A Word from the President
Our summer WMA newsletter is full of ways to contribute to the mediation community, important dates to remember, good news about our website, introductions to our new Board members, updates on Foreclosure Mediation, certification news, and a welcoming message to new members. Read on!
Have a great summer and watch for us again in September.
Twenty Year Club Interview with Janis and Bruce Pruitt-Hamm
Interviewed by Sarah Bergdahl
Seeing as we don’t yet have a 30-year club, it is imperative that we spotlight Janis and Bruce Pruitt-Hamm this year: they helped to start the Mediation Consortium—later renamed the WMA—in 1982. Janis served as President and later Co-President with Bruce!
Growing up in a Quaker household set Bruce on the path of peace and social justice from childhood. His closest friend was the son of Elise Boulding (Quaker sociologist and author credited with developing the nation’s first academic Peace Studies Program) and Kenneth Boulding (highly respected Quaker economist and author, contributing to new thinking in political science, sociology, philosophy and social psychology).
The nonviolent leaders of the 1960s (Rev. Martin Luther King and Ghandi, in particular) influenced both Janice and Bruce, so when Bill Lincoln offered his first class in mediation in Seattle, they were in the front row. Close friends with mediator activists Kate Hunter and John Kydd, they worked together to start the Mediation Consortium and soon thereafter the King County DRC. They both worked as trainers with Susan Dearborn in Pacific Family Mediation Institute before moving to Kettle Falls in 1994.
Looking back on rich careers (Janis as a therapist and mediator and Bruce as an attorney and mediator), both can see change in their perspectives. Janis has shifted from her desire to avoid emotion and has become more comfortable assisting clients in pulling back defensive layers to find and identify psychological needs. Bruce has developed a deeper appreciation for the complexity of the field, most recently inspired by Ramsbotham’s “hourglass theory” and Lundberg’s “bell curve theory.” He has learned that the opportunities and tools of intervention change as conflict escalates and de-escalates. Though Bruce was trained in the facilitative style, valuing joint session as the best model of engagement, his experience (supported by the research of Scott Miller) teaches him that “fitting” mediator skills and tools to client needs is more likely to positively influence outcomes. He and Janis frequently work together and have recently experimented successfully with concurrent private sessions, one mediator with one party working on different issues before coming together to check for progress.
Janis and Bruce hosted a mediation training this January in Kettle Falls, their town of 5,000 people. Mediations have increased exponentially since then! They also had a hand in getting a small claims mediation program started. The Pruitt-Hamm team believes that patience, persistence and keeping a “day job” are critical factors for the long-term happiness of the practitioner in our field.
The WMA thanks Janis and Bruce for their continuous dedication and effort in moving mediation toward the mainstream.
Foreclosure Mediation Program Update
by Warren Olson
Trainings for the Fairness Foreclosure Act continue with day three trainings at seven locations around the state. The two day training by Commerce explored the concept of a hybrid mediation, which would be different from traditional mediations in the voluntariness of participation and the required decision by the mediator regarding “good faith.” Homeowners who have been unable to resolve issues directly with the lenders -- and who are referred by housing counselors or attorneys -- move to the mediation phase voluntarily; mortgage servicers, on the other hand, are required to mediate, or they face a violation of good faith. The violation of good faith can result in requiring foreclosure by a court or action under the consumer protection laws. Additionally mediators will determine whether “good faith” is upheld by compliance with numerous other requirements in the law. .
The mediations require more complex intake and paperwork processing than most traditional mediations. Afterwards, mediators will be required to submit a “certification of mediation,” which addresses numerous issues including net present value calculations. The Uniform Mediation Act is suspended in foreclosure mediations; consequently, the typical mediation process is also likely to be revised.
Despite the differences from traditional mediations, the underlying concept is solid. There is nobody better than a mediator to help people have a difficult conversation! At the initial training, a Nevada-based mediator (already practicing foreclosure mediation) affirmed the successes and focused on the benefits to homeowners and banks mediation provides -- a forum for discussing and resolving complex issues.
In order to be effective in this new arena, mediators will need in-depth knowledge about mortgage law, the legislation, and federal programs like HAMP, and calculations of homes' net present value.
Typical of new laws, some rough edges remain to be worked out. Immunity from suits, payment issues, assignments, and relationship to the Department of Commerce, who oversees the program, continue to raise questions in the mediation community.
Calling all Spanish Speaking Mediators!
Spanish speaking people are the largest growing segment of Washington’s population. The WMA is taking a leadership role in making sure culturally appropriate mediation services are available to them.
If you speak Spanish and are willing to mediate in Spanish, join us for a Language and Cultural Competence Development Day! For your convenience, the workshop will be offered in 2 locations: Oct. 1, Yakima; Nov. 6, Everett.
In partnership with the DRCs of Yakima and Everett, the WMA will host one-day workshops to support Spanish speakers (yes, you who are shy and rusty and have been meaning to brush up, as well as native speakers) in developing language appropriate to mediation. Most of the workshop will be conducted in Spanish, with lots of time to practice and ask questions. Part of the training will be conducted in English. RSVP to Sarah Bergdahl at firstname.lastname@example.org
. More details later to come!!
Certification and Membership Update
Welcome new WMA members! Upon joining, you will receive a WMA window decal. Let your community know you belong!
Susan Phillips Hamman
Please join us in congratulating
our colleagues on the following achievements:
Sandra Barto: Domestic Relations, Employment, Labor Relations, Public Policy, and Community
Cheryl Cohen: Community
C. Kevin Coonrod: Domestic Relations, Commercial / Business, Employment, Consumer, and Community