Anita Vestal

Anita Vestal

Anita Vestal is a flexible idealist in her many life roles: Mediator, Facilitator, Mentor, Researcher, Writer, Teacher and Trainer. Since 1990 she has had a practice in organizational development and mediation with family, workplace, community parties. She has also held positions in Head Start and adult education at various universities in Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania. In addition to teaching and mediating, she provides training, technical assistance and consulting for community organizations, government and educational programs.

Anita served in the Peace Corps in Latin America for two years. She was the founding executive director of Child Care Consultants, Inc., in York, PA and was Program Administrator for a statewide migrant Head Start program in Florida. Her education includes a BS in Child and Family Development from Virginia Tech, MBA in Management from Texas Tech University and Ph.D. in Conflict Resolution from Nova Southeastern University.  

Her research focuses on conflict resolution with young children, mediation, appreciative inquiry, as well as models for systemic peacebuilding. She has published several articles on mediation in child custody, teaching preschoolers to solve their own conflicts, and transformative teacher training. She is a biographee in Who's Who in American Women and Who's Who in America.

Contact Anita Vestal


Articles and Video:

From Anita Vestal (10/14/13)
I met Jim Melamed at the 2006 Texas Mediators Conference. He looked at my website and invited me to submit some of my articles to Since then I have received a steady stream of comments from readers over the years. Often I refer folks to to find scholarly and opinion articles on just about any topic that Mediators can imagine. The process has always been so simple and interaction with staff is super responsive. Thanks for your dedication and willingness to try new things, innovate and take suggestions. 500 editions and growing. Felicidades!

Mobilizing the Third Side for a Winning Alliance against Violence (09/03/07)
Twenty-two educators from private and public schools systems in Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania exchanged their ideas, ideals and poignant stories about violence in the lives of school children during an online course taught at Eastern Mennonite University in 2002. In this short article, pieces of their stories are shared to illustrate a framework for enlarging the circle in prevention efforts for bullies, victims and bystanders. From the cases described and using Ury’s Third Side model, we sketch an approach where schools, families, and communities could stand together to transform some of the violent and depressing aspects in the daily lives of children.

Domestic Violence and Mediation: Concerns and Recommendations (05/14/07)
This article synthesizes recommendations of several researchers and studies conducted during the 1990's to develop a mediation protocol that addresses concerns about the efficacy of mediating with couples who have a history of domestic violence. In addition to suggested techniques and procedures, the article concludes with insights into the societal issues of violence and a long-term strategy for reducing the incidence of domestic abuse.

Negotiating Custody with High Conflict Couples (04/08/07)
Divorce litigation, especially when there is contested custody, is rarely a straightforward negotiation process. Issues of divorce and custody can be negotiated out of court when certain conditions are present to move the couple to resolution of the issues. Mediated settlements are increasingly popular with both divorcing spouses and the judicial system. However, couples who cannot communicate with one another, and who have engaged in behavior that is threatening, coercive, manipulative and deceptive are usually not in a position to negotiate a settlement with each other. This essay suggests a model that allows a couple to attempt to negotiate a custody agreement taking into consideration the needs of the children and spouses for safety, expediency and firmness in the decision-making process.

Everyday Conflict Management: Tips for Transforming Conflict (02/12/07)
When you think of the word “conflict” what comes to mind? Many would say disagreements, arguing, maybe even fighting and war. When confronted with conflicts that occur naturally between people in relationships, we have the opportunity to decide how we will respond. Some of the most common choices for a response include anger and retaliation or ignoring, burying and avoiding the issue. Let's focus a bit on what each response may mean to us when in a disagreement with someone close to us… perhaps a friend, a spouse, parent or child.