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Our Team

FamilyKind Inaugural Symposium
Presenters & Moderators

Following are the professionals who presented or moderated programs at FamilyKind’s Inaugural Symposium 2016 Divorcing and Separating Families: Transforming Crisis Into Opportunities. 

Our two-day conference convened judges, lawyers, mediators, family science practitioners, mental health professionals, educators, communicators, and performing artists.

Symposium with Hofstra

Hon. Vanessa Aufiero da Rocha

Hon. Vanessa Aufiero da Rocha has been a magistrate judge for 18 years, specializing in mediation. She works as a Magistrate Judge Law Holder of the 2nd Court of Probate and Family of the District of São Vicente, State of São Paulo, Brazil. Four years ago she built the first Center of Mediation and Citizenship in the District of São Vicente, State of São Paulo. From there, she added the Parental Education program for the National Council of Justice, in 2013, to help families overcome the many difficulties of divorce. She has authored three different editions of a book about divorce: one for parents, one for teenagers and one for children. Since then, she has been coordinating the expansion of that program for the National Council of Justice around Brazil, training Parental Education Facilitators in many states of Brazil, such as Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Rondônia, Federal District and Mato Grosso. She has organized and created the first on line Brazilian Parental Educational Program for the National Council of Justice. Ms. Aufiero is involved with the Steering Group of Restorative Justice of the High Court of São Paulo, which is responsible for the implantation and expansion of Restorative Justice in the State of São Paulo. In 2015/2016, this same group was co-responsible for the first rules of Restorative Justice in Brazil. She created the project named “House of Family” in the District of São Vicente, in 2016, the seed of a new concept of Family Justice that strongly believes that as an important protagonist of the culture of Peace, the Judiciary Power must be in constant quest for other knowledge besides Law and create a dialogue with other disciplines and institutions in the hopes of building a more fair, empathic, and harmonious society.”

Ellen Bruno

Ellen Bruno, MA, is an award winning documentary filmmaker based in San Francisco. With a background in international relief work, Ellen’s films have focused on issues at the forefront of human rights, including sex trafficking in Burma, political prisoners in Tibet, the social alienation of people with leprosy, and genocide in Cambodia. SPLIT is Ellen’s first film for children. Ellen serves on the board of the International Buddhist Film Festival, the Pacific Pioneer Fund, and Ethical Traveler.Org. She is a recipient of Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships, a Goldie Award for Outstanding Artists, an Alpert Award for the Arts, an Anonymous Was A Woman Award for the Arts, and was an Artist-in-Residence at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Ellen earned an MA in Film at Stanford University.

Catherine Canadé

Catherine Canadé, JD, helps couples and families resolve conflict outside of the court system.  She is a collaborative attorney and family and divorce mediator in private practice in Brooklyn and on Long Island and also serves as a consulting and review attorney for those engaged in the mediation process. Her practice focuses on family and couples conflicts, divorce, custody and visitation, parenting and co-habitation plans, and LGBTQ and adoption triad issues. Catherine is on the Custody and Visitation Mediation Panel of the NYC Family Courts and on the mediation team at FamilyKind. She is a certified mediator and mentor at the New York Peace Institute where she trains and coaches new mediators in custody and visitation and child support. Catherine is a consultant for the Hunter College High School Bias and Dispute Panel, for which she conducts mediation trainings for staff and students. She is the President of the Family and Divorce Mediation Council of Greater New York. Catherine received her BA with high honors from Vassar College and her JD cum laude from the Washington College of Law at American University.

Robert Emery

Robert Emery, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on family relationships and children’s mental health, including parental conflict, divorce, mediation, child custody, genetically informed studies of family life, family violence, and associated legal and policy issues. He has authored over 150 scientific publications, and several books including Marriage, Divorce, and Children’s Adjustment (1987; 1999, 2nd Ed); Renegotiating Family Relationships: Divorce, Child Custody, and Mediation (1994; 2011, 2nd Ed); and his two guides for parents, The Truth about Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive (2006, Plume paperback) and his recently published, Two Homes, One Childhood: A Parenting Plan to Last a Lifetime (2016, Avery). He is co-author of Abnormal Psychology (2014, 8th Ed) with Thomas Oltmanns, and recently edited the three-volume encyclopedia, The Cultural Sociology of Divorce. Dr. Emery has discussed his work on the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Jane Pauley Show, National Public Radio, in Newsweek and Time magazines, and in other print and electronic media. In addition to his research, teaching, and administrative responsibilities, Dr. Emery maintains a practice as a clinical psychologist, divorce mediator, and parenting coordinator. He is the father of five children.

Patricia Ann Grant

Patricia Ann Grant, JD, has practiced family and matrimonial law since 1986. She has successfully tried cases in Family, Supreme and Appellate Courts. She is also a trained Mediator and Collaborative Law practitioner. Ms. Grant’s practice focuses on divorce and custody mediation and litigation, as well as pre- and post-nuptial agreements. She has made presentations at the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American College of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, and the New York County Lawyers’ Association. She has co-authored a chapter in a book entitled A Handbook of Divorce and Custody: Forensic, Developmental and Clinical Perspectives. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association, The Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the New York Women’s Bar Association.  She is a past President and current Advisory Board Member of the New York Women’s Bar Association. Ms. Grant also serves on the Supreme Court’s Neutral Evaluation Panel. She is listed in Best Lawyers in America and has an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell, evidencing that her peers rank her at the highest level of professional excellence.

Rachel Hundert

Rachel Hundert is a singer/songwriter, actor, dancer, writer and director. Born and raised in Montreal, Rachel’s performance career has taken her to many stages including, Feinstein’s 54 Below, BB Kings, The Legendary Apollo Theater (where she won 3rd place for singing gospel), the Metropolitan Room, Don’t Tell Mama, The Living Room, and the Knitting Factory. Rachel has written and performed five solo shows in various cabaret venues in NYC. Rachel will soon be featured in a short film entitled Broken Vines for which she wrote a song, choreographed a dance, and played the role of “Young Guinevere.” Rachel can be heard on the just-released album, Irving Berlin Songbook: Rare and Unrecorded Songs.

James Katz

James Katz, PhD, is the Feld Family Professor of Emerging Media at Boston University’s College of Communication where he directs its Center for Mobile Communication Studies and Division of Emerging Media. His research on the Internet, social media and mobile communication, especially in terms of its consequences for social relationships, has been internationally recognized. His latest book is Philosophy of Emerging Media: Understanding, Appreciation, Application, co-edited with Juliet Floyd (Oxford University Press). He is also the co-author of The Social Media President: Barack Obama and the Politics of Citizen Engagement, (Macmillan). Katz holds two patents, one of which has been patented internationally, and his academic writings have been translated into seven languages.

Matthew Kiernan

Matthew G. Kiernan, JD, after 20 years in the New York State Court System, on February 1, 2016, assumed the position of Director of Pilot Projects for the Center for Children, Families and the Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law, where he assists the Honorable A. Gail Prudenti, the Center’s Executive director, in all phases of the operation. Mr. Kiernan also sits on the Center’s Executive Board.  In addition, Mr. Kiernan serves as the Faculty Administrative Editor of The Family Court Review, a peer-reviewed quarterly published under the auspices of the AFCC. Before joining Hofstra Law, Mr. Kiernan was the Special Counsel to the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of NY State, where his advice was sought on a variety of issues involved in the administration with 3,600 judges and an annual budget in excess of $2 billion.10 years prior to this, Matthew Kiernan served in the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department, ultimately attaining the position of Clerk of the Court, the highest-ranking non-judicial employee in one of the busiest appellate courts in the U.S.. Mr. Kiernan has been a frequent lecturer throughout the metropolitan area, including seminars sponsored by the New York State Bar Association, the Unified Court System, the Nassau and Suffolk bar associations.

April Kuchuk

April Kuchuk, PhD, has recently retired as the supervising psychologist of Bellevue Hospital’s Child Protection & Development Center, a position she held for over 25 years. As an expert in divorce and custody matters, as well as child abuse, Dr. Kuchuk has consulted for New York City District Attorneys’ Offices, NYC Police Dept., NYC Administration for Children’s Services, NYC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, FBI. Legal Aid Society, Lawyers for Children, and The Children’s Law Center. Dr. Kuchuk is also regularly appointed to be a neutral child custody evaluator by the NYC Supreme and Family Courts.   In addition to conducting psychotherapy with children and adults, Dr. Kuchuk works as a parenting coordinator; helping divorcing couples amicably disengage, developing child-centered custody plans, and mediating and arbitrating disputes post-judgment. Dr. Kuchuk received her doctorate in clinical psychology from New York University (NYU), and is an Adjunct Professor at City College’s doctoral training program in clinical psychology.

Eric Louis Martin

Eric Louis Martin, pianist, has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Central America and Africa. At the invitation of the Centro Cultural de Costarricense Norteamericano, Dr. Martin represented the U.S. as a cultural ambassador throughout Costa Rica, performing concerts and conducting master classes. Eric has performed in New York at Avery Fisher Hall and Merkin Hall at Lincoln Center, and The Roosevelt House and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. He is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships including the National Teachers Association Piano Competition, the Dalies Franz Memorial Scholarship, and the Nena Plant Wideman International Piano Competition. He also accompanies performers from the Metropolitan Opera and the Broadway circuit. For two seasons, Dr. Martin toured as the music director/performer/actor/composer with the internationally acclaimed, The Paper Bag Players. Dr. Martin performed classical concerts and lectured on the Sea Cloud II as part of the Metropolitan Museum tours. He has served on the faculties of The Boston Conservatory and The Nightingale-Bamford School.  He also performs regularly at New York’s newest cabaret space, Feinstein’s 54 Below, The Piano Lounge at Etc. Etc., and the Metropolitan Room. Dr. Martin received his degrees: DMA at the University of Texas at Austin, MM at Louisiana State University, and BM at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Monica Michell

Monica Michell, MD, is a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in private practice. She is on faculty in the Psychiatry department and in the Child Study Center at NYU. She also teaches courses on depression and child development in the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education at NYU. In the past, she has served as the Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital, and as the Chair of the Child Psychotherapy Program at the NYU Psychoanalytic Institute. Prior to these appointments, she served as Assistant Unit Chief of the Adolescent Unit at Bellevue Hospital. She received her undergraduate degree from Vassar College, her adult psychiatry training at NYU and her child psychiatry training at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Hon. Jane Pearl

Hon. Jane Pearl was appointed to the New York City Family Court bench in 2000 by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and was reappointed in 2009 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Judge Pearl presently sits in New York County. From 2000 to 2003, and from 2009 to2012, she sat as a judge in Bronx County. Judge Pearl has served as Supervising Judge of Kings and Richmond Counties and of New York County Family Courts. Prior legal experience includes service as a Court Attorney-Referee, Support Magistrate, and Court Attorney, in New York County Family Court, and work in the Family Law Department of Tenzer, Greenblatt (now Blank Rome). Prior to becoming an attorney, Judge Pearl was a psychologist at the National Institute for Human Relationships and psychologist and forensic consultant at Associated Mental Health Services, both in Chicago; held teaching positions as a Substance Abuse Clinician and Research Associate at the University of Illinois Department of Preventive Medicine and School of Public Health; and was a lecturer at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, in Israel. Judge Pearl’s professional associations include service on the Advisory Committee, Child Traumatic Stress Network, The Interdisciplinary Forum on Mental Health and Family Law, Family Law Board of Advisors, Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, Mental Health Professional Screening Committee, First and Second Departments, New York State Family Court Advisory and Rules Committee, New York State Juvenile Justice Taskforce, and the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children. She serves as Past Co-President of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, New York (AFCC-NY). Judge Pearl was awarded the J.D. Degree by Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 1988. She earned the Ph.D. and M.A. Degrees at Northwestern University, and the B.A. Degree from George Washington University.

Hon. A. Gail Prudenti

Hon. A. Gail Prudenti was named Executive Director of the Center for Children, Families and the Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University on September 1, 2015, where she also serves as Senior Associate Dean for Operations and Special Advisor to Dean Eric Lane.  In December 2016, she was appointed as Chair of the NYS Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. Prior to her current position at Hofstra, Judge Prudenti distinguished herself as a well-respected jurist and hands-on administrator throughout a judicial career that lasted more than two decades. Most recently, she served as the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of New York State, having been appointed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman on December 1, 2011. Prior to her appointment as Chief Administrative Judge, she served as an Associate Justice and then Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department. Prior to her ascension to the Appellate Division, she was the Administrative Judge and Surrogate of Suffolk County.  Judge Prudenti earned her law degree from the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland, which also awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2004 and an honorary appointment as Professor in the School of Law. She graduated from Marymount College of Fordham University with honors. She lives with her husband and fellow lawyer and former Suffolk County Attorney, Robert J. Cimino, in the Village of Bellport, Long Island, NY.

Maurice Robinson

Maurice Robinson, JD, has years of professional experience mediating disputes in the family, entertainment, real estate, employment and securities law field. He is also a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR). Prior to his position as a hearing officer for NYC’s Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), he was the Mediation Manager for the Queens County Family Court Custody/Visitation program through the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Maurice serves as an approved mediator on the New York Peace Institute Mediation panels, as well as a mediator in Manhattan Civil Court, Housing Court and Small Claims Court. Mr. Robinson has also participated in mediations with EEOC, FINRA, and other private organizations. As an Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall School of Law, Maurice teaches courses in Family Law and Mediation, Advanced Mediation Skills, and serves as a Supervising Attorney in the SDNY Representation in Mediation Practicum. He also coaches Seton Hall’s successful ADR Competition Teams. Mr. Robinson received his J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, with specializations in Mediation, Litigation, and Intellectual Property & Communications Law. He has completed the New York State Community Mediator Program, the Safe Horizon Mediator Training and Apprenticeship, and received a certificate from the Kukin Program in ADR.

Stephen Shainbart

Stephen Shainbart, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan who works with individuals and couples. Stephen received his certificate in psychoanalysis at the William Alanson White Institute in 2005.  He is currently a supervisor of psychotherapy at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy (ICP) in New York City. Stephen has been a supervisor in couples and family therapy at Yeshiva University, and a supervisor of psychotherapy trainees at the William Alanson White Institute and Pace University. Stephen is also currently a faculty member at ICP. He has training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples, as well as training in divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. Stephen believes in an interactive, engaged approach with his patients. He recently co-led a divorce support group at the 92nd Street Y under the auspices of FamilyKind. Stephen is a graduate of Cornell University and earned his PhD in clinical psychology from Fordham University.

Hon. Jeffrey S. Sunshine

Hon. Jeffrey S. Sunshine, JSC, is an elected Supreme Court Justice and is the Supervising Judge for Matrimonial Matters, Supreme Court, Kings County and the Chair of the Chief Administrative Judge’s Matrimonial Practice Advisory and Rules Committee. He also serves as Chair Board of Advisors of the Center for Children, Families and the Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University where he obtained his Juris Doctor degree in 1980. Judicial Assignments: Kings County Family Court 1998-2001; Richmond County Supreme Court January 2001 – February 2003; Kings County Supreme Court since February 2003. A former President of the Brooklyn Bar Association, he served as Chair of the Family Law Section for over ten years. He is a member of the House of Delegates of The New York State Bar Association and served as the Chair of the New York State Bar Association Special Committee on Judicial Discipline from 1996 to 1998. He is also a member of numerous other Bar Associations. As a practicing attorney, he was a member of the Grievance Committee Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts and presently serves on the OCA Statewide Family Violence Task Force and the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts. In 2015, he delivered the keynote address at the Annual Meeting of the Family Law Section of the State Bar. He was the sole recipient of the 2010 annual award of the New York Chapter of the American Academy — Matrimonial Lawyers. In 2009, he received the “In the Trenches Award” from the Lawyers Committee Against Domestic Violence. In 2005, he received the Brooklyn Bar Association’s highest award, the “Annual Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Science of Jurisprudence and Public Service.” Over 100 of his decisions have been published and he has presented over 90 lectures/panels throughout New York.

Ellen Taner

Ellen Taner, MA, has been a parenting and family education practitioner and trainer for more than 35 years. In addition to her work with FamilyKind, including serving on several work groups and editing the parenting education blog column, Ellen works with national organizations that promote the quality of evidence-based programs, support the highest standards of professionalism in the field, and advocate for policies to establish parenting and family education as the norm and a recognized profession. She is a master trainer for the Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14, as well as a trainer of the Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, Celebrating Families!, Children in Between, and Parenting Wisely. Ellen currently serves as adjunct faculty at Montclair State University in the Family and Child Studies Department. Ellen received her Masters of Health Education from Teachers’ College, Columbia University.

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