The word is that folks don’t travel for conferences any more, that expenses are cut and attendance is down. You wouldn’t have known it by stopping by the 2009 Annual Conference of the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution in Greenbelt, Maryland, June 18-19.
The Center is Marvin Johnson’s baby, and its mission since 1986 has been to “promote and provide education and comprehensive approaches to dispute resolution that constructively serve the needs of our culturally diverse society.” With the estimable Homer LaRue, Marvin is working on ACCESS ADR, which aims to increase the number of ADR professionals from ethnic and racial groups who are underrepresented in the field. The Center has also established MOCA, a website-based network to support and advance the interest of mediators of color.
I participated in a panel on “New Diversity Programs and Initiatives.” Marvin and Homer discussed the work of ACCESS ADR. Sasha A. Carbone, Associate General Counsel of the American Arbitration Association, reminded the audience of the persistent and longstanding efforts of the AAA to ensure client consideration of neutrals who are female or of color. Mary J. Newhart of the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution at Cornell presented an initiative of that school to train neutrals in the workplace. I deputized for CPR Institute President Kathy Bryan to give an update on the work of the CPR National Task Force for Diversity in ADR, a three-year effort co-chaired by Tom Sager of DuPont, Carla Herron of Shell and Charles Morgan of FTI Consulting.
Other speakers at the two-day conference included Urska Velikonja, whose economic analysis of the mediator profession has had list serves buzzing recently; Rachel Wohl of Maryland’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office; Meghan Clarke of Cincinnati who spoke on the role of daily personal spiritual practices for peacemaking neutrals; Lynn Sylvester of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service; and David Hoffman of the Boston Law Collaborative. Other luminaries included Cathy Costantino of the FDIC; Maria Volpe of John Jay; and Frank Carr, partnering guru extraordinaire.
A great success for the ADR Center and a signal contribution to all fortunate enough to attend!