Tanya Denckla Cobb



B.A., Government, Smith College


Director of the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation (IEN) since 2015, Tanya Denckla Cobb is a professional public policy mediator with deep experience in mediating and facilitating challenging issues across a broad range of community and regional issues. She is passionate about bringing people together to discover common ground and create solutions for mutual gain. Her winding pathway to this profession exposed her to conflict management in numerous different sectors - working in international labor rights, community and family mediation, and serving as director of two community forestry nonprofit organizations.  

After training as a mediator in 1991, she became one of the first Virginia-certified mediators in 1993. She also became certified to train mediators and to mentor mediators-in-training with the Community Mediation Center of Charlottesville.

In 1997 she joined the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation where her work involves facilitating and mediating a broad range of community and environmental issues, and also conducting a wide range of trainings in conflict management and negotiation. 

Tanya loves to work with the student interns at IEN, as well as to teach and work with learners of all ages. In 1999, she co-founded and continues to serve as teaching faculty for the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute (VNRLI), a cross-sector professional development program. She also continues to teach a seminar for the National Preservation Institute (NPI) on negotiation and conflict management for cultural and natural resources. 

Through her time at UVA she also has led numerous efforts in sustainable food systems - teaching a graduate course on food system planning for eight years, coordinating In 2007 the first Virginia Food Security Summit, co-facilitating the founding of the Virginia Food System Council, co-founding an experimental multi-university Food Systems Leadership course, and co-founding and continuing to coordinate and Chair the UVA Sustainable Food Collaborative. 

She has authored two books relating to sustainable food systems, co-authored numerous journal articles, co-authored chapters for three other books, and with the IEN team facilitated three Governor's Summits and produced dozens of reports for state agencies and other clients on stakeholder consensus-seeking processes. At home, she enjoys the restorative energy of gardening and cooking from her garden. 

While IEN is known nationally for its work, one of my goals is to raise IEN’s profile and value within the university itself. I am working with the IEN team to foster cross-university research partnerships on community resilience and also to expand our training and mediation services within the university. In addition to working with the large teaching faculty team to ensure that the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute, a professional development program, stays fresh and cutting-edge every year, the IEN team also is building a set of professional training modules in group facilitation, conflict management, and equitable collaboration.

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