Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business

Meet our Mediation Team

Board of Directors

John Thomas, Ph.D., Dean, School of Business

Robert E. Coy, J.D., Vice Chair/President, Versacare, Inc.

Richard Pershing, J.D., Director, Center Director

Staff and Collaborators

Richard Pershing, J.D., Center Director

Richard Pershing is a partner in Reynolds Jensen & Swan LLP.  He believes in the “miracle of mediation” which occurs when parties to a dispute take ownership of their matter and exercise the power vested in them to resolve it instead of letting an outsider impose an outcome. He serves as a mediator for the Superior Court, Riverside County, and the Riverside County Bar Association Dispute Resolution Service.  He mediates in areas of his law practice, which focuses in the areas of estate  and business planning, operations and transactions. His practice includes clients with estates and businesses of all sizes and types, from the very small to multi-million dollar operations, both for profit and nonprofit.  His practice includes estate planning for single and married individuals with a particular interest in assisting business owners and family-owned business with their estate and business planning needs.  He is well versed in the estate and business planning concerns of healthcare professionals, having represented physicians, osteopaths, podiatrists, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors and various allied health professions. With respect to entities, he has represented both non-profit and for-profit hospitals, multi-hospital systems, multi-specialty medical groups, home health care agencies, clinical laboratories and independent practice associations and foundations. Other business clients include construction companies, engineering and surveying, trucking, real estate development and management and various types of technology, churches, foster care agencies and law practices. He has litigated such cases as medical employment contract matters, physician rights, anti-trust, unlicensed practice of medicine and third party payor contracting disputes. 

Prior to entering the practice of law, he worked in hospital administration and for La Sierra University as Associate Director of Public Relations and Development. He has served on the faculty of California Southern College of Law and taught business law and other business courses for the various Riverside Community College campuses. 

He is certified as bullying prevention trainer for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, Clemson University, and assists schools and youth programs in implementing the program.  He has served in various capacities in numerous civic, religious and charitable boards and committees, including hospice, Rotary, Kiwanis, United Way and the Riverside County Bar Association.  He has served as Chair of the Riverside County Bar Association Continuing Education Committee and Co-Chair of the Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate Section and has volunteered as a temporary judge for the Superior Court.  Mr. Pershing is an alumnus of La Sierra University and received his mediation training from Pepperdine University, School of Law, Straus Institute, and his law degree through Western State University, College of Law.

Tony Belak, J.D., Healthcare Program and Associate Center Director

Tony Belak is the Ombuds at the University of Louisville, Associate Director of the Center for Conflict Resolution at La Sierra University, Riverside, California, associate director of the International Center for Compassionate Organizations www.compassionorg.net  and the former Executive Director of the International Center for Collaborative Solutions at Sullivan University, Louisville, Kentucky, where he was also on the faculty of the Master of Science in Conflict Management program. He is a faculty member of the Department of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Louisville and associate editor of the online Journal of Conflict Management at Sullivan University. He was the Senior Dispute Resolution Counsel for the Department of Veterans Affairs and is not only a mediator and arbitrator but also a teacher in basic, advanced, and specialized conflict resolution. He is recognized for his innovation in designing conflict resolution programs within the workplace.

He has taught conflict resolution at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, Indiana University Southeast College of Business, and MBA courses and seminars at the Vienna campus of Webster University and Bratislava, Slovakia. He is the first attorney graduate of the George Washington University Interagency Institute for Federal Health Care Executives (1992). He was an original founder of the Louisville Bar Association ADR Committee and served for eight years on the Kentucky Bar Association ADR Committee and as its chair for two years. He is the former Regional Counsel for the Department of Veterans Affairs and was an initial member of the Civil Justice Reform Act Committee for the Western District of Kentucky, former assistant Commonwealth Attorney, special assistant U.S. Attorney, and President of the Federal Bar Association, Kentucky Chapter. He is a certified mediator and arbitrator with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Kentucky Collaborative Family Network, the U.S. Postal Service REDRESS Program, trained as an arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), a mediator/arbitrator with the Southern Indiana Realtors Association, Inc., and a past member of the Louisville Labor-Management Committee. He also is past two term chair of the Louisville Bar Association ADR/Mediation Section and past President of the Mediation Association of Kentucky, and President of the Kentucky Chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association.

Mr. Belak has traveled throughout the United States and Europe lecturing and training in mediation and dispute resolution and is a founding member of the International Working Group on Compassionate Organizations. He has taught mediation skills to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) internal mediators and conflict resolution training to United Nations and Austria Kontrollbank managers and supervisors in Vienna and Irish Department of Defense mediators in Dublin. He is the founder and past president of the Federal ADR Council, Inc., a non-profit shared neutral mediation project for federal agencies in Kentucky and Indiana, the oldest in the nation. He was instrumental in establishing the Mediation Association of Kentucky, the Jefferson County Court Annexed Mediation Rule, the Federal Court prisoner petition mediation project, and one of the earliest peer and truancy mediation programs in Jefferson County, Kentucky. He served on the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service focus group to establish core competencies for their internal roster of neutrals, the Administrative Office of the Courts Mediator Guidelines Committee, and has published articles in national magazines and local newspapers regarding conflict resolution. He began his interest in ADR as an ombudsman in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois in 1973. Tony can be reached at 502.345.6763 tony.belak@yahoo.com; tony.belak@louisville.edu.

Dulce L. Peña, J.D., Professor, Conflict Resolution Trainer and Facilitator

Dulce Peña has served as an attorney with Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center. Prior to joining the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center she practiced litigation at the law firm of Thompson and Colegate in Riverside where she litigated in the areas of employment, civil rights, wage and hour regulations, medical malpractice, partnership dissolutions and corporate derivative actions. She is a certified mediator from Ken Cloke's Dispute Resolution Center, with emphasis on workplace conflict and disputes. In 2011, Ms. Peña joined the La Sierra University School of Business as a Professor of Management. She currently teaches and mentors students in the areas of human resource management, leadership development, and workplace conflict. 

Ms. Peña is a graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law and holds master's degrees from Loma Linda University and Fielding University in education administration and Organizational Management and Development. She is also a graduate of Fielding University's Evidence Based Coaching Certificate program. In addition to her 20 years of experience as an attorney, Ms. Peña has worked in higher education administration as a board member, administration and teacher, and has extensive experience coaching executives and management on work-related issues and conflict coaching. She is a member of the California Bar Association, the International Coaching Federation and has served on numerous boards in her community. She is a sought after speaker and trainer. Ms. Peña enjoys photography, art, Spanish and French literature, travel, snorkeling, music, team sports, writing poetry and short stories as well as spending time with family and friends.

Patti Cotton Pettis, MAOD, Executive and Conflict Coach, Certified Mediator, and Consultant

Cotton Pettis is a professional and certified executive coach and organizational development consultant. She specializes in leadership development and change management; and coaching for conflict, increased self-confidence, personal effectiveness and authenticity, and communication and negotiating skills.

Patti works with executives, teams, and special work groups, and utilizes evidence-based models based on best practices for leadership and team development to maximize learning, growth, and potential. She is certified by the International Coach Federation, Harvard-trained in Immunity to Change methodology, and a certified facilitator for Amherst Writers and Artists' generative writing. She facilitates workshops and retreats on immunities to change, forgiveness, life purpose, the power of individual and collective strengths, and visioning.

Patti is a seasoned executive with more than 25 years of multi-cultural experience in the realms of philanthropy, Swiss diplomatic relations, public relations, and communications. Her master's degrees are awarded from La Sierra University in English Literature, and from Fielding Graduate University in Organizational Management and Development. Her thesis topic at Fielding reflected her work in coaching at-risk youth to increase social and emotional intelligence skills through the utilization of transformative conflict resolution. She is also a graduate of Fielding's Evidence-based Coaching Program.

Patti currently serves on the following boards: Alternatives for Domestic Violence for Riverside County, Riverside Community Health Foundation, and the Riverside Library Foundation. She was formerly Dean of the College of Business Administration at Sullivan University. Before joining Sullivan University, Dr. Wilkin spent twenty-six years in the construction industry, and three of those years she co-owned a successful commercial and industrial masonry company. She became an adjunct instructor for Sullivan in 1999, and discovered her passion for teaching. After selling the company, Dr. Wilkin came to work full-time at Sullivan University, serving as the first Associate Director of the Evening and Weekend Division. Dr. Wilkin is a graduate of Sullivan University, earning her associate, bachelors, and master's degrees from Sullivan. Dr. Wilkin earned her PhD. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from Nova Southeastern University.

Enrique G. Koening, J.D., Certified Mediator 

Enrique is a fully bi-lingual mediator in both the Spanish and English languages. He is well versed in the Latin American culture. he has considerable experience in business management and administration having considerable exposure to business interests both in the United States and Mexico. he has developed relevant skills in cooperative management, human resources management, administration, legal team-building, promotion and marketing development. 

Enrique's goal is to provide perspective clients with the quality personalized services in the area of mediation, conciliation or conflict resolution consultation. Further, to develop and improve among the participants in a conflict, greater knowledge and understanding of the needs and interests of the parties that might have commonality as between them. His approach in dispute resolution is strategic in scope. By this method his objective is to use both the expertise of the attorneys associated with the particular case, and combine that legal knowledge with the client's individual perspective in the matter; in addition, to seek commonalities to assist cooperation in ultimate resolution. He believes that impasse is an opportunity that creates possibilities rather than limit them. Focusing more closely on individualized objectives rather than the source of impasse in every case, has proven to be an excellent way to educate parties and engage in meaningful exploration of potential solutions instead of focusing only on the area of discord between the disputing parities. 

 

MEDIATORS

The Center of Conflict Resolution has trained many mediators who represent a great many professional and community backgrounds including attorneys, educators, social service and health professionals, community leaders and more. For every conflict, our staff carefully chooses a mediation team of one or two mediators whose education and experience most closely match the issues and the people involved in the conflict. In addition to numerous specialties, the Center offers the following panels:

  • Healthcare Panel
  • Education Panel
  • Business Panel
  • Labor
  • Congregational Ministry Panel
  • Real Estate Panel
  • Family and Collaborative Law Panel
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