DATE: August 16, 2016
Contact: Terry Teale (360) 459-8270, email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DISPUTE RESOLUTION CENTER INVITES APPLICATIONS FOR
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR POSITION
The Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County is an Olympia-based non-profit organization whose mission is to empower people to resolve issues through mediation services and conflict resolution training. Evan Ferber, Founding Director of the Thurston County Dispute Resolution Center will retire on December 30, 2016 after more than twenty-five years of leadership and service.
The Board of Directors of the DRC is inviting applications to fill the Executive Director position that Evan will vacate at the end of 2016. The Board is looking for a dynamic leader who shares the core values of the DRC community and who has the vision and experience to build on the organization’s strong foundation of service delivery, volunteer participation and community outreach. The Board encourages interested applicants to apply by September 1, 2016 – though the position will remain open until filled.
Application information and the position description may be found on the Dispute Resolution Center’s website: www.mediatethurston.org/job-opportunities.
Recognition given by Elaine Vradenburgh at the annual picnic in July
I met Mary five years ago at one of the first DRC meetings I attended shortly after I was hired. Our database vendor was introducing our new donor database to a small group of staff and volunteers. Mary was a new volunteer and was eager to use her background and skills in nonprofit development and database administration to help us take this big technological leap. Little did she know at that time that she would ‘co’ facilitate a project that has helped us to raise a little over $700,000 in the past five years.
We, at the DRC, share a strong value of collaboration. We practice this value every day at the mediation table, when we invite people to sit across from each other to find a path through conflict together, and by providing ‘co’ facilitators for that process. Our value of collaboration, and by extension the ‘co’ model, acknowledges and normalizes that no one person has all the answers, tools or skills to tackle every problem. And, it celebrates the power and promise of community.
Mary embodied this value of collaboration by bringing the ‘co’ model to her database work. It was rare to see her without another person at the computer trouble shooting the latest issue or building a new function or producing a report. Thank goodness, for me, that Mary embraced the ‘co’ model from day one! You see, in the fundraising world, donor databases serve as both the memory and the party planning part of the organization’s brain. I happen to have a brain that is equal parts savvy and impatient when it comes to such technology. I love to be efficient and organized. Yet I absolutely hate to read instruction manuals and troubleshoot when technology isn’t working. In true DRC style Mary gave strength-based feedback and celebrated with me when I figured something out on my own. She was always there to problem-solve and to share her expertise. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t have been able to do my job without Mary by my side.
One of Mary’s many skills is an incredible ability to connect the details to the big picture. I notice and value this skill because it is essential for good fundraising. She quickly and masterfully understood how small adjustments to our systems of tracking data would enhance relationships and build our mission. Those “small adjustments” however, sometimes took months to operationalize in the imperfect product we inherited. Mary’s tireless dedication to this singular project was utterly impressive. She, alongside fellow volunteers Bonnie Rose, Kitty Parker, and Pauline Houx, have spent hundreds of hours trouble shooting, repairing, refining and building outputs that help me do my job better and strengthen the organization.
I can’t think of a more fitting time to recognize Mary. Mary’s most recent accomplishment has been in helping us transition to our next database iteration. Again, in the ‘co’ model, she worked with other database volunteers to research new products and to prepare our data for the transition. It was a huge step and we’re excited to see where this new software will take us!
Mary has been a gift to our organization. We cannot thank her enough for the hours and hours and hours she has poured into this project.
"Thank you for the opportunity
to be a part of this life changing class."
-Conflict Resolution Class Participant, Washington Correctional Center
Organizational values matter. From the outside, the values of an organization may seem like just an aspirational list of words on a webpage, cliché even. But when values are practiced with intention across the organization, powerful things can happen.
One of the DRC’s core values is personal empowerment. Conflict is hard, and we believe that everyone has the strength and courage to work through conflict with integrity and respect. Sometimes we just need to be asked the right questions to discover what's at the root of the problem, or perhaps we just need a space where we feel safe enough to communicate our needs and values to the other person. We practice this value every day at the mediation table when we help guide clients toward deeper understanding. We also encourage personal empowerment by inviting our volunteers to engage deeply in our work in ways they find personally meaningful. Not only are DRC volunteers carrying out almost 100% of our direct services as mediators and phone conciliators, we encourage volunteers to help us make our services accessible to all members of the community.
While attending the Evergreen Program, Social Psychology of the Prison Industrial Complex, DRC volunteer mediator and trainer, Vicki Martin, had an idea. How could she use her DRC training to bring conflict resolution skills to residents at the Washington Correctional Center (WCC) in Shelton? She brought her idea to Linda Gaffney, a DRC volunteer and retired employee at the Department of Corrections, and to DRC staff to see how she could make this happen. In May, a 5-week class began with a group of about 12 men at WCC.
Vicki, joined by DRC volunteers Lynne Stockwell and Mike Rowswell, introduced students to a variety of conflict resolution theories, tools, and skills. They talked about the anger arousal cycle, conflict styles, and identifying the difference between issues and interests, among other topics and skill-building activities. At the end of the program, the DRC received a thank you letter from the program participants inviting us back to hold a reoccurring class:
"...we could help facilitate, tutor or promote your curriculum. There are about 600 permanent men here that cycle out every couple of years - some directly to the community, others to transition to short term prisons. We would like to continue to host your trainings... to provide opportunities for men that want to be role models, leaders, and earn respect from the communities we serve."
We all have the capacity to learn skills to manage conflict more effectively in our day to day lives. It's not rocket science; what we teach is actually really basic. The reason it’s so transformative is because many of us didn't grow up with these skills. Others didn't have adults in our lives who modeled respectful, nonviolent conflict resolution when we were children. As adults these skills often come to us as an eureka moment: "A ha! That's how I can get relief and restore this relationship. Of course!" It's still not easy, and each of us has different barriers that make conflict more or less difficult to manage. But it's doable. Each and every one of us can be leaders paving the way to a more peaceful life.
Evan Ferber, Founding Director of the Thurston County Dispute Resolution Center will retire on December 30, 2016 after over twenty-five years of leadership and service. Evan’s commitment to integrity, respect, civility and compassion is a powerful legacy and the foundation that underpins the future of the Dispute Resolution Center.
For the last two years, the DRC Board of Directors has worked with Evan to strongly position the organization to prepare for the transition from a founding director to what we call “the next generation” director who will succeed him. The Board affirmed the vision and mission of the DRC. Together with staff and volunteers, we conducted a review of the underlying values of the organization, its cultural characteristics and its core competencies. We set ambitious goals for fundraising to ensure that the organization would be financially stable as we moved through transition. And we identified areas of emphasis to grow our services over time and to sustain and diversify the organization.
The time for this transition is upon us – and we are confident that the work that the staff and the board has done over the past two years has prepared us to move the DRC into the future with strength and in a way that honors Evan and his legacy.
On August 1, 2016, the board announced a position vacancy for the Executive Director beginning December 1, 2016. We are looking for a dynamic leader to move the organization confidently into the future. The board invites all of you to help us find the “next generation” director and encourage applications for this position. The announcement is posted on the DRC’s website. The position will stay “open” until we make a final offer. We will begin reading applications early in September, so we encourage applications to be made in August.
The Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County is strong because of the communities that it serves and that serve it. The funding and support we receive from generous donors, foundations, government agencies, and the judiciary help provide the financial support essential to provide and grow services. The human capital that our volunteers so readily and generously provide to deliver services in a professional and compassionate way is the core to our success.
The future is bright for the DRC – and together we honor the legacy of Evan and those who worked with him to found this wonderful organization.
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