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2021 Board Candidates

Below is information on the individuals, listed in the order in which they were received, interested in serving on the Nebraska Mediation Association Board of Directors. To place your vote, please use the link provided in the email sent to you as the link is specific to you. Links are not identifiable to any person; however, each link is only allowed to be used once.

Voting is now closed. Candidates will be announced no later than the April 9 Business Meeting.


NMA’s Mission: The Nebraska Mediation Association promotes creative and constructive engagement through professional development, collaborative partnerships, facilitation, mediation, restorative justice, and conflict engagement training to practitioners, professionals, and others throughout the State of Nebraska.


Candidates for Member Class Seat, Western Nebraska

(Vote for 1)


Name: Jessica M Laughlin
Profession: Attorney
City of Residence: Scottsbluff, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

I have been a mediator since 2015. October 2015 I began working with the Office of Dispute Resolution under Debra Denny where I worked on the initial Victim-Offender Mediation project and test program. I became a restorative justice mediator and studied under Ted Lewis and Dr. Mark Umbreit during my time at ODR.
I received my Juris Doctor in 2015 from UNL-LAW. I was a Deputy County Attorney in Scotts Bluff County from 2016-2020. I have been living and practicing law in the Nebraska Panhandle since 2016 and I am currently an Associate Attorney at Robert Brenner Law Office.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

I envision a mediation network throughout the State where Community members, Community leaders, Attorneys and Judges see the value (financial and social) of mediation. I see a Nebraska where Mediation is not an afterthought or a hoop to jump through to get your case to court. A place where we trust our mediators to be peace makers and trusted members of the legal community.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

I would like to follow in my mother's footsteps. In the mid 80's I remember going to the State Capital and roaming the halls while my mom and dad lobbied for Farm Mediation. I would like to reach out to law makers, judges, and attorneys across the State. I would like to see more training in under served areas as well as more understanding from the residents of under served communities as to what mediation is and how it works. My mission would be to expand outreach.


Candidates for Member/At-Large Seats, Statewide

(Vote for up to 4)


Name: Gary B Randall
Profession: Douglas County District Court Judge, retired
City of Residence: Omaha, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

In the 90’s I was trained in Mediation by Kathleen Severens and used it in my legal practice in domestic and civil matters prior to appointment to the bench in late 1997. I was committee chair for the Douglas County District Court Judges Mediation Committee and participated in state wide meetings regarding state funding allocations to the centers.


I have always believed mediation to be answer to many civil matters giving litigants a role in resolution of their disputes.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

My vision would be the expansion of mediation in order for parties to participant in the resolution and reach more timely solutions to disputed matters, while reducing case loads for the courts.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

My experience and discussions with those knowledgeable in the results of Mediations throughout the state would lead me to believe when parties participate in mediations , the results of the disputes serves all parties well. It will reduce civil case loads in the courts and serve the parties well in domestic matters allowing family law disputes and appropriate civil matters to be resolved sooner.


Name: Craig Martin
Profession: Attorney
City of Residence: Omaha, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

I have extensive board experience in both the non-profit and construction industry. This includes the United Way of the Midlands, Skutt Catholic High School, National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), Nebraska Chapter, and the Cornhusker Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). As such, I am well versed in Board operations and understand the importance of having an active and engaged board.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

My vision for mediation in Nebraska is that it continues to grow to enable resolution of disputes in a more cost effective and amicable manner. Resolution through litigation has become unaffordable for so many, and it may not resolve the dispute. Mediation allows for the parties to discuss settlement options and "buy" into a resolution that may prove more effective than a court's order.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

In order for all voices to be heard, I think you need diversity on the board and at the committee level. A board that is not diverse may have the best of intentions, but may still lack the information or knowledge of unrepresented or underrepresented constituents. To that end, I may not be the best choice for the board. As a construction attorney in Omaha, I see plenty of disputes, but that experience may not lend itself to ensuring that all voices are heard in advocating for the use of mediation in resolving dispute statewide. I also think that the board and committees must do all they can to seek out the "voices." The board and committees must be active in expanding the use of mediation through education and information sharing to ensure that the voices that need to be heard are found and supported.


Name: Gwen Foxall
Profession: Education - Restorative Justice
City of Residence: Omaha, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

My experience of working with families, youth, and diverse populations. Also experience in teaching, training, RJ practices.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

To grow the number of people that are truly interested and passionate about the work of mediating, peace building, and healthy communities.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

NMA does a really good job of connecting centers through weekly coordinator meetings for RJ. It would be great to have meetings for all affiliates across the state. Also the noon webinars for professional development were very successful. So making connections and building relationships would be one way to hear more voices.


Name: Clarice Jackson
Profession: Business
City of Residence: Omaha, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

Clarice is a community advocate involved with special education, dyslexia, and experience sitting on local and National boards.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

Her vision - the state of NE can become more of a resolution -centered, state rather a punitive reactionary one.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

Having the perspectives of the communities we serve making sure they feel represented by the NMA and creating spaces for people-to have their voices heard.


Eddie Mekasha, Eddie Habte Mekasha
Profession: Chaplain Counselor and Mediator
City of Residence: Omaha NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

My skills begin with my personality and life. I am a mix of three major ethnic groups of Africa, Cushitic, Semitic and Omotic that makes me to be more inclusive in human outlook. I did my undergraduate in Supplies management and theology working for government factories, Hilton International and Christian bookstore and media. I used to help conflict mediation in the civil war affected part of East Africa.  I came to the USA I did formal training with a master in theology in 2007. While I was a student, I did   mediation training at Washington University St Louis MO in 2004 and served as a member of Ethnic mediation Council led by my mentor Dr Pam De Voe. until I left St Louis July 2013. I continued the same after I moved to Omaha NE and Dr Pam presented two conflict mediation conferences for Lutheran Family staff and for Ethiopian community through my coordination. In 2019 I took Conflict mediation training of Nebraska with a certificate and I continue doing formal conflict mediation for Concord mediation center. As a chaplain back in St Louis and here in Omaha, I am involved in many conflict mediations and the most successful  are  settlement of business owners conflict in St Louis MO and couple of marriage conflicts  among Africans and Asians. With Bosnian coworker, I did conflict mediation between Bosnians and Black Americans at St Louis.

Nebraska has a great heritage and it would be  essential to use Conflict mediation  for her growth. 

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

Conflict mediation is an essential task of every community that people may avid it by cultural and modern approaches to engage in daily life with harmony with any human kind and nature.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

Nebraska becomes more diversity with rich heritages. We need to continue working hard to full fill our respective American dream by mutual cooperation to over come any barrier of communication through conflict mediation.


Name: Liz Bisson
Profession: University Instructor, Mediator, Ombudsman, Consultant
City of Residence: Omaha, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

Broadness of experience in sectors where mediation could be helpful including corporate, nonprofit, government, education, and healthcare. Strategic planning expertise in organizational development, fundraising, and long term sustainability. Vast size of networks both in Lincoln and in Omaha in order to reach out for help and support in specific areas where visibility is important. Event related planning and marketing/brand awareness that can be useful for NMA (specific experience was for Salvation Army, Omaha Public Schools, and UNO International Programs).

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

To me vision is in the 3-5 year range when there is a lot of untapped opportunity. I would like to see mediation use expanded more in the areas outside of what is required by the judicial and government systems; while of course upholding any regulations that apply. There are many organizations that could use our expertise, but it takes time and concentrated effort to create awareness, which is something I would like to focus on. This could help alleviate some of the bottle neck with the number of available mediators as compared to availability of cases to spread around. There is opportunity for ongoing training and I would like to be involved with it.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

The greatness of our local mediation field is that it is diverse. We have many styles, backgrounds, and talents at work in our field. It's important to have that same diverse representation in setting policies and revising standards given today's rapidly changing conflict or dispute environment. I believe NMA already has many perspective, we need to continue creativity in workshops and gatherings that attract those varying perspectives and participation. The annual meeting is great, and I'd like to see additional methods for bringing people together, whether that is in a newsletter format or just expanded education outlets, for example.


Name: Stewart Giddings
Profession: Operations Director, Youturn Omaha
City of Residence: Omaha, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

I have worked in various industries and believe that my knowledge in management, residential treatment, conflict resolution, violence reduction, and media & marketing/IT skills will be some of the assets I would bring to the board.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

Mediation is a great practice that I and our Organization believe in. We want 100% of our staff trained in Basic mediation and feel that we could serve a greater number of families and individuals in the communities where our work is conducted who don't or won't access mediation services for various reasons.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

Based on the nature of work we do as an organization and the population we serve I believe that I can add to the perspective as it relates to the minority community in Nebraska as majority of that community in the state is in Omaha and specifically between North and South Omaha. While I do not represent all who live and work in the area and all the other agencies who serve this population, I feel that I can lend a significant voice and perspective to move the conversation and action forward.


Name: Elizabeth McClelland
Profession: Lawyer
City of Residence: Omaha, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

Been a practicing attorney working as a prosecutor and now private practice in Douglas and Sarpy County Juvenile Court. I recently have begun mediation work with Concord center and facilitating Family Group Conferences and pre hearing conferences. I really value the mediation process and how it can be utilized in my practice in juvenile court.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

To be utilized and available to more people in our community. The skill set of a mediator is so valuable in juvenile court across the board from hearings to meetings and interactions with clients and kids.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

Do my best to listen and make sure that information is shared and communicated with as many as possible.


Name: Cristina Hiddleston
Profession: Educator
City of Residence: Omaha, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

In addition to my full time job as a high school English teacher, I work primarily in restorative justice at Concord and I designed and currently teach a course in conflict engagement at Duchesne Academy. I have made constructive conflict engagement a central tenet of my life and I have so enjoyed every opportunity I have had to learn about different mediation types and ways of teaching a variety of learners about conflict.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

I think mediation opportunities have lots of room for growth in Nebraska. In addition to formal expansion of ADR, I think there are many opportunities to teach general tenets of mediation to wide swaths of our state’s population. My focus tends to be on education, so I would like to see a greater commitment on the part of schools to teach young people about all that mediation and conflict engagement has to offer.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

I hope the board has a diverse representation of these voices and geographical backgrounds to help ensure that all voices are heard. I also think a diversity of professions on the board would be helpful for the board to see the far reaching possibilities of mediation in Nebraska. If we can see “holes” either geographically or professionally, we would need to use that awareness and reach out as appropriate for information and dialogue to help us move forward.


Name: Kyle Wallor
Profession: Attorney
City of Residence: Omaha, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

As a twenty-three year trial attorney with Lamson, Dugan and Murray, LLP’s Litigation Department, I have handled over six hundred civil litigated cases, with As a twenty-three year trial attorney with Lamson, Dugan and Murray, LLP’s Litigation Department, I have handled over six hundred civil litigated cases, with twenty trials and over eighty mediations. The mediations have been held by ten plus mediators, in over six different states. This has provided extensive experience with effective mediators and effective mediation techniques.

The Partners of Lamson, Dugan and Murray have elected me to serve three consecutive three year terms on Management Committee (MC). The the three person MC is responsible for the day-to-day operations of our Firm. Our team oversees our Administrative Department’s Accounting, Billing/Accounts Receiveables, Human Resources, Marketing and IT functions. The MC also appoints and works in concert with the Firm’s attorney committees, including Strategic Planning, Marketing, Hiring, and Professional Development. We are also responsible for establishing and overseeing the Firm’s annual budget. Over the course of my service on the MC, the Firm has nearly doubled in size and has opened offices in Lincoln, Nebraska and West Des Moines, Iowa.

My experience also includes over nine years of service on the Nebraska Defense Counsel Association’s (NDCA) Board of Directors - a working board. Over that time, I served in all 4 executive roles. This culminated with my year of service as President, presiding over the Board’s regular meetings and planning our annual meeting. I also served as the Chair of NDCA’s Legislative Committee for 3 years. This role included: (1) reviewing legislative bills which would could impact the practice of civil litigation; (2) working with the committee’s members to make recommendations to the Board on NDCA’s position on partcular bills; (3) meeting with legislators about the effect of certain bills; and (4) coordinating testimony before legislative committees in support or opposition to certain legislative bills.

Prior to joining Lamson, Dugan and Murray, I worked as a law clerk for the District Court Judges of Douglas County Nebraska. I left that position to serve a law clerk to C. Thomas White, Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court. These opportunities provided a behind the scenes understanding of trying and handling cases on appeal.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

The process of mediation provides disputing parties with the opportunity to participate in and have a greater measure of control in bringing their dispute to a resolution. This is effectuated through an efficient, cost-effective, user-friendly process where the mediator objectively and effectively educates the parties about their relative positions. The parties allows the parties to make informed decisions without restoring to the length and expensive trial process. As a result, mediation has established itself as a primary vehicle of dispute resolution in the state of Nebraska. It is indeed a rare instance when a civil litigation dispute is not mediated. Through the improvement of mediation’s inherent efficiencies, the process can continue its growth as the a go-to vehicle for dispute resolution. A simple example of an area for growth and improvement is multi-defendant disputes.

The basic mediation process in civil litigation calls for the parties to submit meditation statements. The parties then congregate for opening session and caucusing towards a resolution. This often makes it possible to accomplish a in a half, whole or multi-day mediation, what would take 3 to 6 days before a jury.

In multi-defendant disputes, the caucusing process between the co-defendants can easily take a half a day. While necessary to establish a foundation for proceeding with negotiations, this can lead to frustrations for the plaintiff and impede the main purpose of the process - communication to a resolution. When the mediator has to invest so much time getting the defendants in a position to proceed, the plaintiff can be lost in the process. Mediators can be more pro-active in these types of disputes. This can be accomplished through simple steps, such was pre-mediation conference calls or the defendants mediating their relative contributions before involving the plaintiff.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

Simply stated - education through communication. Electronic communication, through the internet, e-mail and social media, is a ripe platform to educate Nebraskans about the benefits of mediation. These platforms also provide a venue for all to exercise their own voice.


Name: Cheryl Turner
Profession: Trauma Specialist/Consultant
City of Residence: Lincoln/Auburn, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

I believe I can bring many skills and varied experiences to this board. As a clinician, consultant, trainer, and supervising practitioner, I have spent my 20+ year career developing a core foundation for building communication skills in myself and empowering others to find their voice. At the core of my practice, you will find this quote, “Only when a voice is heard, does healing begin.” I would bring an expertise in trauma informed communication and strategies, training and solid understanding of restorative justice, and a proven ability to disseminate vital practice information at a local, regional, and national level.

Additionally, as a training specialist for the University of Nebraska, Center on Children, Families, and the Law, it is my job and my passion to remain current on research, evidence-based practices, and to continue to hone my communication skills while training others to understand and effectively work with individuals of all ages, in all types of conflictual situations.

Lastly, as a trauma consultant I have built the knowledge and skills necessary to create and provide training on a variant of topics at a local, regional, and national level. This has included recent local training provided to the Nebraska Mediation Association and the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association. I was nominated and won the Pioneer in Trauma Informed Education Award at the National Trauma Informed Schools Conference as well. In addition to these areas, I also reside as co-chair on the Family First Prevention Services Act Policy and Procedure Committee and am an active member of the Nebraska Healthcare Oversight Committee.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

As mediation practices continue to grow in the State of Nebraska, my vision would be for the services to be one of the first steps individuals take in conflict resolution, no matter the situation. Mediation has a strong foundation in family conflict situations and is recognized as a practice that is standard in many family court situations. To continue to build such an effective service and to see its effectiveness and the ability to have it used in all appropriate situations, across all settings, and in all communities would make significant differences in all communities, statewide.

With that said, to see mediation practices encompass trauma informed practices and language, build upon trauma capability, to continue to incorporate proven restorative practices, and to truly be able to understand and overcome the barriers that trauma and stress play in conflict, would be at the heart of my vision.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

Through this rich tradition, Mediation has found its place in many areas, and has grown to be identified as an effective process. In order for this to continue, it is vital that mediators have access to professional development that encompasses the newest effective practices and research, that the connection mediators have through associations such as this continue and grow, and that mediators are encouraged to look at the implementation of the newest, most effective practices.

Just as we must educate within the mediators’ profession, we must also educate our communities and its citizens. To identify and partner with programs that are already in existence such as restorative justice programming in schools, community support programs, and juvenile or adult justice programs. To partner with mentoring programs or other preventative programs, and ultimately to help individuals understand communication is the key to functionality.

To bring light to active communication skills, something that is slowly being lost in our communities, we may begin to find change and success. These preventative steps could, possibly, decrease the ever-rising population of individuals in our justice and court systems, could decrease the number of family conflicts, and overall, could decrease violence and unrest in our communities.


Name: Marie McCann
Profession: Mediator
City of Residence: Omaha, NE

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

I have been mediating since 2014 in both Omaha and Lincoln.
I have a variety of experiences mediating including small claims court and family mediations as well as restorative justice cases.
I have certificates and have worked on SADR cases as well as special education facilitations.

Based on the mission, what is your vision for creative and constructive engagement in Nebraska?

I would like Nebraskans to think of using mediation before getting involved in the court system when they are involved in any type of dispute. I have seen the benefits of mediating in all types of conflicts and would like the NMA to help educate those in our state about using mediation.
I also would like to see training for mediators include more education on how mediation fits into the process with regards to the court system, from the initial issue to the resolution.

Nebraska has a rich tradition of experience and perspectives such as geographic, professional background, and focus of practice. What would be your strategy to help all voices be heard?

I have mediated with soldiers, psychologists, educators, lawyers and clergy. I have mediated with people from small towns and big towns. It is a beautiful working environment with people who are interested in fairness and justice. Having a mediator who is relevant to the clients' experiences promotes trust. I think the NMA could recruit mediators who have a commonality with their clients which would promote mutual understanding between and among all parties. This is a first step towards equity and justice in our society.


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