Tony Belak, JD
Senior Fellow-Director

Tony Belak was the Ombuds at the University of Louisville, Associate Director of the Center for Conflict Resolution at La Sierra University, Riverside, California, founder of The Institute for Workplace Transition, and the former Executive Director of the International Center for Collaborative Solutions at Sullivan University, Louisville, Kentucky, where he was also on the faculty of the Master of Science in Conflict Management program. He is a faculty member of the Department of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Louisville and associate editor of the online Journal of Conflict Management at Sullivan University. He was the Senior Dispute Resolution Counsel for the Department of Veterans Affairs and is not only a mediator and arbitrator but also a teacher in basic, advanced, and specialized conflict resolution. He is recognized for his innovation in designing conflict resolution programs within the workplace.


John-Robert Curtin, Ph.D

Senior Fellow-Director


John-Robert has extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution, education, training and in anti-bullying efforts. He is a founding member of the 4Civility Institute, a not-for-profit organization.  4Civility provides mediation training, ombuds training, certifications, software reporting systems, restorative justice and behavioral transition practice solutions to schools, businesses and organizations.  He is also the founder of and the Chief Executive Officer of Connected Learning Network, an education-based company, which has provided online services to over 120 schools, colleges, businesses and organizations worldwide. John-Robert is also known for his work in public television, as an Emmy award winning- producer and station president.  His Ph.D. is from University of Louisville.

4Civility Institute Principals

Mr. Belak and Dr. Curtin combined, have over 51 years of mediation experience as practicing mediators and as teaching and training professionals. They have educated and trained in excess of 4,000 mediators around the globe.  Mr. Belak developed mediation training for the U.S Government and continues to provide mediation services to the U.S. Postal Services. They teach both graduate and undergraduate courses in mediation at the University of Louisville and in 2002 Mr. Belak and Dr. Curtin created the first blended, online and face-to-face mediation program for a major law firm that needed flexibility in its training.  The U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) adopted the training they developed to train federal mediators.  FMCS reports directly to the U.S. President and works to resolve major labor disputes.  The Irish government approved the training in 2005 and training continues in Ireland.  Mr. Belak and Dr. Curtin have found the blended training to be effective in training busy professionals as well as those geographically isolated.  Students of Mr. Belak and Dr. Curtin are using their mediation skills in numerous settings, including the judicial system, government, business, education, healthcare, schools, the military, and life.  Successful students receive a certificate from the 4Civility Institute and the training has met the accepted mediation standards in every jurisdiction that has reviewed them.

Additionally, Dr. Curtin's research has been directed toward school and workplace bullying and restorative justice.  He is a frequent speaker and has been published on both topics.  Both he and Tony Belak write extensively on alternative dispute resolution, workplace bullying, building organizational trust leaders, and the importance of workplace ombuds.

Tonya Branham is a Senior Fellow at the 4Civility Institute and is the owner and principal of Silver Lining Mediation, a conflict intervention firm with its principal office in Georgetown, Ky.  Silver Lining Mediation offers multiple conflict engagement processes along the conflict continuum, and Tonya’s notoriety and success in the field is expanding on a daily basis as Tonya’s skills are utilized by the Scott County Court System and the general public.  Her firm offers services in the areas of negotiation, mediation, conflict system design, facilitation, conflict coaching, and conflict intervention training.

Tonya Branham, MS-ADR
Senior Fellow
He has taught conflict resolution at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, Indiana University Southeast College of Business, and MBA courses and seminars at the Vienna campus of Webster University and Bratislava, Slovakia. He is the first attorney graduate of the George Washington University Interagency Institute for Federal Health Care Executives (1992). He was an original founder of the Louisville Bar Association ADR Committee and served for eight years on the Kentucky Bar Association ADR Committee and as its chair for two years. He is the former Regional Counsel for the Department of Veterans Affairs and was an initial member of the Civil Justice Reform Act Committee for the Western District of Kentucky, former assistant Commonwealth Attorney, special assistant U.S. Attorney, and President of the Federal Bar Association, Kentucky Chapter. He is a certified mediator and arbitrator with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Kentucky Collaborative Family Network, the U.S. Postal Service REDRESS Program, trained as an arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), a mediator/arbitrator with the Southern Indiana Realtors Association, Inc., and a member of the Louisville Labor-Management Committee. He also is past two term chair of the Louisville Bar Association ADR/Mediation Section and past President of the Mediation Association of Kentucky, and President of the Kentucky Chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association.


Mr. Belak has traveled throughout the United States and Europe lecturing and training in mediation and dispute resolution. He has taught mediation skills to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) internal mediators and conflict resolution training to United Nations and Austria Kontrollbank managers and supervisors in Vienna and Irish Department of Defense mediators in Dublin. He is the founder and past president of the Federal ADR Council, Inc., a non-profit shared neutral mediation project for federal agencies in Kentucky and Indiana, the oldest in the nation. He was instrumental in establishing the Mediation Association of Kentucky, the Jefferson County Court Annexed Mediation Rule, the Federal Court prisoner petition mediation project, and one of the earliest peer and truancy mediation programs in Jefferson County, Kentucky. He served on the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service focus group to establish core competencies for their internal roster of neutrals, the Administrative Office of the Courts Mediator Guidelines Committee, and has published articles in national magazines and local newspapers regarding conflict resolution. He began his interest in ADR as an ombudsman in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois in 1973.

Tonya holds a Master’s Degree in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the prestigious Werner Institute at the Creighton University School of Law located in Omaha, Nebraska.  She studied there under the tutelage of professors who are luminaries in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution.  Tonya chose to do her specialization in the master’s program in the extremely demanding area of the healthcare sector.   In today’s tumultuous and ever changing healthcare climate, organizational conflict within the system can proliferate quickly.  The “silver lining” that Tonya brings to the conflict setting, is the solid foundation of understanding instilled in her through her education and experience.  She understands how simple issues in organizations get exacerbated, and how the appropriate use of conflict intervention tools, including competent communication skills, can serve as the ‘preventive medicine’ to avoid conflict escalation.  Tonya pursued her education in ADR while transitioning from her career as a paralegal which found her engaged in legal research and litigation.   While working as a paralegal, Tonya discovered that she had a keen interest in generating solutions and helping others, which ultimately led to her choice to enter the ADR field and to do so with the proper education.

Tonya is an individual who also gives back to her community and society.  She is very active in community affairs through her memberships in the Rotary Club of Georgetown and Harmony Christian Church. Tonya is a former foster parent and has recently become involved in the lives of children and families as a volunteer with the statewide CASA program. Tonya also serves on the Board of Directors of Independence Place, which assists people with disabilities. Tonya’s contributions to these volunteer organizations serve to demonstrate her compassion for others and her desire to facilitate peace. Tonya brings a balanced, professional and appropriately inquisitive demeanor to all that she does and is deep into the process of ‘making her mark’ in the ADR field.