Professionals - Facilitators / Mediators

Collene M. Burns

As a trained Collaborative Law Facilitator, my experience and educational background in change management, finance, human resources, and business principles brings a unique perspective to the services I provide for separating or divorcing couples.  In a Collaborative Law process, I believe that a Facilitator is particularly helpful in navigating to solutions that require creativity and constructive conflict resolution.

I am a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Collaborative Law Association of the Rochester Area, New York State Council on Divorce Mediation, Rochester Association of Family Mediators, and the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.  I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Simon Business School (University of Rochester).

In addition to my work at Mutual Choices, I provide Leadership/Executive Coaching and Organizational Change Management services through usefully, Inc.

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Suzanne L. Brunsting

As a collaborative lawyer and settlement advocate, I help divorcing clients reach good, long-lasting agreements without resorting to the courts. With guidance from caring and experienced collaborative professionals, couples can divorce intelligently and creatively, considerate of one another and of their children. After almost forty years as an attorney, my practice is now limited to collaborative law and settlement advocacy. Our Rochester community has a compassionate and dedicated group of family law attorneys, mental health professionals, mediators and financial specialists working together; I was the first president of our Association and continue to be involved as an active member. I take part in teaching both beginning collaborative law and advanced skills, and, from 2001 to the present, I have providing training across the United States and Canada.

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Connie M. Fraser

Connie is passionate about the Collaborative Law process because she has witnessed the transformation that can occur with the help and support of a professional, transparent and trusted team.  Each professional engaged in the Collaborative process works for solutions that will benefit the well being of the entire family.

Connie has over forty years of professional work experience dealing with human relationships and conflict.  I have had extensive training in the areas of communication, conflict resolution and human psychology, which has enabled me to interact positively and compassionately with divorcing couples, attorneys and other allied professionals involved in the Collaborative process; regardless of their backgrounds, core-values, life situations or experiences.  My relationship and responsibility to the team centers on promoting and mirroring effective communication coupled with empowerment, respect, and dignity.’

As a trained Facilitator and Mediator, Connie is steadfast when meeting with divorcing parents as they work with one another to craft and formulate their own unique parenting plans.  She understands the implications of a well-thought out strategy, the challenges that face parents today and the problem-solving techniques that will enable them to co-parent their children in a healthy and safe environment and as cohesively as possible moving forward.

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JoAnne Pedro-Carroll

Dr. JoAnne Pedro-Carroll is a licensed clinical psychologist with 25 years of experience working with children, adults and families. Dr. Carroll has expertise as a coach and child specialist with families in the process of a divorce. She is a clinician in private practice, former researcher at the University of Rochester’s Childrens Institute, and founder of prevention programs for children and parents dealing with family transitions. Her expertise in this area has been recognized with local and national awards, including the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Service. She knows that divorce is a stressful time for families but believes, based on her research, that there are many things that parents can do to help their children thrive. She prefers to work preventively, in close collaboration with parents and other professionals, to reduce the risk of children’s long term problems and foster their resilience. She is the author of a new book , “Putting children first: Proven strategies for helping children thrive after divorce”, which won a gold medal from the National Association of Parenting Publication Awards. Her writing, clinical practice and presentations are filled with messages of hope, healing, and effective practice.

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Julie V. Mersereau, Esq.

As an attorney in practice for over 30 years, I am committed to using my legal and mediation skills to develop solutions for matrimonial and family law conflict that are constructive not destructive for those involved. The Collaborative Law process allows parties to develop a lasting agreement that provides for their needs and the needs of their children as they move into the future. Collaborative Family Law empowers those who are separating or divorcing to control the outcome of their conflict and challenges them to focus on the future. The Collaborative process helps harness the fear and uncertainty of separation or divorce by establishing a process for managing the conflict that is based on knowledge, honesty, commitment and respect.

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Nicole Fitzgerald

Attorney Nicole A. Fitzgerald has been practicing matrimonial and family law since 2006 and has successfully negotiated hundreds of matters. Nicole is a trained mediator and collaborative law attorney committed to helping clients settle their conflicts outside of court.

Nicole’s first-hand knowledge of the litigation of family disputes informs her belief that these issues are best resolved in a collaborative setting. Nicole’s knowledge of matrimonial and family law, gained from years of litigation and continuing legal education, allows for a balanced and realistic view of the situations facing her clients.
 
Nicole provides mediation and collaborative law services for divorce, separation, custody, post-divorce, and prenuptial agreements.

Nicole offers weekday, evening, and weekend availability to better accommodate your schedule.

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Sharon P. Stiller, Esq.

Sharon Stiller is a partner at Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara, Wolf & Carone, LLP and runs the Rochester office.

 

General Experience

 

Ms. Stiller graduated from SUNY Albany, magna cum laude, in three years, and graduated from Albany Law School where she was a notes editor.  Ms. Stiller was admitted to practice law in the courts of the State of New York in 1976 and spent the first almost eight (8) years of practice as an Assistant and then Special Assistant District Attorney, in the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, where she was one of the first two female full-time Assistant District Attorneys.

 

Ms. Stiller entered private practice, where she has worked with several law firms until joining Abrams Fensterman in 2010.  She is one of a limited number of equity partners in the firm, which has offices in Rochester, Brooklyn, White Plains, and Long Island.  She has engaged in litigation for her entire career, and matrimonial litigation since entering into private practice in 1983.

 

Ms. Stiller has handled more than one hundred matrimonial, child support or custody cases, and has had more than thirty matrimonial trials, motions and appeals, including, J.F. v. D.F., 61 Misc.3d 1226(A) (Sup. Ct., Monroe County, Dec. 6, 2018), and Mina v. Weber, 309 A.D.2d 1252 (4th Dept. 2003).

 

Ms. Stiller has been recognized for her legal work and community service, and received the Kate Stoneman award from Albany Law School, the Raymond J. Pauley Award, from the Monroe County Bar Association, and the Rochester Women’s Network’s “W” Award. She has been named one of the top 25 Women Lawyers in Western New York. Ms. Stiller has been designated a “Super Lawyer” from 2007-Present, a distinction earned by only five percent of the lawyers in the Upstate New York area. She was selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2013 through present.

 

Ms. Stiller received a J.D. from Albany Law School where she was Notes Editor, Albany Law Review and a B.A., magna cum laude, from the State University of New York at Albany. Ms. Stiller is admitted to practice in New York and the District of Columbia.

 

 

Bar Admissions

  • New York, 1976
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit, 1979
  • U.S. District Court Western District of New York, 1977
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of New York, 1976
  • District of Columbia, 2008
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, 2010
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York, 2010
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1979

 

Education

  • Albany Law School Union University, Albany, New York J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence-1975
    • Honors: Notes Editor, Albany Law Review
  • State University of New York, Albany, New York B.A., Bachelor of Arts(Magna Cum Laude)-1972

 

Published Works

  • Featured in 55 Plus magazine cover story titled “Reaching for the Unreachable” (February 2020)
  • Interviewed on WXXI News Radio Connections with Evan Dawson for a panel discussion titled “Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace” (October 2019)
  • Quoted in article in Rochester Business Journal “Businesses Not Required To Provide Cell Phones For Employees” (July 2019)
  • Quoted in article in The Daily Record “Michael Schnittman Award Announced At Justice Society” (March 2019)
  • Interviewed on WXXI News Radio Connections with Evan Dawson for a panel discussion titled “How to Address Gender Pay Gaps” (March 2019)
  • Interviewed on WXXI News Radio Connections with Evan Dawson for a panel discussion titled “Discussing workplace trainings in the era of #MeToo (December 2018)
  • Interviewed on WXXI News Radio Connections with Evan Dawson for a panel discussion titled “Local Attorneys Discuss the Kavanaugh Hearings” (October 2018)
  • Quoted in article in Rochester Business Journal titled “Managers Must Deal Directly With Workers Having An Affair” (August 2018)
  • Co-authored article in Best Lawyers Women in the Law edition titled “New York Takes Leave” (June 2018)
  • Quoted in article in Law360 titled “Post-Kennedy Court Likely To Take Narrow View of Title VII” (June 2018)
  • Quoted in article in The National Law Journal titled “LGBT Workplace Cases Arrive at SCOTUS as Kennedy Punches Out” (June 2018)
  • Co-authored article in Westlaw titled “Opening the door: The 2nd and 6th circuts’ expansion of Title VII to include sexual orientation and transgender protection” (April 2018)
  • Interviewed for The National Law Journal article titled “US Appeals Court Ruling Highlights ‘Evolving Nature’ of Title VII” Protections” (February 2018)
  • Interviewed for Democrat and Chronicle article “UR Complaint Highlights Inevitable Power Play in Graduate Education” (September 2017)

 

Honors and Awards

  • Volunteer Legal Services Project William C. McKnight Volunteer Service Award, 2018
  • New York Super Lawyer, 2007-Present
  • The Best Lawyers in America®, 2013-Present
  • Pauley Award Monroe County Bar Association, 1999
  • W Award, Rochester Women’s Network, 1997
  • Kate Stoneman Award, 2007
  • Seneca Falls Hall of Fame, Wall of Fame, 1997
  • The World Who’s Who of Women, 1988
  • Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America, 1990
  • Who’s Who Among Emerging Leaders, 1987-1988
  • Distinguished American Leaders, 1987-1988
  • Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers

 

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • New York State Bar Association, Executive Committee Member, Co-Chair Continuing Education Committee
  • Monroe County Bar Association, former Trustee
  • New York State Trial Lawyers Association, Member
  • Monroe Community College, Adjunct Professor, Business Law, 1980- 2013
  • Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys, Former President, 1988-1990
  • Zonta International, Former President and Area Director, 1977- 1985
  • Community Partners for Youth, Incorporated, Former President, 1985-1987

 

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Cyndy S Rochford

As a trained collaborative attorney and mediator, I am committed to helping my clients work through the transition of their marriage or partnership with dignity and integrity, while minimizing the emotional toll on themselves and their family. In the collaborative process, each party is represented by an attorney and all parties have a common goal of reaching an agreement out-of-court. As a collaborative attorney, I can advise and guide you through the various issues of divorce: separation, parenting plans, support and asset-liability division. My goal is to provide each of my clients with a flexible process that best meets their individual needs during one of the most difficult periods in their lives.

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Renee O. LaPoint, M.S.

As a neutral coach and facilitator in the collaborative law process, my goal is to assist clients by supporting each of the parties individually and collectively to be both positive and productive in moving forward with a separation or divorce. The separation/divorce process is a very difficult one; emotionally and financially. My role is to help make the experience easier and smoother for everyone. I have a graduate degree in counseling from Syracuse University and received my mediation training at the Center for Mediation and Training in NYC. My mediation practice is located in Rochester, The Mediation Center Inc. I am an Accredited Member of the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation (NYSCDM) and sit on the board of directors. I am the current President of the Rochester Association of Family Mediators (RAFM), a board member of CLARA (Collaborative Law Association of the Rochester Area), and a member of the International Association of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). I am also certified by the Unified Court System of the State of New York and the Center for Dispute Settlement to conduct court-referred mediations.

People who choose the collaborative law process make this choice based on the amount of support they need in the room while they are making decisions in the areas of parenting, child support, and distribution of assets/liabilities. I am a firm believer in the collaborative law process for those couples who have decided that mediation will not provide the best process for them. They need the support of attorneys and neutral professionals in the room, working together for the good of their changing family. I want to support couples in their process choice and keep people out of court.

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Daniel G Cantone

Dan Cantone is a family law conflict resolution advocate specializing in out-of-court Collaborative Practice and divorce Mediation. He emphasizes the client-centered nature of Collaborative Law and welcomes the team approach of working with fellow Collaborative Attorneys and allied professionals to assist clients in transitioning to living apart. With his office in the western region of Onondaga County, Dan represents clients in Collaborative cases in Cayuga, Seneca, Ontario, Wayne, Yates, Livingston, and Monroe counties, too. His long tenure as an Adjunct Professor of Family Law and Collaborative Practice at the Syracuse University College of Law and undergraduate civil law courses at SUNY Oswego also keeps him abreast of changes in legislation and case law that impact domestic relations settlement cases. The suburban Camillus office also hosts Dan’s facilitative mediation practice for divorcing couples known as Mediate West. He is a popular speaker and trainer in the areas of Collaborative Practice, New York divorce law, and legal education.

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June Castellano

My suburban practice emphasizes divorce and family law. I recognize that legal disputes and family dissolution are traumatic events.

Every client presents with a unique situation. My goal is to help each client transition through the difficult and emotional process in a caring and professional manner.

I personalize my services to provide the legal counseling necessary to respond to the conflicts that accompany family dissolution.

I have over 35 years of experience as an attorney, and more than 10 years of experience in collaborative law. I founded the “The Law Office of June Castellano” in 1999 and place a strong emphasis on educating clients about their rights and responsibilities under the law. As a philosophy, my law office seeks to empower clients so they are partners in making informed decisions in negotiations.

In addition to collaborative law, I am able to offer individuals attorney-based mediation and litigation services.

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Kelly M. Forst, Esq.

At Forst Law Firm, we are committed to helping you find the information you need to make the decisions that will bring you to a life you choose. After nearly twenty years as a family lawyer, Kelly Forst has committed her family law practice to Collaborative and mediated matters. These processes foster respect, fair and honest communication, trust, and a holistic approach in moving from married to single life.

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