Our Board and Staff

The Collaborative Project of Maryland's Board of Directors is composed of Collaboratively trained family law attorneys; mental health professionals; financial neutrals; and mortgage professionals, all of whom are familiar with both the traditional, litigious mechanisms for divorce as well as the more respectful and civil alternative that Collaborative Practice provides for families in transition. Board members are actively engaged in various Collaborative Practice groups, including the Maryland Collaborative Practice Council (MCPC), the Internatinal Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), the Collaborative Dispute Resolution Professionals (CDRP) and Collaborative Divorce Association (CDA) in Montgomery County, the Collaborative Professionals of Southern Maryland in Prince George's and Calvert Counties, and other practice groups throughout Maryland. The Project Director was hired in August 2015 and came to the project with over 20 years of nonprofit and program management experience.

Kathy Brissette-Minus, Esq., President

Kathy Brissette-Minus is a successful attorney with more than twenty years of experience in the legal profession. As a solo practitioner, certified collaborative law professional, and certified mediator, Ms. Brissette-Minus concentrates her practice in areas including business development and related corporate matters, estate planning, probate, family, and civil litigation, and collaborative law. Ms. Brissette-Minus lectures throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia on a variety of business legal issues and estate planning topics.

Ms. Brissette-Minus has practiced law since 1989, and she is licensed in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Ms. Brissette-Minus is a 1988 graduate of The George Washington University Law School. Upon graduation she served as an associate and senior associate at the law firms of Powers & Lewis and the Law Offices of James H. Taylor, P.C. respectively. There she practiced in various areas including trusts and estates, personal injury, labor, entertainment, administrative, and corporate law. While starting her own firm in 1998, Ms. Brissette-Minus continued her relationship with Taylor & Martin, LLC (previously the Law Offices of James H. Taylor, P.C.) as Of Counsel to the firm.

In 2014, Ms. Brissette-Minus was selected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Collaborative Law Project of Maryland. Additionally, she was elected as the first President of Prince George’s County Collaborative Professionals (PGCCP).

In 2006 and continuing through 2008, Ms. Brissette-Minus served as campaign treasurer for the successful election of Athena Malloy Groves, Esquire as a Prince George’s County, Maryland Orphans’ Court Judge. Ms. Brissette- Minus served as Chief Legal Office for the re-election campaign for the Honorable Athena Malloy Groves. Ms. Brissette-Minus is presently the campaign treasurer for the 2014 re-election campaign.

Ms. Brissette-Minus graduated from James Madison University, magna cum laude in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts. After graduating, she entered a highly selective production trainee program at WDVM- TV9 (now WUSA) and worked in television for three years, attaining the position of associate producer. In 1985, she won a NATAS Washington, D.C. Emmy Award for writing a teen vignette on the issue of sexual harassment.

Ms. Brissette-Minus has also participated in various civic and religious community activities, including Co- Facilitator, of the Systems III and Prince George’s County Police Department COPS, “Let’s Chat About It” Program at Largo High School, Maryland, Community Representative for Head Start, District of Columbia Policy Council, and From the Heart Church Ministries, Ministry of Justice Committee Chairperson and member, and the Media Ministry as production assistant, cameraperson, technical director, and director.

An Army brat, Ms. Brissette-Minus was born in Germany, and now resides in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Her husband, Leonard Minus, and she, are proud parents and grandparents.

 

Margie Hofberg, Mortgage Broker, Past President

Margie Hofberg, President of the Residential Mortgage Center, combines superb client relations with comprehensive expertise in the mortgage industry. The founding President of the Maryland Association of Mortgage Professionals, Margie has been a mortgage industry leader for 30 years. With her background in Education, she applies her teaching skills every day, guiding her clients through the best mortgage options for any given financial situation and life-stage. Her approach is professional, knowledge-based and empathic. Clients at all levels of income and credit feel comfortable with Margie’s practical advice and caring demeanor during a stressful period. As a result, she develops long-term relationships with her clients and they rely on her as a friend and trusted advisor. In 2005, Margie trained in Collaborative Practice and has become an expert to whom many attorneys, financials, and mental health professionals turn when their divorcing clients need a mortgage.

 

Sarah Novak Nesbitt, Esq., President Elect

Sarah Novak Nesbitt is the Managing Attorney of the Family Legal Advocacy Group and has focused her professional life on working with children and families.  She practices family law, education law, and child welfare.

After growing up in Montgomery County, Sarah attended the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.  She graduated magna cum laude with dual degrees in psychology and sociology.  While at Notre Dame, Sarah focused her course work and research on infant and child development and family dynamics.  She returned to Maryland after college to work as a full time volunteer teacher at a scholarship school for low-income middle school boys in Baltimore City.  Based on her volunteer experiences, Sarah became a lawyer to help children and families navigate the legal system.

Sarah graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland School of Law, where she was a Leadership Scholar.  During her first summer, Sarah obtained a grant to intern for Project HEAL, a joint program from the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service and Johns Hopkins Children's Center, where she assisted primarily in family law and special education cases.  The following year, Sarah won the Maryland Public Interest Law Project Pro Bono Student of the Year award for her work in starting an ongoing program for law students at University of Maryland to volunteer with Project HEAL.  Sarah also volunteered throughout law school with the House of Ruth, providing services to victims of domestic violence.  Her academic work included courses such as Domestic Violence and the Law, Children and the Law, Children and Divorce, Mediation in Family Law, and Families, Contracts, and Status (many of which were taught by fellow CPM Board Member, Jana Singer). Sarah focused on alternative dispute resolution options for families and interned for the Honorable Diane O. Leasure, then the Administrative Judge for the Circuit Court for Howard County.  Sarah now teaches the Children and Divorce course at the University of Maryland School of Law.  In addition to CPM, Sarah is a member of many professional organizations, including the Howard County Bar Association, the Maryland Collaborative Practice Council, the Howard County Collaborative Practice, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, the Divorce Roundtable of Montgomery County, the Maryland State Bar Association, and the Howard County Women’s Bar Association.  She is also active with There Goes My Hero, a non-profit that provides bone marrow registration drives to support individuals with lymphoma and other medical conditions, and the parent associations at her children’s schools.

 

Jana Singer, ESq., Secretary

Ms. Singer joined the University of Maryland faculty in 1985 after serving as Revson fellow in women's law and public policy and adjunct clinical professor at the Georgetown University Law Center's Sex Discrimination Clinic. Following her graduation from law school, where she was articles editor of the Yale Journal of World Public Order, she served for a year as clerk to the Honorable Richard D. Cudahy of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, and then for two years as a litigation associate at the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering.

Ms. Singer is the co-author of Family Law: Cases Materials and Problems (1998) and she has written widely on constitutional law, family law and children's issues. She is a member of the American Law Institute and a liaison member of the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession. She is a past Chair of the Family and Juvenile Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools and a current member of the Editorial Board of the Family Court Review.

 

Nicole Harrison, CFP, Treasurer

Nicole Harrison joined Financial Advantage Associates in January of 2010 after graduating from the University of Maryland. In late 2011, Nicole partnered with Kris Kornemann, CFP, and now brings over eight years of fee-based financial planning, banking and communications experience to the firm.

Once a plan has been drafted and tailored to the client and advisor's satisfaction, and if the client chooses to implement the plan, Nicole oversees the implementation of a client's financial strategies, and plays a vital role in the asset management practice.* Working alongside the firm's leading analyst has benefited her clients, who entrust Nicole and her team with personal, corporate and employer retirement plan assets.

Nicole is a founding member of the Prince George's County Collaborative Professional Association, and The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals; two organizations which help facilitate positive outcomes to divorce and separation.

Nicole holds the following FINRA securities registrations: Series 7, 66, as well as the Life and Health insurance licenses. She is a resident of Silver Spring, and a native Marylander. Her favorite pastimes include spending time with her family and friends, and taking day trips on her neon green sport bike.

She is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative of Securian Financial Services, Inc., A Securities Dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Financial Advantage Associates is independently owned and operated.

*Separate from the financial plan and her role as financial planner, she may recommend the purchase of specific investments or insurance products. These product recommendations are not part of the financial plan and the client is under no obligation to follow them.

 

L.M.D.D. Biggs, Esq.

Mr.  Biggs is a general practitioner who handles many family law matters including family based immigration, personal Injury, criminal, military and veterans affairs law. He is a certified mediator and a certified collaborative attorney and certified by the courts to represent children in contested custody matters as a best interest attorney and a child privilege attorney. Mr Biggs is also trained as a parent coordinator. Mr. Biggs has been a solo practitioner since 2003. 

 

Suzy Eckstein, Esq.

Suzy Eckstein is a family law practitioner with extensive experience in civil litigation, business law, contract matters, guardianships, step-parent adoptions, probate and wills and estates. She is a member of both the Maryland and District of Columbia Bars and a trained mediator. She received her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law (J.D. 1987) where she is currently an adjunct professor teaching Collaborative Law and Practice. She is actively involved in the Montgomery County Bar Association, having served as Secretary and on the Executive Committee, Co-Chair of the Collaborative Law Section and is currently a member of the Fee Dispute Resolution Committee. For the Maryland State Bar Association, Ms. Eckstein served on the Board of Governors, Executive Committee and currently will serve as the vice-chair of the ADR Section Council in the coming year. In the collaborative area, she was founding President of Collaborative Dispute Resolution Professionals, a local practice group; founding member of the Maryland Collaborative Practice Council, a statewide organization; Civil Chair of the District of Columbia Academy of Collaborative Professionals; and currently is founding Co-President of the collaborative Project of Maryland, a non-profit organization providing collaborative services to Maryland families of modest means.

 

Mallory Finn, Esq.

Mallory Finn is a staff attorney at Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), a community-based program of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Project HEAL is Maryland’s only comprehensive medical-legal partnership, which provides advocacy and legal services for low- and moderate-income children with disabilities who receive clinical services at Kennedy Krieger.

Mallory earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Delaware and a Juris Doctor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She interned at Project HEAL during her second and third years of law school, and started as a staff attorney in August 2014. In April 2015, Mallory received an award for dedication to her law school's public interest organization, the Maryland Public Interest Law Project.

 

Karen P. Freed, LCSW, LICSW

Ms. Freed is a clinical social worker with more than 35 years of experience. She received her B.A. from Simmons College in Boston and her MSW from Simmons College School of Social Work. She works extensively with families dealing with separation and divorce. In 2009 she was named in Washingtonian Magazine as Top Therapist in the area of separation and divorce as chosen by her peers. In December, 2012 she was named by Washingtonian Magazine as Top Couples Therapist.

As a trained mediator she helps couples craft parenting plans which provide the guidelines for co-parenting post divorce. As a collaborative divorce coach she works with clients to develop parenting plans and helps them manage emotions and communicate productively so that they are able to make decisions about finances and property as well as about their children.

Ms. Freed helped develop the first trainings for Guardians ad Litem in Montgomery County, Maryland and for many years participated in the trainings. She has been involved in numerous workshops, such as those presented for judges in the Judicial Institute of Maryland, where the focus has been to help judges understand the impact of separation and divorce on children and families. She has served on the faculty of the Family Law Institute in Maryland and also served on the Judicial Custody Committee that was tasked with developing protocols for appointing Parenting Coordinators in high conflict divorce cases.

Ms. Freed was originally trained in the team approach to Collaborative Divorce in 2001 in a training led by Stu Webb and Peggy Thompson among others. She is a founding member and past chair of the Montgomery County Divorce Roundtable which was established in 1992 as a multidisciplinary group of professionals including members of the judiciary. The focus of the Roundtable has been to develop programs to encourage collaboration amongst professionals dealing with divorce and to develop programs to mitigate the damage done by high conflict.

She has been a leader in the collaborative practice community in the metropolitan Washington area. She is a founding member and past president of the Collaborative Divorce Association and a founding member of the Maryland Collaborative Practice Council. She is a member of the DC Metro Protocols Committee and served on the Ethics committee for the Maryland Collaborative Practice Council. She was also trained as a media spokesperson for the Tri-State Collaborative Task Force.

In addition to being a founder of Collaborative Divorce Association in Montgomery County, Ms. Freed is a member of the District of Columbia Academy of Collaborative Professionals where she currently serves on the Board. She is also an active member in the Collaborative Dispute Resolution Professionals practice group in Montgomery County. She is an affiliate of the Collaborative Practice Center of Greater Washington and an affiliate of the Collaborative Practice Center of Montgomery County. She is a founding member of and current board member of the Collaborative Project of Maryland which offers collaborative services to families of modest means.

 

Amy S. Mazer, LCSW-C

Amy Mazer is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 30 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families.  Amy is a psychotherapist, a Collaborative Divorce Coach, a Co-Parenting Mediator and a Parent Coordinator. 

Amy works with couples who are contemplating separation and/or divorce to help them discern a path forward, whether to work to repair the marriage or to pursue separation and divorce in the most respectful way possible.  For families in the midst of a separation or divorce Amy’s work centers on helping them to navigate through this life transition, address co-parenting issues, develop a parenting plan and build a cooperative co-parenting relationship.  In her role as a Mediator or Collaborative Divorce Coach she will assist parents in the development of a customized and comprehensive parenting plan designed with their children and family in mind while facilitating respectful communications.  In her role as a Parent Coordinator she is committed to protecting children from parental conflict and safeguarding the parent-child relationship by facilitating child centered decisions. 

Amy has been a leader in Maryland’s Collaborative community; she has been a past President of the Howard County Collaborative Professionals, Past President and Co-Founder of the Collaborative Professionals of Baltimore, past President of the Maryland Collaborative Practice Council and a current Board member of the Collaborative Project of Maryland.  She has co-led workshops on Collaborative Practice for NASW and for University of Maryland’s School of Social Work’s Continuing Education program.  She was featured in an article in NASW News September, 2014 entitled Peaceful Solutions: Collaborative Divorce Promotes Civility.

 

LJ Pelham, Esq.

 

 

Annamaria M. Walsh, Esq.

Ms. Walsh handles all aspects of family law matters, including marital settlement agreements, divorce, child custody and visitation, alimony, child support, and adoption.

She is a certified Collaborative Law attorney, and has also been certified by the Courts to represent children in contested custody matters as a Best Interest Attorney and Child’s Privilege Attorney. Ms. Walsh is concerned about her clients’ needs and offers clients a variety of options to reach their goals, whether through traditional litigation, mediation, or Collaborative Law.

Ms. Walsh completed her undergraduate studies at Towson State University (B.S. 1989, magna cum laude) and obtained her Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1993 (cum laude). She has lived in Baltimore all her life and supports her community by offering pro bono services through the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service.

Outside the office she enjoys the local arts community and spending time with her four children.

 

Kathleen Wobber, Esq.

Kathleen Wobber has practiced law in Baltimore for 24 years in the areas of family law and civil litigation.  As an advocate, she has appeared before the D.C. and Maryland Federal and State Courts representing divorce litigants in bench trials and defending civil business litigants in jury trials. For the past fifteen years, Kathleen has successfully been using alternative dispute methods to resolve family and business disputes, which clients feel provide distinct advantages over litigation. While she still represents select clients in litigated matters, Kathleen focuses her practice on Collaborative Law and divorce mediation. 

Kathleen is committed to meeting the specific needs of both parties and their children for more predictable outcomes and less acrimony, while being more cost efficient for involved parties. She has received advanced training in Collaborative Practice and has helped hundreds of couples resolve their disputes respectfully through the Collaborative Process.  In addition to being well versed in all nuances of family law, Kathleen is dedicated to incorporating other professionals into the divorce process, so that clients may avoid the uncertain outcome of litigation.

Kathleen is the past President of the Collaborative Professionals of Baltimore, is the current President of the Maryland Collaborative Practice Council and a board member for the Collaborative Project of Maryland. She mentors lawyers who are interested in learning and incorporating mediation and Collaborative Law into their practices.

Kathleen is a partner with the law firm of Parler & Wobber in Towson, Maryland.  She graduated cum laude from George Washington University and worked for the Secret Service before attending William & Mary Law School.  Kathleen has published numerous articles on alternative dispute resolution, has presented seminars on Collaborative Law and mediation to attorneys and mental health providers around the State of Maryland and has lectured on Collaborative Law, both at the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland Law Schools. 

 

Michael K. Lee, Project Director

 

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