Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Meet the ADR Staff

Maureen A. Denihan

Maureen A. Denihan is the Director of ADR Programs with the District Court of Maryland ADR Office. In that capacity, she works with judges, court staff, interns, volunteers and community partners to build, maintain and strengthen existing ADR programs in the District Court. In managing ADR programs, Maureen is responsible for drafting internal and external policy and procedure manuals, developing training and orientation programs, and oversight of the ADR internship program. She works collaboratively both within the ADR Office and with external partners to develop, implement, evaluate and improve programs and to assist neutrals that provide services.

Maureen has been with the ADR since January 2004, and formerly served in the capacity of Coordinator of ADR Volunteers, and then ADR Manager, and then Deputy Director/Programs Development and Community Outreach Director, before being promoted to her current position. Maureen is a mediator, is licensed to practice law in Maryland and is a member of the Maryland Chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR).

Maureen has presented at national and local ADR conferences including the ACR’s Annual Conference, the Maryland Mediator’s convention, the Maryland Program for Mediator Excellence (MPME) Member’s Only Synergy Session, the Center for Alternative’s Dispute Resolution Annual Conference, the Maryland ADR Roster Manager’s Conference on topics including: Ethics; Agreement Writing; Getting Plugged In: Going Beyond the 40-Hours of Mediation Training; Dealing with Sticky Situations (as a Roster Manager); Making the Most of Your MPME Membership; and, others.

Shannon M. Baker

Shannon first learned about the District Court ADR Office and its ADR programs as a Day of Trial volunteer mediator in Southern Maryland while serving as the Executive Director for the Charles County Community Mediation Center. She began her career in the ADR Office seven years ago as the Local ADR Programs Coordinator for Baltimore City, and shortly thereafter was promoted to Regional ADR Programs Director for Baltimore City and Harford County.  Shannon brings a great deal of institutional knowledge of the ADR Office, including program development, program evaluation, best practices and quality assurance systems design, and experience as a trainer and presenter to her new position.  Shannon has been mediating for 10 years and has acquired training in multiple mediation frameworks, as well as advanced facilitation and group consensus building. 

Shannon holds a B.A. in French and a B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Global Management from Susquehanna University.  During her time at Susquehanna, she also interned and studied abroad in Paris, France.  Shannon holds a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law and was a UB Law Scholar.  She received the Nancy Cogliano Strause Award for graduating first in the evening program and was named by the Honors Committee as the 2014 Law Faculty Award evening recipient.  Shannon was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 2014.

Shannon lives in York, PA with her husband Chris, stepson Chance, and daughters Kyrie Wren and Sawyer Rose.

Leona Elliott

Leona S. Elliott, Director of Roster Management, has been with the District Court of Maryland ADR Office since April 2008. In this position, she is responsible for scheduling over 300 ADR Volunteers across the State for the Day of Trial Mediation and Settlement Conferencing programs on a quarterly basis. She is also responsible for reviewing ADR Practitioner Activity Reports and other forms. She also reviews incoming ADR volunteer applications of potential volunteers to determine if there is a need to add new volunteers in specific districts and if they are ready to go through the orientation program for mediation and settlement conference neutral programs. She also works with the Executive Director, Deputy Director, and the Regional ADR Program Directors to conduct orientation training and volunteer appreciation events.

Leona has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Virginia Union University. Leona was first introduced to mediation as a participant in 2004. Several months later, she completed the training to become a volunteer mediator and has been a volunteer with Community Mediation in Baltimore City since 2004 and is a former Board Member. Her training in mediation includes the Basic Mediation (inclusive model), Parenting Plan Mediation and Re-entry Mediation at Community Mediation. She also has received training in the Transformative model with Louise Phipps-Senft and facilitative training with Cecilia Paizs, Esq. She has also conducted workshops highlighting the experience of both the Participant and the Mediator at the mediation table which she refers to as a “gift at the table.”

Cindy Faucette

Cindy holds a BA degree in Political Science from Virginia Tech and a BS degree in Paralegal Studies from the University of Maryland. Prior to joining the District Court of Maryland ADR Office, she was a paralegal with an insurance defense firm. Cindy joined the District Court of Maryland ADR Office in April 2004 as Regional ADR Coordinator and completed the 50 hour Basic Mediation Training, offered by MACMC (now Community Mediation Maryland) in October 2004 and 20-Child Access Mediation, offered by Mediation Matters, Inc., in July 2005. Cindy currently holds the position of Regional ADR Program Director with the District Court of Maryland ADR Office managing programs in Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, Frederick and Washington counties.

Andrew Fontanella

Andrew comes to the District Court ADR Office after working almost 30 years as a litigation attorney in the private sector. He graduated from Temple University School of Law and started working in a small firm in Paterson, New Jersey. There he was exposed to a wide range of litigation issues in both the criminal and civil arenas.

After working in the New Jersey Courts for 7 years, he transitioned to a Catholic (Franciscan) ministry formation program. This program took him to different cities throughout the east coast, and Lima, Peru, for 10 weeks to experience a cultural and linguistic immersion. Although he remained in the program for only 3-1/2 years, he took away some unique insights and language skills that launched him on a journey with the Latino and Deaf populations. Those were the communities he served when he returned to the practice of law in Rockville, Maryland. In 2000, Andrew launched his own practice that served the Latino and Deaf communities in Maryland.

In the last 10 years, Andrew began actively pursuing training in alternative dispute resolution processes. He trained in collaborative, law, mediation from the transformative and facilitative frameworks, and conflict coaching. He also added to his skill base facilitation and community conferencing. Before joining the office, Andrew was a volunteer on the District Court roster in Baltimore City and currently mediates with the family division of the Baltimore City Circuit Court. He also remains a member of the team of core mediators and trainers for Baltimore Mediation.

Debra Sheppard

Debra joins the District Court ADR Office as the Regional ADR Programs Director for Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties after working as the Deputy Family Law Administrator in Carroll County, managing the mediation program for all domestic cases within the Circuit Court. Prior to that she spent over 15 years as a litigation attorney in the private sector. She graduated from Hanover College with a Bachelors in Arts degree, in Hanover Indiana, and received her Juris Doctor degree from Catholic University Columbus School of Law in 2000.

After graduating from law school Debra launched her own firm in Eldersburg, ultimately moving to Westminster, Maryland. She operated and expanded this firm, litigating multiple civil cases throughout Maryland until 2015. During her private practice she experienced cases at the administrative hearing level through the Court of Appeals. During her time as a litigator, Debra was a court-appointed settlement conference officer for Carroll County. Additionally, from 2004 to 2015 Debra was an adjunct instructor at Carroll Community College teaching Business Law and Introduction to Business.

Since 2015 Debra has been actively pursuing training and practice in alternative dispute resolution processes and program management. Debra has presented at the AFCC National Conference on domestic violence facilitation, and has presented in numerous local trainings. She is a trained mediator, a member of the MSBA ADR Section and Small Section Council member, a member of the AFCC and an ambassador board member, and past chair of the pro bono committee in Carroll County.

Debra enjoys a large family spread throughout the state.

Sarah Kauffman

Sarah is currently the Data Management and Public Information Director for the District Court of Maryland ADR Office. In this position, Sarah is responsible for collecting and analyzing the incoming data for all ADR volunteers, maintaining the office website, and supervising the ADR Office internship program. In 2013, she became a member of the ADR Program Managers. Before holding this position, she was both the Administrative Assistant and a full-time intern for the ADR Office. Sarah holds a B.A. in Communication and Conflict Resolution from Juniata College and a M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict Management from the University of Baltimore. She received her 40-hour Basic Mediation Training from Mediation Matters in 2010 and two 20-hour mediation trainings from Baltimore Mediation. Sarah was recently elected to the ACR Board in October 2017 and serves as the Secretary. Sarah lives in Mt. Airy, Maryland with her husband Justin, sons Jaxson and Cooper, and cat Geno.

Elaine Phillips

Elaine is the Regional ADR Programs Director in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's Counties. Elaine is responsible for building capacity for existing and new Day of Trial, Pretrial and other specialty ADR programs at each location. She will work closely with the judges, court administrators and court staff, ADR practitioners and community mediation partners to build access to the programs at each location, and work to ensure high quality services are provided to the public users of ADR. Elaine holds a Bachelor’s degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management, and two Master’s degrees from the University of Oregon - one in Conflict Resolution, and a second in Community Planning. She spent time interning with the National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State and received a certificate in Facilitating Collaborative Governance.  As a graduate teaching fellow she worked for the Northwest Indian Language institute to assist Native American Tribes in reclaiming their language and culture.  She also worked for City Centre Initiatives in Derry, Northern Ireland helping local businesses and the police build working relationships with each other as they struggled to overcome a past civil war. Most recently, Elaine lived in Southern Maryland where she directed Community Mediation of St. Mary’s County, overseeing a cadre of 20 mediators, and ensuring that county residents had access to high quality, free mediation services.  She herself is a mediator who has participated in hundreds of cases about youth and neighborhood conflicts, prisoner re-entry, divorce and workplace problems.  Elaine is skilled at building relationships, in large part because of her commitment to inclusion and diversity, and her determination to work for these values until they are completely realized.

Kemi Sanni

Kemi Sanni joined the ADR Office in March 2017 as the Regional ADR Programs Director for Baltimore City and Harford County. This role entails working closely with judges, court staff, volunteers and community partners to maintain, improve and develop ADR programs. Prior to joining the ADR Office, Kemi coordinated the Civil Mediation Program at the Circuit Court for Baltimore County while simultaneously ensuring that civil cases complied with the court’s Differentiated Case Management (DCM) plan. More recently, Kemi worked as a Civil ADR Case Manager at the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division of the D.C. Superior Court. In that capacity, she was responsible for effectively managing a caseload of civil actions, landlord and tenant, probate and tax cases that were referred to mediation. Besides court ADR programs, she has coordinated a victim offender community mediation program and worked with other community ADR programs across the country.
Kemi grew up in Nigeria where she attended law school and earned her LL. B (J. D. equivalent) in 2002. She was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 2004 and New York Bar in 2011. Additionally, Kemi graduated magna cum laude from the University of Missouri’s nationally ranked Master of Laws (LL.M) program in Dispute Resolution in 2008. Her mediation training includes being trained in multiple mediation frameworks, Parenting Plan/Child Access Mediation and Restorative Justice.
Kemi lives in Hanover, Maryland with her husband, Femi and two sons, Toni and Teju.