Inaugural Mediator’s Cafe: Mediation in the Time of COVID-19
The Washington Mediation Association proudly rolled out its newest program, the Mediator’s Café, on Friday, May 15, 2020. The Mediator’s Café, the brainchild of Board member Felicia Staub, is a monthly online meeting space for WMA members to network, discuss important mediation topics, and receive continuing education in mediation in the form of in-services, webinars, and roundtable discussions. The program is being offered as a new, free benefit to WMA members across the state so that they can connect and learn without having to travel. Six months in the making, the development and debut could not have been better timed given the shelter-in-place order due to the pandemic. We are very excited about the potential of this new program and welcome your input as we evolve together.
The debut session of the Mediator’s Café on Friday, May 15th, centered around Mediation in the Time of Covid-19. Twenty-nine mediators from around the state and as far away as Idaho and Mexico met in a Zoom video conference to discuss mediating while quarantined in our homes. This Café’s focus was on some of the tools within Zoom (navigating, privacy, editing, and other critical areas), as well as recognizing the importance of human connection. This was particularly helpful given our current isolation. The take-away seemed to be a fulfilling, connective experience for which we are grateful.
The ongoing virtual Cafés will meet monthly for sessions of an hour and a half. To accommodate participants’ schedules, we will vary the scheduling, alternating from 12 to 1:30 one month and from 5 to 6:30 the next. The Cafés will be held via Zoom video conference. Each video conference may have a maximum attendance of 100 people and will be hosted by WMA Board members.
Every month the Board will send out an email notice for registration, followed by a reminder email the day before the meeting containing the Zoom access link. Attendance at Mediator’s Café sessions will count towards the continuing education required for WMA recertification. In the future the Board may seek CLE credits as well. The Board is currently considering opening these sessions to non-WMA members, who will be able to attend by paying a fee for each session. The cost and timeline for opening this to non-WMA members is yet to be determined.
Some possible topics for future Mediator’s Café sessions include:
- Mediating with difficult clients
- Mediating with clients of different cultures or beliefs or different cultures or beliefs than the mediator
- Tools for getting clients unstuck
- Mediating with clients present by phone
- Advantages and disadvantages of private meetings (caucuses)
- What do you do when you develop an opinion during a mediation, i.e. lose your neutrality?
- Mediating with interpreters
- Reading body language
- Good faith
- Power dynamics in mediation
Information about the Mediator’s Café will be added to our website soon. Look for this in upcoming months. Please direct any questions you have or suggestions for Café topics to Felicia Staub at firstname.lastname@example.org.