Louise Phipps Senft Bio
Entrepreneur, Trail Blazer, Author, Trainer, Mother, Wife and Attorney Mediator, Louise Phipps Senft founded the Baltimore Mediation Center in 1993, the first mediation and training firm in Maryland with a focus on relational approaches to negotiation and conflict resolution with a belief that people in conflict and in disputes can work out their differences when given a quality dialogue process and a neutral proactive mediator who believes in their capacity to engage and make their own informed decisions. Senft, voted “Baltimore’s Best” Mediator by Baltimore Magazine 2002, named one of “Maryland’s Top 100 Women” for the year 2004 and 2007 and 2009 by The Daily Record, inducted into Maryland’s “Circle of Excellence” for outstanding leadership in Maryland (2009), and honored by Smart CEO Magazine with a Brava Award as a top CEO in Maryland in 2012, has mediated over 4000 such dialogues in the last two decades of mediation work. In 2006, BMC was expanded and renamed Louise Phipps Senft and Associates/Baltimore Mediation.
In 2014 as well as in 2009, her firm was recognized as a “Top 100 MBE” minority owned enterprise in the Mid-Atlantic region. In 2007, Ms. Senft, also an attorney, was honored with one of the Baltimore Business Journal’s “Most Enterprising Woman” awards, and in May 2010, Ms. Senft was inducted into the Greater Baltimore Area’s YWCA’s Academy of Leaders with a “Special Leader of the Year” award for her work in the field of conflict resolution with effects to help eradicate racism. Ms. Senft was also a member of the Class of 2009 Leadership Maryland, and in 2012, Ms. Senft was invited into the Women Presidents Organization, Inc. for female entrepreneurs of multi-million dollar companies.
Baltimore Mediation offers family/divorce and commercial/workplace mediation and facilitation for every variety of conflict, difficult situation or dispute. They specialize in facilitating collaborative decision-making for closely held businesses, families, Fortune 100 and 500 executives, medical and health institutions, academic and religious institutions and those in litigation. Baltimore Mediation also offers nationally recognized negotiation and conflict resolution training, all from the transformative relational framework. Ms. Senft is known nationally and internationally for her elicitive design and delivery of trainings rooted in a relational worldview, relational conflict theory and ways to approach difficult negotiations and conflicted situations that foster changes in the interaction dynamics. Senft and her team assist their clients with conflict breakthroughs, transforming the barriers into effective exchange of meaningful dialogue and information. The outcomes are agreements that are practical and sustainable. Working with people who want to work out complicated or difficult situations but are not sure how, as well as consulting for those who know how but the other side is unwilling, Ms. Senft and her team have pioneered the Be Relational approach.
Baltimore Mediation has designed interventions and trainings for professionals, court systems, bar associations, government agencies, small and large companies, state and federal contractors, real estate and construction management firms, physicians and medical staff, long term care and assisted living facilities management, higher education faculty, religious and clergy as well as mental health and family law practitioners. A hallmark of her training and teaching is a combination of transformative conflict theory and a focus on each negotiator’s and mediator’s self-awareness and self-observation of their emotional defense mechanisms and related somatic experiences to relax the three centers of intelligence, head, heart and body, to be more open and authentic in response to conflict as it unfolds. In 2009, Ms. Senft was invited by the Nakwatsvewat Institute at the Hopi Indian Nation to begin work with Hopi clan elders and tribe leaders to design a mediation program to assist Hopis grappling with issues of family preservation and Hopi culture preservation by providing conflict transformation training “Hopi-ized” for and by Hopis. She continues her work with the Hopi making trips each year to their Reservation to continue with training and mediating issues of governance, land and property disputes and family and clan conflicts. Ms. Senft is also an international negotiation and mediation trainer, having trained attorneys, businessmen and women, and judges in Europe, speaking to the Roman Bar Association in Rome, and with the Italian national clerks and the Florence Mayor’s Office in Florence, as well as being invited to speak at the first European Transformative Mediation Congress which drew interest from across Europe in 2011, and training professionals in Germany, Portugal, Italy and Slovenia most recently.
Ms. Senft has been a national leader for transformative mediation for separation and divorce and for business conflicts in the US. She has provided mediation and facilitation services to thousands of individuals in separation, divorce, and post divorce situations, employment and business, closely held family businesses, trusts and estates, organizations and foundations, and commercial and civil litigation situations. She is one of the originators of “marital mediation”, including post-nuptial agreements, for couples in conflict wishing to preserve their marriages while making difficult decisions. And she is the originator of “team mediation” and “little m” interventions for business executives and managers wishing to maintain productivity while working through difficult personality and other differences. She wrote a monthly column for The Daily Record, The Negotiating Table: Turning Problems into Opportunities for over a decade. Ms. Senft’s work with divorcing families has been featured in numerous media interviews. Ms. Senft’s work with family businesses is featured in the documentary, Resolutionary People (2002), produced by Emmy award winner Richard Chisolm. Ms. Senft’s work with corporate and public policy multiparty facilitation is featured in the book the Promise of Mediation (Jossey-Bass, 2004). Ms. Senft’s work in elder care mediation was the featured story on ABC World news with Charles Gibson in July 27, 2007.
Ms. Senft was an early member of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation. She, Larry Hoover and her firm were chosen by the Bush and Folger team to pilot training for teaching transformative conflict theory and state of the art terms of Empowerment and Recognition with practical application in the early 1990’s.
She has been interviewed by NPR and has been a guest on NPR radio affiliates and other radio programs. She has provided keynote speeches throughout the US and Canada. Ms. Senft was asked to speak at the United Nations in 2008 to inspire young leaders worldwide to champion an elicitive and relational approach to cultural and economic differences and conflict and to use mediators to assist as “Communication Brokers”, so that they can have a “Beyond Win-win” experience, phrases she coined. Ms. Senft has pioneered the value of self-awareness training and practices for conflict interveners teaching as adjunct faculty for Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation Insight Initiative for attorneys, CEO’s, professionals and executives worldwide, for Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, MBA Bio-technology Program and the Business of Medicine Program and as an adjunct law professor for fifteen years at the University of Maryland School of Law.
Later this year, Ms. Senft and her husband of over 30 years, William Senft, will launch their book Being Relational: The Seven Ways to Quality Interaction and Lasting Change (Health Communications, Inc. Publishers, September 2015). The book details ways of being in relation to others that capture the heart and soul of all that is self-help and improvement. It is grounded in method, and is supported by relational conflict theory and brain science findings. The seven ways of being that promote quality face to face interactions and positive transformation are rooted in teachings from many sources—conflict resolution, negotiation ethics, neuroscience, multiple faith traditions and numerous self-help and business books. It is a unique collection of teachings that focus on what happens in human interaction. This unique approach is inspired by thousands of broken relationships that the Senfts and Baltimore Mediation have mediated and coached back to strength and connectedness over the last two decades of their mediation work.
Ms. Senft’s background in the family environment includes domestic mediation, separation and divorce, marital property and tax liability, domestic violence, high conflict, gay and lesbian partnerships, bankruptcy, religious annulment, parental rights, grandparents’ rights, adoption, cognitive- psychological- social child development, parenting plans, religious faith and doctrine on marriage, adultery, adult grief and traumatic incident reduction, loss of child, abortion, guardianship, addiction, alcoholism, estates and trusts, real estate and personal property asset division, estate planning, end of life issues, elder care decision-making, and closely held family business, shareholder disputes and every variety of partnership conflict. She has been the chosen mediator for over 4000 marital, separation or divorce mediations both in the personal and in the business context and has been interviewed on the subject of divorce and family conflict by various media. In 2009, the Administrative Office of the Courts of Maryland asked Ms. Senft to design an assessment program for court-rostered domestic mediators modeled on her Practitioner’s Institute, a formative and summative assessment based on actual real-time observed performance of the mediator. She has expanded this program for other mediators nationwide and for state bar associations.
Ms. Senft’s extensive experience in the business, corporate, organizational and litigation environment includes relational and interest-based negotiation and bargaining, insurance, insurance coverage disputes, personal injury, wrongful death, Medicare and medical disclosure concerns, medical malpractice, bankruptcy, business partnerships, alliance formations, succession planning, workplace discrimination and ADA issues, organizational visioning, congregational conflicts and business/workplace mediation including interdepartmental issues, sexual harassment and EEO complaints, condominium and real estate development, construction and commercial real property management and contracting, public dialogue, regulatory disputes, public policy process, environmental policy and regulation, city planning, Board of Directors management, executive leadership teams, c-suite conflicts and disputes and systems approaches. She also has a background in insurance and complex commercial litigation and professional malpractice matters. She was selected as one of six mediators by the American Arbitration Association to mediate complex personal injury cases and was selected by the EEOC to mediate litigated employment discrimination cases for the Mid-Atlantic Region for a decade of the 1990’s. In addition to mediating many hundreds of business, workplace, EEO and litigated disputes, she is called upon regularly to facilitate quality conversations over difficult issues and meaningful dialogue when there is complexity involving executives, managers and boards of directors.
In the international arena, Ms. Senft is one of the founding members of Mediators Beyond Borders™, a non-profit offering conflict resolution aid and training for initiatives such as the Child Soldier Project in Ghana, the Greek Immigration Dialogue initiative in Athens and the Katrina Mediation Project in New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi. She served as Executive Chair of Training for MBB domestically and internationally for four years and speaks internationally on behalf of the MBB mission of dialogue. She is also an elected member of the Board of Trustees of Convergence: Center for Public Policy Resolution, a Washington, DC non-profit focused on bipartisan dialogue on pressing US political issues of the day, including US-Muslim relations, Re-imagining K-12 Education, and Health and Wellness Project on Obesity and Diabetes.
Ms. Senft has been an adjunct Law Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law since 1996 teaching various courses in Alternative Methods of Dispute Resolution (ADR) for Lawyers, Negotiation and Mediation Theory and Practice. She designed and continues to teach what was the first certificated mediation training course offered by a Maryland law school. Her first teaching appointment was at Villa Julie College, now Stevenson University from 1994-1996. From the mid-1990’s to the present, she has also been invited to teach at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation Insight Initiative, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins MBA Bio-technology Program, the Johns Hopkins Business of Medicine Program, Loyola University School of Business, and various law schools both in the US and abroad. All of her teaching focuses on conflict transformation theory and the incorporation of personal reactivity and self-awareness practices and methods for real-life application.
Ms. Senft is a certified Enneagram teacher in the Narrative Tradition and associated with the Trifold School for Enneagram Studies and the International Association of Enneagram Teachers in the Narrative Tradition. The Enneagram is an ancient and modern system for understanding personality and what motivates human beings. She offers Enneagram workshops on mindfulness, greater productivity and personal satisfaction, emotional intelligence and self-awareness for judges, lawyers, businesses executives, managers, parents and families. An area of focus that has brought Ms. Senft great joy over the years is using the Enneagram and the relational transformative approach to conflict to assist families and business co-workers in having healthier and more satisfying interactions. She has pioneered reliance on self-awareness and the Enneagram for the conflict resolution and mediation communities, as a means of quality and ethical practice and personal and professional excellence.
Ms. Senft was the first mediation trainer nationally to be approved as an Accredited Continuing Education Trainer (ACET) by the Association for Conflict Resolution in 2010, providing her the distinction of approval for teaching on any subject in the conflict resolution field as an exceptional life-long teacher. Ms. Senft was one of the first elected Associates of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation. She is a nationally Certified Transformative Mediator™ and has also been certified by the Maryland Council on Dispute Resolution, the only two performance-based certifications of skill level in the US. She is the architect for Maryland’s Performance Based Assessment for Transformative Mediators—The Practitioner’s Institute—which served as an assessment model for a program for Maryland Family Court Appointed Family Mediators that launched in 2009, part of the statewide Maryland Program for Mediator Excellence, the first in the country. Ms. Senft is also the co-architect of the state of Maryland’s Mediation Ombuds Program, designed to handle consumer mediation complaints throughout Maryland with a restorative approach. Ms. Senft has earned the status of Advanced Practitioner in the Family Section’s Academy of Family Mediators as a member of the international Association of Conflict Resolution’s (ACR), formerly the Academy of Family Mediators.
Ms. Senft and Baltimore Mediation are best known nationally for their trainings on conflict transformation and their offerings of certificated training courses in General and Advanced Mediation and Conflict Resolution and Domestic and Workplace Mediation with a focus on the transformative approach. Their training courses, with an emphasis on mediator self-awareness, ethical practice, fostering quality interaction, empowerment, informed decision-making by the parties, and recognition, were selected as a model and pilot for the training component of the national Transformative Mediation Project, an outgrowth of the highly acclaimed writing of R. B. Bush and J. Folger in their book The Promise of Mediation, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995 and have been the trainings of choice for the Maryland Judiciary and numerous federal agencies. She tailors these trainings for three audiences: (1) professionals, including attorneys, doctors, therapists, clergy, businessmen and women, human resources managers and educators; (2) families, youth and parents; and (3) staff working in courts and agencies and non-profits. She also designed and offers twice annually the Practitioner’s Institute for advanced mediators who desire an intense assessment for certification as well as a series of one day workshops on the Enneagram and Conflict Transformation and continuing education short courses for various professional groups.
She is co-author of the final chapter of the ADR Handbook for Judges, ed. D. Stienstra & S. Yates, American Bar Association and Federal Judicial Center (2004), has her work facilitating public policy conflicts featured in Chapter 3 “Gaining Sight of the Goal of Transformation,” of the revised Promise of Mediation, 2d. ed., B. Bush & J. Folger, Jossey-Bass Publishers (2004) and is co-author of the chapter “Marital Mediation: Transforming Marital Conflict through Facilitated Dialogue—Reclaiming Personal Strength and Marital Connectedness”, with N. Good in Transformative Mediation: A Sourcebook, Resources for Conflict Intervention Practitioners and Programs, ed. J. Folger, B. Bush, and D. Della Noce, ISCT and Asso. Conflict Resolution Publishers (2010). Ms. Senft is working on a book on self-observation methods for the negotiator and mediator to be published by the Enneagram Publishers. Her book Being Relational: The Seven Ways, co-authored with her husband, Bill Senft, will be published by HCI Publishers in 2015. In 2016, Ms. Senft will also be publishing a series of booklets: The Little Book for Couples: How to Transform Conflict Interaction with your Teenager; The Little Book for Managers: How to Transform Conflict Interaction with your Staff and Co-Workers.
In her field of conflict resolution and conflict transformation, throughout the 1990’s to the present, she has served continuously in various capacities for the Association for Conflict Resolution, on its Ethics Committee, Mediation News staff, Training Approval Committee and Family Section Advisory Council, where she is currently Co-Chair. She served as Co-Chair of the Baltimore City Bar Association’s first ADR Committee in the early 1990’s, and she was elected and served on the Maryland State Bar Association’s ADR Section Council in its early years of formation. In 1998, she was appointed by Chief Judge Bell to the Maryland Court of Appeals’ ADR Commission and the task force on Professional Responsibility in ADR. In 2000, Ms. Senft was appointed by the highest court to Chair the first statewide Family ADR Initiative. She was the co-architect of the state’s mediator grievance process, The MPME Ombudsman Program, and was subsequently appointed as Chair in 2003 of the Mediator Ombudsman Program for the Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office. During that time she also served in 2002 as President of the Maryland Council for Dispute Resolution with a focus on creating a strong internal infrastructure for the future and representing the views of the private practitioner on MACRO initiatives. She is a founding member of Mediators Beyond Borders, whose mission is to build sustainable conflict resolution capacity for a more peaceable world, where she served as Director of Training from 2007-2010 establishing protocols and quality control. She also served as an elected board member of the Global Negotiation Insight Initiative, an auxiliary entity created in 2008 as a result of the work at Harvard’s Law School’s Program on Negotiation Insight Initiative. Since 2011 she has served as a Trustee on the Board for Convergence: Center for Policy Resolution in Washington, DC, where she served as co-chair of Development.
She has served as a Member of the corporate board for Saval Foods and Deli Brand since 2009. Ms. Senft also has served non-profit organizations whose mission she champions including acting in the role of Treasurer and on the executive board of Network 2000 whose mission is to place women on corporate boards and to mentor rising female executives; serving as elected board member for the Coalition of Geriatric Services in Maryland, whose mission is to expand compassionate alternative services to seniors at home and in residential living; and as Vice President of the Roland Park Civic League for six years, whose focus is on civic engagement and the preservation of historic green space in Baltimore City, the monitoring of other land developments and the creation of a 100 year Master Plan for the preservation and modernization of the historic garden community designed by the Olmsted Brothers. She was also a founding member of the Tuesday Girls whose mission was to provide networking opportunities for women executives and business owners; was a partner in Accelerent, a national platform for mid-sized corporate businesses in the Mid-Atlantic; served as a corporate mentor for the COMMIT Foundation, whose mission is to mentor mid-level female veterans to reach their full potential personally and professionally; and served for nine years on the board of the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland with a focus on their capital campaign to expand services for inner-city girls. She has also served Board positions in her children’s schools and her church, including six years on the National Catholic Review Board for Washington, DC/Arlington; many years on various committees for the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, where she was also the first woman President of the Parish Council; Grace Methodist Pre-School Board of Directors; the Cathedral School’s CASPA, the Parent’s Association for her Children’s grade school; the Gilman School Parents’ Association, the Bryn Mawr School Health and Wellness Committee, the McDonogh School Parents’ Association, and the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Catholic Community Foundation, where she is currently chair of Distributions and oversight of a Catholic community fund of Four Million Dollars for donor designated services. She also travels biennially with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a medical team to Lourdes, France, a place of spiritual healing, tending to the needs of “malades’ suffering from stage IV cancer and other debilitating and life-ending diseases.
Other highlights include that Ms. Senft was selected as part of the first national certified mediation training team for the United States Postal Service REDRESS Program for EEO/discrimination complaints and other workplace disputes. From 1998 through 2001, she trained mediators across the country as part of the USPS national rollout, which trained over 2500 outside neutrals from 32 states, as well as over 18,000 labor and management representatives.
Ms. Senft was the initiator, Co-Creator, Lead Trainer and Supervisor for the Baltimore City Circuit Court Family Mediation Services program from 1998-2005, which focuses on custody and visitation lawsuits providing transformative mediation services for their resolution, which continues to serve thousands of Baltimore families in the court system annually.
Ms. Senft was the co-founder of The Safe Haven Network: a church, police, school, and community safety initiative for children in Baltimore City which has provided safe shelters before and after school for children and conflict intervention training and safety skills to community residents and school officials since from 1993 to 2013.
Ms. Senft served as Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Youth Citizenship and Violence Prevention’s Out-of-Schools Committee in 1995-96, and provided technical assistance in programming, violence reduction education and evaluation for the Governor’s office on Crime Control and Prevention’s state and federal funded initiative for community after school programs for late elementary and middle school youth throughout Maryland, 1996-1999.
Ms. Senft has served on numerous Bar Association committees, including presidential appointments to the Special Committee which drafted the Guidelines for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment adopted by the Maryland State Bar for law firms throughout the State, and the Chair of the 1994 publication “Baltimore’s Children and Their Families.” She was asked by television’s Arts and Entertainment to help script the TV pilot, The Mediator. She is listed in the Worldwide Who’s Who and the International Who’s Who.
Prior to founding Baltimore Mediation, Ms. Senft was a litigator and trial lawyer engaged in practice at the Baltimore law firm, Whiteford, Taylor and Preston in the areas of insurance, commercial defense and family law. She is a Dame in the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. She hails from Springfield, Illinois, was inducted into the Sacred Heart-Griffin High School Hall of Fame in 2010, attended the University of Virginia, where she was President of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority; attended Washington & Lee School of Law, where she was named Most Outstanding Woman Law Student, resurrected the Women Law Students Organization and was the first female Executive Committee representative for the honor system for both the undergraduate and graduate students since the founding in 1749. She is married to Bill Senft and is the mother of five wonderful children.
Ms. Senft can be reached at Louise@BaltimoreMediation.com.