Bob Stains, Principal

When a divisive conflict threatens your organization –especially on sensitive issues like identity and religion- it’s good to have support from a someone with a cool head, a steady hand and the wisdom of long experience. Bob Stains, founder and principal of Bob Stains and Associates, has over 30 years of experience working with deep divisions by consulting, coaching, training, facilitating and mediating.

Bob has trained over 30,000 people in dialogue, conflict resolution and communication skills and worked with clients from across the US and 17 other countries. His clients have included universities, community agencies, churches, and independent schools well as national and international organizations.

Bob uses his decades of experience as a dialogue facilitator and mediator to help people in organizations to communicate across deep differences in ways that leave them connected, not divided. He is noted for his human, collaborative, client-centered approach; for his teaching and facilitation skills and for the wisdom he brings from long experience working with deep conflict in multiple settings and countries.

Bob assembles teams to best meet clients’ needs, drawing from the extensive, international network of seasoned professionals he has worked with over the years. Clients he has served include the Harvard Negotiation Project, CoRe Group in Manila Harvard Divinity School, the American Church in Paris, MIT, the House of Bishops of the US Episcopal Church, the Center for Creative Dialogue in Taipei, the National Institute of Mental Health, Christian and Jewish communities of faith, NASA, Southern Vermont College and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In 2021 Bob launched “Transforming Dialogue,” a small group coaching, training and mentoring program, to help people develop or deepen skills for planning and facilitating dialogues on divisive issues, especially identity. To learn more, please click the link: TD link here.

I was totally impressed by Bob’s skill in leading dialogue. Throughout a week-long conference I directed for about 20 evangelical pastors, Bob modeled best practices for the group. The pastors were there for one week to learn about modern science, on topics from astronomy to evolutionary biology. Some of these topics, such as evolution, can be tricky to navigate, either personally or for their congregants. Bob presented a summary of the best practices to get groups to share and diffuse tension, which was memorable, pointing out the importance of threats to a person’s identity and how that can start a counterproductive situation. Bob is at the top of his game in this field and I trust his judgment and instincts he has gained from years of experience.
Craig Story

Professor of Biology Director, Pre-Health Professions Director, Pastors and Science Project, Gordon College



Founder, “Transforming-Dialogue” training, mentoring and group coaching program.

In this six-month program I train, mentor and coach practitioners and organization leaders through a self-paced curriculum, live training sessions and online group coaching and mentoring. For more information see my dedicated web site:

Founder, Bob Stains and Associates, Conflict Transformation

I help groups and organizations to heal wounds related to identity differences by facilitating dialogues, consulting to leaders, training and coaching in-house facilitators. I also work with conflict engagement professionals to train, mentor and coach them to advance their practice of designing and facilitating dialogues to repair identity-based divisions.

Senior Associate

Essential Partners (fka Public Conversations Project)

I currently serve as Senior Associate, training and mentoring other practitioners in the US and abroad, designing training programs and facilitating challenging conversations where identity differences are at the core. I helped build the organization over the space of 22 years holding several positions, but throughout my tenure had the development of training programs as a key responsibility.


Consultant (15 years)

Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School

Coached business, political and NGO leaders from the US and other countries on developing more effective interpersonal communication skills to overcome negotiation challenges. Part of the Interpersonal Skills component of the Harvard Negotiation Summer Institute and the Harvard Negotiation Project Spring session.

Visiting Researcher

Boston University School of Theology Religion and Conflict Transformation Program

Adjunct Professor

Mitchell Hamline School of Law, St. Paul, MN

Adjunct Instructor

Tom Porter Program in Religion and Conflict Transformation, Boston University School of Theology

Adjunct Faculty

Harvard Divinity School

Adjunct Faculty

Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law

Mediator; Mediator Trainer; Consultant

United States Postal Service REDRESS program


Community Peacemaker Award

For contributions to the field of mediation and alternative dispute resolution as part of the Public Conversations Project team.
Cambridge Community Dispute Settlement Center, Oct 2016

American Fellow

Named an American Fellow of YSEALI, an initiative of President Obama.
Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Professional Fellows Program, Jul 2016

Plaque of Appreciation

Recognition for a series of workshops on dialogue skills for various conflict resolution practitioners in the Philippines.
Conflict Resolution Group Foundation, the National Center for Mediation and the Young South Asian Leadership Initiative, Manila, The Philippines, Jul 2016

President’s Award

As part of the team at The Public Conversations Project, for successfully adapting family therapy techniques for use in conflicts about public issues.
Southern California Mediation Association, 2006

Distinguished Contribution to Dispute Resolution

As part of the team at The Public Conversations Project, for successfully adapting family therapy techniques for use in conflicts about public issues.
Graduate Program in Dispute Resolution, University of Massachusetts in Boston, Jun 2000

Award for Innovation and Contribution to Family Therapy

As part of the team at The Public Conversations Project, for successfully adapting family therapy techniques for use in conflicts about public issues.
American Family Therapy Academy, Jun 1999

Mary Parker Follett Award for Excellence and Innovation in Dispute Resolution

As part of the team at The Public Conversations Project, for successfully adapting family therapy techniques for use in conflicts about public issues.
Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution, Oct 1997