Dear Members of the Southern California Mediation Association:
I would like to begin this letter by expressing my gratitude to the members of the SCMA for the great privilege to serve as your president. I am incredibly proud to be a member of this organization – a group that is full of forward-thinking, mindful, and impassioned people.
A technique often emphasized in basic mediation training is to make sure that as the mediator, you are not standing in the way of resolution. If the parties are able to communicate with one another directly, it is an important skill set to know when to step aside. As president of the organization, I found that this skill was a useful one. We have so many brilliant and skilled members that it was often left to me to provide a framework of support – and let the ideas of our members flourish.
One of the greatest achievements of this year is the revitalization of the SCMA Professional Development Groups (PDGs). Thanks to the efforts of Wendy Forrester, Jason Harper, John Irwin, Mark Lewis, Susie North, Dale Ordas, and Floyd Siegal, the SCMA now has PDGs in West Los Angeles, Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley, the San Fernando Valley, Orange County, San Diego, and Santa Barbara. These groups meet regularly, host a wide range of guest speakers, and discuss various issues and challenges related to the practice of mediation. (We are still looking for someone to host a group in Riverside County, so if you’d like to host that group, please let me know!)
Another exciting initiative was the SCMA programming for Mediation Awareness Week. In an effort to raise awareness about our field, the SCMA partnered with the Beverly Hills Bar Association and the International Academy of Mediators to host a Mediation Awareness Week Kickoff Celebration which was attended by city councilmember Paul Koretz and leaders of various bar associations. We also developed a Mediation Awareness Week calendar, created a series of Mediation Awareness Week e-blasts, and conducted an MCLE program entitled, The Anatomy of a Mediation: Issues Before, During, and After Mediation.
Throughout the year, the SCMA hosted several well-attended MCLE programs, including Dollar$ and $ense: Growing Your Practice Through Smart Marketing; Perspectives on Cuba with Ken Cloke; Mediation Confidentiality: Can We Still Rely On It?; Solving Ethical Pickles in Family Law; The SCMA Employment Mediation Institute; Peer Mediation: Bringing Conflict Resolution to Schools; and Secrets of Successful Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.
In addition to substantive programs, the SCMA worked hard to create opportunities for our members to network and forge strong ties with one another. This year the SCMA hosted our annual Summer Networking Mixer in Los Angeles, as well as mixers in Orange County, Santa Barbara, and San Diego and the first annual SCMA Past President’s Breakfast to honor and celebrate the history of our organization.
Another wonderful accomplishment of 2015 is the creation of the SCMA Listserv. The Listserv provides an online forum for our members to connect with one another, solicit advice on issues relating to their mediation practices, provide and request referrals, promote various mediation-related events and trainings, share articles and resources, and post career opportunities. Our communications committee, led by Victoria Gray, also enhanced the SCMA Job Opportunities page, which permits local ADR organizations to post available jobs in conflict resolution.
I am also blown away by the efforts of Maria Simpson and the board of directors of the SCMA Education Foundation who have run a successful fundraising campaign, developed incredible programming for National Conflict Resolution Day, and have made tremendous strides on behalf of the Foundation over the course of the year.
The capstone of this year is our annual conference, which was planned and organized by conference chair Hass Sadeghi. This year’s conference was designed to address the broader ways in which we as peacemakers can contribute to and participate in the many conflicts facing society. As part of the conference, we have the great privilege to honor Charles Chang, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Dispute Resolution Center, as the recipient of our L. Randolph Lowry award and Forrest Whitaker, CEO and Founder of the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, as our Cloke-Millen Peacemaker of the Year.
None of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of my friends, the members of the SCMA Board of Directors, all of whom have dedicated countless hours to promoting the organization and dreaming up these incredible endeavors. And thank you to our executive director, Anne Sawyer, whose determination and enthusiasm for her work shines through each and every day.
Floyd Siegal, my president-elect, I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring – you are a powerhouse, and you have one heck of a team behind you.