Kirsten Zerger

Director of Education and Training

phone: (316) 284-5882


B.A. Bethel College (1973);
J.D. University of California at Berkeley School of Law (1977);
Kansas Supreme Court Approved Mediator in Core, Domestic, Civil, and Parent-Adolescent (1997 to present);
Approved Mediation Trainer in Core and Domestic (2002 to present).


Kirsten has served in a variety of positions at the Kansas Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) since 1995, when—as director—she led a year-long needs assessment process resulting in a re-visioning of the mission and program of the Institute. She later served as founding manager for KIPCOR’s Community Mediation Center and since January 2013 is serving again in that capacity, co-leading a pilot project for the 9th Judicial District (KS) to assess and provide multiple ADR intervention options in domestic/family law matters. Kirsten is also Director of Education & Training for KIPCOR, with duties that include chairing the Bethel College Department of Social Science, providing leadership for Bethel’s Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies initiative, and coordinating the KIPCOR/Bethel Conflict Resolution Certificate program.

Kirsten’s current teaching includes undergraduate, graduate and professional courses related to mediation, negotiation, conflict management, cross-cultural conflict, church conflict, restorative practices, and peace studies. In London, England, she has taught for Bridge Builders, an ecumenical conflict resolution and mediation training service. She has developed and led KIPCOR training and workshops for the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Kansas Governor’s Sub-Cabinet on Natural Resources, and the Kansas Water Office. Most recently, Kirsten coordinated the training team under a multi-year grant from the Kansas Department of Education, providing counselors, teachers and administrators with skills and strategies for using Restorative Practices in classroom management and school climate initiatives, with the goal of reducing expulsions and suspensions.

As a Kansas Supreme Court-approved mediator, the current focus of Kirsten’s work as a practitioner is the facilitation of collaborative decision-making and dialogue processes for individuals, families and groups (including public, private, governmental, and religious institutions). She is also experienced in victim/offender conferencing. Among her other work, Kirsten has specialized experience in employer-employee relations and mediating/facilitating workplace disputes. Her clients have included private corporations, banks, colleges and universities, public school districts and government agencies. She is an experienced facilitator of interest-based bargaining processes, and continues to assist Kansas school districts and teacher associations in negotiating annual collective bargaining agreements.

As a mentor mediator, Kirsten coaches aspiring mediators through supervised co-mediation of actual mediation cases, and coordinates KIPCOR’s Mediation Role-Play Practicum which offers supervised mediation simulation opportunities to meet the required co-mediation requirement for students seeking state approval. In 2014 she was appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court to serve on its Advisory Council on Alternative Dispute Resolution. She is a member of Heartland Mediator’s Association, and in 2014 was honored with its ACORN Award “for planting the seeds of professionalism, leadership and commitment to the practice of mediation.”

In addition to her work as a teacher and practitioner, Kirsten has written and published extensively. In 1989 she was lead co-editor-in-chief and author for the employment law reference, California Public Sector Labor Relations (published by Matthew Bender--now by Lexis-Nexis--and updated annually). She was a contributing author for Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice Manual: Foundations and Skills for Mediation and Facilitation (Mennonite Conciliation Service, 5th ed. 2009). Through grants from the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration (OJA), she has co-authored training manuals on cross-cultural domestic mediation and mentor mediator training, and currently serves on an OJA planning group to develop a statewide template for parent coordinator training. Kirsten also co-authored a peacebuilding/conflict intervention module used by local Ulster Projects (which annually host Protestant and Catholic teens from Northern Ireland in the U.S.), and most recently was asked to author an article for Leader magazine (Fall 2012) based upon her work with congregations in conflict.

Prior to her work at KIPCOR, Kirsten practiced labor law for 12 years in California where she served as counsel to César Chávez and the United Farm Workers and later as Chief Counsel for the California Teachers Association. She was active in litigating some of the leading agricultural and public sector labor law cases in the state, and later served as Chair of the California State Bar Association’s Public Section Labor Relations Committee. She is admitted to practice before the California Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.

Education and Training Community Mediation Center Great Plains Consensus Council Congregational Health