Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall Conference of the Virginia Mediation Network

Meeting of my "Tribe"

Plenary Sessions Offered by Leaders in the Field

Last week-end, over 85 members of the Virginia Mediation Network (VMN) gathered for its Fall training conference. VMN is the largest state-wide organization of mediation practitioners, trainers, and scholars in Virginia.  

Attendees enjoyed clear fall weather at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel in Glen Allen, Virginia, a lovely Colonial-style facility on 20-acres of park/golf course just north of Richmond.  

The 2-day event offered three plenary presentations by leaders in the field:

Plenary Session on Careers in the Field

On Saturday morning, Bob Rhudy presented a Plenary Session based on his article, “Engaging Conflict for Fun and Profit: Current and Emerging Career Trends in Conflict Resolution.” His paper on the topic appears here.

During this interactive session, Bob shared the results of his research and engaged participants in a discussion about the emerging career trends in the ADR field. His exhaustive and well-researched study on the options for getting a job as a mediator asks the questions: 
  • Are there jobs existing or pending to be filled proportionate to the number of career aspirants? 
  • What are the career trends in this field? 
  • How can you get such a job and make your way into conflict resolution work? 
Bob is an attorney, mediator, consultant, and trainer, with nearly 40 years of experience in mediation, legal aid, public interest law, legislative advocacy, strategic planning, and nonprofit consulting in the United States and Canada.

Keynote Address About the History of Court-Connected Mediation in Virginia

Professor Robert O’Neil discussed his experiences with ADR.  He first encountered the field as a Harvard Law student interacting with Getting to Yes authors, Roger Fisher and Frank Sander. 

Later, at the request of Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice, Joseph R. Carico, O'Neil explored ADR as chair of Virginia’s “Future’s Commission,” the first state commission on the future of its judicial system.  

As director of the Ford Foundation’s Difficult Dialogues, he learned more about the application of ADR and other new approaches to meeting campus tensions over issues such as race, religion, sexual orientation, and immigration.

He founded the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in 1990 and served as the Director until 2011. He is an authority on the First Amendment and is professor of law emeritus at the University of Virginia where he teaches Constitutional Law of Free Speech and the Press and Church and State. He is a Senior Fellow at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. He became the University of Virginia’s sixth president in 1985, a position he held until 1990.

Stop Fighting and Start Fixing

On Sunday morning, Margaret Kimbrell, Executive Director of the organization, No Labels, gave her presentation entitled: Stop Fighting and Start Fixing: Working Towards Problem Solving in our Government.  She talked about the work of No Labels, a citizens' movement of Democrats, Republicans, and independents dedicated to a new politics of problem solving. 

While coming from different political parties, these legislators and citizens share a simple belief: the politicians in Washington need to find a way to work together again. No Labels is building a voice for Americans, whatever their political ideology, to ensure our leaders in government will work across the aisle to solve problems.

No Labels’ mantra of "Stop Fighting, Start Fixing" should resonate with ADR practitioners, and it is VMN’s hope that Margaret’s presentation will open a dialogue among our members to explore ways that we as conflict resolution professionals can use our skill set to add value to this very important movement.  

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