September is a month associated with learning for me. It is a new academic year (well, actually, my first class this fall was August 20!) and as my family points out, I have spent most of my life either working towards a degree or teaching in a degree program! At SCMA, it is our month to start putting together the largest gathering of mediators in the region as we host our Annual Conference at the LA Hotel on November 2 and 3 at the LA Hotel. For me, I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to helping our President-elect, Angela Reddock-Wright, and our immediate Past President, Jason Harper, put together the program.
First I start dreaming…who would I like to see? In mediation, I dream big…in my ideal world, I would like to have Ken Cloke at the conference, because I feel like I am a better human being after every time I talk with him. Then I would sure like Woody Mosten, because he is such a master teacher. But I keep dreaming…having a revered name in community mediation, Avis Ridley-Thomas, would be fantastic, but I also so respect what former SCMA President Wendy Kramer has done in helping mediators build their practices. And then if I could have my colleague, Professor Lisa Klerman there as well, someone from whom I have learned so much. Those of you who saw her opening remarks at our Employment Mediation Institute in May know just what I mean.
Okay, you can pinch me and wake me up now, and yes, our SCMA Conference this fall is all those great speakers and many more. And to further add the American Arbitration Association and their mediate.org division putting on our Advanced Track, with AAA’s President and CEO, India Johnson, combining on a closing plenary with some of our friends at California State University at Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine, and USC, I think my candy appetite will be satiated! I join with the membership in thanking Angela and our Executive Director, Anne Sawyer, in putting all of this together.
With the divisiveness across the United States so prevalent today, it has made us all “up our game” in facilitating dialogue in our peacemaking. The Conference theme, “The Emergence of the Modern Mediator,” allows us to tackle those issues head-on. In part, the release of Ken Cloke’s latest book, “Politics, Dialogue and the Evolution of Democracy: How to Discuss Race, Abortion, Immigration, Gun Control, Climate Change, Same Sex Marriage and Other Hot Topics,” has given us a special opportunity to open our Conference with Ken speaking to those very issues. As a special treat, my company (Educational Solutions 4 Change) and Angela’s firm (Reddock Law Group) are sponsoring paying ½ the cost for Ken’s book for the first 100 registrants for the Conference and Ken has agreed to a lunch-time book signing for attendees who are interested.
I look forward to seeing everyone at the Conference. In the meantime, we have had more interest in serving on the SCMA Board than we can recall in recent history, with three incumbents amongst nine candidates running for five open seats. I am so gratified by the interest in our community in volunteering to continue to further the amazing work of our non-profit organization. And if you were not amongst the group that is running for the Board, perhaps we can get the benefit of your insight by getting you to vote! Ballots will be sent out within the next week, and we need our membership to participate; so please, help us the best way you can by voting for your ongoing leadership.