of a more formal court process. MCRC, Inc. mediation is a voluntary process utilizing highly trained volunteer mediators from the community. It can save time and money for the parties to a potential court case. Mediation of district court cases through MCRC, Inc. is free and can typically be scheduled in much less time than awaiting court scheduling.

Howard County Police Department’s Youth Services

MCRC Inc. and Howard County Police Department’s (HCPD) Youth Services partnership is crucial to the Youth Restorative Services. HCPD’s Youth Services refer cases to MCRC for Restorative Dialogues and Restorative Reflections. Through these processes, first-time offenders are offered an informal, alternative dispute resolution approach to handling their cases without the formality of the court system. Instead of placing blame, punishing, or taking sides and criminalizing the youth, our Youth Restorative Practices program with HCPD’s Youth Services focuses on the behavior and actions to prevent repeated offenses in the community.

MCRC, Inc. appreciates generous funding by Howard County Government, The Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office, The Children’s Board of Howard County, and Individual Contributions (so please consider donating).