After years of practicing and teaching facilitative mediation, MTC founders combined their passion for mediation and education to create the Mediator Training Center. The Mediator Training Center's mission is to:

  • provide basic and advanced mediator training and coaching;
  • develop customized training for state and local mediation programs; and
  • conduct critical assessments of existing programs, help courts and other organizations create new mediation programs, and support mediators within existing programs.

Mediator Training Center Founding Members

Melissa Mangiaracina

Melissa received her law degree from the University of Denver, where she graduated with honors and received the Melanie Hardaway Award for Academic Excellence.  

As an attorney, Melissa represented children in foster care, victims of domestic violence, seniors, and low-income individuals in Nevada. Melissa has also worked in a number of quasi-judicial roles, including as a Justice of the Peace Pro Tempore, a Court-Annexed Arbitrator, and as an Administrative Hearing Officer. These experiences led Melissa to the field of mediation, where she now focuses her practice.

Melissa mediates private disputes for Sierra Mediation, child protection cases for the Nevada Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program, and custody and guardianship cases for the Second Judicial District Court of Nevada. Melissa also mediates appellate cases as a Settlement Judge for the Nevada Supreme Court. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Melissa also provided mediator services for the Nevada eviction mediation program.

Melissa has been sharing her passion for mediation by training mediators and other legal professionals since 2013. Melissa has trained mediators nationally and internationally for organizations including the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Center for Court Innovation, and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Melissa has also developed customized curricula and in-person training events for the Nevada Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program, the Zero to Three Conference, the Imperial County Child Protective Services Agency, and the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts, among others.

Margaret Crowley

Margaret received her law degree from the University of California, Davis in 1991.  For over 15 years, Margaret served as a Civil Deputy District Attorney for Washoe County (Reno), Nevada. During that time, she practiced in multiple areas, including labor/employment law, contract law, litigation and administrative law, and in multiple settings such as mediations, arbitrations, administrative hearings and state and federal courts.

Margaret has extensive training and experience as a mediator and mediation trainer. She has mediated approximately 1,100 cases in a wide variety of areas.  She owns Crowley Mediation, LLC, which focuses on mediation, mediation training and conflict resolution techniques.  

Margaret served for 5 years as the Program Administrator for Nevada's Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program, a unique statewide mediation program she helped build.  In addition to serving as a Nevada Supreme Court Settlement Judge, Margaret has mediated for many court-annexed programs in addition to her private mediation practice.

Margaret has taught hundreds of people basic and advanced mediation skills, from judges, lawyers and law students to HR professionals, therapists and people from all walks of life.  Margaret serves as an adjunct professor for Boyd Law School and the National Judicial College and also teaches for the University of Nevada Reno and the Nevada Supreme Court.  Margaret writes regularly about mediation and has authored several published articles on mediation.  She received the 2020 Impact of the Year Award from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges for her work in dependency mediation.

Karen Zavora

Karen has dedicated her career to helping families.  After graduating summa cum laude from Seattle University School of Law in 2005,  Karen represented children in foster care, senior citizens, individuals with incomes below the federal poverty level, and victims of domestic violence.  Later, as a policy attorney, Karen served families on a national level by conducting policy work in the area of domestic violence and dependency law.  

Karen co-founded Sierra Mediation, where she continues her passion for helping families by mediating cases involving children, including custody, guardianship and dependency cases.  Karen has served as a mediator for the Nevada Statewide Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program and the Second Judicial District Court Custody and Dependency Mediation Panels in Reno, Nevada.

Karen loves coaching mediators and has served as a mediation coach for 40-hour mediation trainings given through the National Judicial College and Boyd School of Law. 

Karen has created curriculum and trained other mediators on mediating cases involving domestic violence for the Nevada Court Improvement Project and the Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program.  

Karen also loves the mediator community and finds much joy in serving on the Board of Directors of the Nevada Dispute Resolution Coalition.

When not mediating, Karen is likely laughing with her husband and two young children, who are her greatest adventure.  To learn more about Karen, visit Sierra Mediation.

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