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Bringing Negotiation Skills Trainings to Underserved Communities: Challenges and Successes with Melissa Reinberg of Negotiatl



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In this session, two negotiation experts discuss their experiences with programs that teach negotiation skills to individuals from underserved communities. Daniel leads a program in which Columbia MBA students teach formerly-incarcerated individuals.

Melissa is the Founder and Executive Director of Negotiation Works, where she develops and leads negotiation skills programs for individuals emerging from difficult situations such as incarceration, homelessness, addiction, and domestic violence. Daniel and Melissa will share how their respective programs are structured and what they have learned to date about the impact of their work. They will also discuss the societal need for such programs and the challenges and successes in creating and implementing them.

This seminar is organized by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP) and co-sponsored by the Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School, which is an inter-university consortium among Harvard, MIT and Tufts, dedicated to connecting rigorous research and scholarship with deep understanding of practice.

Melissa Reinberg is the Founder and Executive Director of Negotiation Works, a non-profit organization focused in Washington, D.C, that seeks to empower people from marginalized communities with tools to resolve conflicts, advocate for themselves and others, and build more stable lives. Melissa also serves as a community mediator with the D.C. Superior Court's Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division, where she mediates a wide variety of legal disputes, including family, small claims, and truancy cases. For 17 years, Melissa taught a simulation-based Negotiation and Mediation seminar as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Previously, Melissa served as a Mediator with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel; Legal Director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia; Staff Attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services Program; and Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center's Juvenile Justice Clinic. Melissa has taught negotiation and mediation to mediators, attorneys, teachers, and other professionals. She has an A.B. from Cornell University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center. 

Daniel R. Ames is a Professor in Columbia Business School’s Management Division, where he leads the School’s curriculum on negotiation. He is also the creator of Negotiable, a collection of digital resources that helps people build and apply their ability to negotiate. A social and personality psychologist, Daniel earned his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. His research revolves around how people perceive and interact with one another. He studies how people fight and cooperate, how people form impressions and bond, and how people read one another’s minds—or fail to. His work appears in scholarly outlets in psychology and organizational behavior and has been covered by media outlets ranging from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal. At Columbia, Daniel is an award-winning instructor, teaching courses and workshops on topics including negotiations, conflict, and teamwork, often leveraging experiential activities from roleplays to immersive games to design challenges.

Speakers and Presenters

Melissa Reinberg, Founder and Executive Director, Negotiation Works

Daniel R. Ames, Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Business, Columbia Business School


Women and Public Policy Program

Additional Organizers

Program on Negotiation

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