Conference Speakers


Lisbeth Bulmash

Lis Bulmash has been a mediator since 2002. Her disputes have ranged from small to larger and more complex, multiparty cases. Lis mediates all types of civil and commercial cases, including but not limited to, personal injury, professional negligence, probate, employment and real property cases.


Othel Bursey
Dallas County ADR Program

Othel Bursey Jr., serves as the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Coordinator and Administrator over the Dallas County Dispute Resolution Center (DCDRC). This Center is the only county administered program in North Texas and currently receives case referrals directly from the Civil District Courts, Family District Courts, County Courts at Law, Probate, and Justice of the Peace Courts. Othel holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration (MPA) and Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Othel is married and resides in the Dallas area.


Joe L. "Joey" Cope
Duncum Center Solutions Abilene Christian University

Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies & Associate General Counsel, Dallas Campus

Joey is responsible for building and expanding the Duncum Center for Conflict Resolution and Duncum Center Solutions. He currently serves as Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies and Associate General Counsel, Dallas Campus. A mediator for more than 18 years and a practicing attorney for more than 30 years, Joey served the Duncum Center as founding executive director from 2000 – 2017, casting vision for the organization while serving as the center’s lead trainer and consultant.


Bradley Craig
Between Two Homes

BRADLEY CRAIG, LMSW-IPR, CFLE received his Master's Degree in Social Work at UTA and is a Licensed Social Worker and Certified Family Life Educator. He is a noted co-parent educator in the North Texas area and has developed a number of parent education programs for families raising children in two homes. He also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas in Arlington. He began specializing in working with families raising children between two homes in 1993 when he was hired by Tarrant County to conduct social study investigations and provide mediation sessions. He helped them design an orientation for litigating families offered by the county.


Kay Elliott
Texas A&M University School of Law Adjunct Professor

Kay Elliott is a mediator, arbitrator, and mediation trainer. She teaches mediation and family mediation, and she coaches several ADR teams. Since 1990 her teams have won numerous regional and national championships, including the 2016 ABA Representation in Mediation national championship.

Kay is co-editor of the State Bar of Texas Handbook on Alternative Dispute Resolution (3rd edition). Kay is a member of the Texas and National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, a charter member of the Texas Mediation Trainers Round Table, and a former member of the State Bar of Texas ADR section council.

In addition to her J.D. and LL.M. degrees, Kay has a master’s degree in International Business.


Denise French
Divorce Strategies Group LLC

Denise founded Divorce Strategies Group in 2014. Divorce Strategies Group was incepted because of her own ugly divorce in 2007. Denise desired to create a firm where others could have a better divorce experience, and to help other children not face the trauma her own child experienced. She helps other walk through the divorce process in a dignified, confident manner.

Denise is a Master Analyst in Financial Forensics® (MAFF®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®), an experienced Family and Child Custody Mediator and trained as a Collaborative Law Financial Expert. Denise focuses on the areas of divorce finance, divorce tax, separate property tracing, executive compensation in divorce, pension plans, expert witness testimony as well as the emotional aspects of divorce and mediation.

Denise also founded French Financial Group in 2012. Prior to French Financial Group, Denise worked for large investment and insurance firms. She has over 22 years of experience in financial planning, investment positioning, and income strategies. She currently provides full-service financial planning, investment placement and insurance as an Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) under French Financial Group. Denise is also a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC).


Melanie E. Grimes

Melanie E. Grimes is recognized by the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association as a “Credentialed Distinguished Mediator,” the highest credentialing designation in Texas. In 2018, Ms. Grimes received the Susanne C. Adams Award from the Texas Association of Mediators. This award is given annually to a mediator who has performed “exceptional and outstanding efforts in promoting or furthering the use of mediation in Texas.” Additionally, Ms. Grimes was recognized with the Louis Weber Award for “Outstanding Mediator of the Year” for her work as a volunteer mediator.

Ms. Grimes’ mediation experience includes more than 1000 mediations enhanced by more than 500 hours of mediation training. Utilizing skills strengthened in her 15 years in senior- and executive-level corporate management and through an ongoing focus on personal development, Ms. Grimes offers a unique blend of talents—confidence, compassion, keen listening, ideas and more ideas, problem solving, masterful negotiation.


Akbar Kabani

Akbar Kabani serves as Counsel in Litigation, ADR, and Transactional matters. Focus on Business Law and Real Estate. Representation of clients in lawsuits, mediations, purchases an sales of commercial real estate and other types of properties, acquisition of business, securing debt, nondisclosuere agreements, non-compete agreements, trademark registrations, employment agreements, contract negotiations, preparation of corporate documents, coporate formalities, commercial real estate and personal property leases, objections to title commitments and landord and tenant disputes.


Adam McGough

District 10 Dallas City Council Representative, Director of Conflict Management at El Centro College and an Adjunct Faculty member at SMU in Dispute Resolution.

Councilmember Adam McGough serves as the District 10 Dallas City Council representative. Elected in 2015, Councilmember McGough represents northeast Dallas including Lake Highlands and Hamilton Park.

Councilmember McGough serves as the Vice-Chair for the Public Safety Committee and as a member of Economic Development, Quality of Life and Environment, and Ad Hoc Judicial Nominations Committees in addition to acting as the Mayor's appointee to the Regional Transportation Commission, the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition, and TEX-21. Voted Dallas Morning News' "Council Rookie of the Year," McGough helped negotiate revisions to Chapter 27 of the Dallas City Code to improve minimum property standards, led improvements to nuisance abatement laws, negotiated a compromise on the Trinity River Project, and was appointed to draft a compromise agreement for the privatization of Fair Park. In June 2016, McGough released the #ALLinD10 Accountability Plan to improve quality of life and spur economic development in District 10 and looks forward to working collectively and strategically to accomplish those goals.

A native of Nacogdoches, Texas, Adam earned a B.A. in Economics as a University of Texas at Austin Longhorn before earning his J.D. from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. While in law school, Adam served on Law Review, earned status as a "Master Advocate" for the Board of Advocates, and had the opportunity to study English Comparative Law and Employment Law at the University of Oxford in England while participating in Alternative Dispute Resolution courses. Here Adam developed a passion for mediation and sought a Masters of Law, L.L.M, from Pepperdine University School of Law's Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution in addition to earning several certificates at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

After establishing a private law practice for several years, Adam received the call to serve the City of Dallas as a Community Prosecutor within the City Attorney's Office. As a Community Prosecutor, Adam had the unique opportunity to bring together his skills as a mediator and a litigator with the resources of the Dallas Police, Fire, Code and Housing departments to solve neighborhood issues and improve quality of life throughout Dallas. Adam was promoted to Executive Assistant City Attorney where he served as the Chief of Community Prosecution and Community Courts and led teams of attorneys, code officers, and city staff across the entire City of Dallas. Adam helped bring the first community prosecutor to the area of Lake Highlands. His reputation as a litigator and prosecutor along with his skill in mediation and desire to make the neighborhoods safe earned Adam the appointment of Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

In 2013, Mayor Mike Rawlings asked Adam to join his office as Chief of Strategic Initiatives and lead GrowSouth, a program dedicated to improving education and economic development in Southern Dallas. Shortly thereafter, Adam was promoted to serve as the Mayor's Chief of Staff where he was involved in the response to the Ebola crisis in Dallas, the JFK Commemorative, the New Cities Summit, and establishing the Mayor's Rising Star Council.

Since 2007, Adam has served as the Director of Conflict Management at El Centro College and as an Adjunct Faculty member at SMU in Dispute Resolution. He is a sought after speaker and conducts trainings across the country for judges, attorneys, and professionals in negotiation, mediation, and dispute resolution. Adam is the immediate past Chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution section of the Dallas Bar Association and continues to serve on the board of directors for numerous organizations.

Adam and his wife of thirteen years, Lacy, have three sons: Noah (10), Cooper (8), and Eli (3) who attend Scofield Christian School in Lake Highlands. The McGoughs attend Prestoncrest Church of Christ and Watermark Community Church. Adam also serves as a Volunteer Chaplain for Lifeline Chapla​incy.


Patricia Porter
Conflict Connections, Inc.

Pattie Porter is President of Conflict Connections®, Inc., a small woman-owned business located in San Antonio, Texas. In 1994, Pattie's journey began to assist people manage and resolve conflict in their lives and work. Thousands of employees including work teams and senior leadership learned through training , education and coaching how to release their angst and move forward with more productive relationships and constructive action steps. Pattie's experiences services and training span federal and state governmental agencies, mid-to-large size corporations, family businesses, and higher education institutions throughout the United States and internationally.

Pattie earned her Master's of Social Work (MSW) degree at Delaware State University and holds her license as a clinical social worker (LCSW) in Texas. Pattie also holds the following credentials and certifications in the dispute resolution field.


Josefina M. Rendon
Mediator, Arbitrator, Judge

City of Houston Municipal Court Judge
Former Judge of the 165th District Court, Harris County

A mediator since 1993, Judge Josefina Rendón has mediated over 1,400 disputes in many areas of law. For 4 years, she mediated & taught negotiation for U.S. Air Force, Army & Navy.
A Municipal Court Judge over 30 years & an attorney since 1977, Rendon was one of Harris County’s 1st Hispanic women attorneys & the 1st woman & 1st Hispanic Civil Service Commissioner for the City of Houston (1981-83). She's also the 1st Latina Civil District Judge in Harris County (Jan 09-Dec 12).
Rendon is a published author of over 150 articles & book reviews & frequent speaker (locally & internationally) in the areas of dispute resolution, negotiation, diversity & law. She was editor of The Texas Mediator & editorial board member of the TX Bar Journal & The Houston Lawyer.
Recognized as a Credentialed Distinguished Mediator by TX Mediation Credentialing Assoc. (2003), Judge Rendón is past president of the Tx Assoc. of Mediators & Assoc. for Conflict Resolution–Houston. She's served on the boards of TX Center for the Judiciary, Harris County Dispute Resolution Center, Lone Star Legal Aid & the ADR section councils of both the Tx State Bar & the Houston Bar Assoc.
In recognition for her work in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution, Judge Rendón was recognized as one of Texas’ Who’s Who in Alternative Dispute Resolution by Tx State Bar ADR Section's publication, Alternative Resolutions (2007) & was awarded the Justice Frank Evans Award at Tx State Bar convention & the Susanne Adams Award at TX Assoc. of Mediators Conference (2011). Rendón was recognized as one of Houston’ Most Influential Women by Houston Woman Magazine & awarded the Hispanic Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award by Houston’s Mayor Anise Parker (2015). She was recognized as one of Houston's Top Lawyers by Houstonia Magazine (2015) & a Pioneer in Houston Law by Houston Lawyer Magazine (2018).


Robyn Short
Conflict Specialist, Mediator & Facilitator

Robyn Short is a trained mediator with expertise in transformative mediation practices and restorative justice models for dispute resolution. Whether in a corporate, nonprofit, academic or home environment, Robyn assists parties in discovering the root causes of their conflicts, so they may transform their relationships and create new and productive paths forward individually and as teams. Robyn helps organizations through mediation, facilitation, onsite conflict training seminars, leadership training and educational classes, and dialogue circles and other restorative justice interventions.


Shelly Skeen
Blume, Faulkner and Skeen, PLLC

Shelly L. Skeen of BFS Law Group practices complex commercial litigation, representing businesses across the country in commercial litigation disputes in state and federal trial courts, appellate courts and in arbitrations. After graduating magna cum laude from law school, Shelly began her law practice as a Briefing Attorney for a Texas State Appellate Court of Appeals. Shelly has been a certified mediator since 2001, earned a Diploma in International Arbitration, and achieved a “Fellow” designation from the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in London (CIArb), making her one of less than 475 lawyers in the U.S. holding the Fellow designation. Shelly also handles online free speech, business disparagement and defamation cases as well as probate, guardianship and estate planning for individuals and families, including LGBT individuals and families.


Betty Snyder
SMU Dispute Resolution Program

Dr. Snyder serves as director and faculty within the Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management at Southern Methodist University where she teaches graduate courses in mediation, communication, the psychology of conflict and neuroscience. She also teaches for The Werner Institute for Negotiation at the Creighton School of Law and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine School of Law.

Prior to her work at SMU, she worked as a program director for the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law. She provided a wide range of ADR services including multi-party mediation to governmental agencies, policymakers and others involved in public disputes. Through her work at CPPDR, she served as a visiting faculty member at Hiroshima University.

As a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Snyder has worked in clinical, teaching, training, supervisory and consulting roles in a wide variety of settings including academic, workplace, private practice, community and health care.

She continues to consult and deliver training and professional presentations both nationally and internationally. Her areas of specialization include conflict engagement, human rights, communication and cross-cultural issues.

She is the co-author of the recent book, “The Darkest Hour: Shedding light on the impact of isolation and death row in Texas prisons,” and serves on the board for the Texas After Violence Project.


Walter Wright
Texas State University

Walter A. Wright is an associate professor in the Legal Studies Program of the Department of Political Science at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He teaches courses in law and alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and his primary research interest is mediation. He is a published author in the United States and several Latin American countries. He received B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Houston and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from New York University.

Professor Wright has been an attorney since 1977 and a mediator since 1986. As an attorney, he has practiced in the areas of domestic and international commercial transactions, commercial litigation, real estate, and business organizations. As a mediator, he practices in the areas of employment, commercial, family, and community disputes. He is also a contract mediator for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (employment-discrimination charges) and the Key Bridge Foundation (disability-discrimination charges). While English is his native language, he is fluent in written and spoken Spanish, and he often mediates disputes in which the parties speak Spanish.

Professor Wright has received a Presidential Distinction Award for Excellence in Teaching from Texas State University, and he has received recognition as a Favorite Professor from the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society every year since 2010. He has mentored over 375 Applied Research Projects and eighty student publications. Professional organizations, universities and judicial agencies in the United States and Latin America often ask him to speak and conduct workshops on legal and ADR topics.

Professor Wright has a strong record of service to the ADR profession. Currently, he is co-Chair of the International Expansion Work Group of the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), an organization that promotes peaceful conflict resolution; a director of the Chantal Paydar Foundation, which works towards many of the same goals as ACR; principal member of the board of advisors of Fundación Calma, a Peruvian foundation that uses mediation to resolve disputes in Peruvian schools; and co-director of El Acuerdo, an ADR newsletter published in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is former president of the Texas Association of Mediators and the Association of Attorney-Mediators, as well as former Chair of ACR’s International Section. For six years, he was Chair of the Newsletter Editorial Board of Alternative Resolutions, the newsletter of the ADR Section of the State Bar of Texas. He has received several awards for service, including the Steve Brutsché Award from the Association of Attorney-Mediators, the Frank G. Evans Award from the ADR Section of the State Bar of Texas, and the Susanne C. Adams Award from the Texas Association of Mediators. Texas State University has also awarded him two Golden Apple awards for his service to the university, the ADR and legal professions, and the community.