Discovering a Passion for Mediation. Member Spotlight: Claire McLeveighn

Claire McLeveighn is a newly qualified mediator from New York with a background in international affairs and public policy. Driven by a passion for social justice, human rights, and gender equality, Claire aspires to develop her practice in order to contribute to conflict resolution and inclusive peacebuilding efforts at both local and international levels.


From an early age, Claire’s experiences shaped her commitment to addressing systemic inequalities. Her journey began at a specialized performing arts high school in New York City, which first exposed her to the harsh realities of poverty and social inequality. This experience motivated her to study Sociology at Brown University to gain a deeper understanding of societal problems and potential solutions. Claire then went on to pursue a Master’s in Public Administration at Columbia University, taking elective courses in International Affairs.

After graduating, Claire served under Mayor Shirley Franklin, Atlanta’s first woman Mayor, where she took on a unique dual role as Director of Government Affairs and Director of International Affairs. While working on various policy initiatives, Claire gained firsthand exposure to the complex interlinkages between gender, development, public services, and peacebuilding. After Mayor Franklin was approached by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), Claire was tasked with staffing the Gender Equality Initiative, where she worked to develop training, case studies and actionable strategies for promoting gender equality worldwide.

Discovering a calling in mediation 

It was also during her time working with Mayor Franklin that Claire first encountered mediation, observing a successful process to resolve a high-stakes water dispute between the city and a neighboring municipality. Claire was “fascinated and intrigued” by mediation’s capacity to resolve complex issues through a non-adversarial approach, compared to a protracted legal battle. This formative experience planted the seed that would eventually lead Claire to train as a mediator.

Years later, after relocating back to New York City, Claire stumbled upon MBBI via an email listserv. She began attending meetings, making connections, and “soaking up knowledge” before finally becoming a member in 2019. Since joining, Claire has been an active participant in MBBI’s involvement with the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). In 2021, she had the honor of being selected as a speaker on a panel discussion about the economic impacts of COVID-19 on women. Claire has continued attending CSW annually, finding it a powerful environment to learn from women leaders working on conflict resolution and gender equality worldwide.

Developing her practice

After her years-long engagement with MBBI, Claire finally decided to pursue formal mediation training through the New York Peace Institute in 2023. Now, as she seeks to build upon her training and gain experience through local casework, Claire is optimistic that her path will continue revealing opportunities to contribute towards building a more peaceful and equitable world.

In a world riddled with conflict and multidimensional challenges, Claire recognizes that we are often challenged to find hope. However, Claire remains encouraged by the people and perspectives she encounters through her engagement with the MBBI community, noting that “the more of us who understand conflict resolution and care about building peace, the better.”

Article by Natalie Dewar, MBBI Writer