ABOUT MCLA

Building Community through Mediation

Our Mission


Mediation Center of Los Angeles (MCLA) is a project of the Valley Bar Mediation Center (VBMC). VBMC 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 peacebuilding.  MCLA’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.

MCLA 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

Myer Sankary

Myer J. Sankary

President and Program Director of the Mediation Center of Los Angeles

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 well known in the mediation community for his teaching and articles on the application of social and cognitive science in mediation.

ADR Experience

  • Mediator/Arbitrator, Los Angeles Superior Court since 1997 and Probate Court Panel of Settlement Officers
  • Served on the Los Angeles Superior Court ADR Executive Committee from 2003 until 2013
  • San Fernando Valley Bar Association Court Preferred Panel of Mediators & Mentors Arbitrator
  • Kaiser Permanente Arbitration Panel
  • Panel member with ADR Services, Inc. from 2008 until 2016
  • Proprietor, Advanced Mediation and Arbitration Services, Independent Mediator/ Arbitrator – since 1996

Focused on Business, Commercial, Probate, Trust and Estates, Torts

Legal Experience

Mr. Sankary has practiced law as a litigator and transactional attorney in Los Angeles for over 50 years in diverse areas which include both extensive business transactions and complex litigation matters. He has the highest AV peer ratings by judges and lawyers from Martindale & Hubbell for both ethics and competency. He has been designated a Super Lawyer for the past 6 years. And has an AVVO rating on 9+.

Professional Affiliations

Past President, Southern California Mediation Association; Chairman of San Fernando Valley Bar Association Mandatory Fee Arbitration committee; former 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, former member  L.A. Consumer Lawyers Association, Los Angeles County Bar Association; past member of the board of directors of the 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 the non-profit organization for mediating elder adult issues – Adult Resolution and Mediation Services.  Trainer for ARMS at first program focusing on elder adult issues. President of The Valley Bar Mediation Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Dispute Resolution Training and Teaching:

  • Pepperdine Law School Mediating the Litigated Case, Straus Institute
  • Pepperdine Law School Mediation Masters Forum, Straus Institute
  • Pepperdine Law School, Negotiating Techniques in Mediation, Professor Randy Lowry
  • Civil and Probate Mediation Training, by James C. Melamed, J. D., Mediation Center, Inc.
  • Mediation Workshop at School For Peace, at Latrun, Israel
  • Difficult Parties and Cross-cultural Issues in Mediation Cases, State Bar of California

Mediation Training Courses Given by Mr. Sankary include:

  • Lecturer, University of Southern California, Marshall Graduate School of Business, Negotiation Strategies – Mediating the Litigated Case
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Southern District of California, Use of Mediation
  • LA City Attorney’s Office – Teaching the Social Science of Persuasion and Influence
  • Mediating the Probate Dispute, San Fernando Valley Bar
  • Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession and Society
  • Lecturer, State Bar of California, and author of “Mediation- How to Negotiate the Best Deal for Your Client”
  • Trained as Online Mediator
  • Certified Presenter of the Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion Workshop

Education

  • Straus Institute, Pepperdine Law School, Malibu, Dispute Resolution Training programs 1996 to present
  • Harvard Law School, J.D., Cambridge, Mass., 1965, [Admitted in State Bar of California in 1966]
  • Texas Christian University, BA, Philosophy, Ft. Worth, Texas, 1962 [summa cum laude]
  • Trained and Certified by Professor Robert Cialdini at Arizona State to present the Cialdini Principles of Persuasion Workshop based on the Social Science of Influence. [2006]

Organizations:

Mr. Sankary is the President of the Mediation Center of Los Angeles (formerly known as Valley Bar Mediation Center), a charitable non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of resolving disputes through mediation and to reduce the burden on the courts by offering affordable mediation to all civil litigants. The Los Angeles Superior Court has selected the Mediation Center of Los Angeles as one of only two Vendor Resources to offer affordable mediation with highly qualified lawyer-mediators.

He is past Chairman of the Solo and Small Firm Practice Section of the State Bar of California.

Milan Slama

Milan 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 MCLA. His educational background is in mathematics and philosophy.  His numerous publications can be found on 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_7511EAdamGrant

Adam 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 are always crafted with the client’s perspective and the 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).sfvba

David 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 the 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 law at 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 Koenig

Enrique 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 MCLA

Deanna Armbruster

Executive Director

Deanna Armbruster has served on the working team developing the Valley Bar Mediation Center since its inception. Prior to joining MCLA 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 extensively 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 members 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.