Our Board of Directors
CSVMC Board of Directors are a group of volunteers who support our mission and guide our vision.
Bob Shabanowitz trained at CSVMC as a volunteer mediator in 2012 and joined the Board of Directors in January, 2014. Robert has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Elmira College, a Master’s of Science and Doctor of Philosophy from Kent State University, and a Master of Arts Degree in Bioethics from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He finished his postdoctoral studies at the Laboratories for Reproductive Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at UNC, Robert spent five years as the Laboratory Director for the In Vitro Fertilization program at Chapel Hill. He is currently employed by Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA. where, since 1991, he has served as the Laboratory Director for the Advanced Reproductive Technologies Laboratory. Bob joined Geisinger’s Bioethics Review and Advisory Committee in 1996, became co-chairman in 2002 and served as chairman from 2009-2012. His current interests are in organizational ethics, the ethics of medical marketing and workplace moral distress and compassion fatigue.
Bob was initially drawn to take mediation training out of a desire to enhance his clinical ethics consultation skills. After completing basic mediation training, Bob decided to join the Center as a volunteer mediator. When asked about his experience, Bob said: “I look forward to doing mediations. I not only find this to be a meaningful contribution to my community, but I also am able to become engaged with people. I am humbled by the couples who share their conversations with us and this increases my desire to develop my mediation skills.” He has also found that mediation and the transformative philosophy have improved his ability to be a good listener, both professionally and personally.
Bob and his wife, Christine, live in Lewisburg and have three grown children, all graduates of Penn State University. In his spare time he enjoys motorcycling and is a lifetime member of the Susquehanna Motorcycle Club.
Karen Thompson has recently completed the Basic Mediation Training at the Susquehanna Valley Mediation Center and has become a member of its board. She was previously trained in School Mediation at The Good Shepherd Mediation Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In her work as a Guidance Counselor at Selinsgrove Area High School she found mediation to be a useful tool in resolving student issues. “Teaching students mediation skills helped them to resolve difficulties with family and friends, skills they can use throughout life.”
“I feel mediation at the Susquehanna Valley Mediation Center allows individuals to resolve conflicts, solve problems, make plans, determine goals and reach agreements (or not) by making their own decisions.” The center is open to everyone at low cost and is a great asset for our communities.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Karen attended Oberlin College in conjunction with M.B. Johnson School of Nursing and is a registered nurse. She is a graduate of Susquehanna University where she majored in Psychology and Sociology. She obtained her Master’s Degree at Bucknell University in School Counseling and has taken advanced courses in counseling through Temple University. Karen also received School Nurse Certification through Eastern College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has been employed as a School Nurse at Susquehanna University, as an Elementary Guidance Counselor in the Midd-West School District and as a High School Guidance Counselor at the Selinsgrove Area High School.
One of the co-founders of Valley Nursery School, a non-profit nursery school, in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, she is also a volunteer member of the Youth Accountability Program (YAP) working with first time juvenile offenders through the Snyder County Juvenile Probation Office. Most Recently Karen has been trained as a Hospice Volunteer through SUN Home Health Services and Hospice.
Karen and her husband Tom, a former teacher and coach, live on a small farm, outside of Selinsgrove, with their cat, 4 donkeys, 4 guinea hens and a flock of chickens. Between them, they have 4 grown children, two of whom live nearby, and eight grandchildren.
Barbara Skrivanek trained at CSVMC as a volunteer mediator in 2011. After completing basic mediation training she continued as a volunteer mediator at the center and joined the Board of Directors in January, 2013. She has continued to improve her skills by taking advanced training through the Center.
“I see mediation as more than just achieving a solution, it provides an opportunity for conversation, an approach to assisting individuals in conflict find their voice. In mediation sessions I have seen parties define their own issues and seek answers on their own. They have gained an ability to deal with their current problem with confidence and strength, yet with a willingness to remain open to the viewpoint of others. Mediation training and experiences have personally made me a better listener and a more empathetic human being”.
Barbara has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from University of Nebraska at Lincoln, a Master’s of Arts in Education from Stony Brook University, and a Master in Educational Administration from Pace University. Barbara was a teacher and administrator in the White Plains, New York, and Southold, New York School Districts. After retiring from teaching and moving to Pennsylvania she worked for United Cerebral Palsy as well as Trinity Lutheran Church, Danville and St Paul’s, Selinsgrove.
Barbara lives just outside Elysburg. She is an avid reader and in her spare time she enjoys playing golf and gardening.
Sharon Silberman joined CSVMC as a volunteer mediator in 2012. She completed 15 hours of advanced mediation training in 2014. She currently serves on the Board of Directors and is a teacher of the center’s Kids First program. Sharon has a degree in Elementary Education from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Psychology from Bucknell University. She has been licensed as a Psychologist by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since 1983. For many years, she worked as a psychologist at an outpatient clinic. Then she spent 15 years working as a psychologist in a prison setting. Currently, Sharon works for the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board and she supervises mobile therapists for Laurel Creek Counseling Services.
Sharon worked for many years conducting custody evaluations for the courts. She understands how stressful a time families have with custody issues. “I am finding mediation extremely rewarding. The people who come to the center for mediation seem to feel they have gotten a lot out of it. It’s very gratifying to see people communicate better with each other.”
In her spare time, Sharon is an avid reader, takes piano lessons, and is a Reiki Master Teacher. She and her husband, Matthew, live in Lewisburg. He is a retired sociology professor and a talented violinist. They have two grown children. Sharon was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
DeeDee Lawrence completed her Mediation training in 2011. When she heard about the program through a fellow mediator, she knew it was the type of volunteer work she would find rewarding. “When people are passionate about their own opinions, they are often challenged to understand someone else’s point of view, if they even hear it. Mediation assists by offering a neutral environment where open dialog is encouraged and respected.”
She joined the board in 2015.
DeeDee hails from the Reading area. She moved to Sunbury in 1993. She graduated from Mt. Nittany School of Massage in 1997, and completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Bloomsburg University in 2004. She works as a Licensed Massage therapist in the Sunbury area.
Karen Nicholson is currently a Mental Health Therapist and she joined the Board of Director’s in September 2014. She has a Master of Arts from Kent State University and has a 27-year career in the Criminal Justice System as a Federal Prison Warden. After retiring, she worked as a Warden for Corrections Corporation of America in an INS Detention Facility and eventually as a Project Coordinator for a new prison with Cornell Companies. Karen also has been involved with Keystone Behavioral Health and worked as a Mobile Therapist and Behavioral Specialist Consultant with children who had autism, ODD, ADHD, and other mental health disorders.
Karen was drawn to the mediation center as she saw the tremendous need for informal interventions between people and the need to have diversionary programs to keep cases out of the court system. Due to the success of the mediation center, Karen was pleased to be able to be a part of this board.
Karen currently works part time for Diakon Family Life Services. The remainder of her time is spent as a volunteer for The Green Dragon Foundation, The Susquehanna Valley CASA, Union County YMCA Board, Union County Youth Commission, and the Union County Criminal Justice Advisory Board. Karen has been a CASA volunteer for 8 yrs.
Karen lives in Lewisburg and has two grown sons. She enjoys playing bridge, swimming, and tennis.
Mark J. O’Brien
Mark O’Brien joined and completed his mediation training at the CSVMC in 2015 and was named to the Board of Directors in January, 2017. Mark has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from the University of South Florida.
Throughout Mark’s personal and professional life, interpersonal communication has always played a major role and was one of the determining factors in his decision to become a part of the Mediation Center.
“We live in communication environment that largely relies upon and overwhelmingly is affected by technology,” said Mark. “Heavy reliance on social media, texting, tweeting and other digital dialogue many times begins to greatly reduce our interpersonal and verbal communication skills.”
Mark firmly believes that Transformative mediation practiced at the Center brings people together, in a safe and neutral space, to provide an opportunity to engage in one of the greatest gifts known to humanity – the ability to simply talk with one another. He also believes that through his work at the Center which includes ongoing training continues to improve his own communication skills, most importantly, being a good listener.
“Working at the Center as a mediator not only allows me an opportunity to give back to my community, it gives me hope each time I see individuals expressing themselves in open dialogue attempting to resolve their differences,” said Mark.
Mark’s public relations and marketing career journey has included Kraft Foods, Crayola and FleishmanHillard Public Relations in Washington, DC. He launched his boutique PR and promotions firm in ’95 servicing Fortune 500 consumer products corporations and has recently become a licensed Realtor with Coldwell Banker Penn One in Lewisburg.
Elayne Sobel has been a mediator with the Central Susquehanna Valley Mediation Center (“CSVMC”) since its inception in the summer of 2010. Prior to his death in November 2010, her husband Allan Sobel created CSVMC with the assistance of Elayne and four other mediators who became the first official board of CSVMC. Elayne participated in and completed the 40 hour basic training (2009), the 20 hours of training in elder mediation (2010), and most recently 15 hours of advanced mediation training in May, 2014. Elayne has served on the CSVMC board as treasurer and assumed the presidency position in January 2014.
Besides her volunteer work at the mediation center, Elayne works at the Lewisburg Prison Project, Inc. (“LPP”) in Lewisburg, PA. LPP is a non-profit organization that provides legal and other assistance to prisoners, primarily in Central Pennsylvania, and is dedicated to the principle that prisoners are persons with incontestable rights to justice and compassion. Elayne’s two daughters and their families live in the area with her two grandsons.