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The annual conference will once again host a special event in the ACR Voices series. In 2014 and 2016, a highlight of each conference was the exciting “New Voices” presentations. These presenters were new faces and voices in the field, sharing their field and research experience.

This year, the “Voices of Excellence” invitation went out for persons who have been in the field six years or more to apply to present. Each applicant’s paper application was assigned to one of three review teams that made recommendations about which applicants should move forward in the process. After that, each applicant made a seven minute video for consideration. Each video was reviewed by four different teams out of which came the choice of presenters.

This year’s presenters come from diverse areas of focus but with a common theme of a passion for their work. This year’s four ACR Voices are:​

Doug Brookman is a nationally recognized facilitator, mediator and trainer, who has conducted collaborative planning and problem-solving processes full-time for over 25 years. His company, Public Solutions, facilitates effective decision making among divergent interests to serve human, technical and political needs in complex, public contexts.
In this period Mr. Brookman has designed and conducted thousands of public, stakeholder-driven meetings and collaborative processes. His work has been centered at the inherent friction points between energy and environmental policymaking where technology is a driving force.  Mr. Brookman’s specialty is orchestrating graceful solutions in large, controversial, multi-party public decision-making processes.

Melinda Burrell is a democracy and peacebuilding specialist who has spent 25 years working in conflict zones: as an aid worker in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, a staffer on various political campaigns, and as a human rights lobbyist on Capitol Hill. Perhaps not surprisingly, she is now working on a PhD program on conflict resolution.
Ms. Burrell is enjoying using academic lenses to reconsider her previous work monitoring elections in Bosnia, promoting civil society in Egypt, and leading a humanitarian assistance team into Lebanon during the 2006 Israel/Hezbollah war. Since she is currently living in Namibia, where her husband is a foreign service officer, she is also using these lenses to think about the fragile peace of this post-genocide, post-apartheid state. She is a graduate of Amherst College and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Jen Knauer is an instructor, facilitator and mediator, working mainly in community and organizational settings.  In addition to a private practice in planning and problem solving, she teaches in the Masters in Mediation and Applied Conflict Studies at Champlain College. Much of the inspiration for her work comes from her observation of and interaction with her two young sons and their friends.
Ms. Knauer is the former program director and staff mediator at the Woodbury College Dispute Resolution Center in Vermont.

Matthew Knisley has been a Montpelier, VT Police Officer for sixteen years and currently holds the rank of Corporal.  He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Castleton State College with a minor in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Mediation and Applied Conflict Studies from Champlain College.  Matt is currently assigned as the School Resource Officer for the Montpelier School District and as the Child Sex Assault Investigator for Montpelier Police Department.  He is trained as a Hostage/Crisis Negotiator, Defensive Tactics Instructor, and a Team-Two instructor. Team-Two is a state wide initiative which seeks to both educate the first responder, and build the relationships necessary to work together in crisis situations.