CRCBC Board of Directors
Marie Schell, President
Maryland Commission on Civil Rights
Marie Schell, MA, has over a decade of experience specializing in conflict resolution, facilitation and interpersonal communications. She currently serves as president of the board of directors for the Conflict Resolution Center of Baltimore County, and as a mediator for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. She has also served as a congressional staffer on Capitol Hill, and worked in risk management. Marie holds an M.A. in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University.
Monica E. Lapenta, Vice President
Monica is a world-renowned award-winning author of children’s books, an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. Monica is also the founder of the Be a Chef for a Day program whose mission is to raise awareness about child hunger and malnourishment, and teach children how to cook healthy food. The Be A Chef For A Day program is available to every school in Maryland upon request and every week in many Baltimore City Schools. In her free time Monica love to travel with her partner Francesco, her son Matteo and their dog Ipso Facto, a Lhasa Apso - Welsh Corgi mix rescue.
Patrick Gahagan, Treasurer
Patrick is a Director with SC&H Group, Inc. based in Sparks, Maryland. He has over 15 years of experience partnering with his clients to develop transparency, optimize supplier relationships, and improve governance. Although based in Baltimore County, his projects have included compliance audits around the globe. Patrick is also a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, and Certified Fraud Examiner.
Rose K. Mercier, Secretary
Rose is a SHRM certified Human Resources Professional currently working at Allegis Group as the team lead of the Records Department. She is originally from South Florida and moved to Maryland five years ago to further her education and pursue new career opportunities. Rose has over a decade of experience working for both small businesses and large corporations in different capacities. The motto that Rose applies to her work ethic is a quote by Nelson Mandela: “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur”.
Additionally, Rose is a self-proclaimed “foodie” and loves to try different cuisines and staple dishes from different areas of the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, she is a student of the World and has an insatiable desire to travel to the ends of the earth; her goal is to fill her passport book. So far, she’s visited four Continents and plans to travel all seven in the very near future.
Aaron Atkinson, LMSW, Member
The Arc Baltimore
Aaron is the Assistant Executive Director of Community Living at The Arc Baltimore and has over 20 years of experience in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities. He oversees a program that provides community living services to 300 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 130 licensed, and unlicensed homes, throughout the Baltimore metro area. He is the vice president of Maryland AAIDD, a licensed mental health therapist, and a past CARF Surveyor. Aaron has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Adventure Education from Prescott College and received his Master’s in Social Work from University of Maryland.
Phyllis Kolman, Member & Past Secretary
Phyllis has a Masters degree in Special Education/Learning Disabilities and over 30 years of teaching and advocating experience. In retirement, she has worked for Catholic Charities Child Safe Program and served as Volunteer Coordinator for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Baltimore City and Dyslexia Tutoring Program. More recently Phyllis has been an active member of the Conflict Resolution Center Board of Directors, as well as a volunteer mediator. She also values her time with her granddaughter, plays bridge, registers voters, and facilitates a Wise Aging program.
Tia Lewis, Member
Circuit Court for Prince George's County
A native of Baltimore City, Tia Lewis has nearly a decade of communications, public relations and marketing experience and achievements.
Ms. Lewis received her B.A. from Howard University and M.A. from Notre Dame of Maryland University.
Adrianna Weissburg, Member
Adviser and Operations Manager
Due East Partners, LLC
CRCBC Advisory Board
Nathalie Al-Zyoud, Advisory Board Member
Nathalie is the founder of Communities in Transition (CIT) and currently works as CIT's Managing Partner and Senior Mediator. She has over 20 years of experience in the field of conflict management, both domestically and internationally.
Nathalie mediates inter-ethnic, inter-religious and agro-pastoral conflicts as well as workplace, commercial, family, and community disputes. She's mediated between conflict parties around economic, land, displacement and security issues. Nathalie also designs and facilitates restorative justice circles.
Benjamin Offit CFP®, Advisory Board Member
Ben lives in Baltimore City and loves to spend time with his wife Amanda, their dog Ray Ray, and being with family and friends. Ben is a a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and his company is called Clear Path Advisory. In his spare time, Ben also enjoys playing sports and exercising, reading, trying new restaurants, traveling internationally, and the Baltimore Ravens. Ben is also President-Elect of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) of Maryland, the largest membership organization for personal financial planning experts in the U.S.
Susan Meier, Advisory Board Member
Susan received her Inclusive Mediation Model training in February 2010 and enjoys co-mediating with staff and volunteers whenever possible. She is employed part-time by Firaxis Games in Sparks, Maryland; sings in the praise band at her church and in the Hunt Valley Chorale; serves as secretary of the United Churches Assistance Network (UCAN) board; and enjoys dancing, sewing, organizing and jigsaw puzzles in her spare time.
Mala Malhorta-Ortiz, Esq., Advisory Board Member
Mala leads Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts for WL Gore and is an adjunct law professor at Maryland Law and Penn State, Dickinson Law. She also serves as an ADR advisor for FEMA in times of national disaster. Ms. Malhotra-Ortiz is a founding director of the ADR Division in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and served as director of ADR for the U.S. Air Force. She was a presidential management fellow for the U.S. Departments of Interior, Justice, and Transportation. During her tenure with the federal government, she negotiated international air-rights agreements, facilitated multiple-party discussion around public land planning, negotiated divestitures involving corporations under anti-trust investigations, and litigated in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the DOJ.
Ms. Malhotra-Ortiz was owner and managing attorney of a solo practice specializing in small businesses, immigration and family law. She is past chair of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, board member of Free State Justice, and past president of the LGBT Bar Association of Maryland where she chaired the judicial nominations committee.
Malhotra-Ortiz earned her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law (2004); is a cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park; and studied at the American School of International Business in Vevey, Switzerland and the University of North London, U.K. She served in the U.S. Peace Corps (1996-1999) and AmeriCorps VISTA (1999-2000), and is fluent in Guarani, Hindi, Punjabi, and Spanish.
Jennifer Robinson, Advisory Board Member
Jennifer Robinson, M.S. CNCM, mediates at the Juvenile Justice Center and in the Family Division for the Circuit Court in Baltimore City. She also mediates at Multi-Door in Washington DC. Prior to entering private practice, Jennifer worked towards the goal of creating a multi-service conflict resolution & restorative justice center in Baltimore County, at the center of initiating and growing programs -- first coordinating Community Conferencing and then directing Community Mediation. She is grateful that these programs continue to serve Baltimore County residents.
Outside of work Jennifer volunteers for the Alternatives to Violence Project, participating in 20 hour conflict resolution workshops in prison, several times per year. She is also in the midst of a three year term serving her Quaker Meeting, Gunpowder Friends Meeting, in the role of Clerk.
Clinton Pettus, Advisory Board Member
Clinton’s first career was in higher education where he spent more than thirty years in various roles including faculty member, department chair, dean, vice president, and president. He retired from higher education in December 2003.
In June 2005, Clinton began his second career as regional director for the Middle Atlantic Region of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) serving in Baltimore, Maryland. In August 2008, he became Deputy General Secretary for Programs of the AFSC (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). In that role, he provided leadership to all the international and U.S. programs of the AFSC. He retired from the AFSC in December 2012.
Clinton is the founder and principal owner of the TransLutions Group, a consulting company with core competencies in strategic planning, managing conflict, team building, and fostering pluralism.
Clinton’s recent volunteer services include the Board of Trustees for Broadmead (a continuous care retirement community in Cockeysville, Maryland) where he is chair of the Strategic Planning Committee; AARP volunteer instructor in the Driver Safety Program; and AARP event coordinator for the CarFit Program. He completed basic mediation training conducted by Community Mediation Maryland in July 2013 and has served as a volunteer community mediator for the Baltimore County Conflict Resolution Center.
Claire Salkowski, Advisory Board Member