Although I’m looking forward to joining the distinguished ranks of SCMA’s past presidents, I am going to miss the exciting job of leading this organization. It involved more travel that I expected, including an unprecedented four trips to San Diego to support programs we put on there. (Thank you, Hass Sadeghi.) And a few trips to Orange County, where our ace team (Therese Gray, Norma Aronne, Sam Konugres, and Rosemarie McElhaney), organized two programs under the SCMA banner, as well as helping put on the OC Mediation Conference in March.
I had to do plenty of driving within Los Angeles as well, to attend SCMA’s employment program, our second annual summer mixer, and several outreach programs with local bar associations. SCMA also put on several business development programs and programs dealing with bias, and a peer mediation program. Not to mention last November’s highly successful fall conference in Malibu entitled “Crisis and Opportunity,” in which we honored Seeds of Peace, the Los Angeles Police Department and Professor Marco Turk. (Thanks to Robyn Weinstein, Jason Harper, Shazi Rastegar, and many others who organized a full slate of programs this year. Also thanks to Maurice Attie, who helped develop a new system for choosing the panels for this year’s conference.) I also enjoyed serving as an SCMA ambassador on side trips to Miami for the ABA Dispute Resolution Conference, as well as to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas and to Stanford University to learn more about online dispute resolution.
This year we expanded SCMA’s certification initiative to start forming a consortium of organizations that will lead the drive to develop and administer a meaningful credential for California mediators. (Barbara Brown and Jack Goetz have been doing tremendous work spearheading this effort for SCMA.)
We have seen tremendous growth and interest in expanding SCMA’s outreach programs, from teaming up with local bar associations to provide assistance to attorneys and litigants in navigating the private market for mediators, to developing new programs and materials that we plan to take to community organizations, business groups and the broader public. (Thanks to Floyd Siegal for leading this effort.) We continue to improve and promote the SCMA Select a Mediator directory, an important benefit to members and a useful tool for the public. And the SCMA Education Foundation, led by Maria Simpson, has re-defined its role this year to promote mediation among the public.
In conjunction with SCMA’s statewide certification initiative, and our expansion of programming and outreach activities to all parts of Southern California, we have formed a committee to study the re-structuring and potential re-branding of the organization to help us better serve a wider region, potentially the entire state. (Thanks to Mark Ameli for taking the lead on this important issue.)
I don’t want to omit mention of SCMA local study groups, as well as the very successful mentor program which my predecessor Wendy Kramer initiated and has graciously agreed to continue leading for another year. And I want to recognize some other behind-the-scenes work that keeps SCMA going, such as Stephanie Maloney’s able assistance with keeping the books, and Wendy Forrester’s involvement with the membership committee.
SCMA’s advocacy efforts have included continued dialogue with the courts to expand opportunities for mediators, and monitoring issues of concern to our members. Recently SCMA filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to help protect mediation confidentiality. (Thanks to Mike Young, Jill Switzer and Phyllis Pollack for assisting me with that project.)
While doing all of that, we also entirely re-vamped and updated the SCMA website, to make it easier to list events and disseminate information about all things mediation. (Join me in congratulating Victoria Gray and Anne Sawyer for a fantastic job implementing our new and improved website.)
I hope to see our members get even more involved in 2015 to help SCMA continue to create more opportunities for mediation and mediators!