NYACP News ~ Fall 2019

Fall 2019
Volume 1, Issue 2

In This Issue...

  1. President's Letter to our Members
  2. 2019’s Basic Training a Great Success
  3. Justice Matthew Cooper leads “Spousal Support and Child Support
  4. Members Address the Nassau Bar
  5. "Behind Closed Doors" by the Northern Westchester POD
  6. Membership Committee News
  7. Membership Events
  8. NYACP Annual Meeting in December
  9. New Member Spotlight
  10. Treating Patients Who Are Divorcing or Recently Divorced
  11. A Heartfelt Good-bye from Leslye Schlesinger

President's Letter

By Andrea Vacca

I am happy to report that 2019 has been an exciting and successful year of change for NYACP and I’m honored to have had the opportunity to serve my first term as President at this particular time in the organization’s history.

We kicked off 2019 by adding new members to our NYACP team. In addition to engaging Capitol Hill Management Services (CapHill) to provide our organization with administrative, financial and social media services, we also added new, active members to our Board of Directors and several committees.

Our first major initiative of the year was to update our website because we heard your concerns and feedback about the old website. The new site has provided us with a better platform with which we can communicate with you, our members, and how you can engage with each other and present your services to the public. We’re still all learning to use the listserve but I’m sure we’ll get the hang of it soon! I hope you have taken the time to log in and update your profile to represent yourself to potential clients who are searching for a collaborative professional in your field.

Our Training and Education Committee and Pods have been extremely active this year! There have been a dozen Pod events hosted by Westchester, Long Island and New York City, two website webinar trainings, three BCIT introduction sessions, the LGBTQI Training in February, Meet the Heat in May, the Spousal Support and Child Support program with Justice Matthew Cooper in September, and our member-only Alive After Five Boat Cruise around New York Harbor in September as well.

Our important Basic Collaborative Interdisciplinary Training in early November was expertly led by trainers Lauren Behrman, Ph.D., Deborah Wayne, Esq., Lili A. Vasileff CFP, CDFA, MAFF, and Steven M. Kaplan, CPA/ABV and it was a huge success! Bob Raymond and Tony Marcus participated as well. The feedback from the attendees was extraordinarily positive. We thank all the trainers for the time and thoughtful attention that was put into preparing and presenting the course.

Rounding out the year is our Day of Training and Annual meeting on December 5. Please register today to help us celebrate the year, conduct our annual business meeting, and experience Nancy Cameron and Yuval Berger’s workshop on “The Power and Challenge of Teams”.

It’s also time to renew your membership for 2020, please do so now so that you don’t miss any of the exciting changes that lay ahead.


2020 is already filling up with exciting programs and fun events for our members. Look for the invites and remember, NYACP members can attend any of the Pod events!

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to become involved, came to our events, and used the collaborative process as part of your practice this year. You are making a difference in the lives of many people and should be extremely proud of the work you are doing.

As we come into the holiday season, I am thankful for the opportunity to work with all of you and wish you all happiness and joyous celebration as we end this very successful 2019. I look forward to working together and bringing the collaborative process to even more families in 2020.

Andrea Vacca



2019’s Basic Training a Great Success

Our 2019 Basic Collaborative Interdisciplinary Training was held On November 1st, 3rd and 4th at the Cambria Hotel in White Plains. Led by trainers Deborah Waynen Esq., Lauren Behrman, Ph.D., and Lili Vasileff, CFP, with assists from Steve Kaplan, CPA, Tony Markus, Esq., and Bob Raymond, Ph.D., the program was unanimously well-received. At the conclusion, the NYACP hosted an informal reception, giving the BCIT attendees an opportunity to meet the NYACP Board, Pod leaders and committee members.

Here are some of the comments from our 18 trainees:

“It was abundant with information, insights, tools. It took a concept and really put it into action.”

“Wouldn’t change a thing. The instructors are amazing.”

“I felt very comfortable at this training being surrounded by so many brilliant people that want to make a difference and a change in the divorce process.”

“Excellent program. Made collaborative seem very enticing for parties and practitioners.”

“This was so worthwhile. I got so much out of all three days. Thank you!”

“I feel so much more knowledgeable and am eager to continue with the training process.”

The NYACP Office has already fielded inquiries for the next Basic Training.  If you know someone who might be interested, have them contact the office so we can keep them apprised of the dates for the 2020 BCIT!

For more photos, visit our Event Photo Page

Justice Matthew Cooper leads “Spousal Support and Child Support: A View from the Bench Meets the View from the Collaborative Professionals”

On September 19th, The Honorable Justice Matthew Cooper of the New York County Supreme Court led this valuable evening program. Justice Cooper was joined in the presentation by NYACP Vice President and Board Member, Neil Cahn, and member, Anthony Markus. After a light dinner, we were treated to a “behind the scenes” look at litigation from the Judge’s unique perspective, as well as a number of Justice Cooper’s “war stories.” An update was provided on the law of spousal and child support and we looked at the Collaborative perspective on these issues. The program was moderated by NYACP Board members Kenneth Novenstern (and Secretary) and Melissa Goodstein, chairs of our Training and Education Committee.

Members Address the Nassau Bar

On November 13th, Board members Neil Cahn and Nancy Kaye and member Neil Grossman addressed 100 members of the Nassau County Bar Association Matrimonial Committee to discuss the Collaborative Divorce and Interdisciplinary Team. The discussion gave the committee members an insight into Collaborative Practice in general and particularly the efficiencies and unique opportunities and advantages available with Team practice.

“Behind Closed Doors” presented by the Northern Westchester POD 

On November 14th, Robin Schlaff and Darlene Reda from the Office for Women of Westchester County presented a discussed the opportunity for Collaborative and other ADR practitioners to take on cases with domestic violence issues, challenging the notion that such cases were not for us. It was noteworthy that Robi and Darlene advised that Mediation and Collaborative Law can lessen the risk of domestic violence and provide a constructive process for reaching resolution of situations involving abuse. The Collaborative Process may be a safer/better first step.

The program addressed what Collaborative Professionals needed to know about domestic violence; the risk factors/lethality indicators; how practitioners can assess domestic violence at the commencement of a collaborative case; and what should be done when red flags arise in the midst of a collaboration? The program was organized by Margaret Nicholson in conjunction with the NW POD leadership committee: Melissa Goodstein, Meg Sussman, Mary Prior, Margaretha Gravett, Lauren Behrman, and Tony Marcus.


In other meetings the NYC POD hosted this newsletter’s highlighted new member, John Johansen, presenting “Tax Planning and Divorce: What you Need to Know to Maximize the Benefits for Your Clients.” The discussion included the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) and current tax planning tips and strategies to consider as part of our settlement agreements.

On October 15th, the NYC POD presented “A Conversation about Support,” an informal discussion of our collective wisdom about child support and spousal support, hosted at the offices of Adam Berner, Amy Carron Day and Monica Kaiser.

A message from our Membership Committee Chairman

by Jeffrey Steiger

Dear Members:

Welcome to Membership Highlights! This ongoing column will be a place where we address membership concerns and highlight important information about the organization. We have many strengths as a like-minded community who believes in the Collaborative Model and values our connection to each other. We are also aware that we have some ongoing challenges. With this in mind, we are actively seeking more understanding about how our model is being practiced and how to cultivate more Collaborative work.

Our annual meeting will explore team functioning with some of the leaders in the Collaborative world. We will address why we struggle with having full-team cases where all of the disciplines are represented. The Training Committee is currently designing a training (or two) to address how the model is being practiced and is reviewing our protocols so that we can continue to refine what is working and what is not. Please anticipate the possibility of some more surveys as we gather information to further inform us. Please take the time to do these surveys.

We want to offer mentors to incoming new members. Please let me know if you are interested in possibly heading up a mentorship program? Now that some of our SGCP groups have ended, we offer groups with monthly or bi-monthly meetings to discuss our cases and get feedback and ideas from each other. We are looking to create one in Northern Westchester and Manhattan. Anyone willing to host? We have some very active committees and PODs that need more members to participate. If you have any creative ideas to enhance our organization please feel free to actively communicate with me at [email protected] or Abby Curro at [email protected].

Enjoy the Holiday season.

Looking Forward,


P.S.  Please see below for just a few of the photos from the events over the past few months!

 Membership Events

A summer highlight was the member networking event aboard Hornblower Cruises on September 12th. Drinks, food and a DJ provided the atmosphere while we enjoyed our views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Brooklyn Bridge, and Manhattan Skyline! (photos above)

On August 15th, the Long Island “POD,” had its summer gathering at Jewel Restaurant in Melville. (photo left)

On October 2nd, Meg Sussman, Abby Rosmarin, and Andrew Samalin hosted its Fun Fall Fete for the Northern Westchester POD at Andrew’s home in Bedford. (photo above) 


On November 14th, the Northern Westchester Pod hosted a networking and training program “Behind Closed Doors" Domestic Violence in the Context of Divorce.  Presented by Robi Schlaff, Esq., Director and Darlene Reda, Esq., Program Administrator from the Westchester County Office for Women. (photo above) 

To see photos of all the 2019 NYACP Events, click here!

 NYACP Annual Meeting ~ December 5, 2019

This year, our annual meeting and day of trianing will be held at the Brae Burn Country Club. We will experience Nancy Cameron and Yuval Berger’s workshop on the “The Power and Challenge of Teams.”

Practicing in Collaborative teams provides tremendous structural support for clients going through the Collaborative Process. We will examine the challenges of Team practice; addressing the potential conflicts from the different values of Team members. We will address the risk that Team members may too closely align with the parties. This workshop will give skills and insights to help us identify and constructively engage with the challenges of Team practice.  For more information and to register, CLICK HERE!

New Member Spotlight

John Johansen

John was attracted to Collaborative Law because of his Financial Planning background. He enjoys helping his clients solve their complex financial problems. He notes often times in the litigation environment clients fight to retain assets in the divorce that they can not afford to maintain. It is the idea of looking at a client’s total picture and solving for the best result for the client’s situation that attracted him to Collaborative.

John has developed a niche specialization working with divorcing individuals and matrimonial attorneys in the areas of business valuation and forensic accounting. He adds value by helping his clients obtain more favorable settlements, as well as by addressing all tax and financial issues that may arise both during the divorce, as well as post divorce. Seeking to add to his extensive credentials, John has achieved the very challenging AICPA’s Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) designation.

John has been part of the tax, accounting and financial planning industry for over 25 years. Together with his team of professionals, he specializes in working with individuals and closely-held businesses in implementing tax minimization strategies, as well as saving his client’s time and money in the areas of bookkeeping and tax preparation.

A highly active participant in the industry, John is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Society of CPAs. Always interested in expanding his skills and knowledge, he earned his Certified Financial Planners (CFP) designation in 1996 and his ABV in 2017.

John obtained his experience with complex taxation and business valuation issues working at Andersen, Deloitte & Touche and Lazar Lipton Valuation Services. He obtained his BBA in Accounting from Iona College in 1983 and his MBA in Taxation and Financial Planning from Fordham University in 2000.

Treating Patients Who Are Divorcing or Recently Divorced

Neil S. Grossman, Ph.D., ABPP and Kim M. Ciesinski, Esq. , provided a workshop for the Suffolk County Psychological Association, On October 4, 2019, at Kings Park High School. The workshop was attended by 18 mental health professionals who learned skills necessary to treat adults, children and families who are involved with a divorce. It was noted that divorce is a most stressful time in people’s lives. Strong emotions play havoc when one's support system is shaken. Treating patients from this population presents a specific set of challenges for psychotherapists who may become pulled into court battles. Neil and Kim taught the attendees about the dynamics of divorce and ways available to reduce or contain the most destructive aspects of the conflict. The use and benefits of a collaborative divorce were discussed.

A Heartfelt Good-bye from Leslye Schlesinger

For all of you who have worked with me and taught me, a heartfelt good-bye as I retire from my Collaborative Practice at the end of December. I am so proud to have been a member of NYACP.

While some people forge ahead through their professional life, I more or less stumbled through mine. It was a product of being in the right place at the right time. It started in the early 70’s when NOW developed its consciousness raising groups (CRG). I joined a group and before long I was leading one. A member of my group (a legal secretary) happened to mention her firm began hiring paralegals. As soon as I heard this, I decided this was something I could do. I finished my paralegal course and obtained placement working for a matrimonial attorney and proceeded to observe the bloodshed. It was hardest on the “spoils of war” (the children).

I worked as a paralegal for 3½ years while going to law school at night. I continued working for the same attorney, but with my own caseload. After starting my own practice and attending my initial Collaborative training, I fell in love. NYACP led me to a place where I could help couples who loved each other “once upon a time” untie their relationship with the minimum amount of hurt and trauma. What a wonderful gift I could give my clients.

A thank you needs to be repeated to the organization for presenting your year-after-year wonderful workshops and courses that have helped me build my skill set. A special goodbye to my initial mentors Neil Kozek, Katherine Miller and Steve Kaplan and those of you who shared various programs with me.

Bless you all!


We want to hear from you!

Have news or a story to share?

We want hear about you, your practice, and stories to share about a Collaborative Divorce process.  Have a blog post you would like to submit, or a photo of an event you attended?  Send them to the NYACP Office for our next newsletter! 

The New York Association of Collaborative Professionals
230 Washington Avenue Extension, Suite 101, 
Albany, New York  12203
Phone: 518-313-0420 | Fax: 518-463-8656