As we have heard from many of you, one of the things SCMA can do for you is to continue to provide lost cost and high-quality programming to help nurture your minds and to continue to build your practices. Judging from the attendance at our workshops, webinars, town halls, and institutes this year, that is working for you. But our hard-working volunteers are not done yet! June 8-9 is our new Family Mediation Institute (FMI) titled “Essential Skills and Innovative Approaches for Family Mediation.” The keynote speaker, Dr. Sam Alibrando, will kick off the FMI with a Friday afternoon workshop on “The Emotionally Intelligent Mediator,” a relevant topic to all mediators. That workshop will be immediately followed by a reception, and then a full day of Family Law-only programming on Saturday. If you are not a family law mediator and just want to attend Friday, our easy registration makes it possible; all others can get combined pricing for the two-day event at the Doubletree Hotel in Santa Ana. There is still time to register for the event! You may register here.
June is also the time when many of you start making your plans for our Annual Conference, where hundreds of Southern California mediators come together for a variety of workshops and networking activities. Please save the date for this year’s conference, set for November 2 and 3 at the L.A. Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. We are delighted to welcome the American Arbitration Association and its “Mediation.org” as our Advanced Track program planner; look for us to post more details on that programming in the summer months.
As SCMA President, I often stand in the shadow of mediators who have dedicated much of their lives to helping the mediation community be a better place in which to work. Two of those luminaries have earned SCMA’s highest honors and have agreed to join us for the festivities in November. Our Cloke-Millen Peacemaker award goes to an individual who has inspired us for years through her passion and dedication to peacemaking. On November 3, Ken Cloke will introduce Avis Ridley-Thomas as our award winner and we are so honored to have her be our plenary speaker for our Annual Conference. The previous night, November 2, will be our dinner held to honor a mediator who has inspired us with her dedication and passion for education; we will be delighted to bestow the L. Randolph Lawry award upon Professor Lisa Klerman of USC Gould School of Law. We hope you will make plans to join us for all of the festivities and the learning that accompanies our Annual Conference.
I wish each and every one of you a safe and rejuvenating summer. If you have the opportunity to go to one of our programs, I hope you will take the time to thank one of our many volunteers who made that event happen. None of this is possible without the hard work of your colleagues on the SCMA Board and its various committees that so graciously volunteer countless hours to make our mediation workplace a better place. To all of them, I continue to give my thanks and accolades.
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” These words, uttered by the great American Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s “color line” years before the landmark case of Brown vs. Board of Education and decades before the civil rights movement, has special significance for those of us in conflict resolution who are constantly devoting ourselves to impacting lives in positive ways. These words resonated with us as SCMA’s sister organization, Kids Managing Conflict (KMC), hosted dozens of southern California peer mediation program administrators and coaches at its April 26 Symposium on Kids Managing Conflict: Creating Peace on Our Schools Through Dispute Resolution Programs at the California Endowment for the Arts. As Sally Patchen, KMC’s President, noted in her opening remarks, peer mediators have a statistically significant impact on conflict reduction in the schools. SCMA congratulates KMC at its first annual conference of its kind and looks forward to continuing to support KMC’s great work in the community.
SCMA’s own 6th Annual Celebration of Peer Mediation, hosted by SCMA’s immediate Past President Jason Harper, is being held on May 3 at 6 p.m. at the Galen Center at the USC campus. This conference will enable you to hear from student peer mediators and professionals in discussing best practices in peer mediation. Please join us; you cannot beat the $0 cost. You may register at: https://www.scmediation.org/scma-calendar/npe-events/?eid=4361
April finished our initial webinar series to help you build you mediation practices, as past SCMA President Wendy Kramer delivered the very popular webinar on “Tips on Building a Financially Successful Mediation Practice.” If you missed one or more of our Building your Mediation Practice series, and would like to watch a recorded copy, they are available on our website. You may see them at https://www.scmediation.org/webinars/
May brings us our extremely popular annual Employment Mediation Institute. The conference theme this year is “On the Front Lines: How Mediators can Help Heal Workplaces in the #METOO Era.” There is still room to register for this event and discounted “early bird” registration is available through May 4. The panoply of speakers includes some renown employment mediators and speakers, with introductory remarks by Professor Lisa Klerman of USC Gould School of Law. The full schedule of speakers and panels is at https://www.scmediation.org/employment-mediation-institute-2018/, including Cherry-Marie B. Destura, of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and Harold Coleman, Jr. of the American Arbitration Association’s Mediation.org. Thank you to President-elect Angela Reddock-Wright and conference chair Samantha Blake for putting together this outstanding lineup of speakers.
And those of you who are in Family Law will not want to miss our two-day Family Mediation Institute in Orange County on June 8-9. Keynote speaker and author Dr. Sam Alibrando heads an all-star lineup of family mediation professionals divided into various panels; a larger description of the program is located at https://www.scmediation.org/family-mediation-institute-2018/ Thank you to Board member Terri Breer and Communications Chair Susan Guthrie and the host of others who have dedicated their time to putting this exciting new conference together.
As you can see from the above, your volunteer Board and committees are dedicated to continuing to add value to your membership. In addition to the above activities, there are a host of others, including our monthly professional development groups. We welcome your comments and contributions and thank you for your continued support.
Providing opportunities for professional networking, helping mediators build their practices, and low cost educational programming all go to the heart of what SCMA means to many of us. I am so thankful for all the volunteers who continue to devote their efforts for the benefit of our membership. The diversity of our programming continues to make SCMA the premier mediation organization.
Building your mediation practice? Many of you were able to join us in March for Board member Mark Lemke’s webinar on “Using LinkedIn to Build Your Mediation Practice.” If not, you can view it in our webinar library along with past president Nikki Tolt’s “Building Your Mediation Skills and Practice.” Our upcoming April webinar, past president Wendy Kramer’s “Tips to Building a Financially Successful Mediation Practice,” is a tremendous complement to our previous webinars. You may register for this webinar at https://www.scmediation.org/scma-calendar/npe-events/?eid=4347
And what about a workshop for those of you interested in using your mediation skills in other work environments? We have that too, as Jason Harper, our immediate Past President, heads a panel of six mediators who will address Non-Traditional and Unexplored Career Paths for Mediators at USC Gould School of Law on April 7. There is still some space available to register for this event; see https://www.scmediation.org/scma-calendar/npe-events/?eid=4293
Professional networking? If you haven’t had a chance to join one of our regional professional development groups, April is a great time to do so! April will see the launch of our Orange County PDG, with much thanks to Ed Pallotta. But other regional PDGs will also be holding their monthly meetings led by our many dedicated volunteers; please see our website for that information as it is posted.
But April marks the return of one of our best social networking programs, our breakfast with SCMA past presidents. Those of you interested in connecting with some of the top mediators who have served as president of our organization will find this an excellent opportunity to do so. We will also spend some time at this breakfast honoring Joe Markowitz, our 2014 President who was taken from us so prematurely. If you did not have a chance to attend the beautiful service held for him in January, this will be your opportunity to know more about this wonderful individual who contributed so much to our field. You may register for the program at https://www.scmediation.org/scma-calendar/npe-events/?eid=4316
Low cost educational programming? In addition to the previously mentioned programming devoted to building your mediation practice, two noteworthy events are just around the corner. Our May 19 Employment Institute, headed by President-elect Angela Reddock-Wright and chaired by Samantha Blake, will pull together dozens of the top employment and workplace mediators in the area in a half day of topical workshops; see https://www.scmediation.org/employment-institute-2018/ and register early to lock in a reduced price. The other event, our inaugural June 8-9 Family Mediation Institute in Orange County, will include scores of mediators joining us for what promises to be a remarkable experience. Look for an announcement soon on our website regarding early registration for this event. And again, thanks to Board member Terri Breer and her committee, including Susan Guthrie who is doing double duty as a member of the SCMA Communications Committee, in organizing this event.
There are so many volunteers who are dedicated to making our mediation field a better place for all of us, and this page is too small to thank every one of them. However, when you attend one of these events, please let them know you appreciate their efforts as that is their compensation. Do you have an idea for programming that would benefit our community? Please let us know…we value your patronage and continue to want to make your SCMA experience significant.
Thanks to our many volunteers, February was another good month for SCMA and its members. The Professional Development Groups (PDGs) continue to thrive under the leadership of President-elect Angela Reddock-Wright and Stacey Lisk (Westside), and continued support from leaders such as James Cameron (San Fernando Valley), John Irwin (Pasadena), and Andy Shelby, Marvin Whistler, and Mark Sarni (South Bay). Sayre McNeil has taken the lead in re-forming our Santa Barbara/Ventura group, and Ed Palotta has done the same with Orange County. Plans are under way now to initiate a San Diego group. We hope as a member you have taken advantage of the opportunity to attend these valuable networking sessions.
Our SCMA Education Foundation, Kids Managing Conflict, initiated their plans for 2018. One of their upcoming events include a trip for peer mediators to the Museum of Tolerance. In addition, they are making plans for their first conference of peer mediation programs. Kids Managing Conflict’s website is replete with information about its plans and initiatives; see https://www.kidsmanagingconflict.org/.
February also saw 65 mediators attend a dialogue on voluntary mediator certification at USC Gould School of Law. Presentations by Angela Reddock-Wright, Jason Harper, Barbara Brown, Chris Welch, Adam Ravitch and myself led to a dialogue session with those in attendance. This opportunity for community dialogue and feedback on such an important issue for our field continues to strengthen the initiative. MC3’s efforts will continue to be chronicled on the SCMA website under mediator certification; see https://www.scmediation.org/for-the-public/mediator-certification-program/.
Our friends at the National Conflict Resolution Center (San Diego) hosted our SCMA panel, led by Ana Sambold and Jason Harper, on Non-Traditional and Unexplored Career Paths for Mediators on February 24. Participants attending were excited to meet representatives from fields such as Ombuds and learn about entry paths into those fields. SCMA hopes to announce soon another panel presentation for the Los Angeles area soon.
March continues to be a busy month for SCMA. Another webinar that promises to assist your career, “Using Linkedin to Build Your Mediation Practice,” will feature Board member Mark Lemke. You can register for the webinar at Using Linkedin to Build Your Mediation Practice. The attendees to the February webinar presented by former SCMA President Nikki Tolt appreciated her tips on “Building your Mediation Skills and Practice.” If you missed Nikki’s presentation, but would like to review it, we will be announcing details shortly about how you can access that through the SCMA site.
We appreciate your continued patronage and membership in SCMA and want to continue to provide you with resources and opportunities that help you in your careers. We welcome your continued ideas and suggestions. Have a great month and we will look forward to seeing you at a PDG or other SCMA sponsored event!
February is a great month for celebrating history, with Presidents Day and Black History Month allowing us to remember so many great Americans. It is also a romantic month, with our American tradition of Valentine’s Day. For many of us, it is time to get over any holiday hangover we may have still had in January and back to the business of peacemaking and/or creating peacemakers.
Thanks to its many volunteers, SCMA has some great programming for its membership planned for February. We launch our new Webinar series for the Friday noon hour, and begin with former SCMA President Nikki Tolt on Friday, February 23rd with her presentation on “Building Your Mediation Skills and Practice”—practical tips for success. For new mediators in our field, or even if you have been mediating for a while and are looking for some extra tips on building a successful practice, this is the webinar for you. Online registration is now available at SCMA 2018 Webinar Series #1; make sure you do not miss this one!
In conjunction with our friends at the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) in San Diego, Board member Ana Sambold takes her highly successful panel on “Non-Traditional and Unexplored Career Paths” to San Diego for a presentation at the NCRC headquarters in San Diego on Saturday, February 24, at 10 a.m. Former SCMA President Jason Harper joins the panel, which is sure to point out a number of opportunities outside of traditional mediation that exist for those of you with conflict resolution skills. You may register for this panel presentation at SCMA/NCRC San Diego Program Registration.
Our community was stunned in January with the sudden passing of our former SCMA President, Joe Markowitz. Many of you highlighted what Joe meant to you in our listserv, and your comments were appreciated by all members of our community. I joined many other former SCMA Presidents and our President-elect, Angela Reddock-Wright, at a beautiful memorial service on January 28. At that service, many of us became acquainted with his family and friends, and part of Joe’s legacy is the joy and peace he brought to everyone with whom he interacted. Joe meant a lot to many of us, and his influence will continue to be felt in the mediation world. For my part, I remember Joe being at a number of the initial meetings of what is now the Mediation Certification Consortium of California (MC3), and talking about creating a “gold standard” for the field. Joe will be in our hearts and minds when we see you at USC Gould School of Law on February 10 to discuss why voluntary mediator certification would be beneficial to our field.
Joe’s legacy included “rolling up his sleeves” and volunteering his time and efforts to the betterment of our community. As I look at the myriad of volunteers who are helping SCMA and MC3, I am mindful of the fact that we could not accomplish anything without everyone pitching in. Thank you for your continued contributions, and I look forward to seeing all of you at one of our upcoming educational events or professional development groups.
It is a great honor to start the new year as your President. Your volunteer Board took the time at our December meeting to reflect on the organization as it might be seen through the prism of the mission set forth by its founders in 1991. Seen through that lens, our membership is enjoying an organization that is accomplishing everything that had been hoped for in its original Articles of Incorporation. And yet there is so much more to do, so much that we can do together…from my viewpoint, all it takes is the “sweat equity” of our members engaged in a vision for the success of our mediation field, and we will continue to achieve at a high level.
In those Articles, our founders thought that we should “provide a vehicle to build community and provide encouragement for those involved in and supportive of mediation in Southern California.” Our Professional Development Groups, led by our volunteers including President-elect Angela Reddock-Wright, deserve great credit for hosting these mediator roundtables and providing an avenue for regional networking. Stacey Lisk has volunteered to help Angela with the coordination and continue the fine work of Board members John Irwin and James Cameron, amongst others. Board members Terri Breer and Dale Ordas are leading the charge to expand these networking groups further into Orange and San Diego counties, and with your enthusiasm and help, we look forward to those new groups forming.
But there is so much more in encouraging and supporting mediation! Board Secretary Leslie Kushner leads a committee devoted to public outreach, and with your help, continues to organize our speaking bureau and advocates for mediation. Our sister organization, Kids Managing Conflict/SCMA Education Foundation, led by its new President Sally Patchen, continues to raise money for peer mediation in middle schools and high schools throughout the region.
Our founders also pictured “an organization through which high-quality and cost-effective educational programs could be offered.” SCMA hosted its largest conference ever in October, with the renown William Ury headlining a conference of workshops and panels that is unparalleled in our mediation community. As usual, with your help, SCMA will be continuing to host a number of educational programs throughout this upcoming year, headlined by our Peer Mediation Conference chaired by our former President, Jason Harper, but also including our re-envisioned Employment Institute chaired by SCMA volunteer Samantha Blake, and a newly proposed Family Law Institute chaired by SCMA Board member Terri Breer. Additional seminars, workshops, and even webinars are being planned this year to help our members maintain and add to their skill level in professional development.
Finally, our founders tasked us with providing “a vehicle through which the mediation community could seek to influence the development of the mediation field…” It is in this final vision that your SCMA Board is taking its boldest step…encouraging the development of mediator certification based upon the professional model that has been developed by its sister organization, the Mediator Certification Consortium of California (MC3); see our recently posted position paper (SCMA MC3 Position Paper). While many other fields have organized professionally based certifications as a means of maintaining control of who is defined as a practitioner, it has usually taken a dramatic event or series of events to create the initiative. The recent Los Angeles Superior Court (LASC) request for providers for mediation services for which all mediators without J.D. degrees and even those with J.D.s who have had less than 10 years of practice experience are excluded, may have been such a dramatic event, as many of our members who have been dutifully and successfully mediating litigated cases suddenly found themselves outside the bounds of those defined as “mediators” by LASC.
Please set your calendars for February 10, 2018, from 10 a.m.-noon, as former President Jason Harper, myself, Chris Welch and other Board members from MC3 will detail our plans for a professionally based certification; see the event announcement posted here: SCMA Mediator Certification Program. Seeing our membership thrive and prosper continues to be at the heart of why the Board and others continue to volunteer to lead SCMA. But it will be the “sweat equity” of all volunteers that pushes us forward as a field and a profession. Join us for one of our many events in 2018, and most importantly, if you feel impacted by the new LASC definition of a mediator, join us for the program on January 20…you can make a difference!
As a non-profit, SCMA needs volunteers to continue to advance our field and provide programs and services for our community. We are in the process of forming our 2018 committees and look forward to your contribution. All we ask is that the next time you see a request for volunteers on the listserv or elsewhere, you take just a moment to reflect upon “why not me.” I did…as did so many other volunteers too numerous to mention in this short message…and we hope to have you join us as well.
I can’t emphasize enough how great our Fall Conference was! I’m proud to say it was our biggest and, dare I say, best conference in history and it could not have happened without the help of our board, executive director, volunteers, and members. I would like to acknowledge our 2017 Randolph-Lowry Award recipient, Mary Culbert, and Cloke-Millen Award recipient, William Ury, for their dynamic speeches. They, along with our other conference speakers spoke on a range of topics that resonated with all of us and I thank them for that. From the Friday night kickoff dinner to the Saturday conference, I was amazed at how many people attended and the compliments we have received since the conference. Finally, a special thank you goes to all of our sponsors as well as the L.A. Hotel Downtown for hosting us. We have released the conference evaluation form and would love to hear your thoughts on how this conference was and what we can do to make it even better.
One of the things that was talked about during the conference, as well as the last few weeks, was the news regarding the Los Angeles Superior Court (LASC). On October 4, the LASC released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for civil mediation services. This RFP had a number of requirements for mediation providers, but the notable requirements were that the provider has a roster of mediators that have at least 10 years of active California State Bar membership and 40 hours of mediation training.
As SCMA President, I was very disappointed to see the RFP the LASC delivered. The requirements set by the LASC requiring 10 years of active State Bar membership would exclude roughly 55% of the members of SCMA, including new attorneys in the field that see mediation as a viable alternative to litigation, perform numerous mediations, and are building a practice. These professional mediators, with and without a J.D., are highly trained and qualified with an extensive history of success achieving resolutions in a multitude of areas including real estate, employment, personal injury, education, etc. In fact, it was these same professional mediators that helped provide great success to the LASC’s prior ADR program. By instituting this requirement, the LASC is attempting to define a mediator as an attorney. It is my position and the position of the SCMA that mediation is not merely a subset of the practice of law, but rather its own field with special training separate and apart from the practice of law. The Los Angeles Superior Court would do well to recognize the full amount of expertise in this area. For this reason, after careful consideration, the SCMA chose not to submit a proposal to the LASC for mediation services.
Since this RFP was released, the leadership of SCMA has considered what we can do in response. In addition to the public statements I have made on the matter, the SCMA will also release a message to the public outlining an alternative proposal that we feel accurately reflects the vast level of expertise that our membership contains. I encourage you all to make your voices heard on the matter and I will be sure to do the same.
I hope you all are having a great Summer and are gearing up for a great Fall! Since I have last spoken to you, the SCMA had our annual Employment Mediation Institute at Pepperdine in late June. On behalf of the SCMA, I would like to send a huge “Thank You” to Pepperdine University for hosting our event, the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo for sponsoring the event, and our esteemed panelists for their wonderful insights into the different aspects of employment disputes. There are a few things going on as we head into the second half of 2017 and I’m very excited to let you know about them.
On August 10, we are having our annual Summer Mixer at the Wokcano Restaurant in Santa Monica! This is a great opportunity to meet and catch up with your fellow SCMA members amidst great food and great atmosphere. The Summer Mixer is free to SCMA members, so I encourage all to attend. Everyone must register to attend here:
We are also one month closer to our 29th Annual SCMA Fall Conference! This conference promises a great number of programs that will give you more tools to improve and increase your practice. In addition, William Ury, co-author of the book “Getting to Yes”, will be the recipient of our Cloke-Millen Peacemaker Award and will be delivering the keynote speech at the conference! The SCMA Fall Conference will be held at the L.A. Hotel Downtown in Los Angeles on October 20 and 21, 2017. Information regarding Registration and Venue here:
I would also like to take the time to recommend the Professional Development Groups (PDG) in SCMA. Mediation can be a lonely profession and it is a wonderful resource to be able to gather with like-minded mediators in your area and talk about interesting cases, share marketing strategies, and even gain some new friends. Please look out for a PDG in your area and be a part of the growing mediation community. And if you don’t see a PDG in your area, create one! Please see our website calendar here:
I would like to send a huge thank you to all of you who attended the jam-packed month of events in May for the SCMA. From the Peer Mediation Celebration, to the Past President’s Breakfast, to the Cultural Intelligence event, I hope you got as much out of our programming as I did! In the month of May, the SCMA has had programming in Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and the city of Orange. Moving forward, I look to have more events in areas more accessible to our entire membership, in addition to webinars that will allow you to attend an event without leaving your own home or office.
I would also like to take the time to commend all the Professional Development Groups (PDG) in SCMA, particularly our PDG leaders. Mediation can be a lonely profession and it is a wonderful resource to be able to gather with like-minded mediators in your area and talk about interesting cases, share marketing strategies, and even gain some new friends. Please look out for a PDG in your area and be a part of the growing mediation community. And if you don’t see a PDG in your area, create one! Please see our website for more information on PDG’s.
On June 20, we will have the Employment Mediation Institute at the Pepperdine University, West LA campus. Join us as we discuss the evolving employment law landscape, along with practical implications and applications for practitioners and mediators. This event is co-sponsored by the law firm Atkinson, Adelson, Loya, Ruud, and Romo as well the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and we thank them all for their support. (Register Here: https://www.scmediation.org/scma-calendar/npe-events/?eid=1151)
We are one month closer to our 29th Annual SCMA Fall Conference! As I said last month, I am pleased to announce that William Ury, co-author of the book “Getting to Yes”, will be the recipient of our Cloke-Millen Peacemaker Award and will be delivering the keynote speech at the conference! The SCMA Fall Conference will be held at the L.A. Hotel Downtown in Los Angeles on October 20 and 21, 2017. More information regarding RFP’s, hotel stays, and registration pricing here: https://www.scmediation.org/conference-2017/
As we head into the summer months, I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate the new graduates of mediation and dispute resolution programs at the various community centers, colleges, and universities in California. I hope this is the beginning of a fruitful life and work as a peacemaker. We need you all now more than ever.
Have a great summer and I look forward to seeing you at our next event.
This has been an amazing past few weeks for SCMA. First, I’d like to thank Dan Ben-Zvi for his program for our membership during Mediation Awareness Week. It was highly informative and received rave reviews. Also, congratulations are in order to the SCMA Education Foundation for reaching the challenge grant of $1,000 set by the SCMA! Even though this grant campaign has ended, it is always a good time to donate to the SCMA-EF for their contributions to peer mediation programs in middle schools and high schools in Southern California.
April also saw some great news pertaining to the SCMA Fall Conference. I am pleased to announce that William Ury, co-author of the book “Getting to Yes”, will be the recipient of our Cloke-Millen Peacemaker Award and will be delivering the keynote speech at the conference! The SCMA Fall Conference will be held at the L.A. Hotel Downtown in Los Angeles on October 20 and 21, 2017. More information and Early Bird Registration is now open here: https://www.scmediation.org/conference-2017/
May promises to be a jam-packed month for SCMA! We have 4 major events taking place this month and they all promise to be something you don’t want to m
May 4: Our 5th Annual Celebration of Peer Mediation Programs
Come and support peer mediation programs in middle and high schools! This event will take place at the Galen Center at USC from 6-8pm. Entry, parking, and dinner is provided free of charge thanks to the USC Good Neighbors Program and the Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles.
Join us as we discuss the evolving employment law landscape, along with practical implications and applications for practitioners and mediators. This event is taking place at the Pepperdine West LA campus. This event is co-sponsored by the law firm Atkinson, Adelson, Loya, Ruud, and Romero as well the Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution.
Dr. Michele Villagran will be discussing how we can develop skills to effectively handle cultural barriers that you face in your position. This event will take place at Chapman University in the city of Orange from 6-8pm.
I look forward to seeing you at our next event.
Jason A. Harper, President
Southern California Mediation Association