The Center for Dispute Settlement recently appointed Frank Liberti, of Rochester, as president and CEO.
The announcement comes shortly after news that former President and CEO Sherry Walker-Cowart stepped down after 25 years of service. Liberti has been with the Center since 2009 and most recently served as director of police community relations programs.
“It was important to the board that our next CEO bring a deep passion for the work of the agency and its mission, and we feel strongly that Frank is the right fit.” said David Tang, board of directors chairman. “Frank brings to his new role almost a decade of experience as a highly valued staff member and program director for the agency. He has an impressive track record serving in strategic positions in both the private and public sector”.
Liberti graduated from St. John Fisher College with a degree in mathematics and chemistry before completing a graduate certificate in industrial and labor relations at Cornell University. He went on to serve in the federal sector, specifically in the postal service where he held human resources, labor relations and management positions.
His work on labor management issues, such as contract interpretations and negotiations, lead to an interest in mediation that drew him to the Center’s community-building work. He first trained as a volunteer mediator, apprenticed and certified by the state judiciary in the 1990s before becoming a civilian review board panelist and chairperson.
Liberti went on to serve as a Center board member, serving from 2002 until he was offered an opportunity to join the agency as a staff member in 2009.
In his role as director of police community relations, a number of program enhancements have been made in response to public feedback and the evolving field of civilian oversight of law enforcement. Liberti became a certified practitioner of oversight through his work and affiliation with the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. Each of the Center’s police community relations programs is focused on building bridges between the community and the police who serve it.
In his new role, Liberti aims to increase the Center’s presence within the community.
“My hope is to bring to the forefront the rich history that this agency has in the field of conflict-resolution,” he said. “We have so much to offer, particularly in the very polarizing times we find ourselves in. We provide a safe place for people to have hard conversations. We actually believe that conflict provides an opportunity for personal and community growth, and that’s what we see all the time. It’s a privilege to be part of and witness positive change, that’s what I love most about this work.”
Walker-Cowart strongly backs the board’s decision.
“My belief is that Frank will continue advancing the work the Center is doing to help create a culture of trust throughout our communities,” she said.
Cheryl Hayward, who currently serves as the community advocate and manager of police community relations programs, will replace Liberti in his director role.
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