September 26, 2012

New Community Mediation Webinar Lineup

NAFCM's pleased to announce a fresh set of webinars in our ongoing Community Mediation Webinar Series.

Take a look at the exciting topics and expert presenters we'll be featuring:
Registration for many of these events is FREE for current NAFCM members and -- for most events -- only $25 for non-members. Secure the greatest savings by joining NAFCM or renewing your membership. For the next couple days, you can still snag your annual membership during our closing September special for only $38 (individuals) or as low as $75 for programs!

Have something you'd like to see included in our Webinar Series? You can now submit webinar proposals online via our ongoing RFP!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

September 13, 2012

NAFCM to be on the TX Conflict Coach Radio Show

Check-out who's (finally) scheduled for the Texas Conflict Coach's stellar radio show! 

On October 16th, I'll be joining Pattie Porter's always impressive and fresh line-up of interesting speakers with a show titled: "The State and Growth of Community Mediation." (Definitely also give a listen to Brad Heckman's earlier show featuring his work at the mighty New York Peace Institute.

I owe some big thanks to Pattie for her generous invitation, her active interest in community mediation, and her persistence in getting this scheduled! She's both delightful online and fabulously photogenic!

Read the complete details below the break, including how you can call-in live to participate in some exciting community-focused Q&A. Looking forward to hearing from you ON AIR!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

September 12, 2012

ICCCR Study on Mediator Effectiveness

Attn: Community Mediators

The International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University is seeking your help!

ICCCR is conducting a survey of mediators aimed at identifying the most basic aspects of mediation situations that determine differences in mediator strategies and tactics. In other words, what are the most important features of mediations that effect whether a mediator facilitates or evaluates, seeks to settle or aims to transform, comes on strong or backs-off?

They've reached out to NAFCM to help spread the word about this important new study. They've also generously offered to share their findings with NAFCM and our broader community. As they do, we'll be sure to post some of the interesting findings here. (Oh, and there's also a $10 Starbucks gift card in it for ya!)

In the meantime, give a read to the official invitation letter and instructions below the break. It comes directly from Peter T. Coleman, ICCCR Director and all around field legend!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

Save the Date - OMA Annual Conference Nov. 2-3

Check out this exciting announcement from the Oregon Mediation Association's very own Judy Brodkey. (Hey Judy, look like you'll have to update OMA's slogan to celebrate "26 Years of Moving Mediation Forward!")

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

26th Annual Oregon Mediation Association Fall Conference
November 2 - 3, 2012
Ambridge Event Center – Portland, OR

The Alchemy of Conflict Resolution:
Transforming Leadership in Challenging Times

Join us for an inspiring conference including a powerful keynote address by Michelle LeBaron, JD, MA, who is an internationally renowned scholar and practitioner. She currently serves as a Professor of Law and Director of the Dispute Resolution Program at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada. Learn valuable tools and techniques from other disciplines, participate in engaging sessions, and learn to use mediation and related skills in a variety of settings.

The conference is appropriate for mediators, lawyers, community activists, non-profit staff, social workers, students and anyone interested in mediation and other forms of conflict resolution.

Visit the conference website to learn more!

Register online or download a brochure on the conference website. One and two day registration options are available.

Continuing Education Credits: NASW social work CEUs and Oregon State Bar MCLE credits are pending.

Interested in Volunteering? Visit the conference website for complete details and submit your application by October 11, 2012. Volunteer slots are generally filled in order of applications received.

Join us for this exciting and inspiring conference!

September 11, 2012

Community Activities in NOLA: A Preview

The Community Mediation scene will be hoppin' all week long, and you're invited!

Regardless whether you're able to join us in New Orleans at ACR's Annual Conference this week, there are plenty of ways for you to connect. 

Check out what we're planning:

  • Request a personal update and resources from up to two of the Recommended Community Sessions, and I will personally send you the info following the conference!
  • Read and comment on the daily community-focused conference recaps right here on this blog!
  • Plug-in to live conference updates via NAFCM's social media channels, including: Facebook, Twitter, & Google+.
  • Try your hand at NAFCM's crossword puzzle featured in the on-site program. (Email a picture of your completed crossword to enter our FREE membership drawing!)
  • Stay tuned for updates from NAFCM's on-site membership meeting, and watch for our companion online meeting to be announced shortly!
  • MAKE IT OFFICIAL: Join or Renew your NAFCM Membership during our 25% off September Special!
I'm looking forward to meeting and reconnecting with many of you this week! I hope you're also excited about the week ahead!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

July 24, 2012

RFP: Community Mediation Webinar Series

NAFCM is pleased to request a second round of proposals for its Community Mediation Webinar Series. We're seeking interesting programs, personalities, resources, and research to highlight amongst community mediation administrators and volunteers.

Initiated earlier this year, the Webinar Series has already offered nine educational events for program administrators throughout the U.S. and Canada. Now, we're seeking even more ideas to populate and continue building the Series.

  • Do you have a new or interesting program you'd like to highlight?
  • Do you have a personal or staff expertise you'd like to share with colleagues?
  • Do you know of a resource colleagues should also know about?
  • Are you a researcher with recent or upcoming work you'd like featured?
Whether one of the above applies to you, or you simply have a great webinar topic in mind, we want to hear from you!

Read the complete RFP and submit your topic ideas online. Both solo and collaborative presentations are invited! Act fast, the proposal deadline for this current round is August 15th

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

April 25, 2012

ABA Dispute Resolution Conference Recap - Day 2

Following Thursday's many activities, Friday's agenda followed-up with its own packed and powerful set of sessions. Below is a short recap of the various sessions I was able to attend.

Violence Interrupter Extraordinaire

Kicking off the morning was a buttoned-down bowtie paradigm-shattering plenary presentation by Cobe Williams. Unlike the many business-card-collecting, for-hire ADR practitioners who sat with rapt attention, Cobe employs conflict engagement on the often unforgiving Chicago streets as a Violence Interrupter with the innovative CeaseFire organization.

Featured in a new and roundly acclaimed documentary "The Interrupters," Cobe shared a number of clips from the video detailing his involvement interrupting an imminently violent situation. Throughout the clips and his supplementary commentary, Cobe spoke in a familiar language about his decidedly foreign context. "Preparation," "party self-determination," "trust," "neutrality," "honest listening," "flexibility." These words perfectly reflect the activities and values held by high-rise mediators. They also resonate perfectly with the high-stakes, gang-involved, gun-wielding conflicts in which Cobe skillfully intervenes, often with lifesaving consequence.

For folks interested in learning more about Cobe's work and that of other violence interrupters, I strongly encourage you to attend a local screening or buy the DVD of "The Interrupters." They have also created a supplementary website full of resources, including a community engagement guide (PDF).

Model Forms

From the tough streets to staid courtrooms, I moved next into a session titled: "Some Assembly Required (But Not Much): Model Materials and Their Ideas for Program Design and Evaluation." Hosted by Timothy Hedeen, and featured a panel composed of Philip Moses, CADRE; Jennifer Shack, RSI and presenter of NAFCM's two-part webinar Making the Most of Your Data; and Donna Shestowsky, UCDavis School of Law. The session recounted a number of ongoing projects to produce model forms for use with court-related and specialty mediation contexts. (This session was of particular interest because of NAFCM's own plans to develop model forms for community mediation programs! Stay tuned...)

In addition to a recap of how these projects were developed, Donna also provided a review of some new research she's undertaken that evaluates the attractiveness of different dispute resolution procedures for those in conflict. Her research, which is still being processed, gathered extensive pre- and post-survey responses from over 400 actual disputants from throughout the country who were involved in active court filings. Some of the more interesting findings she was able to report, included:
  • The difference in attractiveness between mediation, attorneys' negotiating with clients present, and a judge trial were all statistically insignificant.
  • Possible predictors of procedure attractiveness that were evaluated, included: case type, role in case, party type (individual, organization, etc.), opposing party type, defendant or plaintiff, gender, ethnicity, age group, insurance involvement, future relationship, estimated probability of winning, and court location. Interestingly, NONE of these variables predicted how attracted litigants were to using mediation! (If this finding holds throughout her final assessment, it would serve as a strong suggestion to mediation advocates that alternative selling points should be highlighted when attempting to attract parties to the mediation table.)
Mediation in the Arab Spring

Part of the inspiring nature of Mediators Beyond Borders is its ability to connect colleagues and ideas across traditional boundaries. This inspiration was on display in full force during a session titled: "Can Mediation Take Root in the Arab Spring?." Facilitated by Lynn Cole, MBB's new Board President, the session included powerful presentations from women throughout the Middle East, including Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. They each spoke about how mediation and ADR services generally could help enhance their local citizenry's access to justice, and how it could open important dialogues. "As greater acceptance of free expression fills the Middle East," one speaker proffered, "the need for the facilitative tools of dialogue increases."

MBB & Israel's "Mixed Cities"

Rounding out the conference on an international theme, my final session was another MBB event titled: "Cross Cultural Narrative Transformation in Israel's 'Mixed Cities'." This session featured a short intro to narrative mediation, and a more thorough review of one of MBB's projects to support community mediation programs in Israel.

Community mediation has a strong foundation in Israel with 24 local programs, a financial supporter in the Gishurim, and central training and technical assistance coordination offered through Nurit Bachrach's Mosaica Center for Conflict Resolution. MBB's original project involved developing a training curriculum for Jewish-Arab co-mediators to mediate Jewish-Arab disputes. As MBB continues their connection with our Israeli counterparts, additional support is being explored, including possible adoption of's Case Manager via NAFCM's member pricing, and a more formal exchange of experiences between Israeli and U.S. community mediation programs. Both of these possibilities are terribly exciting, and I look forward to seeing how they develop!

While there wasn't enough time to thoroughly unpack the concepts of narrative mediation, a few key points were shared that caught my attention, including:
  • Narrative mediation helps us reduce the clarity of rigid, dualistic, and localized conceptualizations of the world, and then helps rebuild a more dynamic, complex, and global understanding.
  • Narrative mediation helps complexify one's narrative. That complexification broadens perspective and helps one gain agency over the conflict rather than the other way around.
  • A new Center for the Study of Narrative and Conflict Resolution has been established at George Mason's S-CAR.
Finally, this session also included an elegant vision for Mediators Beyond Borders, which I captured as: "In response to conflict, rather than sending military might around the world, MBB seeds and supports mediators' minds." This is a wonderful description of the great work MBB performs under the strong leadership of our good friend and colleague Charlie Pillsbury. In as much as their vision dovetails with NAFCM's own mission to support peacemakers, I personally look forward to discovering opportunities where our collective efforts may enhance our respective aims.

Community Spottings

Regularly billed as the world's largest ADR conference, this year's gathering included a number of our community mediation friends and aligned colleagues. Some of the hallway spottings included: Alyson CarrelCenter for Conflict Resolution (Chicago); Cheryl CutronaGood Shepherd Mediation Program (Philadelphia); Lou Gieszl and Rachel WohlMACROAlan E. GrossNew York Peace Institute (NYC);  Timothy HedeenNAFCM ElderSandy HeierbacherNCDDMegan JohnstonNorthern Virginia Mediation Service (Fairfax); Mark Kleiman, Community Mediation Services (Queens, NY) and NAFCM ElderJim Melamed and Clare FowlerMediate.comJody B. MillerMediation Center of Dutchess County (Poughkeepsie, NY); Charlie PillsburyMBBCobe Williams, Violence Interrupter with Cease Fire (Chicago); and Susan YatesJennifer Shack, and Heather Scheiwe KulpRSI. There were likely many other friendly passings and wonderful smiles that've I've missed here, and for that, my sincere apologies. (Feel free to jog my feeble mind in the comments below!)

If you weren't able to join us in D.C. this year, I hope you'll be able to be part of the Section's 15th Annual Spring Conference in Chicago on April 3-6, 2013! I'll be there taking notes, representing our community network, and (hopefully) catching up with you in the hallways!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

April 23, 2012

ABA Dispute Resolution Conference Recap - Day 1

Over 900 mediators and conflict professionals descended upon our nation's Capitol last week, attending the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution's Annual Conference. From bowtie and powersuit arbitrators to casual wear violence interrupters, the conference is regularly billed as the largest annual gathering of dispute resolution professionals in the world. With over 100 concurrent sessions, packed plenaries, a booth burgeoning exhibitors' hall, and attendees from around the world, this year's conference had something for everyone. I'm particularly pleased to have represented NAFCM and share with my community mediation colleagues all the latest updates from this year's conference. 

Below is an update from Thursday, my first day on scene following a restful redeye. It'll be joined by an update from Friday's speakers, sessions, and interactions, as well as a stream of quick hit tweets from throughout the conference.

Negotiating with Terrorists & Mothers-in-Law

Thursday morning kicked off with a plenary speech by Moty Cristal, an experienced Israeli crisis negotiator with a penchant for stand-up. Moty recounted his numerous dealings with labeled terrorists groups and loose-knit groups of bad actors, specifically detailing his experiences negotiating with these counterparts in low-to-no trust environments. One of his takeaways from these hostage-involved and otherwise harrowing negotiations is an appreciation for the difference between Respect and Trust. Trust, Moty posits, places the burden of responsibility upon your counterpart; it beholds the other to act in a way conforming to your expectations. Their failure to conform to expectations damages your trust in them. Respect, on the other hand, retains an internal locus of responsibility. It is an active extension toward the other without (at least initially) the expectation of reciprocal or conforming behavior for those upon which it is bestowed. Under such a framework, you can respect a counterpart during a negotiation without necessarily trusting she will desist from conflict-related behaviors. 

This distinction is important for Moty, and other conflict professionals, because it opens the possibility to extend basic, humanizing, and collaboration inspiring (if not inducing) respect toward momentary or even mortal enemies without the further more cognitively challenging act of also trusting that your counterparts will subsequently act in a particular fashion. Of course, presuming a negotiated settlement is respectfully reached, one would hope to trust their counter would comply with the terms. And indeed, one could logically presume the possibility of such compliance is enhanced following a respectful resolution. Under Moty's model, however, the two need not necessarily be linked to at least initiate the engagement. 

Civil Discourse & Public Conflict

Following Moty's discussion on respect and trust, I made a beeline to the front row of a panel discussion on Civil Discourse and Public Conflict. Facilitated by one of my personal pantheons of conflict theory, Richard Reuben, the front table was full of civil discourse luminaries, such as Susan Carpenter, Anne Gosline, Sandy Heierbacher, Matt Leighninger, and Susan Podziba.

Speaking to a packed room, these leaders in civil discourse, deliberative democracy, dialogue & deliberation, participatory government, and other descriptors of constructive, large-scale public engagement engaged their own colleagues in detailed Q&A. They also shared their 30 second must-know recaps of this category of early-stage conflict engagement processes. Some of these recaps included the following:
  • "There is a vast set of well-established tools -- 30 years in the making -- which can be used to address the many public conflicts facing us today. It is beholden upon us to raise awareness of, disseminate, and utilize these tools.
  • "'Civic Fusion' is the goal for all these processes. It's a way for folks to connect despite -- or even because of -- their differences, to humanize, and deepen understanding."
  • "These processes are a constructive way for folks to discuss fundamental social differences."
  • "Careful assessment should occur to fit the appropriate process to the problem it seeks to address."
Participants were (and readers are) encouraged to learn more about the various discourse processes and resources. Great starting points are the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and the National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD).

The Future of Mediation Research

Community mediation programs are always on the lookout for new research to help contextualize and validate their impact. The final morning session -- part two of a mediation research mini-conference -- envisioned what the future of that research will look like not only for community folks, but practitioners and academics in all contexts. The panel of academics tackled a broad range of audience-driven issues, including the need for greater practitioner access to the newest research, connecting researchers with interested subjects/sites, and speculating on the up-and-coming in vogue research focus areas.

Some of my session notes were as follows:
  • Theory to practice jam sessions. Could be a regular, scheduled hangouts with a dedicated online discussion group. This could be opened to a very wide group of interested academics and practitioners.
  • Cultural Competence: Is it exclusively a passive competency, or does it require of a culturally competent mediator an active, responsive adaptation of process and/or skills?
  • Where's the future of mediation research headed? (1) Long-term impacts, (2) Unpacking the black box of the mediation session, (3) Moving beyond anecdotal, and (4) Affect of party preparation on outcome and perceptions of the experience.
  • Resonant research will help move the field from an art to a science.
  • How does mediation compare to extant, popularly ascribed settlement processes rather than the more traditional mediation v litigation comparison?

Regulating Mediators

Capping the day was an afternoon-long town hall meeting which tacked the ever-timely and polarizing (yes, even for mediators) topic of regulation. Facilitated by AmericaSpeaks and including 100 participating mediators and arbitrators, this ambitious event was organized using a dozen or so practice-oriented tables, each with their own impartial table-side facilitators; nifty electronic keypads; a designated thematic review group; and near instant display of aggregated input. The near three-hour session was an engaging, insightful, and data-rich -- if not decisive -- experience. Not to let the conversation fade, the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution's task force on regulation will use the info gathered during the session as they continue their discussions about whether and how to move forward on this issue.

Not wanting to wait for any task force proposal, I hurriedly took copious notes on the detailed feedback received from the meeting's many questions. Here are a few of the more interesting aggregated responses revealed during the meeting:
Notable participant demographics:
  • 100 Participants (89 mediators, 11 arbitrators)
  • Only 9% younger than 35
  • 65% were attorneys
  • 36% actively volunteer
  • 61% began their ADR involvement through legal work, while 17% were first-career ADR practitioners
Regulation is important to: ("Me" refers to town hall participants)
                                   Me          Clients     ADR Profession
Strongly Agree           15%           26%              24%
Agree                         18%           29%              31%
Neutral                       24%           16%              14%
Disagree                     18%           13%              13%
Strongly Disagree       26%           16%              19%
Mediators should be regulated:
21% - Strongly agree
24% - Agree
17% - Neither agree nor disagree
14% - Disagree
24% - Strongly disagree
If a national regulatory system were developed, would you seek to become certified?
52% - Definitely
27% - Maybe
16% - No
  5% - Don’t Know
Mediator Competency Themes (choose top two):
53% - Listen openly, reflectively, and without judgement
25% - Intellectual acuity/flexibility
24% - Competence in the process
22% - Neutrality
19% - Facilitate communications
12% - Engendering trust
12% - Professional Experience
11% - Comfort with tension/conflict
  8% - Sense of ethics
  6% - Patience
Regulation would help which of the following (choose top three; mediators' responses):
18% - Ensure adherence to professional standards
17% - Enhance the quality of practice
16%- Restrict entry to the profession
16% - Enhance the public image of the profession
16% - Protect consumers from unethical practice
  9% - Clients could make better decision about services
  5% - Increase compensation for practitioners
  4% - Increase practitioners' competitive edge
  1% - Increase entry to the profession
What are the two best ways to measure the competency of mediators?
21% - Mentoring or supervision
18% - Program evaluation criteria/Experience
14% - Performance tests or live or taped demonstrations
14% - Training requirements
13% - User evaluations
  8% - Continuing education or training
  5% - References
  4% - Degrees/education
  1% - Complaint procedures
  3% - None of the above— Mediators should not be regulated
A single national regulation system, if developed, should apply to which of the following? (Select all that apply)
31% - Entry level
21% - Every 5 years for active professionals
21% - Part-time practitioners
18% - Seasoned practitioners
  9% - Other
There was a lot of interesting feedback from the town hall that deserves further discussion. For example:
  • While 38% of mediators disagreed they should be regulated, only 16% replied they definitely would not apply to such a system if implemented. Does this suggest to possible regulators that a "build it and they will apply" approach will work, regardless dissonance during the design phase?
  • The third most desired role for regulation is to "restrict entry to the profession." How does this jive with community mediation's fundamental drive to train leagues of neighbors, family, and friends to become both formal and informal nearby mediators?
  • Just over half of the participants identified listening skills as a top competency for mediators. Beyond that skill set, however, there was little agreement as to what else is important for mediators. Why is there such disagreement about key competencies?
  • Why is it that fewer than a fifth of participants believed "seasoned practitioners" should be regulated? What implications would arise if a two-tier system of regulation were to be developed for mediators of varying levels of experience?
After jotting the above notes, I learned a summary Preliminary Report of the session would be shared with participants. If you're interested in this topic, do be sure to give it a thorough read. This is the same info potential regulating bodies, including (possibly) the ABA's SDR, will review when designing any future regulatory scheme.

What are your thoughts? Is mediator regulation an idea whose time has come? Would such a system adversely affect community mediation programs or their volunteer mediators? What, if any, community-related special considerations should be built into any future regulatory system? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

March 29, 2012

Rebel with a Cause

What motivates an individual to step boldly into rooms full of angst, pain, and vitriol, with eyes and mind wide-open? What drives a person to move toward conflict with nothing more than pen in hand? In short, what motivates a community mediator?

With 20,000 exceptionally trained volunteer mediators helping nearly a million individuals each year, motivations likely abound. Personal challenge, professional development, restorative aims, adrenaline highs, and more gird the urge to sit twixt seething tension and icy stares. Variously motivated, community mediators draw upon their personal incitement to intervene and, thus, become their communities’ go-to problem solvers -- capable of engaging the most difficult, entrenched, and strained situations with exceptional competence, steely aplomb, and impressive results.

Take a peek at my own journey in joining the community mediation movement in the Association for Conflict Resolution's latest edition of ACResolutions (PDF). "Rebel with a Cause: The Making of a Community Mediator" is a short account of what moved me from the classroom to my community's fence-strewn front lines. It's also a good read for first-profession mediators who are not drawing upon and then diverting however subtlety or substantially from a decades-long career of legal, therapeutic, social, or any other work.

Have a read and then share your own motivations for volunteering as a community mediator in the comments below!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

March 21, 2012

The Perfect Start to a Mediator's Day

Stand aside Starbucks, Seattle's Best, Scooters, and in-a-pinch Kwik Trip java pharma. My morning cafeti√®re √† piston will now be brewing a whole bean espresso roast appealing to my more contemplative side.

In addition to clarifying questions, anger-calming tips, and impasse-averting techniques, the modern mediator can now also add has a preparatory cup 'o joe to her toolkit. A local dispute resolution program is now offering Mediator Blend Coffee as the perfect start to an unswayable day. Offering delicate notes of milk chocolate, caramel, hazenut, and citrus fruit pervade, this is a decidedly creativity-inspiring rather than palate-neutral blend.

Just think of the possible uses:

  • Need to drive home a point to new mediator trainees? Implement a Pavlovian mix of lesson-feedback-java reward to ensure the concepts stick.
  • Particularly cantankerous clients arriving within the hour? Take a double shot and get amped to soothe!
  • At a loss for what to do in the heat of a spiraling mediation? Serve up a round of Mediator Blend to the parties and watch the room relax and resolve itself away!

How else could you use the new Mediator Blend in your program or practice? Share your scenarios in the comments below!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

PS. Also pairs nicely with a morning read of The State of Community Mediation!

2012 Board Election Results

Congratulations NAFCM's newest Board Members-Elect!

We are thrilled to announce the results of this year's Board of Directors nomination and election processes.  Following an impressive number and quality of nominations earlier this year, the NAFCM Board settled on a slate of nine candidates. We encouraged members to learn more about each candidate and cast their vote for those they felt would help advance our field. After a remarkable member turnout during the voting process, we are pleased to welcome six of the candidates as our newest Board Members-Elect!

The newest members of NAFCM's Board of Directors, whose terms will officially begin on May 4th, are as follows:

      Member-ElectVern Best
      Location: Washington, D.C.

      Member-ElectBrad Heckman
      Program:  New York Peace Institute
      Location: New York, NY

      Member-ElectLaura Jeffords
      ProgramThe Mediation Center
      Location: Asheville, NC

      Member-ElectD.G. Mawn
      ProgramCommunity Systems Online
      Location: Louisville, KY

      Member-ElectSteffanie Medina
      ProgramCreative Mediation
      Location: San Luis Obispo, CA

      Member-ElectKelly Riley
      Program: Nebraska Mediation Association
      Location: Eagle, NE

We also had two current Board members re-elected to serve a second three-year term, including:

      Member-ElectPeter Taillie
      Program: Mid Shore Community Mediation
      Location: Easton, MD

      Member-Elect: Malcolm D. White
      Program: Neighborhood Justice Center
      Location: Las Vegas, NV

Over the next six weeks leading up to the Board's annual Face-to-Face meeting, we will be featuring extended profiles of our newest Board Members-Elect as part of our "Meet the Board" blog series. We invite you to click in and learn more about their impressive backgrounds and exciting goals for their Board tenure. 

As we begin to orient these exceptional individuals onto NAFCM's Board, we also want to take time to thank our members. Your votes have provided these individuals an incredible opportunity to serve you. Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully review their backgrounds, statements, and goals, and then cast your vote in this year's elections. We look forward to harnessing all our newest energies and resources to continue to serve and support all the good you do.

This truly is an exciting time for all our new Board Members-Elect, for NAFCM, and for our field!  Congratulations!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In the 5th century, a teenage boy of Romano-British origin was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. He escaped roughly six years later but returned to Ireland as an ordained Bishop. St. Patrick is credited for spreading Christianity to his pagan captors. The clover, or shamrock, was a sacred plant that symbolized the rebirth of spring. St. Patrick famously used the clover to explain the trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He died on March 17, 461 and his life story grew to mythological proportions and is ingrained in Irish culture. He is the patron saint of Ireland and is celebrated in both the secular and non-secular worlds....

Sophia Gilmer

March 12, 2012

The State of Community Mediation 2011

NAFCM is pleased to release The State of Community Mediation 2011. This report is one of the most extensive reviews of the U.S. community mediation field ever undertaken! It includes reports from over a hundred local programs, contains key statistics never before reported, and shares insights on many aspects of this important and growing practice area.

Here are just a few of the must-read highlights contained within the 40-page report:

  • 400 Programs
  • 1,300 Full-Time Equivalent Staff Members
  • 20,000 Volunteer Mediators
  • 400,000 Case Referrals per year
  • 900,000 Service Recipients per year
  • 3 Full-Time Equivalent Staff Members per Program (average)
  • 50 Volunteer Mediators per Program (average)
  • $150,000 - $200,000 Annual Budget (average)
  • 30+ Distinct Service Types
  • 9 Services per Program (average)
  • 100+ Distinct Case Types
  • 36 Case Types per Program (average)
  • 4 to 70+ Case Types per Program (range)
  • 5 Revenue Categories per Program (mode)
  • Roughly 50% of Funding Originates from Government Sources
  • 20,000 Volunteer Mediators Fieldwide
  • 35 Hours Volunteered per year (average)
  • $20,000,000 Donated in Professional Mediation Services Fieldwide
  • 16 : 1 Ratio of Volunteers to Full-Time Equivalent Staff Members
  • 4 : 1 Ratio of Staff to Volunteer Hours
  • 350 Full-Time Equivalent Volunteers Fieldwide
  • 0.9 Full-Time Equivalent Volunteers per Program (average)

Read and engage the complete report, which is now posted -- for FREE! -- in its entirety on NAFCM's website.

Many thanks go out to the JAMS Foundation for their support of this report, as well as to my lovely and luminous co-author Wendy E. H. Corbett.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

March 6, 2012

2012 Board Elections

NAFCM has now released its Ballot for the 2012 Board Election! There is an impressive, diverse group of nine candidates on this year's Ballot. We encourage you to review the candidates (below the break) and cast your vote today! 

Helping to choose our Board of Directors is an important way you can shape the direction of not only NAFCM, but the broader community mediation movement.

NOTE: Voting in the annual election is open to current NAFCM members only. If you are not a current member, please join or renew your membership today. Once renewed, a link to the official ballot will be emailed to you. Be sure to act fast! Voting closes Friday, March 16th.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

February 29, 2012

Leaping toward Self-Determination

Happy February 29, 2012! 

It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 days to complete a revolution around the sun and Leap years were added to keep the calendar in line with these revolutions. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar, in his aptly named Julian calendar, was the first to add Leap Years; however, he added too many. The Gregorian, or common solar calendar, corrected this some 1500 years later. Its 365 days includes Leap Years under three conditions:
  • if the year is evenly divisible by 4;
  • if the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;
  • the year is also evenly divisible by 400, then it is a Leap Year.
This means that 2000 and 2400 are Leap Years, while 1900, 2100, 2200, and 2300 are not.

Sophia Gilmer

February 17, 2012

Romance the Other 365 Days a (Leap) Year

We're pleased to welcome Sophia Gilmer, NAFCM's new intern who will be sharing a continuing series of conflict resolution tips blog posts.

Romantic relationships are long term mutually satisfying extensive collaborations in which negotiations are constant and, as in all relationships, often occur without you realizing it. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In proposes a conscientious method of principled negotiation. (See how these principles can reduce relationship conflicts below.) 

Sophia Gilmer

February 6, 2012

Community Mediation Webinar Series

NAFCM is bringing all the latest in community mediation direct to you! Through the new Community Mediation Webinar Series, you can connect with the latest discussions, leading research, and inspiring topics, all from the convenience of your own office!

Staying current couldn't be more convenient! We realize budgets are strained, travel expenses have been excised, and time out-of-office is a decreasing luxury for many program administrators. That's why we're brining conference-quality trainings direct to you! Even better, we're making each webinar FREE for current NAFCM members! Non-members can register for only $20 per event or, better yet, join NAFCM to save even more!

Check out the initial list of webinars and stay tuned for new additions arriving regularly throughout 2012. Don't miss out, registration will be limited to only 20 seats per event!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

February 3, 2012

D+I Week 3: Resources to Equip Our Commitment

The third week of NAFCM's Diversity + Inclusion Discussion Series is now a wrap. This week's theme: "Resources to Equip Our Commitment" was focused on ensuring our principled aims are supported by accessible resources, insightful research, and local connections. Toward that end, our Series facilitators posted a range of interesting discussion prompts and compiled an initial set of helpful resources. Review the complete list of daily discussion prompts (below the break) and recommend additional adr-related diversity resources in the comments below.

This week also saw the release of NAFCM's Survey on Diversity + Inclusion within Community Mediation. This Survey is an ambitious, first-of-its-kind undertaking to purposefully and methodically collect information on how community mediation programs envision, engage, and excel in diversity and inclusion practices at the local level. To further inform and engender continued dialogue, results from this Survey will be compiled into a report from NAFCM's D+I Working Group and shared with the broader field.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 29, 2012

Community Mediation Diversity Survey

NAFCM is pleased to release its Survey on Diversity + Inclusion within Community Mediation. This Survey, designed for program administrators, seeks to inform a more nuanced understanding of how we envision, engage, and execute the complex issues of culture, diversity, and inclusion.

A first of its kind for community mediation, the D+I Survey includes a series of both quantitative and qualitative measures; seeking as detailed responses as parties have time to share. It also seeks to collect data along a number of common metrics of diversity within each of the program staff, Board member, volunteer mediator, and client contexts. This latter series will connect seamlessly with comparative data from the latest U.S. Census, allowing for a real-time assessment of how diversity within mediation programs mirrors that of their local communities'.

In appreciation for completing the Survey, NAFCM will provide responding member programs with a personalized report on how their responses compare both to other community mediation programs, as well as to recent U.S. Census data from their own specific communities. These personalized reports will help programs better understand and promote their progress toward embracing diversity and inclusion.

Of course, it warrants note that while NAFCM anticipates the information gathered through this Survey, it readily and humbly acknowledges the impossibility of roundly quantifying culture or even counting all that which truly counts. Still, the broad information gathered through this Survey can help further inform and motivate deeper examinations of self and service within our wonderfully complex communities. After completing the survey, we welcome feedback on how this resource may be improved and/or supplemented for future uses. 

After you complete the D+I Survey, I encourage you to learn about and contribute to NAFCM's ongoing Discussion Series on Diversity + Inclusion.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 27, 2012

D+I Week 2: Identifying Opportunities for Growth

We're wrapping up the second week of NAFCM's monthlong Diversity & Inclusion Discussion Series. This week's focus encourages us to thoughtfully and constructively examine where the field has yet to achieve its aims of fully embracing diversity in all its measures. Throughout the week, we've entreated the community dispute resolution field to examine diversity from the client, volunteer, and staff/Board member contexts.

I invite you to read this week's entire list of daily discussion prompts (included below the break). Then, share your own thoughts on these topics in the comments below.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 24, 2012

Press Release and Open Letter for NY CDRCs


Continuing our support for New York Community Dispute Resolution Centers' ongoing Mediation Postcard Campaign, NAFCM is distributing a press release and open letter to NY's judiciary (complete letter below).

We encourage our colleagues throughout the field to show your support by lending your name to the campaign today!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 20, 2012

D+I Week 1: Celebrating Our Progress

The first week of NAFCM's monthlong Diversity and Inclusion Discussion Series is now coming to a close, but we're not yet ready to stop the conversation! Centered around this week's theme of "Celebrating Our Progress," listserve participants have been entreated by a number of daily topics and related prompts. For those not on the list, however, I'd like to open a concurrent communication channel through this post and its comments section. 

Take a look at this week's daily topics and related prompts (below the break) and then share your comments on those that spark an interest.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM