Laura Sahr Schmit
This Quarter AFCC-MN is proud to highlight Laura Sahr Schmit as our member in the spotlight. Laura serves on the AFCC MN Board of Directors and the AFCC MN Membership Committee as Chair.
We are proud to recognize Zak Chesson as this quarter’s AFCC-MN Member in the Spotlight. Zak is a relative new-comer to the AFCC Minnesota Chapter Board of Directors. He officially joined the Board at the 2015 annual meeting. From a personal standpoint, we know Zak to be well-liked, a “nice guy” with varied interests, and a strong commitment to family and community. From a professional standpoint, other Board members know him to be a great resource to AFCC-MN. His knowledge, experience, and dedication to his work as a Guardian ad Litem bring a unique perspective to the work and mission of our chapter.
Jennifer’s commitment to the organization was recognized at this year’s Annual Conference when she received the Annual President’s Award.
This month AFCC-MN honors Dr. Beth Harrington as our member in the spotlight. Beth was a member of the original Minnesota AFCC Coordinating Committee formed in early 2008 for the purpose of establishing a Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
This month AFCC-MN is proud to highlight Dorothy Gause as our member in the spotlight. Dorothy has served on the AFCC MN Board of Directors and the AFCC MN Membership Committee as Chair. She has been very active in promoting AFCC, chapter events and membership in the metro areas as well as in Greater Minnesota.
Shannon Bixby – Pankratz
This month, we are featuring the other half of our Sponsorship Team, Shannon Bixby-Pankratz. Shannon is entering her fourth year of co-chairing the AFCC-MN Sponsorship Team, along with Victoria Brenner. Every year they have increased the number of sponsors and the amount of money raised to support the AFCC-MN programming.
Victoria Brenner was nominated for this month’s member in the spotlight for her tireless dedication to AFCC-MN. Victoria is entering her fourth year of co-chairing the AFCC-MN Sponsorship Team, along with Shannon Bixby-Pankratz. Every year they have increased the number of sponsors and the amount of money raised to support the AFCC-MN programming.
Mindy Mitnick is this month’s member in the spotlight because she has been and continues to be a leader in promoting the interest of children and families in family court proceedings. She has trained professionals throughout the country in child development issues as it relates to parenting time schedules and in assessing allegations of sexual abuse in contested custody proceedings.
Susan M. Gallagher is an attorney in private practice, a Registered Nurse, a Qualified Neutral under Minnesota Rule 114, a Parenting Time Expeditor, a Parenting Consultant, and an Early Neutral Evaluator on the Dakota, Scott, Carver and Ramsey County rosters. Susan is a member of multiple professional organizations, including the AFCC.
Jennifer (Jen) Joseph is this month’s member in the spotlight because she is an exemplar of the how Minnesota chapter strives tries to advance the goals of professionalism and child-focused solutions in family law. Jen is well-known among her peers in the family law community as for her excellent work and effectiveness in providing a variety of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services, including early neutral evaluations, custody/parenting time evaluations, mediation, and parenting consulting.
Shanna Moke is highlighted as this month’s member in the spotlight for her dedication to the organization, even from a state away. Shanna was one of two people who came all the way from South Dakota to attend this year’s Annual Conference. Formerly a Minnesota resident, Shanna has stayed active in AFCC due to the excellent learning and networking opportunities.
Courtney Schneider is not only our Member in the Spotlight for August 2014 she is the recipient of the 1st Annual President’s Award made at the 2014 6th Annual Conference last month.
Michael Dittberner is a member dedicated to the growth and advancement of AFCC MN. His commitment is evidenced by his work as a second term member of the Board of Directors of AFCC-MN. His work as a co-chair of the Legislative Committee serves to inform legislators and represents our board regarding pending issues before the legislature.
Matthew Shore is a member dedicated to the advancement of AFCC MN and its goals of supporting families, practitioners and the courts. He is an active member of AFCC’s Board of Directors. He also serves on the Education Committee where he contributes his time, efforts and ideas. Matthew recently co-chaired the very well received April 2014 Lunch and Learn “Informing the Court about Mental Illness.”
Gail Finley, GAL in southwestern Minnesota – Mankato area, is one of those AFCC MN members who is typically in the background, working hard and diligently with minimal recognition. She has actively participated in the 2014 annual conference committee program planning for the 1/2 day Greater MN Initiative.
Kari was nominated for taking initiative and spearheading the joint social hour with with AFCC-MN and the Family Law League held this past fall. Kari is an AFCC-MN member as well as Vice President of the Family Law League. Kari saw an opportunity to expand both organizations through a joint event.
Kendra was instrumental in orchestrating the first AFCC-MN Greater Minnesota Outreach initiative.
This Quarter AFCC-MN is proud to highlight Jamie Manning as our member in the spotlight.
Member in the Spotlight – Perry Long
Member in the Spotlight – Marie Jose Brizard
Marie José Brizard is this year’s recipient of the Conflict Resolution Center annual “Spirit of Peace” award given to volunteer mediators who embody the spirit of peace in their personal and professional lives.
Carlo Faccini is an attorney at SeilerSchindel in Minneapolis where he practices exclusively family law. Carlo is an AFCC member and chair of the AFCC-MN’s Legislative Committee where he has been organizing this year’s free (for members) conference on November 15, 2019 to teach legislative advocacy skills to AFCC members. Since beginning his involvement with the AFCC, Carlo has presented on the impact of social media on family law at the AFCC 13th Symposium on Child Custody in Denver, Colorado in 2018. This year he has presented locally on this topic in both Hennepin and Ramsey Counties with other AFCC-MN members. In addition to his work on behalf of the AFCC, Carlo is a newly appointed member of the CASA MN Board of Directors, where he works to raise awareness of that organization’s mission and the support of volunteer Guardians ad Litem.
Laurel Ferris, M.A. is an ADR Neutral who provides services for families throughout the greater metro area, including custody evaluations and brief focused assessments, as well as parenting consulting.
Emilee Rodriguez is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has recently opened a new office out of Buffalo, Minnesota. She specializes in women’s issues, couples’ counseling (including dating, marriage, and co-parenting), and working with adolescents.
Emilee is the chair of the membership committee of the Minnesota chapter of AFCC. This year, under her leadership and with the help of an invigorated committee, the chapter’s membership has increased over 12% since July with 28 new members. This is particularly important as this means the chapter has 5 more members than the next highest chapter (California), in what is a friendly international competition. If by April 30 we are still ahead, the chapter will receive a $2,500 award.
Emilee emphasizes her passion for helping families, couples, and individuals through her work by creating new pathways in communication and conflict. Her office provides in person therapy and telehealth sessions across Minnesota. She has extensive experience in Complex Family Systems and values professional collaboration in helping families become more functional. Her website is essencecounselingservices.com.
Her professional goal is to be present with others in a way that allows them to discover more deeply who they are, where they are stuck, and where and how they desire to grow and change. She enjoys leading her clients to more healthy and functional relationships: role modeling good boundaries, goal setting, and growing in perspective.
Amy was awarded the President’s Award at the chapter’s annual meeting on July 15, 2020 by outgoing president James Street for her work as co-chair on the education committee, the annual conference planning committee and her service on the Board of Directors.