Our Board

Our Board comprises members drawn from New Zealand and Australia. Board members, on a voluntary basis, dedicate their skills, efforts and time to guide the organisation.

Russell Thirgood

Russell Thirgood (Chair)

Russell Thirgood is a partner at McCullough Robertson Lawyers.

Since 1998, Russell has represented clients in major and complex dispute resolution. In particular he acts for clients in the arbitration, adjudication and litigation of complex construction and infrastructure disputes.

He is on the panel of arbitrators for both international and domestic arbitral institutes and has chaired the Regional Arbitral Institute Forum (RAIF).

Russell is listed in Best Lawyers in three categories: International Arbitration; Construction Law; and Alternative Dispute Resolution. He is recommended in Doyles Guide for Leading Construction & Infrastructure Litigation Lawyers and in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2018.

Julia Hennessy (Vice Chair)

Julia has been a practising social worker and senior manager in the social sector for more than twenty years. She has led various projects in the United Kingdom and introduced Family Group Conference and Restorative Justice practices into mainstream UK service delivery.

As General Manager of Family Works, Presbyterian Support Central, a not for profit agency she oversees delivering social services in the lower North Island and in her role includes working with Family Works staff and partnering with government agencies such as the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Justice, Department of Corrections, community groups, and government ministers.

Siddharth Soin (Treasurer and Secretary)

Sid is a chartered accountant and partner at Belay Advisory with over 15 years in public practice. He specialises in Private Family Groups, Multi-Family Office, Corporate Structuring, Due Diligence and Business Valuations.

Lesley Ashworth

Lesley’s background is in law. She trained as a mediator in the 1990's and as a Restorative Justice facilitator, providing facilitated meetings to offenders and offence victims.

She worked as a mediator for the Human Rights Commission for a number of years. Much of this work involved mediating alleged unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment, in the workplace.

In the last five years Lesley has worked as a self-employed mediator, facilitator, conflict coach, assessor and professional supervisor. She contracts to the Ministry of Business and Innovation in Employment as an employment mediator, to Fairway Resolution as a workplace facilitator, and to Resolution Institute (the Professional body for Mediators), as an assessor of mediators and restorative justice facilitators. She also is a family dispute resolution provider.

Lesley also work as an independent Dispute Resolution Ombudsperson for a large government organisation. A growing area of her practice is in restorative workplace meetings.

Mieke Brandon

Mieke Brandon BA MSc(App) became a community mediator in 1989 and a family mediator in 1993. She is accredited under the National Mediators Accreditation System (NMAS) and is a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, trainer, supervisor, NMAS assessor, and author.

She has written many articles for peer reviewed journals and is co-author of Mieke Brandon and Linda Fisher, Mediating with Families (4th ed. Thomson Reuters 2018) and with Leigh Robertson, Conflict and Dispute Resolution (Oxford University Press 2007).

In 2017 Mieke and Linda Kochanski won the ADC Project Award and in 2018 with Linda Fisher the William J. Kreidler Award, Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR). Mieke is an Advance Practitioner Member of ACR.

Deborah Dunn

Deborah has a long relationship with mediation and with governance and strategy so to be able to bring them together she feels is a privilege.

Having trained in mediation in the mid-nineties she soon established her business and over the last 25 years has facilitated a few thousand mediations, mostly workplace matters with the majority centred on workplace bullying.

She undertook a graduate diploma in narrative therapy, completing the two year learning in 1999, and has since developed and practiced a framework informed by narrative philosophies and practices.

Over this 25 years, Deborah has held several board appointments including chair of a family violence service. This interest in governance, compliance and strategy stems from post graduate learning in company secretarial law and practice and an appointment as a company secretary.

Deborah looks forward to taking these knowledges and experiences into her new role as a director of the Resolution Institute in ways that serve its members and dispute resolution.

Mike Hyde

Mike has been a mediator for six years with an extensive background in consulting to large corporations, government departments and NGOs, especially in the area of managed services.

His education covers an Engineering Degree (UTS), Master of Business administration (UNE) and a Law Degree (UNE).

His mediation practice covers commercial, small business, franchising, workplace, child protection, family and general community disputes.

He is a panel member with Immediation; Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsmen; Department of Communities and Justice and the Attorney Generals Department.

Mike has spent the last three years on the Facilitative Professional Development Group in Sydney and as its Chair in 2019.

Karene Primrose

LLB (Hons), BA (Phil), MAICD

Karene Primrose is a lawyer and partner of Jackson McDonald, leading the firm's Dispute Resolution and Litigation team.

She is also an accredited mediator under the National Mediation Accreditation Standards, having initially trained with LEADR and most recently completed the Advanced Mediation program at Harvard University.

Karene serves on a number of Commonwealth and State alternative dispute resolution panels as a mediator and conciliator. She is also appointed as a Senior Sessional member of the State Administrative Tribunal.

Karene is recognised as a Leading Mediator in Western Australia in Doyles Guide for 2018 and 2019.

Toby Shnookal

Toby is an Australian QC, who is also qualified and experienced as an engineer and international arbitrator.

His primary practice is as determiner of disputes. He has published over 60 Determinations across Australia. He practices as arbitrator, expert determiner and adjudicator. He also practices as mediator and facilitator of expert conclaves.

Toby has a strong commitment to the speed and efficiency of expedited determinative processes and has developed his skill to achieve this. He regards the understanding of expert reports as fundamental to coming to grips with any technology dispute.

Toby has been in the construction industry for 40 years and a lawyer involved in building, engineering and technology disputes for 30 years.

He is a Grade 1 Arbitrator with Resolution Institute, a FCIArb and a published author both of construction law text and numerous articles relevant to expert determination.


Ben Thomas

Professor Ben Thomas founded aktivResolve to provide dispute resolution services as well as consulting services in the area of governance and strategic planning.

He has extensive governance experience and has served on boards in four countries.

Ben has worked internationally in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors, and is an accredited Adjudicator under the BCIPA legislation in Queensland.

He is Emeritus Professor at Pacific Adventist University.