“WE TEACH WHO WE ARE.”
… PARKER PALMER
An Apple for the Mediator
I started my career as a teacher. I taught English as a Foreign Language in Japan for a year, and saw communal values privileged over individual ones. Then, I wanted to stretch my creative abilities, so helped start the first Fringe Theatre Festival in Victoria, BC in 1987, then married the man who started the Fringe!
In Edmonton, spreading cross-cultural understanding took my attention, and I ran a refugee friendship program, matching over 1,000 newly-arrived government-sponsored refugees to volunteers for mutual understanding.
I found mediation in 1993, through the door of volunteering. There were many opportunities to volunteer to be a community mediator and I started with the local community mediation centre. They offered 70 hours of mediation training, some of it with Gordon Sloan – one of Canada’s premier conflict resolution trainers. I was full of hope!
Then I mediated my first case! I still remember that mediation, as my co-mediator Susan Sharpe and I trudged out on a snowy January evening in Edmonton. I spent most of the session with my legs securely wrapped around each other like a pretzel! I was scared. Here were these two sets of neighbours, who had lived beside each other for years, and they hated each other. What was I supposed to do?
From that rocky start, I went on to co-mediate a variety of community and civil claims and victim-offender mediations over the following 5 years. I eventually co-led an adult criminal court diversion mediation program, the Edmonton’s Victim Offender Mediation Project.
With my colleague Ashley Daniel, we also published a seminal book on Restorative Justice written by the same Susan Sharpe who had co-mediated with me on my first case! My work through the victim-offender program introduced me to important concepts of restorative justice, systemic oppression and circle processes for healing and change.
Within a few years, I had a baby and my family and I moved back to Victoria from Edmonton in the late 1990s.
Conflict Resolution Teaching
I immediately joined the teaching team at the Centre for Conflict Resolution at the Justice Institute where I’ve been ever since! I also got my certification in coaching around then and discovered how coaching is also a powerful complement and tool in helping people de-escalate and prepare themselves for difficult conversations, negotiations, mediations and conflicts.
Leaders, Conflict, Organizations
When I returned to Victoria in the late 1990s. I started specializing in coaching leaders and working with conflict within organizations. That’s been my speciality for the last few decades.
I’ve concentrated exclusively on conflict in workplaces, bringing my own eclectic blend of a culturally sensitized lens combined with coaching, training, mediation, leadership and team conflict development and a restorative and systemic perspective. Together with my monthly newsletter HEN – and the miracle of the internet – I’ve been privileged to touch the lives of countless people in conflict around the world.
In the last few years, there have been many noteworthy experiences, including a collaboration with Jane Morley, Jean Greatbatch and Sally Campbell, leaders in the conflict field and seminal thinkers on justice and equity. We formed a collaboration to explore and share these concepts at that time.
On Conflict Podcast
Ever wanting to discover what can make war, pain and violence obsolete and what can grow us as human beings at the same time, In 2018 I started the On Conflict Podcast. with long-time collaborator, Gordon White.
On Conflict Leadership Institute
In 2021, Gordon and I have ventured even further. Now, we’ve dedicated our decades of organizational conflict and leadership experiences to creating a place where leaders can develop their conflict competency and make conflict culture change. Check out our On Conflict Leadership Institute where, these days, I concentrate most of my teaching.
I love to learn, absorbing podcasts and books and webinars and workshops over the years. I write about a lot of what I learn in my newsletter (sign up!). Here are a few of my more official designations:
- Masters in Educational Psychology, specializing in Leadership (M.Ed.), University of Victoria
- Professional Certified Coach (P.C.C.), International Coach Federation
- Certificate in Negotiation & Mediation (Cert.Con.Res.), Justice Institute of British Columbia
- Certificate in Immigrant Settlement Work, Grant MacEwan College
- Certificate in Human Resource Management, Grant MacEwan College
- Post-Graduate Diploma in Applied Linguistics/T.E.S.L. (Teaching E.S.L.), University of Victoria
- Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, University of Victoria
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