Friends and Colleagues:
This is my final message as president of SCMA and I would be remiss if I didn’t begin by thanking all of you for your support, encouragement and friendship this past year.
Serving as president of SCMA presents a unique set of challenges because the membership is spread across such a large geographical swath and comes from such diverse backgrounds. When my term as president began, I had one overarching objective — to bring SCMA closer together as a community.
With the help of a truly committed Board of Directors, I think we were largely successful in achieving that goal through a variety of initiatives: we began scheduling some programs on Saturday mornings and/or at locations that were more centrally located and readily accessible; we encouraged and modeled greater use of the listserv; and, most importantly, we expanded the number and reach of SCMA’s Professional Development Groups (PDG).
Credit for the latter belongs to the efforts and enthusiasm of Mark Lewis, chair of the PDG Committee, who, in addition to leading the Westside group, assembled an outstanding cadre of PDG leaders: Jim Cameron in Encino, Susie North and John Irwin in Pasadena, Angela Reddock-Wright in the South Bay, Sayre Macneil and Cindy Brokaw in Santa Barbara, and Richard Lutringer in Palm Springs. And now, thanks to SCMA Board members Dale Ordas and Ana Sambold — both of whom hail from the San Diego area — SCMA is poised to further expand its PDG presence to the south in the coming months!
If that was all we had accomplished this past year, I would have considered the term a success. By every other metric, however, this Board has found ways to exceed all of our expectations.
Financially, we project that SCMA will end the year with more cash on hand than ever before, thanks to the efforts of those who helped secure sponsors for this year’s Annual Conference. Compared to previous years, we more than tripled the amount raised in sponsorships this year, far surpassing even our most optimistic predictions.
Speaking of finances, SCMA owes a debt of gratitude to Stephanie Maloney, who is stepping down from the Board after having served as the organization’s treasurer for the past six years. Stephanie, thank you for your years of service to SCMA. You will be missed!
SCMA’s Membership Committee was also enormously successful this past year, thanks to cochairs Wendy Forrester and Jack Goetz. As a result of their vision, creativity and determination, SCMA has added nearly 100 new members since the start of the year!
Kudos, as well, to Victoria Gray and Lee Blackman, who, as co-chairs of SCMA’s Communications Committee this past year, made significant improvements to SCMA’s website, recommended ways to increase SCMA’s social media presence, and kept the membership informed about issues — such as mediation confidentiality — critical to the profession.
Wendy and Victoria are also stepping down from the Board after many years of service to SCMA and, like Stephanie, will also be hugely missed.
SCMA’s Mentorship Program continues to garner glowing reviews from members who have completed the program, thanks to the invaluable contributions of chairperson David Levaton and all those who have graciously offered shadowing opportunities to the mentees.
SCMA’s Outreach Committee deserves accolades for a number of laudable accomplishments this past year. The Public Outreach subcommittee, led by Leslie Kushner with incredible support from Susie North, Gayle Glazer, Marvin Whistler, Maria Simpson, Marie Stein, Richard Hamlin and Alik Segal, produced one PSA video that has already been widely shared on social media, and has another one currently in production. It also designed and disseminated an informational brochure explaining the benefits of mediation. Finally, it has just embarked on an exciting project to create an SCMA Speaker’s Bureau. In addition, the Attorney Outreach subcommittee, chaired by Bill Molfetta, presented a well-attended program to the Desert Bar Association in September.
SCMA’s Programming Committee, chaired by Incoming President Jason Harper, offered an array of outstanding programs this past year including, for the first time, repeat performances of three highly-touted workshops from last year’s Conference: “Lying for the Sake of the Deal,” “Equal Rights for the LGBT Community,” and “Critical Race Theory.” In March, SCMA drew a huge turnout for a Town Hall on two hot-button topics: mediator certification and mediation confidentiality. In April, SCMA hosted its Second Annual Past President’s Breakfast at the Del Rey Yacht Club. In May, SCMA held its annual Employment Mediation Institute at Pepperdine’s West Los Angeles campus. In August, SCMA filled the Faculty Lounge at USC Law School for our Summer Soiree, where we honored Forest Whitaker with the 2015 Cloke-Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award. And just three weeks ago, SCMA hosted its 4th Annual Celebration of Peer Mediation, with more than 100 in attendance!
Speaking of peer mediation, earlier this year the SCMA Education Foundation — which is the charitable and educational arm of SCMA — received a $10,000 grant from the Judicate West Foundation to support the development of peer mediation programs. Congratulations to SCMAEF President Maria Simpson and the entire SCMA-EF Board for all of your successes this year!
My term as president culminates with SCMA’s 28th Annual Fall Conference. Conference chairs Jason Harper and Terri Lubaroff, with the help of committee members Terri Breer, Wendy Forrester and Maurice Attie, have devoted countless hours, putting together what promises to be one of SCMA’s most memorable conferences ever. Beginning with presentation of the 2016 Cloke-Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award to Senator George J. Mitchell and ending with a powerful closing plenary session featuring Franky Carrillo and Dr. Betty Gilmore, with a variety of thought-provoking workshops in between, this year’s Conference will leave you more inspired than ever with an even greater commitment to mediation and peacemaking.
None of what we achieved this past year would have been possible without the dedication of SCMA’s Executive Director Anne Sawyer, who each and every day is called upon to wear a variety of hats. Thank you, Anne, for confronting each day’s new challenge with patience, grace and a ready smile.
Last, but not least, my sincere thanks to the triumvirate of immediate Past Presidents — Robyn Weinstein, Joe Markowitz and Wendy Kramer — who refused to take “no” for an answer back in the summer of 2014. Without your persistence — and gentle persuasion — I would have walked away from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the chance to serve SCMA as its president these past twelve months. I am truly grateful for your friendship and your sage advice.
And now the time has come to pass the baton to Jason. Having worked side-by-side with him this past year, I know that SCMA could not be in better hands. With Jason at the helm, Jack by his side, and the support of the outstanding Board of Directors elected to serve with them, I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for SCMA. With deep appreciation . . .
Floyd J. Siegal, President
Southern California Mediation Association