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
It feels like the year is flying by already! I would first like to thank Phyllis Pollack and Lee Blackman for their highly informative program on Feburary 11 where they highlighted the latest updates regarding mediator confidentiality from the California Law Review Commission. I look forward to any update they will provide moving forward.
I would also like to let you all know that the SCMA has issued our 3rd annual challenge grant to the SCMA Education Foundation (SCMA-EF). The SCMA-EF is the charitable arm of the SCMA and their work centers on supporting Peer Mediation programs and the students who serve as mediators. Please go to www.scmaedfoundation.org for more information. If you act now, the SCMA will double your donation up to $1,000!
March looks to be another great month for SCMA. As you all know, Mediation Awareness Week begins on March 27 and we have a couple of noteworthy events planned. On March 29, there will be a special event at LA City Hall where the leaders of plaintiffs’ and defense attorney bars, the City Attorney, and a host of others will speak with the LA City Council on the importance of mediation in our community. Among the speakers present that day will be our own President-Elect, Dr. Jack Goetz, who will receive a Certificate of Commendation on behalf of SCMA. On the following night of March 30, Dan Ben-Zvi will present a program titled “Cutting Edge Mediation and Ethics” at the Santa Monica Doubletree Hotel. Please go to our website for more information on what promises to be a great program.
As the hub of the Southern California mediation community, the SCMA is very excited to celebrate Mediation Awareness Week. Mediation is often referred to as an “alternative” form of dispute resolution, but the fact is that more disputes are resolved by way of mediation than by court proceedings and arbitration combined. Despite that fact, mediation remains the least known and the most misunderstood form of dispute resolution by the public at-large.
Mediation Awareness Week provides an opportunity to educate the public about the value of mediation and the many quality mediation services that are available in Southern California. Our goal during Mediation Awareness Week is to remind the public that there is another way. In disputes ranging from neighbor issues, to personal injury, to special education services for children with special needs, we need to let people know that conflict is inevitable, but combat is a choice.
I am extremely excited for what 2017 has to offer for the members of the Southern California Mediation Association. There are several events and programs that will serve the mediation community in a variety of areas. The first opportunity is on February 11 at USC where we will provide a program on the latest updates regarding mediator confidentiality from the California Law Review Commission. In addition to that, please be on the lookout for events on cultural intelligence, mediator ethics, diversity in alternative dispute resolution, employment mediation, collaborative family mediation, and much more! In addition to all that, we will continue the tradition of honoring our past presidents at the breakfast held in April.
Before I go any further, I would like to acknowledge the amazing Board Of Directors that is helping to serve the membership of this great organization. President-Elect Jack Goetz has already become an invaluable resource to me personally and to the rest of the Board Of Directors. I am excited to see what is in store for the association during his term as President. He is serving as an advisor for the annual Conference committee and I have very high hopes for that impressive team. Leslie Kushner has agreed to serve as Secretary and I am very appreciative of her contributions while she is continuing to lead the Outreach committee with Bill Molfetta. Noah Stein has volunteered to serve as Treasurer in place of Stephane Maloney who served the association extremely well for so many years and we thank her for her service. Lee Blackman will continue leading the Communications committee and I appreciate the efforts he puts in to making the SCMA website the best it can be. John Irwin and Jim Cameron are leading our Membership committee and I am excited to see what they bring to our current and future members. A special thank you goes to David Levaton for continuing to lead the Mentorship program, which is one of the most important member benefits we have here at SCMA. Finally, Mark Lewis will continue to serve as Coordinator of Professional Development Groups, or PDG’s as we call them. His level of enthusiasm remains unmatched as he helps our members create new PDG’s in their geographic areas of residence or practice.
The people that were mentioned as leaders of the different aspects of the association are great, but what makes these committees work best is when we have members that are working with them. I encourage you all to consider joining a committee. In doing so, you are helping to further the association and the mediation community.
Finally, it is important to continue the tradition of accessibility that our past President, Floyd Siegal, began. With that in mind, I invite you reach out to me at any time – firstname.lastname@example.org/562-225-9958 – to let me know how we are doing, what we’re doing right, and what we could be doing better.
If I don’t see you at a PDG meeting, I look forward to seeing you at the next SCMA program.
Jason A. Harper, President
Southern California Mediation Association