About VBMC

Building Community through Mediation

21905270 - About VBMC - Diversity Mission

Valley Bar Mediation Center is a 501(c)3 IRS approved not-for-profit organization committed to educating the public about the benefits of mediation. Our primary charitable goal is to build community through mediation and peace building.  VBMC’s educational programs focus on helping communities learn how to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner. Our work enhances understanding among diverse groups to manage problems and work toward lasting solutions.

We also work to increase access to justice by offering professional, experienced mediators to help individuals, businesses and organizations in the greater Los Angeles area resolve disputes without having to enter into litigation.

VBMC programs represent different multicultural, ethnic, religious, genders, generations, economic groups and lifestyles. Emphasis is placed on the underserved, underprivileged, lower income populations at any educational level.

Board of Directors and Staff

MyerSankaryMyer Sankary,  President and Treasurer, Board of Directors

Mr. Sankary has practiced as a litigator and transactional attorney for over 48 years in several areas of law, focusing on estate and trust disputes.  In  2007, he became a full time mediator and now serves on the panel of distinguished mediators with ADR Services, Inc.   He is also listed as a Distinguished Neutral and has been voted a Super Lawyer by his peers in 2013 and 2014 in the field of ADR.  Mr. Sankary actively volunteers to serve as a Settlement Officer for the Los Angeles Superior Court probate department, assisting parties without charge to settle their probate litigation disputes.  He has an A.V. rating in Martindale & Hubbell. Mr. Sankary also serves as court appointed Trustee in disputed probate cases.

Mr. Sankary was past director, treasurer and President of the Southern California Mediation Association, the largest regional profession mediation association in the country.

He has been active in numerous civic organizations, including the American Friends of the Oasis of Peace (Neve Shalom/Wahat Al Salam), the only community in Israel where Arabs and Jews have lived together peacefully for over 30 years. He is the founder and director of the Middle East Peace Network, a non-profit corporation which supports conflict resolution, peace and democracy in the Middle East.  He is past Chairman of the Solo and Small Firm Practice Section of the State Bar of California.  He served on the Mandatory Fee Arbitration committee of the State Bar of California.  He is founder and has served since its inception as chairman of the Mandatory Fee Arbitration program of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association as a volunteer without pay.  This program was established by the State Bar of California to provide a low cost way of resolving disputes between clients and their attorneys over fees.

He served on several committees of the Jewish Federation and on several joint committees for dialogue between the Hispanic and Jewish communities and served on Mayor Garcetti’s committee for community dialogue between Christian, Muslims and Jews.

ADR Experience

Mr. Sankary’s career in ADR is extensive, starting with family law mediation as early as 1985. Based upon his research, training and experience, Mr. Sankary is particularly astute in assisting attorneys and their clients in the negotiating process during mediation and is sensitive to cross-cultural and personality issues which may affect the attitudes of parties in the dispute.

  • Mediator/Arbitrator, Los Angeles Superior Court and Probate Court Panel of Mediators Mediator,
  • San Fernando Valley Bar Representative to the Los Angeles Superior Court ADR Committee; serving on this Committee, Mr. Sankary volunteered his services to assist in administering the LASC program on mediation which served approximately 10,000 cases a year until the Court was forced to terminate the program due to budget cuts.

Professional Affiliations

Chairman of San Fernando Valley Bar Association Mandatory Fee Arbitration committee;  past member of State Bar Mandatory Fee Arbitration Committee, former member ADR Committee of State Bar of California, Dispute Resolution Services, Member of Probate and Estate Sections of Los Angeles County Bar and State Bar of California, Los Angeles County Bar Association; San Fernando Valley Bar Association; and member of State Bar of California (since 1966). Former Chairman of the Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar of California.  Founding member of non-profit organization for mediating elder adult issues – Adult Resolution and Mediation Services.  Trained by ARMS at first program focusing on elder adult issue.

Teaching Experience

Mr. Sankary has extensive teaching experience having presented numerous programs for free at the Annual Meetings of the State Bar of California, as well as numerous local bar associations, law firms and various business organizations.  He is well known for his unique  MCLE program on Elimination of Bias in the Legal System; a View from Cognitive Sciences.

Mr. Sankary was also a voluntary instructor on the Science of Negotiations at USC at Marshall School of Business MBA program for over 8 years.  He has also written numerous articles that have been published in law journals on Elimination of Bias, and Problems of the Aging Population; How to resolve disputes between aging parents and their families, and How to Negotiate in Mediations.

Myer Sankary Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

The American Bar Association General, Solo & Small Firm Section awarded Myer Sankary the 2002 Donald Rikli Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding services rendered on behalf of lawyers in California and the nation. Mr. Sankary has provided extensive services to the legal profession as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Solo & Small Firm Section of the State Bar of California, and has been responsible for promoting extensive educational programs as well as a web based Mentor Directory which assists attorneys to provide better services under the auspices of an experienced mentor. The State Bar of California has honoured Mr. Sankary with naming an Annual Award for outstanding service by solo practitioners known as the Myer J. Sankary Outstanding Achievement Award.

Education

  • Graduated Texas Christian University, 1962, summa cum laude, Philosophy.
  • Graduated Harvard Law School 1965.
  • Earned a Certificate from  Professor Robert Cialdini, Arizona State,  for teaching workshops on the Science of Persuasion.
  • Received Certificates of completion of numerous courses in Advanced Mediation from Pepperdine Law School.
  • Receive Certificate of Accomplishment from online course on Social Psychology from Wesleyan College.

Milan SlamaMilan Slama, Secretary, Board of Directors

Milan Slama is a practicing mediator and arbitrator in the Los Angeles area with extensive experience in a variety of litigated and community disputes. He is the recipient of multiple awards from the Los Angeles Superior Court and the State of California.  He specializes in high-intensity disputes and conflicts and in cross cultural matters.Working in the corporate environment for many years as a systems analyst and a project leader equips him with a unique ability to design and implement the mediation program under the umbrella of VBMC. His educational background is in mathematics and philosophy.  His numerous publications can be foundon www.mediate.com website, in Daily Journal, and in San Fernando Valley Business Journal.

Past and Present Affiliations
Mediation

  • The Los Angeles Superior Court
  • The Santa Barbara Superior Cour t(CADReProgram)
  • US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • The City Attorney’s Office (Community mediation)
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association(Community mediation)Arbitration

Arbitration

  • FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)
  • California State Bar, San Fernando Valley Bar

Association Awards

  • 2012 – The Los Angeles Superior Court Outstanding Volunteer 2011–Civil Litigation Department
  • 2011 – The Los Angeles Superior Court Top Mediator 2010–Civil Litigation Department
  • 2009 – The Los Angeles Superior Court Commitment to Excellence–paramount to reach the ultimate in performance
  • 2008 – California State Senate Certificate of Recognition: Outstanding dedication and contribution toward Conflict Resolution in Los Angeles

Education

  • 1991-1998 California State University Los Angeles, Philosophy
  • 1974-1978 Commenius University, Czechoslovakia, Mathematics

DSC_7511EAdamGrantAdam Grant, Member, Board of Directors

Adam D.H. Grant is a partner in the firm of Alpert, Barr & Grant.  With over 20-years of experience, he leads the firm’s litigation practice with expertise in complex business disputes, construction and real estate matters, general liability claims, embezzlement issues and online and mobile application privacy laws. He has successfully litigated in both state and federal courts, and presented oral arguments before the California Court of Appeal on numerous occasions. His successes include obtaining an approximately $6 million jury verdict on behalf of his client after a three-week jury trial. When defending a client against a multi-million dollar lawsuit, Mr. Grant obtained a directed verdict when faced with a $3 million demand at trial.

While keeping an eye on strategies to avoid litigation, both business leaders and opposing counsel understand that with Adam’s extensive legal and trial experience he can successfully handle all aspects of litigation. His thorough knowledge and innovative approach to resolving legal issues and disputes is always crafted with the client’s perspective and company’s culture in mind.

An innovator and trailblazer in his field, Adam recognized the increased need and great potential of the mobile app law category. He honed his skills and expertise in this still developing and very specialized legal segment, and has positioned himself as an expert in the category of mobile app privacy laws.   In this regard, Adam regularly presents at conferences all over the country and serves as the Chief Legal Contributor of App Developer Magazine where he writes a monthly article to help app developers and businesses alike keep abreast of the latest legal developments in online and mobile app privacy laws.

Adam’s recent accolades include, the 2014 Trailblazer Award from the San Fernando Valley Business Journal for his work in the mobile app law category, and the distinction as one of the 2014 Top 20 Trusted Advisors in the San Fernando Valley.  He is also actively involved with a myriad of organizations including the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA), the Shalom Institute, the Jewish Business Leaders Roundtable and the San Fernando Valley Bar Association for which he serves as President.  Adam has also served as Judge Pro Tem on multiple occasions and as panel arbitrator and mediator for the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

David Gurnick Photo (Large).sfvbaDavid Gurnick, Member, Board of Directors

In 2008 David was in the first group of attorneys designated as  Certified Specialists in Franchise and Distribution Law, by the State Bar of California.  As of 2014 fewer than 50 lawyers in the state have this distinction. David devotes his legal career to representing businesses, including franchisors and franchisees in dispute resolution and transactions, and is recognized nationally in this field.  He is a frequent speaker at the American Bar Association, International Franchise Association in franchising and related fields.  David’s input and comments were quoted extensively by the Federal Trade Commission, when the FTC overhauled federal  regulations governing franchising in 2007.

David served as President of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association in 2012 – 2013 and 1993 – 1994.  He also served as Chair of the Association’s Litigation Section and Business Law Section and as an arbitrator in the Association’s Attorney-Client Fee Arbitration Program.  David served three terms as a trustee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

David is the author of two legal treatises. Distribution Law of the United States which explains laws governing distribution of goods in America; and Franchising Depositions, concerning how to take and defend depositions in franchising cases.  David has also written articles in the Los Angeles Daily JournalSan Fernando Valley Business JournalValley Lawyer Magazine,and law journals of the American Bar Association and State Bar of California.  He served on the editorial board of the ABA Franchise Law Journal, Franchise Law Committee of the California State Bar, the Board of Trustees of the University of West Los Angeles College of Law and taught lawat its predecessor schools, University of LaVerne and San Fernando Valley College of Law.

At Lewitt Hackman, one of the Valley’s leading law firms, David represents businesses in all franchising, licensing, and distributing products, goods and services; and protecting and policing intellectual property.  David handles transactions and litigation for international and local manufacturers, distributors, hoteliers, restaurateurs and service providers. For more than a decade, David has been repeatedly recognized as a Top 25 Lawyer by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal and as a Southern California Super Lawyer.

Enrique G KoenigEnrique Koenig, Member, Board of Directors

Enrique G. Koenig is a fully bilingual Mediator in both the Spanish and English languages. He is well versed in the Latin American Culture. As a business owner in México over the last 25 years, he has developed skills in cooperative management, human resources management, administration, legal team building, promotion and marketing. Mr. Koenig earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1998. He has also had considerable experience and business exposure in the United States.

Enrique G. Koenig is a fully bilingual Mediator in both the Spanish and English languages. He is well versed in the Latin American Culture. As a business owner in México over the last 25 years, he has developed skills in cooperative management, human resources management, administration, legal team building, promotion and marketing. Mr. Koenig earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1998. He has also had considerable experience and business exposure in the United States.

Volunteer Services

Mr. Koenig served The Los Angeles Superior Court on both the Pro Bono Civil Mediation Panel and The Party-Select Panel. Mr. Koenig processed many cases in the areas of Personal Injury, Work-Related Injury, Unlawful Detainer and Civil Harassment. Currently, Mr. Koenig has continued providing Pro Bono mediation services to The Los Angeles Superior Court as a volunteer mediator for The California Academy of Mediation Professionals.

Dispute Resolution Experience & Education

Over the past five years Mr. Koenig has accumulated over 250 hours of training in the area of alternative dispute resolution and more specifically mediation. Mr. Koenig in the last 2 years has focused his training in the area of Family Law Mediation. He has been recently inducted into the Association for Conflict Resolution as a member of The Academy of Family Mediators Advanced Practitioner Family Section (AFM AP).

Affiliations & Organizations

The Association for Conflict Resolution
The Academy of Professional Family Mediators

Deanna Armbruster VBMCDeanna Armbruster, Executive Director

Deanna Armbruster has served on the working team developing Valley Bar Mediation Center since its inception. Prior to joining VBMC as its founding Executive Director, Ms. Armbruster was the Executive Director of the American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, and the U.S. Director of the Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam World Peace College supporting the work of the “Oasis of Peace” community in Israel. Her work with the only community in Israel where Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians live, work and educate their children together focused on raising awareness, bridging differences and improving relations in Israel-Palestine through people-to-people, grassroots initiatives.  Ms. Armbruster has extensive experience in public relations, marketing and development for small non-profit expanding their capacity. During her 16 year tenure she designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated numerous multi-year, multi-million dollar U.S. government funded grant contracts, produced major programming events, and generated international media coverage related to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Ms. Armbruster is an educator, as well, speaking extensive to community organizations, religious institutions, universities, congressional representatives, school districts and city relations committees across the U.S. to educate on conflict prevention.  She was an invited speaker at the United Nations both in New York and Geneva, Switzerland. She is one of the founding member of the Board of Directors for ALLMEP, the Alliance for Middle East Peace, a coalition of more than 80 Arab and Jewish organizations in the U.S., Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Ms. Armbruster continues to play an active role as part of the Allmep Board of Directors promoting conflict resolution programs.

Ms. Armbruster has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Augustana College, a Master of Arts Degree from California State University-Northridge and she is a Ph.D. candidate in Conflict Resolution and Analysis at Nova Southeastern University.