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Staff

Leanne Lawson, Interim 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). Leanne can be reached by phone at (845) 471-7213 x209 or via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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. Claudia can be reached by phone at (845)-471-7213 ext. 203 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  

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 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.

Christina can be reached by phone at (845)471-7213 ext. 205 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..