Conflict Resolution in President’s Town Hall
January 11, 2016 — In his nationally-televised Town Hall Meeting on Americas issue with guns, President Obama acknowledges the importance of teaching kids conflict resolution skills. Click on the video above to watch, bookmarked where this segment starts at 39min 58sec and continues through 40min 30sec when the video pauses, after which, just click again continue watching.
CMC’s Peer Mediation Program trains student volunteers to assist in resolving disputes at schools. Please help us grow this program and extend its reach! Call to find out more about the program, how you can help, or how to donate to support this valuable program.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
December 30, 2015 — As another year comes to a close, we at the Community Mediation Center would like to share our news and stories with you, our much-appreciated supporters.
It’s been an eventful period for us, a time for reflection, assessment and evaluation, as our long-time Executive Director, Connie Campbell-Pearson, announced her desire to transition toward retirement by assuming the position of Program Manager. When I first met with Connie and CMC board members, I was struck by their passion and dedication to what mediation can do — not just for individuals in conflict, but for their communities as well. As an attorney, I had seen first-hand the value of people in conflict working together toward peaceful resolutions. So I jumped on board as the new Executive Director, and I am proud to bring you up to date on all things CMC!
Project Settle, where volunteer mediators help parties to settle civil and small claims disputes before going to trial, has expanded considerably this year, with our mediators seeing as many as eight cases a week.
CMC continues to offer several other programs, two of which we are hoping to expand. What do most of these programs have in common? Kids! In one way or another, directly or indirectly, what we do—what largely drives us—is making the lives of the children in our community more stable, safe, productive, and healthy. Here’s how:
Our Low Income Family Mediation program offers families going through dissolution the opportunity to work together in a comfortable, supportive environment to come up with parenting plans created not by the courts, but by the people who know their children best—their parents. Our focus is always on developing plans that are in the child’s best interests, and because both parents have the opportunity to be heard, and because it’s their plan, they are more likely to follow through. This results in less stress, now and in the future, for children who usually have already been adversely impacted by the family’s dissolution.
Our Peer Mediation Program trains student volunteers to assist in resolving disputes at local schools. When I asked one Bozeman High School student, a mediator since middle school, what motivated him to volunteer, he answered, “Mediation works. It’s more effective than other methods of discipline where they don’t actually get to the problem.” Another high school mediator summed peer mediation up as “a great way to communicate and solve problems with each other without adults.” In this day and age, isn’t this what we want for our children—the sense that they know how to find peaceful solutions to conflict? Because of the positive results we witness from peer mediation, we would like to extend the reach of this program to other communities, in particular those in low-income areas.
CMC has worked with the Gallatin County Graduation Matters Committee for years, where volunteers meet with students at risk of dropping out. Each student receives individual help understanding the value of finishing high school, acquiring skills for personal goal setting, and learning how to identify obstacles to his or her success. Sadly, due to lack of funding, this fall we had to turn down several requests to continue this important work in Gallatin Valley schools. We all know the price paid by both the student and community when a student drops out. CMC would like to continue this work to ensure students not only graduate, but that they graduate with skills that can contribute to success in every facet of their lives. Your tax-deductible donation in support of our Graduation Resource Council would enable us to continue this critical program.
In short, CMC’s focus on kids has never been stronger. Our message to this community’s children: You are not alone.
None of this would be possible without our volunteers. More than 40 trained volunteers—business owners, parents, teachers, lawyers, students (from middle school to college), and retirees—dedicate their time, talent, and big hearts to make a difference for members of our community. Some drive as much as three hours each way to apply their considerable training and knowledge to help people find peaceful solutions to conflicts.
The work we do at the Community Mediation Center impacts the lives of many people with whom we deal directly. And we believe the effects also radiate out to their families, schools, and the community at large. No wonder there’s a national trend toward mediation! The mediation movement is growing, and nowhere is that more true than in the State of Montana. Thanks to Connie, a group of dedicated volunteers and board members, and your past support, CMC is proud to have been a leader in this movement for almost two decades.
Please help us continue to lead. Help us grow our programs and extend our reach to help more families—more children—live, love, and learn in peace, knowing they have the support of a community that cares deeply for them. We can be there for them because you are here for us.
With warm regards and wishes for a peaceful and joyful holiday season,
New Board Member & Executive Director
November 9, 2015 — April Christofferson-Leach has enthusiastically accepted the Executive Director’s position at the Community Mediation Center. April started her legal career in private practice in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She went on to work as a corporate attorney in Seattle for a decade before moving to the Missoula area in 2004, where she worked at the University of Montana, focusing on the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program. April and family relocated to Bozeman in 2013. She has volunteered for and served on the boards of several Montana nonprofits, including Flagship, the Montana Natural History Center and Yellowstone Country Guardians. She is an advocate for social justice and the author of eight published books.
The Community Mediation Center is also proud and pleased to announce Sylvia Drain as a new Board Member. She comes with great expertise in marketing and looks forward to helping the CMC with event planning, public relations and writing. Service has always been important to Sylvia and after serving faithfully on the Greater Gallatin United Way Board, she has been looking for a new opportunity to serve. She is currently employed as Sales Manager at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Dr. Chris Hahn assumed leadership as president of the Community Mediation Center’s Board on Oct. 26. Janet Bender-Keigley is serving as Vice-President and Abby Brown as the Secretary /Treasurer. We thank Peter Duffy as the outgoing president, who will remain on the Executive Committee as the ad hoc Past President. Sally Broughton is retiring off the board after serving faithfully for three years. Pam Refling has been invited to remain on the board for another year. Other remaining board members are Pam Poon and Dr. David Henderson.
Connie Campbell-Pearson, after 13 years as the Executive Director is committed to remain at CMC as the Family Program Manager and will assist in the transition for April.
New Online Intake Form
December 22, 2014 — This program is intended to empower couples to work together directly to resolve their differences during their dissolution, rather than relying on more costly (and adversarial) legal services. Mediations provide a safe, structured setting facilitated by a neutral third party, which gives couples who are unable to reach agreement a chance to take their children's best interests to heart and find an effective solution. Studies have shown that children who grow up with regular contact with both parents are happier, achieve more at school, and develop better emotional and social skills.
For those seeking this service, we now have an online form.
Please take the time to fill this out completely.