About Us

Photo credit: News Gazette

Elaine Shpungin, Ph.D., is the founder and director of Conflict 180. 

Elaine wants to contribute to systems that address conflict more courageously, compassionately and restoratively.

Her secret lifetime goal is “Circles in Congress.”

After serving as the director of the University of Illinois’ Psychological Services Center for 12 years, Elaine founded Conflict 180 in 2016, with the mission of providing training, consulting, and coaching to organizations that want to create more positive climates, and address conflict more constructively. The Conflict 180 motto of “turning conflict into connection” describes the 180 degree turn that is possible when systems are willing to courageously tackle their “elephants” and create environments in which people thrive rather than survive.

Elaine’s consulting is based on decades of hands-on experience, and the synthesis of research and best practices from the fields of psychology, communication, organizational change, leadership and diversity.

Elaine also brings more than ten years of study and application from the fields of conflict and restorative justice, including her work with Restorative Circles©, the award winning dialogue process co-created by Dominic Barter and colleagues in Brazil.

Currently, Elaine is working with half a dozen Midwest schools across two large school districts with high poverty rates.

As the proud parent of two kids, 16 and 11, Elaine also has plenty of practice in applying restorative principles at home – which continues to teach her about constructive – and destructive – approaches to conflict and communication.

Elaine’s writing has appeared in academic journals, scholarly books, web magazines, popular books on psychology, and her Conflict 180 blog. Her weekly Restorative Tips newsletter, with more than 800 subscribers, is available on the Conflict 180 website.

To restore herself, Elaine likes to “come into the peace of wild things” with her husband and kids, bike to work, practice yoga, read speculative fiction, watch superheroes on Netflix, and eat 72% dark chocolate. You can reach Elaine by emailing Elaine@Conflict180.com



Mikhail Lyubansky, Ph.D., is Elaine’s partner in life and in Conflict 180. He is involved in many aspects of training, especially at the intersection of racial equity and restorative justice. He also evaluates Conflict 180 interventions, supervises Conflict 180 students and interns, and runs the Conflict 180 social media accounts.

He is also a member of the teaching faculty in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where among other courses, he teaches Psychology of Race and Ethnicity and graduate-level courses on restorative justice.

Mikhail has over two decades of experience in teaching and writing about racial justice and has been studying, facilitating, sharing, and writing about Restorative Circles since 2009.  In addition to multiple book chapters and peer-reviewed articles (see vitae), Mikhail recently co-edited an academic text Toward a Socially Responsible Psychology for a Global Age and regularly explores racial justice and restorative justice themes in his Psychology Today blog: Between the Lines.

Born in the former Soviet Union, Mikhail immigrated with his family to the United States as a child in 1977. You can reach him at lyubanskym@gmail.com.


STUDENT MEMBERS: Our team also includes a diverse group of trained undergraduate and graduate students with a commitment to social justice, restorative solutions, and community collaboration.



Our work stands on the shoulders of many mentors. We owe particular gratitude to:

dominicbarter2016       kitmiller2013     baynvc_lp


Our beautiful logo was created by Kate Ross. 



Please note: Conflict 180 does not pay indirect costs.


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