NCR Newsletter Spring/Summer 2019
NCR Newsletter Spring/Summer 2019

Message from the Director of the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NCR) Program

Dear NCR Community and Friends,

A lot has happened since our last newsletter. The NCR community continues to make us proud by living the NCR mission by using their conflict competency to be agents of social justice for a just and equitable world.

This summer we celebrated the graduation of 33 NCR students. Congratulations for reaching such an important milestone! We are proud of your accomplishments. We are excited to have you join us as colleagues in the conflict engagement profession.

I invite you to read through the news about the NCR Program in this edition. You will also learn about exciting upcoming events, new team members, and manners in which our alumni, faculty, staff, and students have been recognized for their accomplishments.

Enjoy your summer!

Best regards,

jackie font's signature

Jacqueline (Jackie) N. Font-Guzmán, MHA,  JD, PhD
Professor of Law and Conflict Studies
Director, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NCR) Program
Creighton University Graduate School, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

NCR News

NCR Program Named the Best

Best Grad Schools Part-Time MBA, US News

Join us in celebrating! The Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NCR) Program has been ranked the third Best Online Masters in Negotiation and Conflict Program in the U.S. for 2019 by Their research also found the NCR program to be Best in Career Development. This speaks to the dedication and extraordinary work of our faculty and staff in working with our students and is a testament to the quality of our students. Kudos to us!


Local Events Spearheaded on Creighton Campus

Relationality: The Thread that Connects “Disrupting Law, Reclaiming Justice” to #WeaveThePeople (Reflection by Palma Joy Strand, JD, LLM)

Local Events

On Oct. 8, 2018, the 2040 Initiative and the NCR Program hosted “Disrupting Law, Reclaiming Justice,” a conversation on Gillian Hadfield’s remarkable book Rules for a Flat World, which heralds the need for a fundamental overhaul of our legal infrastructure. Law and lawyers currently are inaccessible to many individuals in the US and globally, and the centralized hierarchy of law is not supple or adaptive enough to meet the needs of today’s sophisticated marketplace.

A special issue of the Creighton Journal of Interdisciplinary Leadership (CJIL) (Spring 2019) captures the essence of this important conversation. Essays by three invited presenters – Dean Danielle Conway, JD, Maine School of Law; Edward Stringham, PhD, Trinity College, and the American Institute for Economic Research; and the Rev. Sean Carroll, SJ, Executive Director of the Kino Border Initiative; are followed by links to videos of the remarks and responses of Hadfield herself. A number of Creighton faculty also contributed perspectives: Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán, JD, PhD, Kathy Gonzales, PhD, LLM, and myself from the NCR Program; School of Law professors the Rev. Greg O’Meara, SJ, JD, LLM, and Paul McGreal, JD, LLM, along with MS-NCR candidate Lacey Craven. Essays from Larry Kramer, JD, LLM, president of the Hewlett Foundation and former dean of Stanford Law School; and Rachel Lee, JD’ 17, complete the collection.

Although Hadfield’s primary proposal for transforming legal infrastructure centers on markets, a common theme that threaded through a number of the essays was the need for law to pay attention to the quality of human relationships. Conway writes of shifting away from today’s “hyper-transactionality” toward “an interdependent humanity built on personal relationships.”  Carroll highlights the need to humanize law. I emphasize the importance of justice and equity.  Font-Guzmán calls for bringing people’s conflict stories into the mix. O’Meara invokes Catholic Social Thought’s emphasis on human dignity.

If law’s focus, its purpose is negotiating how people are with each other, it cannot promote social health if it ignores conflict and relationship.

As I was wrapping up editing this issue (along with my co-editors Bernie Mayer, PhD, and Font-Guzmán, of the NCR Program), I had the opportunity through my work with the nonprofit Civity to attend #WeaveThePeople in Washington, D.C. This was the inaugural gathering sponsored by The Aspen Institute’s Weave: The Social Fabric Project, led by New York Times columnist David Brooks. At #WeaveThePeople, about 250 people from across the nation attended, people who are “healing America’s social fragmentation by weaving deep connections across difference in their communities.”

As a field, conflict engagement creates space for people’s humanity and acknowledges that relationships are essential.  Relationships enable people to engage constructively with conflict. Normalizing or improving relationships is also a primary goal of conflict engagement – between individuals and in communities. The importance of relationships was a common thread that connected the academic focus of the CJIL and the actual on-the-ground work in communities celebrated and reinforced by #WeaveThePeople. 

This is Home

On April 23, the NCR Program partnered with Creighton’s Immigrant and Refugee Clinic, the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice, the Immigrant Legal Center, Muslim Student Association, Creighton Intercultural Center, Cortina Community and Creighton School of Law for a movie presentation and panel discussion of This is Home, a film that follows four Syrian refugee families as they resettle in Baltimore. Amanda Guidero, PhD, NCR Faculty, moderated and presented on the panel alongside Shane Elllison, director of the Immigrant and Refugee Clinic, and Jennifer Gentle from Lutheran Family Services, one of the largest refugee resettlement agencies in Omaha. The panelists addressed a wide range issues, including sharing more details about the Syrian conflict and related humanitarian crisis, the legal parameters of immigration as a refugee or asylee, and a comparison of resettlement processes between Omaha and Baltimore.

Speaking Truths Series

The Speaking Truths series continues to thrive offering conversations on current topics and issues related to social justice. On April 26, 76 members of the Omaha and Creighton University communities participated in a conversation organized by assistant professor Amanda Guidero, PhD, “Speaking Truths: Refugees, Housing Disparities, and the White Savior Complex.”

The panel explored housing disparities that have allowed for the continuation and proliferation of subpar housing that disproportionally affects minority groups in Omaha. Panelists also evaluated the community’s reaction to the situation at the Yale apartment complex and similar situations as a continuation of structural violence and manifestation of the white savior complex. Panelists included Precious McKesson, President, North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance; Amanda Guidero, PhD; Palma J. Strand, JD, LLM; and Dasha Sudar - Coordinator for Adult Learners, Educational Opportunity Center. Mary Lee Brock, MEd, welcomed community members on behalf of the NCR Program and introduced the mission of the Speaking Truths series. Kristin Watt, BA’18, MS-NCR’19, moderated the event. Watch the panel discussion.

Welcome New NCR Special Faculty

The NCR community welcomes Crystal Armstrong, PhD. She is the statewide longitudinal data systems program manager for the State of Montana. In this role, she oversees a team of analysts, researchers and liaisons who develop and support predictive analytics tools used by state government officials, school districts, and other education stakeholders. Armstrong is responsible for the design, development, and implementation of grant objectives and the maintenance of Montana’s education data warehouse. She has a doctorate in international conflict management from Kennesaw State University and a master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Creighton. Her PhD research focused on social identity formation in the digital sector. Armstrong will teach Systems Thinking in Conflict this summer term.

Spotlight on NCR Students

Congratulations to Kristin Watt, MS-NCR’19, who participated in the Post Graduate Volunteer and Religious Life Missioning Ceremony May 17 at St. John’s Church on Creighton’s campus. Watt will be serving with the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers in Denver.


Patrick Wier,  JD’19, MS-NCR’19, was awarded the Fr. Tom Schloemer, SJ, Outstanding Student Leader Award during Creighton’s Founders Week. This award is presented annually to recognize students who have displayed exceptional leadership abilities, integrity, initiative, and service. This award also recognizes students who are “behind-the-scenes” leaders, contributing their time and talents unselfishly in many different settings, without the desire for recognition.

Lacey Craven published “It’s All Relative: Social movements and the Law,” in the Creighton Journal of Interdisciplinary Leadership, Vol. 54, No. 1:38-44.

Paula Deck conducted a conflict workshop for Creighton Edge Scholars on March 1.

Caty Reed led a workshop on conflict for Creighton Recreation and Wellness student staff on March 24.

Spring 2019 NCR Residency Course

NCR students came to Creighton in March to participate in the spring residency courses, in which students connect conflict resolution theory to practice through facilitated group discussions, role plays, and simulations.

Alumni Spotlight

For three years, Krista Miller, MS-NCR’17, has participated as a judge with the International Mediation Completion (INADR in Chicago) and the International Negotiation Competition for Law (INC), based in Zurich. This May, she served as a judge for the INC at Lumsa University in Rome. The INC is the oldest and most renowned competition focusing on international legal negotiation for law students from all over the world.

Congratulations to Charles Thomas Jr., MS-NCR’09, EdD’14, for being recognized by the Washington Business Journal as a 2019 Minority Business Leader Rising Star. Thomas is the CEO of a software engineering company focused on cloud technology for private and government contracts. He is committed to be a person “For and With Others.” “For me, it is human mandate to do my very best to offer useful service to others”.

Kyle Thompson, MS-NCR’18, was hired as a faculty member with the Southern Utah University Communications Department where he will be teaching classes emphasizing intercultural communication and managing the Chinese exchange program.


Jeff Thompson, PhD, MS-NCR’10, spoke at the 2019 Annual Nebraska Mediation Association Conference on April 5. He delivered the talk, “Effective Mediator Skills: Rapport, Trust, Professionalism & the Impact of Non-verbal Communication.”

Hooding and Commencement

Congratulations to the NCR students who graduated this spring and summer 2019! Many of our graduates came to the Creighton campus to participate in the hooding ceremony and celebrate this important milestone with family, faculty, and friends. The NCR faculty and staff are proud of the 33 NCR graduates who are ready to take on the world and “Set the World on Fire” as conflict competent agents of social change.

NCR Faculty Accomplishments

The NCR Program is proud of the contributions that faculty and staff make to the University, the community, and the conflict engagement field. See below selected examples of the recent contributions made by the NCR team.

NCR Faculty Academic Presentations

  • Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán, JD, PhD, delivered a plenary session, “Desastres Naturales desde la Perspectiva de la Conflictología y Aspectos Político-Socio-Legales: La Construcción de Ciudadanos ‘Desechables’ en Puerto Rico y el Huracán María,” (Natural Disasters at the Intersection of Conflict, Politics, and Socio-Legal Issues: The Construction of ‘Disposable’ Citizens in Puerto Rico after Hurricane María), and was a panelist in “La Comunicación y el Manejo Efectivo del Conflicto en la Mediación Bioética” (Communication and Effective Conflict Management in Bioethics Mediation at the XII Congreso de la Federación Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Instituciones de Bioética in San Juan, Puerto Rico in April.
  • Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán, JD, PhD, was a panelist for “Imperial Law and Construction of “Disposable” Citizens: What Hurricane María Revealed about Health Inequities and Injustices in Puerto Rico” at the Creighton Law School Annual Law Review Symposium and TePoel Lecture: Inequities and Injustices in Health Care in March.
  • Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán, JD, PhD, served as Chair and co-panelist for “Cultural Competency: Nebraska Underserved and Under-Represented Populations” at the Nebraska Victim Assistance Academy in Omaha, July 2018.
  • Kathy Gonzales, JD, LLM, participated in the Weinstein International Foundation Senior Fellows (Latin America and Caribbean) Regional Conference in Lima, Peru, held Feb. 22-25, and made a presentation on her work on the court-annexed mediation system for the Judiciary in Trinidad and Tobago. She learned about exciting mediation efforts in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru and will be seeking to utilize her learning in the program. She was invited to make a presentation at the Senior Fellows (Africa) Regional Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in May.
  • Kathy Gonzales, JD, LLM, and Candace Bloomquist, PhD, assistant professor in the Interdisciplinary Leadership Program, made a presentation to more than 400 young professionals at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Summit on March 15. Their presentation, “Lessons from Wakanda: What Young Professionals can learn from the movie Black Panther,” focused on the need to control emotion when in conflict and how this plays a role in ethical leadership.
  • Palma Joy Strand, JD, LLM, was the featured guest for the episode “Curiosity and the Law with Palma Strand,” on the “Choose to be Curious” podcast hosted by Lynn Borton in Arlington, Virginia, on March 6.
  • Palma Joy Strand, JD, LLM, presented to campus and community groups, on racial segregation in Omaha and its connection to racial injustice. On Feb. 27 she presented “Redlining, Lynching, and Responsibility for Racial Justice” at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development lunch and learn in Omaha. On March 20, she presented “Structural Racism in Omaha: Redlining, Residential Segregation, and Racialized Investment in Neighborhoods,” to the Creighton University Kingfisher Institute Reading Group on Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law. On April 12, she presented “Segregated Omaha, Systems of Injustice, and the Promise of Civity,” at the Creighton BEEP (Business, Economic Environment and Policy) Seminar.
  • Palma Joy Strand, JD, LLM, presented at the Critical Tax Workshop at Pepperdine Law School in Malibu, California, with the paper “Tax Inequaity: Federal and State Taxation as Structural Drivers of Wealth Inequality and Racism,” co-written with Nick A. Mirkay, JD, LLM, of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa School of Law.
  • In November 2018, Noam Ebner, LLM, gave a guest lecture at the University of Oregon School of Law, “Star Wars and Conflict Resolution.”
  • Amanda Guidero, MS, PhD, presented two papers at the International Studies Association annual conference entitled “Formalizing the Informal: The Effects of Personnel Relationships on INGO Interactions” on March 27, and “Protracted Social Conflicts and Identity as a Force Multiplier” on March 29. She also served as chair and discussant at the conference on the panel, “Aid, Trade, and Peace, as well as a discussant on the panel, “Measuring and Assessing Foreign Aid.”
  • Amanda Guidero, MS, PhD, guest lectured undergraduates at University of Colorado Boulder on research methods on Feb. 21.
  • Amanda Guidero, MS, PhD, was the lead author of Global Responses to Conflict and Crisis in Syria and Yemen, delivered a virtual book talk with Maia Carter Hallward, PhD, co-author, at Kennesaw State University, April 18.
  • Mary Brock, MEd, presented on “Strategies for Embracing Conflict: A Necessary Skill for Teamwork” at the Strengthening Health Care Conference at the University of Southern Indiana in May.
  • Mary Brock, MEd, was the featured lecturer on “Effective Conflict Engagement for Public Health Practitioners” at the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in February.
  • Bernie Mayer, PhD, participated in “Speakers Corner,” an interview and webinar for the Ontario Association of Family Mediators (OAFM) on neutrality and advocacy for mediators and collaborative practitioners. This webinar, in the form of an interview by Mary-Anne Popescu, executive director of the OAFM, presented a discussion of the concept of neutrality and impartiality and specifically what mediators could ethically and practically offer in this regard. 
  • Bernie Mayer, PhD, was the keynote speaker at the joint annual conference of Ontario Collaborative Law Federation Ottawa, Canada, in May, on the major challenges parents face in going through complex divorce proceedings and the challenge this presents to divorce practitioners and the family law system.

Workshop and Facilitations

Students Creighton University

  • During the Creighton Undergraduate Student Leaders Retreat in January, Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán, JD, PhD, and Amanda Guidero, PhD, led a workshop, “Experiencing Cross-Cultural Patterns,” with NCR students Paula Deck and Kristin Watt.
  • Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán, JD, PhD, and Mary Lee Brock, MEd, served as co-trainers for the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools workshop, “Leading Change Through Effective Conflict Engagement,” in March in St. Louis.
  • Throughout the spring Mary Lee Brock, MEd, led Omaha’s Mercy High School Administrators and Board of Trustees through a strategic visioning process focusing on the theme of sustainability.
  • Mary Lee Brock, MEd, facilitated a panel discussion of community leaders focusing on the Juvenile Justice system at the Kim Culp Juvenile Justice forum on April 24. With engagement from the event participants, the panelists explored what is working in the juvenile justice system and articulated a call for improvements.
  • The Omaha Chamber of Commerce invited Mary Lee Brock, MEd, to design and facilitate a World Café Dialogue process for the Leadership Omaha Class 41 to discuss issues around race and inclusivity in May. Leadership Omaha, launched in 1978, develops effective leaders who will strengthen and transform the community. Brock was a member of class 23 of Leadership Omaha.
  • In January, Noam Ebner, LLM, participated in a workshop in Austin, Texas, on “ODR in the Courts: Metrics and Measures,” convened by The National Center for State Courts and The Pew Charitable Trusts Civil Justice Initiative.
  • In February, Amanda Guidero, PhD, guest lectured undergraduates at the University of Colorado Boulder on research methods. She also presented at a Faculty Development session on using Panopto in the classroom at Creighton on March 21.
  • Amanda Guidero, PhD, led the following workshops in the Omaha community:
  • Team-building session for a medical center for approximately 20 participants, Dec. 10.
  • “Difficult Conversations” for over 100 University of Nebraska Medical Center graduate students, Feb. 21.
  • “Negotiation and Conflict Engagement” for organizational leaders, May 9.
  • “Negotiating the Deal,” an all-day session for bank employees, July 11, 2018.
  • During the 2018-2019 academic year, Palma Joy Strand, JD, LLM, served as lead facilitator for the Nebraska State Education Association’s work with Challenging Racism Through Stories and Conversation in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Kathy Gonzales, PhD, LLM, and Palma Joy Strand, JD, LLM, co-facilitated the spring 2019 Kingfisher Institute interdisciplinary discussion group at Creighton on “Seeing White,” a 14-part podcast exploring the history and current manifestations of whiteness, race and racism in the U.S.

Faculty Publications

Faculty Publications Creighton University


  • Ebner, N. (2018). Distributive Bargaining. ADR Class in a Box - Designed by Master Teachers. American Bar Association, Section of Dispute Resolution
  • Ebner, N. (2019). Begun, the Trust War Has: Teaching Negotiation when Truth isn’t Truth. Negotiation Journal 35(1), 207-210.
  • Font-Guzmán, J.N. (2019). “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in the legal system: Access to justice and conflict engagement. Creighton Journal of Interdisciplinary Leadership, vol. 54, no. 1: 20-24.
  • Guidero, A. & Carter Hallward, M. (2019).  Global Responses to Conflict and Crisis in Syria and Yemen. London: Palgrave Pivot.
  • Gonzales, K. (2019). A case for disrupting the system of legal education. Creighton Journal of Interdisciplinary Leadership, vol. 4, no. 1: 34-35.
  • Khan, M.A. & Ebner, N. (Eds.)  (2019). The Palgrave Handbook of Cross-Cultural Business Negotiation. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Mayer, B. announced his chapter, “Lawyers as Allies and Coaches” will be published in Negotiation Essentials for Lawyers (edited by Andrea Schneider and Christopher Honeyman), forthcoming from the American Bar Association. 
  • Strand, P.J. (2019). Disrupting law, reclaiming justice: A conversation at Creighton on Gillian Hadfield’s Rules for a flat world. Creighton Journal of Interdisciplinary Leadership, vol. 54, no. 1: 1-3.
  • Strand, P.J. (2019). Reclothing the legal emperor: Justice, equity, and governance in the flat world. Creighton Journal of Interdisciplinary Leadership, vol. 4, no. 1: 15-19.
  • Nick M. & Strand, P.J. (2019). Disruptive Leadership in Legal Education. Richmond Public Interest Law Review, 22:365.

Research Initiatives

 Professor Kathy Gonzales, JD, LLM

  • Why should health care professionals study conflict engagement? Gonzales and Margaret Begley (Joint-degree student pursuing her MS-NCR and her DNP in the College of Nursing) answer this question in their research. They both presented the preliminary results of their Haddix Grant at the 2019 Creighton University Research Day: “The Impact and Effectiveness of Conflict Resolution Education on the Workplace Performance of Healthcare Professionals.” Some of the preliminary findings point to how much conflict engagement skills are needed in the health care field. One of the participants of the study shared that, “Because I have been able to engage in conflict over hiring decisions, we have been able to hire nurses who are better equipped to care for patients.”


Other Initiatives and News

Omaha Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation

  • Palma Joy Strand, JD, LLM, is serving as a member of the Steering Committee of the Omaha Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation (OCCRJR). The OCCRJR is a network of leaders from organizations including the Omaha Branch of the NAACP, the Urban League of Nebraska, Omaha Public Schools, Women’s Fund of Omaha, Great Plains Black History Museum, Black Votes Matter, the University of Nebraska Omaha, Creighton University (NCR Program, Kingfisher Institute, and Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion) and the City of Omaha Human Rights and Relations Department. September 2019 marks 100 years since Will Brown was lynched in Omaha. OCCRJR is working to recognize the lynchings that have taken place in Douglas County, Nebraska, and light the way toward a future without racial violence.OCCRJR has initiated discussions with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama, with the goal of installing a marker and a monument to lynching victims in Omaha as part of EJI’s national effort to encourage communities to confront racial violence at the local level. Planning and community-wide coordination is underway for events surrounding the centenary of Will Brown’s murder, to be observed this fall.
  • Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán, JD, PhD, Kathy Gonzales, PhD, LLM, and Amanda Guidero, PhD, have been actively participating as community partners in representation of the NCR Program in the meetings with the Omaha Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation as part of the ongoing conversations leading up to the commemoration of the “Red Summer” of 1919 and lynching in Douglas County.
  • Amanda Guidero, PhD, was a nominee for the Teaching for Tomorrow Award as part of the events of Creighton’s Founders Week. This award serves as a way for students to publicly acknowledge faculty members who have positively impacted their lives by going above and beyond the call of duty to serve Creighton students. These faculty members have displayed exceptional dedication to their students, both in and out of the classroom, and exemplify the Jesuit tradition of Cura Personalis — care for the person.
  • Kathy Gonzales, PhD, LLM, is assisting in the NCR Program’s efforts to add value to other departments and programs across Creighton’s campus. She taught a conflict resolution component of IDC601 Responsible Conduct of Research, a class offered by the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine to its Pharmacy students. This class was taught over two sessions in late Fall 2018 to graduate students. The class will be offered again in the fall.
  • Palma Joy Strand, JD, LLM, serves as a member of the Steering Committee of the Omaha Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation (OCCRJR). The OCCRJR is a network of leaders from organizations including the Omaha Branch of the NAACP, the Urban League of Nebraska, Omaha Public Schools, Women’s Fund of Omaha, Great Plains Black History Museum, Black Votes Matter, the University of Nebraska Omaha, Creighton University (NCR Program, Kingfisher Institute, and Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion) and the City of Omaha Human Rights and Relations Department.
  • As part of the Omaha League of Women Voters Go Vote initiative, Mary Lee Brock, MEd, was the featured guest on the episode focusing on conflict strategies for having important, yet difficult conversations. Debbie Ford, PhD, associate professor in the Creighton Graduate School, was the moderator of the program.

Back to top