where academic investigation +
christian faith +
service to others unite

Board Of Directors

jthomas@lasierra.edu
(951) 785 2064

John Thomas PhD, Dean, School of Business

  • Bashir Hasso Professor of Entrepreneurship (1989)
  • Ph.D. Claremont Graduate University 2001

Behavioral finance, political economy, development studies, social entrepreneurship

Robert E. Coy JD, Vice Chair/President, Versacare, Inc.

Richard Pershing JD, Director, Center Director

Staff And Collaborators

Richard Pershing JD, Director, Center Director

Richard Pershing is a partner in Reynolds Jensen & Swan LLP.  He believes in the “miracle of mediation” which occurs when parties to a dispute take ownership of their matter and exercise the power vested in them to resolve it instead of letting an outsider impose an outcome. He serves as a mediator for the Superior Court, Riverside County, and the Riverside County Bar Association Dispute Resolution Service. He mediates in areas of his law practice, which focuses in the areas of estate and business planning, operations and transactions. His practice includes clients with estates and businesses of all sizes and types, from the very small to multimillion dollar operations, both for profit and nonprofit.  His practice includes estate planning for single and married individuals with a particular interest in assisting business owners and family-owned business with their estate and business planning needs. He is well versed in the estate and business planning concerns of healthcare professionals, having represented physicians, osteopaths, podiatrists, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors and various allied health professions. With respect to entities, he has represented both non-profit and for-profit hospitals, multi-hospital systems, multi-specialty medical groups, home health care agencies, clinical laboratories and independent practice associations and foundations. Other business clients include construction companies, engineering and surveying, trucking, real estate development and management and various types of technology, churches, foster care agencies and law practices. He has litigated such cases as medical employment contract matters, physician rights, anti-trust, unlicensed practice of medicine and third party payor contracting disputes. 

Prior to entering the practice of law, he worked in hospital administration and for La Sierra University as associate director of public relations and development. He has served on the faculty of California Southern College of Law and taught business law and other business courses for the various Riverside Community College District campuses. 

He is certified as bullying prevention trainer for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, Clemson University, and assists schools and youth programs in implementing the program. He has served in various capacities in numerous civic, religious and charitable boards and committees, including hospice, Rotary, Kiwanis, United Way and the Riverside County Bar Association.  He has served as chair of the Riverside County Bar Association Continuing Education Committee and co-chair of the Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate Section, and has volunteered as a temporary judge for the superior court.  Mr. Pershing is an alumnus of La Sierra University and received his mediation training from Pepperdine University, School of Law, Straus Institute, and his law degree through Western State University, College of Law.

Tony Belak JD, Healthcare Program and Associate Center Director

Tony Belak is the Ombuds at the University of Louisville, associate director of the Center for Conflict Resolution at La Sierra University, Riverside, California, associate director of the International Center for Compassionate Organizations www.compassionorg.net  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 University of Louisville Department of Urban and Public Affairs and associate editor of the onlineJournal 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.He has taught conflict resolution at the University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, Indiana University Southeast College of Business, and M.B.A. 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 of 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 founder of 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 the 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 REDPRESS Program, trained as an arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), a mediator/arbitrator with the Southern Indiana Realtors Association, Inc., and a past member of the Louisville Labor-Management Committee. He also is past two term chair of the Louisville Bar Association ADR/Mediation Section, 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, and is a founding member of the International Working Group on Compassionate Organizations. 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 to 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 the 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 in Illinois in 1973. Mr. Belak can be reached at 502.345.6763 or tony.belak@yahoo.com.     

Dulce L. Peña JD, Professor, Conflict Resolution Trainer and Facilitator

Dulce Peña has served as an attorney with Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center. Prior to joining the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center she practiced litigation at the law firm of Thompson and Colegate in Riverside where she litigated in the areas of employment, civil rights, wage and hour regulations, medical malpractice, partnership dissolutions, and corporate derivative actions. She is a certified mediator from Ken Cloke's Dispute Resolution Center, with emphasis on workplace conflict and disputes. In 2011, Ms. Peña joined the La Sierra University School of Business as a professor of management. She currently teaches and mentors students in the areas of human resource management, leadership development and workplace conflict. 
Ms. Peña is a graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law and holds master's degrees from Loma Linda University and Fielding University in education administration and organizational management and development. She is also a graduate of the Fielding Graduate University Evidence Based Coaching certificate program. In addition to her 20 years of experience as an attorney, Ms. Peña has worked in higher education administration as a board member, administrator and teacher, and has extensive experience coaching executives and management on work-related issues and conflict coaching. She is a member of the California Bar Association, the International Coaching Federation and has served on numerous boards in her community. She is a sought-after speaker and trainer. Ms. Peña enjoys photography, art, Spanish and French literature, traveling, snorkeling, music, team sports, writing poetry and short stories as well as spending time with family and friends.

Patti Cotton Pettis MAOD, Executive, Conflict Coach and Consultant


Patti Cotton Pettis is a professional and certified executive coach and organizational development consultant. She specializes in leadership development and change management, coaching for conflict, increased self-confidence, personal effectiveness and authenticity, and communication and negotiating skills.


Patti works with executives, teams, and special work groups, and utilizes evidence-based models based on best practices for leadership and team development to maximize learning, growth and potential. She is certified by the International Coach Federation, Harvard-trained in Immunity to Change methodology, and a certified facilitator for Amherst Writers and Artists' generative writing. She facilitates workshops and retreats on immunities to change, forgiveness, life purpose, the power of individual and collective strengths, and visioning.


Patti is a seasoned executive with more than 25 years of multicultural experience in the realms of philanthropy, Swiss diplomatic relations, public relations, and communications. Her master's degrees are awarded from La Sierra University in English Literature, and from Fielding Graduate University in organizational management and development. Her thesis topic at Fielding reflected her work in coaching at-risk youth to increase social and emotional intelligence skills through the utilization of transformative conflict resolution. She is also a graduate of Fielding's Evidence Based Coaching program. Patti currently serves on the following boards: Alternatives for Domestic Violence for Riverside County, Riverside Community Health Foundation, and the Riverside Library Foundation.

Enrique G. Koenig JD, The Association for Conflict Resolution, Academy of Family Practitioners/Advanced Practitioner

Enrique Koenig is a fully bilingual mediator in both the Spanish and the English languages. He is well-versed in the Latin American culture. He has considerable experience in business management and administration having considerable exposure to business interests both in the United States and Mexico. As a business owner the last 25 years, he has developed skills in cooperative management, human resources management, administration, legal team building, and promotion and marketing. His objective in providing mediation services, conciliation services and conflict resolution consultation is to assist the parties in developing greater knowledge and understanding of their needs and interests uniquely associated with their case. This exploration will usually lead the parties to discover common interests between them, regardless of their underlying dispute. Mr. Koenig's approach in dispute resolution is strategic and collaborative in scope.

The expertise of the attorneys associated with the particular case, combined with the collaboration of other professionals focusing on relevant problem areas, will elevate the parties' overall knowledge of their own position, but also increase their awareness of the other parties' positions. By this approach, the collaborative goal is to help the parties in dispute to discover commonalities between them that might promote mutual cooperation in the quest of ultimate resolution. He believes that impasse is an opportunity that creates possibilities rather than limit them. Focusing more clearly on individualized objectives, rather than the source of impasse in every case, has proven to be an excellent way to educate parties. It further encourages the parties to engage in a meaningful exploration of potential solutions instead of focusing only on the area of discord between them.

Donald Lancaster Jr., MPA, Esq.


Attorney Donald Lancaster has demonstrated success as both a litigator and counselor-at-law representing both individuals as well as corporate entities with unparalleled results. Skillfully navigating small and midsize businesses through complex transactions inherent with growth, Mr. Lancaster provides counsel to businesses in the areas of corporate compliance, governance guidance, business development, bankruptcy, and trademark registration. Prior to practicing law, Donald Lancaster served governmental entities and elected officials as a trusted adviser of intergovernmental affairs and public policy. Experienced in local and state politics, he has an instinctive command of multilayered public and private sector issues and how those issues intersect in the disciplines of business law. 

Donald Lancaster graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in public administration. Mr. Lancaster obtained his Juris Doctor degree from California Western School of Law in San Diego, California and is a published author in the Howard Law Journal. He is also trained as a mediator at La Sierra University's Center for Conflict Resolution.

A member of the State Bar of California, Donald Lancaster is admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeal of the Ninth Circuit; the Northern District Court of California, United States District Court; and the Central District Court of California, United States District Courts. He also holds membership in the National Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association. 

Civilly, Mr. Lancaster serves on the board of directors of the First Tee of South Los Angeles, and the board of directors for Los Angeles Southwest College Foundations. Mr. Lancaster is a member of the Section 1983 Pro Bono Panel Attorney for the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, the Pro Bono Panel Attorney for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and is a mediator for the Los Angeles Superior Court, San Fernando Valley Courthouse. In 2013 the United States District Court, Eastern District of California recognized Mr. Lancaster with the Joe Ramsey Service Award for rendering excellent pro bono service in representing indigent individuals in civil rights cases against the state of California and continues to render pro bono service in the interest of justice. Mr. Lancaster can be reached at dlancaster@thelancasterlawgroup.com

Mediators

The Center of Conflict Resolution has trained many mediators who represent a great many professional and community backgrounds including attorneys, educators, social service and health professionals, community leaders and more. For every conflict, our staff carefully chooses a mediation team of one or two mediators whose education and experience most closely match the issues and the people involved in the conflict. In addition to numerous specialties, the center offers the following panels:

  • Healthcare Panel
  • Education Panel
  • Business Panel
  • Labor
  • Congregational Ministry Panel
  • Real Estate Panel
  • Family and Collaborative Law Panel