Institute for Environmental Negotiation

Empowering communities to create shared solutions

IEN Team

Tanya Denckla Cobb, Director

In 1997 I found a professional “home” at IEN for my passion for bringing people together to discover common ground and create solutions for mutual gain. Beginning as a Senior Associate, then Associate Director, I was privileged to be appointed Director in 2015. Through the years my work has covered a broad range of challenging environmental, agricultural and community issues. Now, as Director, working with a talented and collaborative team, I strive to be a servant leader while providing vision and strategic direction. As we build on IEN’s rich history to continue tackling the tough issues with integrity, our team seeks to meet the evolving needs of our times, through innovative leadership in our field and engaging stakeholders in ways that are fresh, focused, relevant and effective. Learn more about me here.  You can find my resume here. Email Tanya.


Kristina Weaver, Ph.D. , Associate Director

It has been my privilege to work with IEN since 2010 – first as a Visiting Scholar, then a consultant, and now as Associate Director. I am passionate about supporting people with diverse perspectives as they transform conflict into resilience, make durable decisions through consensus, and collaborate to achieve real world impact. IEN has a long history of engaging communities in collaborating to build informed, just, and sustainable solutions to some of our greatest collective challenges – from racism to climate change. I contribute to our mission as a cultural geographer, facilitator, and trainer. I also bring to our team a focus on impact and sustainability informed by a background in grants consulting; since 2012 I have helped organizations secure more than $41 million in awards for original research, innovative projects, and essential programs. At IEN I help to sustain some of our most groundbreaking work around sustainable food systems, sea level rise, community action for racial justice, and more. You can find my resume here.  Email Kristina.


Kelly Altizer, Associate

As Program Manager for the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute, I coordinate VNRLI’s logistics, and organize alumni events and the six sessions that comprise the leadership program. After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2009, I volunteered for a year with Americorps at the Southeastern Appalachian Rural Alliance in Lewisburg, WV. I received my Master's degree in Environmental Management from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, where I researched the effectiveness of UN peace-building programs in areas of environmental conflict and served as a Stanback Fellow with the North Carolina Conservation Network. After graduate school, I worked with a variety of local nonprofits before joining IEN in 2014.  Email Kelly.

Selena Cozart Ph.D., Community Facilitator & Project Manager

Selena Cozart, Ph.D. has twenty years of facilitation and program evaluation experience with a primary emphasis on diversity, inclusion, and community capacity development. She also brings a rich background in Education, ranging from secondary through graduate school, which includes teaching, student academic advising and mentoring, and higher education administration. 

Franklin Dukes, Ph.D., Distinguished Institute Fellow

I have been privileged to work for the Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN) since 1990, and served as its Director from 2000-2015. As a mediator and facilitator, I seek to help individuals and groups address complex public problems and conflicts in ways that strengthen communities rather than tear them apart. Each year I work on average on a dozen or so projects involving environment and land use, contaminated sites, community development, education, and health. I have also facilitated many difficult community conversations on topics ranging from faith and homosexuality, to education, to reparations for slavery. Learn more about me here. You can find my resume here.  Email Frank.

J. Michael Foreman, Special Projects Manager

Mike’s focus has been on collaborative leadership and team-based performance planning his entire career. After 30 years of state service, Mike retired from the Commonwealth of Virginia in December 2016 where he was the Director of the Office of Environmental Education at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Prior to his state career, Mike held positions in academia and business. He has been a trained facilitator since 1990 and has led and served on many collaborative efforts such as the Chesapeake Bay Program, US Forest Service Forest Legacy Program and Virginia Nonpoint Source Advisory Council, Virginia United Land Trusts, and Farmland Preservation Task Force. He has also led many NGO and state strategic planning and conservation policy efforts. Mike has been teaching the leadership portion with the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute since 2001 and is a graduate of the Covey Leadership course.

Robierre Nderitu, Fiscal & Project Manager

I am excited to join the team at IEN, and participate in the important work of mediation and working towards shared solutions in this complex world. Being an immigrant has afforded me to see different perspectives and gain a global view of problems and their solutions. I see myself as a “peace-maker” and working for IEN, albeit on the financial side, allows me to contribute to reducing conflict, through mediation and supporting projects that create shared solutions for communities all over the world. I aspire to be fully immersed in learning about and sharing our world, and leaving a better place then what I found. My background is management, leadership and creating efficiencies in organizations.

Michelle Oliva, MBA, Scholar-in-Residence

I am a management consultant, organizational development specialist and leadership coach with more than 15 years of experience working with nonprofits and social enterprises in the US and internationally. A conservatory-trained musician, I took a 20-year hiatus from playing music and returned to it about a year ago with a focus on free improvisation. My area of focus as IEN’s Scholar-in-Residence for 2018-2019 is an interdisciplinary project at the intersection of Leadership and Creativity. I seek to investigate how music and the arts tap into and channel creativity, and to explore ways to apply these learnings to help mission-driven leaders address social and economic challenges in society. I also look forward to supporting IEN across its portfolio projects as we collaborate to develop authentic, mission-driven leaders; sustainable, resilient organizations; and locally-driven community and economic development solutions. You can find my resume here and my profile hereEmail Michelle.

Tammy Switzer, Administrative Assistant

My role at IEN is part-time Administrative Assistant. I provide general administrative support to the IEN staff, but the majority of my time is spent working on the Virginia Natural Resource Leadership Institute (VNRLI). I came to IEN in September of 2008 after being a stay-at-home mom for over 10 years. I am originally from Littleton, Colorado, where I worked for the University of Colorado for 12 years. In 1999, my husband was transferred to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where we lived for six years. In 2005, his company brought us to Charlottesville.  Email Tammy.