I’m an attorney with my own law firm. I also mediate and train corporations, governmental entities, and nonprofits in mediation and conflict resolution management.
You could say I was born into conflict resolution: I’m the oldest of seven kids. I have always cared about helping people de-escalate situations. However, rather than just going in and fixing things for people, my goal is to empower people and show them how to problem solve without dependence on a third-party neutral.
After getting my master’s degree in international policy studies, I went to Costa Rica and worked at a community center in the sixth-poorest province in the country. I was supposed to be there six months and ended up staying a year and a half. A lot of my work was in community outreach, finding out what they needed and then figuring out ways to get it.
There were a lot of women and adolescents in the community who needed things to do because the existing programming focused on early children education and environmental conservation. I thought, “What do I know how to do?” I started teaching jiu-jitsu. When I first arrived, there was no office for staff members, but there was this huge outdoor patio. I sketched out a plan for an office, and local community members built it. I had never designed a structure before, but we needed it, so I figured it out.
I was happy in Costa Rica, but one day while lying in a hammock drinking a smoothie, I had this realization: I shouldn’t feel like I’m retired at 23! I knew it was time to apply to law school. Becoming a lawyer and advocating for others had been a childhood dream of mine. After law school I went to work for a firm that represented most of the big companies that filed for bankruptcy during and after 2008. Then there were all of the restructurings. As the market picked up, I began to work on more mergers and acquisitions, which was my practice area at the law firm. We were inundated with work, and I learned a lot during that time about the life cycles of companies.
After several years at the law firm, I was recruited to go in-house for a big client. I enjoyed it, but I felt there was more I could do to have a more profound impact and use more of my skills. Further, since I had two small children at home, I started thinking more about my legacy. I knew if I was going to leave them every day, it had to be for something that made a difference.
The real catalyst for me came with the results of the 2016 Presidential election. I thought, time to dust off those conflict resolution skills. That’s something the world is going to need more than ever. I left my job in December and moved into my new office in January. It’s been nonstop ever since.
Working for yourself, you work harder. It is an ongoing challenge to find balance—but when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. I’m really happy with where I am now. Prior to launching my company, I wrote down everything that I knew how to do on a sheet of paper. From that list, I circled everything that I loved to do. And those are the things I do every day.
Interviewed on May 2, 2018