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Dr. Maria R. Volpe, Professor of Sociology, Director of the Dispute Resolution Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice-City University of New York


Dr. Maria R. Volpe is a Professor of Sociology, Director of the Dispute Resolution Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Director of the CUNY Dispute Resolution Center at John Jay.  An internationally known scholar, Dr. Volpe has lectured, researched, and written extensively about dispute resolution processes, particularly mediation.

Dr. Volpe's scholarly work is a unique combination of traditional research and application of conflict resolution processes to innovative program development for which she has received and administered over $2 million dollars over the years. Her funders have included the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, NY Times Foundation, JAMS Foundation, Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Fund, Inc., United States Institute of Peace, Surdna Foundation, Andrus Family Fund, Cottonwood Foundation, government entities, among others.

Her most recent funding consists of several grants focusing on the interface between mental health and mediation-related processes.  In partnership with Dan Berstein, a national leader in expanding the use of dispute resolution in mental health, she was awarded two grants from the American Arbitration Association International Center for Dispute Resolution Foundation for the Dispute Resolution in Mental Health Initiative. The first grant for $25,000 funded a pilot project to train peer specialists, i.e. people with lived mental health experience, in mediation and to gather pre and post-training data to better understand mediation in the mental health context.  The second grant for $30,000 will design comprehensive resources to help families facing mental health problems find appropriate resources to manage their conflicts at a one-stop online hub. A third grant for $5,000 from the NYS Office of Mental Health launched user-friendly online resource guides to help people have empowering mental health conversations that are free of stigma and to counteract the disempowering messages that currently dominate the media discussion.

Dr. Volpe’s other funded research has focused on the police use of mediation, dispute resolution responses to disasters since 9/11, the role of religion in reconciliation, roots of diversity in the dispute resolution field, and barriers to minority participation in dispute resolution.

In addition to teaching, research and grant administration, Dr. Volpe mediates conflicts in educational settings, conducts dispute resolution skills training, and facilitates for a wide range of groups. Her most recent training has been for leaders of the Liberian diaspora.  At John Jay College, she has created and facilitated town meetings, cops and kids dialogues, Muslim/Non-Muslim student dialogues, Black Jewish Dialogues, intergenerational dialogues, and Asian American student discussions. Since 9/11 she initiated the NYC-DR listserv for conflict resolvers, the monthly NYC-DR Roundtable Breakfast, and a variety of dispute resolution public awareness initiatives that include the Make Talk Work® trademark.  At John Jay College, she serves as faculty advisor to the Muslim Students Association and the Arab Student Union. 

She has been widely recognized for her distinguished career in the field of dispute resolution, including the 2008 Lawrence Cooke Peace Innovator Award, 2008 Network for Peace Recognition, 2010 Association for Conflict Resolution of Greater New York Achievement Award, 2011 Frontline Champion Award, 2013 FamilyKind Recognition, 2013 United Nations International Day of Peace Meaningful World Award, 2014 Faculty Advisor of the Year, 2015 James E. Jones Diversity Award, 2016 Arab Students United, 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award of the NYS Council on Divorce Mediation, among others.

Dr. Volpe is an Editorial Board Member of Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Negotiation Journal at Harvard Law School, and Practical Dispute Resolution.  She is a former President of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution and has served in leadership roles on countless Boards of Directors and Advisory Committees at the local, state and national levels of conflict resolution organizations. She received her Ph.D. from New York University where she was an NIMH Fellow.