2019 Training Facilitators

0Erica Backstrom 
is the Program Director for Conflict Resolution Center of Duluth. She is a Juris Doctor from Hamline University School of Law. Erica served as Executive Director of the Volunteer Attorney Program (VAP), a non-profit organization that works with volunteer attorneys to provide quality pro bono civil legal services to low-income individuals and families in Northeastern Minnesota. She is a Qualified Neutral under Rule 114. Erica is also a Restorative Services practitioner with prior experience at Woodland Hills and Men as Peacemakers, working with victims of trauma, abuse and at-risk youth using circles and facilitations to address youth truancy and community building. Erica is passionate about conflict resolution’s ability to empower participants through a process that honors each individual’s voice and recognizes the value of seeing other perspectives respectfully.

Erica will co-facilitate School Mediation & Conflict Coaching with M.J. Bauer Thursday and Friday



M.J. Bauer is the Executive Director of the Conflict Resolution Center (CRC) and is a member of the Board of Directors and officer for Community Mediation Minnesota. CRC is member of the Hennepin County Youth Restorative Justice Collaborative providing Juvenile Diversion programming for youth referred by the Minneapolis Police Department and Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. CRC provides school mediations, conflict resolution education and restorative services to hundreds of youth a year in Minneapolis, Duluth and St Cloud. M.J. is a Qualified Neutral under Rule 114 with 10 years of Mediation experience. She is a prior Board Member for Conflict Resolution Center, the Jostens Foundation and the Minnesota Children’s Museum. M.J. holds a BA from the University Minnesota.

M.J. will co-facilitate School Mediation & Conflict Coaching with Erica Backstrom Thursday and Friday


thumbnail_IMG_2278Erik Blesener has been a police officer for 26 years. He has been a Student Resource Officer (RSO) for six years (1998-2004 & 2017- present). Erik is certified by NASRO with Advanced training.  After spending four years as a school resource officer in the 1990’s and following the model of that time he has started to implement a much more effective style of school policing by using a restorative approach.

Erik will co-facilitate Breaking the School Pipeline to Prison with Peter Eng and Chrissy Gamst on Friday morning


Erin DeWitt is a Mindfulness and Well Being Educator, Circle Keeper, Reiki Master Teacher, Spiritual Guide, and Energy Medicine Practitioner offering clients energy balancing sessions supported by Reiki, Sound Healing, Reconnective Healing, Quantum-Touch, Meditation and Exploration of what she calls the “non-ordinary” realm. She facilitates workshops on: Mindfulness: The Power of Thought, Language and Intention; Approaching Self-Care as a Radical Form of Activism; and Energy Medicine. She also offers exploratory immersions into the “non ordinary” realm for deep healing, transformation and growth. She has been seeing clients and teaching for 11 years. Erin has co-facilitated Community Healing Circles and Women’s Circles since 2010. She believes everyone is a healer. Erin empowers clients to restore harmony within to support their navigating this life with ease and thriving sustainably in body, mind and spirit.

Erin is facilitating Mindful moments during the morning social time


thumbnail_IMG_5949Sheila Dokken is a licensed attorney with over 20 years of experience litigating discrimination and harassment claims. Her experience in handling issues of racial discrimination led her to a passion for preventive work. She began training corporations on how to handle and react to discrimination issues in the workplace, but wanted to be even more proactive. She was also trained as a restorative practices mediator almost 20 years ago and mediated employment disputes over the years. Sheila accepted a position as an Equity Specialist with ISD 728 back in 2013 and has been developing programming and curriculum for classrooms, as well as training staff and administration on equity issues, including implicit bias, stereotypes, and more. She received intensive training on conducting restorative circles and has been actively implementing and instituting this practice in her district. 

Sheila is co-facilitating Unpacking Privilege, Historical Trauma, & Equity in Education with Mary T. Tuesday through Thursday

Peter Eng graduated from the University of Wisconsin Superior in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  Following four years as a correctional officer, he returned to school at The College of St. Scholastica, earned a Minnesota teaching license in language arts, and secured his current position as a teacher at the Federal Prison Camp, Duluth.  He has also worked as a volunteer with the Carlton County Communities Restorative Justice Program since 2012.


Peter is co-facilitating Breaking the Pipeline to Prison with Chrissy Gamst and Erik Blesener on Friday morning


IMG_6034Chrissy Gamst began her career with the  Department of Corrections in 2005.  She began as a Corrections Officer and later became a Support Staff in Due Process and the Office of Special Investigation, Corrections Teaching Assistant, Corrections Transitions Coordinator, and is currently a Corrections Case Manager.  She is a part of the Restorative Justice committee, Security Threat Group committee, on the Crisis Intervention Team, and has been a staff trainer at the facility. Reality Check, Parenting,  and Thinking for a Change are a few programs she facilitates for the offender population. Restorative Justice is her passion both in the institution and in the community.  Chrissy has been fostering partnerships between local community schools and MCF-Moose Lake in the  Reality Check program.

Chrissy is co-facilitating Breaking the Pipeline to Prison with Peter Eng and Erik Blesener on Friday morning



Emily Gaarder is the site director for the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD). A scholar and practitioner of restorative justicefor more than 15 years, she is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Criminology at UMD. Since 2003, Emily has taught restorative justice at the university level and also for community groups and organizations. She loves to share how restorative justice can be used in daily life by everyone. She has trained hundreds of volunteers in the circle process, circle keeping, and restorative dialogue. She has published widely on restorative justice and specializes in issues of gender. She helped establish the Domestic Violence Restorative Circles Program in Duluth, Minnesota, one of the only programs of its kind in the U.S. that specifically works with cases of intimate partner abuse. Her current research focuses on an evaluation of the program. Emily first learned about the power of restorative justice while working with youth in the juvenile justice system. She has facilitated restorative practices with juvenile probation programs, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office of Victim-Offender Mediation, schools, civil mediation units, and the restorative programs of Men as Peacemakers. She earned her Ph.D. in Justice Studies from Arizona State University, her M.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Cincinnati, and her B.A. from the University of Minnesota-Morris.

Emily is facilitating Deeper Understanding of Circle on Tuesday and Wednesday


thumbnail_image1Angela Garbett started her teaching career in the Esko Schools with K-6 special education. She taught three years at the Cloquet Middle School and is in her third year teaching the Jr. High Program and special education at the Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program.  She has been involved in implementing Restorative Practices there for the past three years and feels it has been amazing! She is a firm believer in helping students learn and process through mistakes they’ve made as opposed to punitive punishments.


Angela is co-facilitating Whole School Design with Cloquet Area Alternative Program Principal Connie Hyde, Dave Perry and Laraine Mickelson all day Friday



Connie Hyde is the Principal of Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program (CAEEP). She has been a K-12 Principal in the Cloquet school district for 17 years. MA Curriculum and Instruction Certified: 1-6 Elementary; Art K-1 and Administration K-12.



Connie is co-facilitating Whole School Design with Laraine Mickelson, Angela Garbett and Dave Perry all day on Friday



Carrie Manty  is a Coordinator for the Carlton County Restorative Justice Program, trained Circle Keeper and Facilitator in Restorative Justice/ Practice Conferencing. With over 10 years of experience in the Restorative Justice field, Carrie provides access and facilitates a variety of responses to juvenile crime and conflict within the Carlton County communities. For the past 3 years, Carrie has been involved in the movement in schools to incorporate restorative practice as an alternative to detention, suspension and addressing conflict. Carrie believes through compassionate accountability and education, we build safer, stronger communities.

Carrie is facilitating Conferencing to Repair Harm Tuesday-Thursday


lindsey 2.pngLindsey Markward is an American Indian Woman living on the Fond du Lac Reservation. She currently works with at-risk American Indian youth as a Home-School Liaison. Lindsey is a single mother raising her two daughters to walk the good path with mashkaawizii (inner strength). Lindsey has worked in American Indian Education for over 10 years, and is absolutely in love with her culture and traditions.  She is honored and humbled everyday that she is able to share these teachings with younger generations. Lindsey has come to walk on the Red Road after spending years spiritually stuck, and emotionally broken by an addiction that threatened to tear her life apart. Through her struggles to break the cycle of addiction she has learned what it really means to come full circle.

Lindsey is facilitating Embracing the Circle and the Sacred Space within it Tuesday and Wednesday



Laraine Mickelson With over 25 years of experience in the field of Conflict Management Laraine has designed, implemented and written policy for a variety of programs including full-spectrum Integrated Conflict Management Systems for the State of Minnesota and justice programs for state and county agencies including juvenile diversion programs, sentencing circles for felony level crimes, transition programs for incarcerated offenders, and CREST (Conflict Resolution, Education and Skill Training) a peer mediator program for incarcerated offenders. Within the field of education, she specializes in whole-school implementation, training in school conferencing, mediation, and circle as well as consulting on topics of bullying and staff conflict. She has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin, Superior and Fond-du-Lac Tribal and Community College. She has been awarded the MN Dept. of Correction’s Person of the Year, Carlton County Restorative Justice Volunteer of the Year, is co-recipient of the Minnesota Corrections Association President’s award and the Minnesota Association for Alternative Programs school of the year award. Laraine is committed to bringing forward restorative philosophy to schools, justice systems, workplaces, and communities.

Laraine is co-facilitating Restorative Practices First Steps with Paul Mickelson on Monday: Four Day Circle Training Tuesday-Friday with Paul Mickelson: Whole School Design with Cloquet Area Alternative Program Principal Connie Hyde, Angela Garbett and Dave Perry all day Friday


BAE492FBCFF14DF0BDF4FC80C12E5A32Paul Mickelson has served in a number of correctional positions within federal and state institutions and is an expert regarding correctional systems. As a former coordinator for the Carlton County Restorative Justice Program, he was responsible for the daily activities, services and programs of the CCRJP. Paul is a certified ACES presenter and uses Restorative Justice methods as a trauma informed response. Paul has a mediation and consulting business with a focus on the design and implementation of Integrated Conflict Management Systems. He conducts trainings, mediations, and workshops for private and public sector organizations.

Paul is co-facilitating Restorative Practices First Steps with Laraine Mickelson Monday: Four Day Circle Training Tuesday-Friday with Laraine Mickelson



Dave Perry is a Special Education/Social Studies teacher and Restorative Practices Coordinator at Cloquet Area Alternative Education Programs  (CAAEP). He has a Bachelor’s Degree from St Cloud State University and completed his Graduate work at Bemidji State University.




Dave is co-facilitating Whole School Design with Cloquet Area Alternative Program Principal Connie Hyde, Angela Garbett and Laraine Mickelson all day Friday

thumbnail_image001.pngMary Skillings provides the kind of training to educators that brings them face-to-face with what it really takes to create a healthy, safe, thriving school culture. Mary’s workshops and other services are fully grounded in the core beliefs and values of Restorative Justice practices – that everyone has inherent worth and dignity, that we are all interconnected, and that successful learning is all about positive relationships. Mary demonstrates how other currently popular programs in education such as those stemming from Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Values Based Education (VbE), and Mindfulness Programs are effective when they are applied with these same attitudes. “It is the attitudes and lived values that make the difference, not the labels or the programs.” Though her primary focus is now on schools, Mary began her work in Restorative Practices in the Juvenile Justice System in the mid 1990’s. Deeply committed to making an actual difference and wanting to help people to change their behavior from the inside out, Mary designed and implemented a number of programs for juvenile offenders, as well as for victims of crime. As her focus began to shift to education and schools, she developed a number of training programs for educators. In 2007 she designed and taught Teaching from a Restorative Paradigm—a graduate level course offered in collaboration through the University of Minnesota/Duluth. Her current Professional Development Seminar is based on that original program.

Mary will facilitate Restorative Language/Chats Tuesday-Thursday


thumbnail_image001-1.pngMary T. Schmitz, MSW, LICSW “Mindful Mary T.” as she’s known around the Minnesota Metro-Area, Shows Up, Leans In, and Sits in the Darkness~ with whomever, as long as it takes, with Compassion, Humility, & most often, Hiliarity.  She is an Authentic Leader who Lives Brave. Mary T. is a nationally sought after Speaker & Consultant supporting all to Transform Leadership, Education, and the Workplace to cultivate Mindful Presence in a Trauma Responsive, Restorative, Equitable way of Be-ing. Additionally, she’s an Adjunct Professor at St. Mary’s University.  Mary T. pioneered the first K-12 District-Wide Mindfulness programming in the nation earning praise from Jon Kabat-Zinn as, “Mindful-Maverick of the Midwest”. After only 3 years as Minnesota’s first, “Mindfulness Education Specialist” Schmitz was awarded “District-Wide Teacher of the Year”. She served over two decades in the role of School Social Worker & has worked as an OutPatient Mental Health Clinician.  Mary T. completed the Oasis Training through the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Medical School earning her endorsement to teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Additionally, she has completed year­long focused training with both Mindful Education Institute (MEI) & Mindful Schools & was one of 70 International thought leaders in the field of Mindfulness and Leadership to be selected for year long study in the inaugural Transformation Educational Leadership Certification with Sr. Leaders from CASEL, Google, several State Boards of Education, and Research Universities.  Mary T. has been fortunate to study with masters in the field of Mindfulness including Jon Kabat Zinn, Dr. Rick Hanson, Dr. Amy Saltzman, & Daniel Rechtshaffen. Mary T. is also a Certified Yoga Calm ® Teacher Trainer & has completed Alchemy of Yoga 200 hr. RYT Yoga Teacher Training. As a Bi-Racial Consultant with 25 years experience in the Public Education System and noticeably, predominantly White presentation, she prioritizes unpacking her privilege with humility, honesty and wide-open awareness. When she falls short, she begins again!

Mary will co-facilitate Unpacking Privilege, Historical Trauma, & Equity with Sheila Dokken Tuesday through Thursday