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Mediator’s Defining Moment

Susan M. Yates, July 20th, 2010

There has been quite a bit of hubbub online about a message circulating from NAFCM’s (National Association for Community Mediation) executive director, Justin Corbett. The message, copied below, asks for input on a definition of “mediator” for the U.S. Department of Labor. It will be used “by the federal government, and will be accessible online for all those considering a career or a volunteer commitment as a mediator.”

I find it fascinating that we (in the mediation field) continue to have such a difficult time defining what we do. I understand that there is great concern about potentially excluding sectors of the field, but we really need to be able to get on the same page (even if we have multiple ideas on that page!) if we are going to be able to provide quality services. We may disagree on many things, but there is so much more that brings us together.

Here is the message:


Looking for a defining opportunity for you (and our profession) to be heard?  Here’s one such opportunity brought to you by NAFCM: the National Association For Community Mediation.

The Department of Labor (DOL) wants to know what it takes to be an “expert mediator” and have turned to NAFCM for help.  As a member-based organization serving hundreds of mediators and community mediation centers – which, in turn, oversee thousands of skilled mediators nationwide – NAFCM is a natural fit to help the DOL identify the education, training, experience, and skills which combine to form our field’s best practitioners.

Here is how you can help shape the definition of “Mediator” for years to come:

  • By Wednesday, July 21st, at 5:00 pm PDT, send an e-mail to Justin R. Corbett, Executive Director of NAFCM, at with the following information:
    • Your name,
    • Your contact information (phone, e-mail, and postal address), and
    • A brief (single paragraph) overview of your experience as a mediator (or mediation educator, trainer, coordinator, etc.).

This information will then be shared with the DOL.  A random sample of respondents will be sent a 90-minute, confidential questionnaire, available to complete either online or via paper form, which examines a series of characteristic and competence metrics NAFCM has helped the DOL develop.  After completion, participants will be provided a congratulatory letter from both the DOL and NAFCM.  More importantly, however, is the satisfaction of having helped to shape a detailed report on what it takes to be a mediator.  This new description will be used by the federal government, and will be accessible online for all those considering a career or a volunteer commitment as a mediator.

“Expert mediators” can be market-oriented, court-connected, and/or community-based practitioners.  Diversity of experience, focus, frameworks, and context is encouraged to develop the most robust, inclusive definition of mediator characteristics.  Define your moment and define our field by sending a message to NOW!


In community,

Justin R. Corbett


Justin R. Corbett

Executive Director

NAFCM: National Association For Community Mediation

1959 South Power Road, Suite 103-279

Mesa, AZ 85206-4398

(602) 633-4213

NAFCM: Your Voice, Your Passion, Your Impact

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One Response to “Mediator’s Defining Moment”

  1. Kent Lawrence says:

    Good job getting this out there. The responses may prove interesting, judging by what I have seen on the Lurie List serve, a lot of people are sceptical of both “players” in this effort, and their motivation…

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