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2022 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 OPEN! Voting will CLOSE on May 23, 2022, at 12:00 p.m. CT.

Candidates will be announced no later than the May 25 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 General Board Seats

(Vote for 2)


Name: Amber Ayres
Profession: Attorney
City of Residence: Omaha, NE
                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

I have been a family law attorney and mediator for 15 years. I am passionate about mediation and believe that mediation offers better resolutions for people than litigation.

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

I would like to see people turning to mediation for all types of dispute resolution and I would like to see restorative justice expanded to the adult population in Nebraska.

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 appreciate a cooperative practice and believe that everyone has a seat at the table. I think that the more bridges we build within, especially the judicial branch of government, the more progress that we can make as a state.


Name: Kelly Henry Turner
Profession: Attorney/Mediator
City of Residence: Omaha, NE
                                                                                                                                                                                                       

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

I have spent almost 2 decades working with families, employees, neighbors, and business colleagues/competitors to resolve conflict within families and business relationships. I am very passionate about the positive impact mediation can have in resolving the peripheral issues and hurt that often fuel the identified conflict. I believe there is often value in the process even if the main controversy cannot be resolved by agreement. I am frequently appointed by the court to do what I can to resolve conflict and narrow issues to be decided by the judge. My experience and passion for helping others would provide perspective and input on how to grow mediation and best practices in Nebraska.

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

My vision is to grow the use of mediation in frequency and that it is used in more areas of conflict. I would like to educate communities about the benefits of mediation being more than just the resolving a specific controversy. I would also like to promote and expand mediation as a remedy to seek prior to litigation.

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 believe that one reason mediation can be more cathartic to parties in conflict is that the mediator can empathize with parties in a way a judge cannot necessarily approach a case. I think marketing mediation in a way that promotes the communication and hope for understanding of a position, even if it is one you do not agree with, would foster dialogue between people of different backgrounds and perspectives.


Name: Joe Wright
Profession: Attorney, but now I just do volunteer work for mediation centers
City of Residence: Lincoln, NE
                                                                                                                                                                                                      

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

Recently - Since retiring from the Lincoln County Attorney's Office in 2021, I became an approved Family Mediator in May 2021. Since that time I have concentrated on mediating parenting plans. I have presently mediated 24 of them.

Since I have been around for a while, I do have a long past. To keep this short, I would like you to know that I was involved in mediation in the mid 90's up to around 2007. I was on the Nebraska Office of Dispute Resolution Advisory Council from 1999 to 2007. My mediation experience back then was basically small claims. Because of where I worked (Lincoln County Attorney's Office) I was unable to do family law mediation (potential conflict of interest).

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

From my recent experience of doing all my mediations by Zoom in 2021 and then finally doing some mediations in person in 2022, it has become evident to me that there is a place for both of them. Zoom to me has been very effective for individuals that live far apart or have a high amount of animosity towards each other. In-person mediation still seems best when practical.

The bottom line is that zoom definitely has a place in mediation.

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 think it is important to approach organizations & make presentations to them about what mediation is all about. An example would be local organizations, i.e., Lions Club, Church Organizations, Red Cross, Optimist Club, and other local organizations around the state.

The more we get out to various organizations, the better chance in getting the word out.


Name: David Williams
Profession: Attorney/Law Professor/Arbitrator
City of Residence: Lincoln, NE
                                                                                                                                                                                                      

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

As a long-time attorney with a financial services corporation and responsible for all corporate litigation, I have significant experience in disputes and dispute resolution. I participated as an attorney in 50+ mediations across the country.

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

When I first started my legal career mediation was the exception on cases rather than the rule. That has changed significantly. Although "forcing" people to mediate can make mediation difficult, in an ideal world I would like to see every case go to mediation at some point in the dispute process. If it becomes truly expected in every case there will not be a stigma of "weakness" in going to mediation. It will be a normal step in the process.

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 experience in both working for a large corporation as well as volunteering and working for small non-profits. I am familiar with the needs of both the "big guy" and the "little guy." I also have a business understanding which does not impact all cases but many times it is "all about the money." Finally, I think my experience gives me some gravitas in both listening to, as well as persuading, people to make a final decision to settle that is in their best interests. I understand in a successful mediation both parties will be going away not totally happy - I think I can credibly convey that emotion to all parties.


Name: Michael J ODonnell
Profession: Mediator/Regional Sales Manager
City of Residence: Elkhorn, NE
                                                                                                                                                                                                      

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

In my professional career, I have been a part of several management focus groups and committees to improve/review/change policies and procedures when necessary. When I was with the Nebraska DOC, I was a part of the CERT (Emergency Response Team) and became exceptionally comfortable in high-stress situations. This has allowed me to remain focused on the task at hand, in my private life and careers, after Corrections. I, enjoy listening to people and brainstorming with them to provide solutions for a common goal.

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

To expand it and to see more people turn to mediation as the initial step in conflict resolution. Far to often, people are quick to turn to litigation creating a bigger backlog in the courts. Working with the courts to identify cases that would be ideal for mediation and making the training available for the mediators of NMA.

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 has such a large talent pool of mediators, listening to all our members is the only way that we can grow professionally. Every member is vital to our success and we need to make sure all voices are heard. As a Board Member, I would make myself available to conversations at any time with my fellow members. I have enjoyed meeting and working with every mediator over the last couple years, making professional and personal friendships, which have become very valuable to me.


Name: Monica Miles-Steffens
Profession: Juvenile Justice
City of Residence: Lincoln, NE
                                                                                                                                                                                                      

What skills and experience would you bring to the board?

I am a certified mediator and affiliated with the Mediation Center in Lincoln. I am also in the Masters of Legal Studies program at UNL College of Law. I have over 25 years working in juvenile Justice ranging from direct care, training, strategic planning, non-profit and state government policy development, and grant writing and management.

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

I believe that the continuum of restorative practice and Justice is the key element missing in our systems. I believe the future of mediation is bright but we need to continue education and helping people experience the transformation and healing that occurs through many of these processes. I think we need to find innovative ways to expand inclusivity and training.

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 think one of the first places to start is by going to communities and groups we want to engage and listening and learning. Then we can identify what we need to change to make space for those voices and elevate opportunities for inclusiveness.


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