Leanne Lawson, Executive Director
Leanne Lawson has 15 years of experience working with families throughout Dutchess County and has been with the Center since 2014. She has completed trainings in Transformative Mediation, Custody/Visitation, Surrogate’s Court, and other specialized trainings at the Center. Most recently, Leanne was the Family & Divorce Program Coordinator where she helped hundreds of families work through conflict. She was the former Coordinator for the Dutchess County TASA program where she implemented a comprehensive case management program for pregnant and parenting teenagers. Leanne trained and supervised case managers to assist young families in navigating through available supports while increasing their self-sufficiency skills. Leanne’s experience in our community also includes supervising an evidence-based perinatal home visiting program, facilitating bystander education workshops at local colleges, and working with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Currently, Leanne is working on her Masters in Social Work degree at Adelphi University, with an anticipated graduation date of 2020. Leanne received her Bachelor of Arts in English from SUNY New Paltz. She is certified in the Northeastern University Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) training along with the Cornell University Family Development Credential (FDC).
Lucille Trachte, Family & Divorce Program Coordinator
Lucille has a passion for supporting work that empowers the voice and choice of individuals and believes that is preserved and upheld through the Mediation Center of Dutchess County’s (MCDC) mediation and restorative justice programs.
She came to MCDC in 2017 after having worked as a paralegal in both private and corporate sectors for 10 years, focusing on criminal defense and personal injury litigation. Before her present position at MCDC, Lucille coordinated the Civil Court and Community Program as well as Dutchess County’s E-MDT (an Enhanced Multi-Disciplinary Team whose primary focus is to investigate, intervene, and prevent financial exploitation of older adults.) She was trained in Transformative Mediation at MCDC in 2018 and has taken several specialized trainings. Lucille holds a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY New Paltz, Paralegal Certification from Marist College, and is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Marist.
A native of Newburgh, Lucille has been on the advisory board of Newburgh Girl Power since 2016 and serves as secretary presently.
Claudia Abbott-Barish, Restorative Justice Coordinator
Claudia has been a natural mediator since childhood and is a community organizer at heart. Her preoccupation with systemically unheard voices in society began while organizing around issues of environmental justice as an undergraduate student of natural resource management. In graduate school, Claudia studied sustainable development through an anthropological lens – examining who is represented, what perspectives and which voices are heard as humans examine our collective existence and impact on each other and the natural world. To her, systemic inequality equates with inequitable access to voice and choice. Claudia became a mediator through a desire to support community voices and a Restorative Justice practitioner to transform social relationships in society.
In 2013, Claudia returned to the Hudson Valley and began pursuing a certificate in Restorative Practices through the International Institute for Restorative Practices, which she completed in 2014. She was trained in Transformative Mediation at the Mediation Center of Dutchess County in 2014 and certified as a volunteer mediator in 2015. Since then she has participated in multiple advanced trainings at the Center and through other institutions, and has volunteered many hours in civil, workplace and family disputes. She became a meditator apprentice mentor in 2016 and began coordinating the Restorative Justice Initiative at the Center in 2017.
Her current focus is on social disciplinary practices and how to shift from punitive and isolating to restorative and collective. She believes in the power of people and the transformative impact of sharing stories and being heard. She is driven by a desire to help create effective alternatives to punishment and incarceration that focus on community healing and understanding, over policies that separate people from their families and support systems.
Justin Strock, Civil Court and Community Coodinator & Restorative Justice Specialist
Justin is Civil Court & Community Coordinator and Restorative Justice Specialist for the Mediation Center of Dutchess County (MCDC). He also coordinates the Lemon Law Arbitration and Special Education Mediation Programs and collaborates on a wide range of MCDC's services and trainings. Prior to arriving at MCDC, Justin was a Manager of Mediation and Restorative Programs at New York Center for Interpersonal Development, the CDRC for Richmond County, where he oversaw their Civil and Criminal Court Programs, and a host of other programs in schools, the Department of Probation, and local high schools.
Justin is certified in mastery mediation and mastery of peacemaking circles with Planning Change, and has completed advanced mediation trainings with the NY State and City Bar Associations, the New York Unified Court System, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the New York Center for Interpersonal Development, and worked with the Southern District’s Mediation Office in US District Court. He is currently a member of the the Office of Court Administration's Restorative Practices Fellowship in collaboration with the New York State Education Department, and will be conducting regional trainings with NY teachers this summer.
Justin serves as board member and treasurer on two not-for-profit organizations: the Association for Conflict Resolution - Greater New York Chapter and Hidden Water. He also is a circle keeper for Hidden Water.
Justin received his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2010 and B.F.A. from California College of Arts & Crafts in 2003.
Christina Jones, Director of Finance & Administration
Christina is an accounting, finance, & banking professional with over 20 years’ experience in her field and has been with the Mediation Center since 2017. Her desire and focus has always been to support organizations that help educate, build, and strengthen the communities she’s lived in. As a result, she has developed her skill-set working for a number of non-profits, including credit unions, Habitat for Humanity, and the Rochester City School District, where she managed the Accounts Payable and Travel Department for over 11 years. In this role she was able to implement electronic document records management software, assist in multiple accounting software implementations and upgrades, and develop business procedures to help reduce waste and create efficiencies in over 50 schools and central office administration. These, along with her expertise in fund accounting, grant reporting and compliance have been utilized to support the continued growth and success of the Mediation Center.
Brian Del Santo, Case Assistant
Brian joined the MCDC staff in June 2018 and has since gained experience in each of the different programs at the center. Born and raised in Poughkeepsie, Brian earned his bachelor's degree from SUNY Albany in Psychology and his Masters of Social Work from Adelphi University. Brian has extensive experience working with the elderly and mentally ill populations as a social worker and continues to learn about the different facets of mediation.