Mary Jacksteit is an Associate of Essential Partners. For more than 25 years, Mary has been a practitioner in dialogue, deliberation, mediation, and dispute resolution with an overarching interest in how this work can contribute to community-building and depolarizing our society. Her work with Public Conversations over the last 15 years has been helping non-profits, religious organizations and community groups talk about challenging issues and embed new ways of dealing with differences. Her primary work commitments are as a senior practitioner with the DC-based firm, Justice and Sustainability. She was formerly Chair of the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP), a Presidential appointment. 

In the 1990s and again from 2004 - 2007 Mary worked for the conflict resolution organization, Search for Common Ground. She directed the Network for Life and Choice, a project for which Essential Partners (then Public Conversations) was a close advisor (bringing together people opposed over abortion in 20 cities across the country.) A later initiative, Collaboration DC, helped residents and local leaders in the city of Washington DC work together on education, community development, poverty, and other critical local issues. Mary's appointment to the FSIP reflects her background in labor relations. The Panel mediates and arbitrates negotiation impasses for US government agencies and unions representing employees.


At a Glance


University of Pittsburgh, BA

George Mason University School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, MS

Georgetown University Law School, JD


Training for Dialogue and Mediation Professionals

Civic efficacy, political polarization, and civic engagement

Dialogue on contentious public policy issues, e.g. : abortion, unplanned pregnancy, animal welfare, mental health

Dialogue in Communities of Faith