Who We Are

The Divided Community Project was developed by persons and institutions committed to the belief that dispute resolution practitioners, policy makers and scholars can make a tangible, constructive contribution to helping leaders and citizens in communities seared by tensions, unrest, and civil discord — from Sanford, Baltimore and Ferguson to Dallas and Orlando — to strengthen and expand their capacity and resiliency meet these challenges.   The Divided Community Project grows out of an April 9, 2015 meeting of diverse community leaders and mediators from across the United States who possess experience dealing with civil unrest.  The meeting was so productive in terms of identifying “lessons learned” that participants urged the organizers to compile, organize, and transmit those lessons to leaders in government, business and the legal profession, the faith community, and others with an opportunity to contribute.

The DCP’s initial focus was to transform the insights and lessons of dispute resolution interveners into tangible principles, guidelines, and suggestions that local public officials and community leaders could immediately deploy to strengthen their broad-based capacity to meet such challenges.  The April 2015 led to the development of two reports: 1) Planning in Advance of Civil Unrest, proactive ideas to plan in advance of civil unrest; and 2) Key Considerations for Community Leaders Facing Civil Unrest, suggestions targeted at building community trust during an ongoing community crisis.


Give us more detailed counsel for using social media when a community faces division.”  A comment such as this one was the most common response to the Divided Community Project’s first two reports.  In response, in November 2016, the project convened civic leaders, social media experts, public information officers, non-profit leaders and academics from data governance, dispute resolution and technology to consider how to help community leaders respond to the opportunities and challenges of social media in the context of community division.  Released in April 2017, the report Divided Communities and Social Media: Strategies for Community Leaders is the culmination of that effort.

The Divided Community Project is housed at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  In March 2020, Joseph (“Josh”) B. Stulberg, recently retired Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution, transitioned to serve as the Divided Community Project’s Co-Director. In May 2020, Carl D. Smallwood, a retired partner at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP in Columbus, joined Josh to serve as DCP’s Co-Director. William Froehlich, Langdon Fellow in Dispute Resolution at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, serves as Deputy Director.  Grande Lum, who joined the Project in 2016 after stepping down as Director, Community Relations Service in the U.S. Department of Justice, serves as chair of the steering committee. The Project’s steering committee members, participants at the April 2015 and November 2016 events, and the Project’s law student contributors are described below.

• Nancy Rogers, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, and former Ohio Attorney General • Josh Stulberg, Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, and mediator in community conflicts • Chris Carlson, public policy mediator and Chief Advisor, Policy Consensus Initiative. Susan Carpenter, mediator in community conflicts, trainer and co-author of Mediating Public Disputes. • Sarah Cole, the John W. Bricker Professor of Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College, where she also serves as Director of the Program on Dispute Resolution and regularly serves as a mediator and arbitrator. • Michael Lewis, a mediator, arbitrator, ombudsman, court monitor and special master with JAMS’ Washington, DC Resolution Center. • Craig McEwen, Daniel J. Fayerweather Professor of Sociology and Political Science Emeritus, Bowdoin College and contributor to research on mediation. • Andrew Thomas, mediator in community conflicts and Community Relations and Neighborhood Engagement Director, City of Sanford, Florida. • Sarah Rubin, Program Manager, Public Engagement, California Institute for Local Government.

• Community Relations Service conciliators: Derryck Dean and Thomas Battles. • Sanford, Florida leaders: City Manager Norton Bonaparte, Jr., former Sanford Police Chief Richard Myers (now Chief of Police, Newport News, Virginia); Valarie Houston, Chair of the Sanford inter-faith coalition; and city mediator Andrew Thomas. • Public officials from other state or local communities: Ohio, Kimberly Jacobs, Chief of Police, Columbus, Ohio; Derrick Diggs, former Chief of Police, Toledo, Ohio; Jennifer Thornton, Outreach Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office (S.D. Ohio); and Lou Gieszl, Assistant Administrator for Programs, Administrative Office of the Courts, Maryland. • Advocacy group leaders: Mickie Luna, Immediate Past National Vice President, League of United Latin American Citizens, and Hilary O. Shelton, Senior Vice President for Advocacy, NAACP. • Representative of an institute devoted to educating local officials: Terry Amsler (emeritus), California’s Institute for Local Government. • Experienced divided community mediators from outside CRS: Michael Lewis, JAMS and Gwendolyn P. Whiting, Everyday Democracy. • Bar leaders: Reuben Shelton, President, Missouri Bar Association, and Carl Smallwood, Immediate Past President, National Association of Bar Presidents. • Researchers in the field: Maxine Thomas, Vice President and General Counsel, Kettering Foundation, and April Young, New Equity Partners.

• Public officials: Ralph Becker, former Mayor, Salt Lake City and former minority leader, Utah Legislature; Norton Bonaparte, City Manager, Sanford, Florida; Larry Schooler, City of Austin, Texas Community Engagement Consultant; Jonathan Tolbert, social media expert for Columbus, Ohio; Katie Nelson, Social Media and Public Relations Coordinator for Mountain View (CA) Police Department. • Social Media Experts: Kristy Dalton, CEO, Government Social Media; Joseph Porcelli, Nextdoor Senior City Strategist; Tracie Powell, Senior Fellow, Democracy Fund. • Experts in Technology and Dispute Resolution: Susan Nauss Exon, University of LaVerne College of Law; Ethan Katsh, National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution; David Larson, Mitchell Hamline Law School; Colin Rule, Modria, former head of dispute resolution for eBay. • Researchers in Data Analytics: Dennis Hirsch, OSU Moritz faculty; Director, Program on Data and Governance; Giselle Lopez, Senior Specialist, Data and Social Media Analytics, PeaceTech Lab, U.S. Institute of Peace; Margarita Quihuis, Behavior Design & Persuasive Technology Consultant; Speaker, Board Member, Advisor, Entrepreneur; Stanford Researcher. • DCP pilot project representatives: from Columbus, Carl Smallwood, Chair, Columbus Community Trust and immediate past president, National Conference of Bar Presidents; from San Mateo California, Michelle Vilchez, Executive Director, Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center. • Participants from other not-for-profit institutions: Kyle Strickland, Research Fellow, OSU Kirwan Center for Race and Ethnicity, immediate past President of the Student Body, Harvard Law School; Gwendolyn P. Whiting, Everyday Democracy.

We express appreciation as well to the dedicated work by the students in the 2015 and 2016 Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Dispute System Design Workshop. • In 2015, Shanell Bowden, Baylee Butler, Lauren Madonia, Elisabeth McClear, Curt Priest, Robin Reichenberger, and Sara Scheinbach, who used their dispute resolution background to provide research for the April 9, 2015, meeting, act as co-facilitators, and distill results. • Baylee Butler, Lauren Madonia, Robin Reichenberger, and Sara Scheinbach stayed on the project after the Workshop and interviewed April 2015 participants as well as using their talents and expertise in many other ways to further the Project. • In 2016, Jennifer Mensah, Brooks Boron, Robby Southers, Ben Cahn, Alex Pribil, Callie Tucker, Juancarlos Vargas Alvarez, Handy Trinova, Leigh Anne Newcommer, Christian Davis, Kraisit Sethameteekul and Jackie Fisher. • Brooks Boron, Jennifer Mensah, Robby Southers and Ben Cahn stayed on the project after the Workshop and interviewed Social Media experts and November 2016 participants as well as using their talents and expertise in many other ways to further the Project. • We are likewise indebted to the many students who have served the project as research assistants: Jackie Fisher, Chelsea Glassman, Mary Kate Moller, Robby Southers, Sahra Yusuf.


The Project deeply indebted to The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and the JAMS Foundation for supporting the project.  To learn more about our funding support or the DCP project designers, click below.