Some Alumni Using Conflict Management in Their Jobs
- Anne Ambrose (Sokolowski) (city public safety management, employee relations, mediation, crime prevention)
- Kenzi Axthelm Bisbing (mediation)
- Claudia Blubaugh Amrhein (human resources/personnel management)
- Patricia Benchia (mediation)
- Kate Burke (counseling, education, mediation)
- Suzy Cottrill (peacemaking)
- Melissa Davis (social services)
- Jeff Frank (education, school counseling)
- Jim Hamad (education, community building, mediation)
- Chelsea Holsopple (peacebuilding and development)
- Kathleen Jackson (social services)
- Jay Kelly (social change/nonviolence)
- Samantha (Nehrebecki) Lynch (development for a nonprofit organization)
- Tim Mayer (community organizing)
- Chad Meyers (education, mediation)
- Daika Moegerle (customer relations, insurance industry)
- Janet Mueller (mediation)
- Sarah Muir (human resources)
- Molly Plazak (child care, elder care)
- Jeremy Radabaugh (union organizing)
- Shane Riedel (community relations, mediation)
- Sandra Robitz (mediation, education)
- Richard Saltzman (business, peacemaking, conflict resolution, education)
- Emily Schmelzle (administrative)
- M. Jane Stoffer (peacemaking, counseling)
- Karen Tomaszewski (mediation, education)
- Sarah Van Fossen (sales, consulting)
- Sheri Wander (education, mediation, peacemaking, social change/nonviolence)
- Susan Bohan Warnes (community service, counseling)
- Michelle Zaremba (mediation)
- Ellen Zielinski (urban planning)
I graduated from the Center for Peaceful Change in 1992 and headed west to Wichita, Kansas. For nearly five years, I worked in the Employee Relations division of Wichita State University as the workers compensation manager and administrative assistant to the director. Our division was responsible for training the 3,000 plus classified staff. My director and I developed a training course on interpersonal conflict resolution that we offered on a regular basis to employees.
In addition, I was a volunteer mediator and trainer with the Mediation Center of Wichita. I was one of the first mediators in the state to receive state certification as a mediator and trainer. The types of cases we mediated most were cases in small claims court and neighborhood disputes. During my time in Wichita, I also received training through the Keybridge Foundation to mediate Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) disputes.
In 1997, I relocated to Palmdale, CA, a community of 123,000 approximately 60 miles north east of Los Angeles. I began working for the City of Palmdale (see our website at www.cityofpalmdale.org) and currently serve as the public safety manager for the City. I am responsible for administration of our contract law enforcement agreement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (an 11 million dollar contract), management of our civilian crime prevention, drug and life-skills education, and parking enforcement programs, and directing our City's threat assessment team.
In my early days with the City, I was a crime prevention officer and went out into the community to start neighborhood watch groups. There was many a time when my mediation skills came into place to help disputing neighbors work out the solutions to their problems. I am still using these tools on a daily basis -- with the public, in negotiations with the Sheriff's Department, and in the management of my staff. I am training my staff to use mediation tools as they now go out into the neighborhoods. I have incorporated a conflict resolution segment into our drug and life-skills curriculum which we teach in grades 4-7. I am also our mayor's staff representative to our local hate crimes committee, the Antelope Valley Human Relations Task Force. (See November 28, 2008 article in the Antelope Valley Press about Anne Ambrose's position as public safety director.)
On the side, I participated in a recent Teen Summit in which 1,200 high school and middle school students were brought together with elected leadership from the local level to the governor's office with the promise that the students would be allowed to talk and the politicians wouldn't. The goal of the event was to give kids the opportunity to be heard. It was planned and directed by a task force of teens from a local high school and a few adult advisors (of which I was one). I trained teen facilitators to direct smaller group discussions around topics that had been identified in advance, including education, violence, bigotry and hate crimes, resources for teens, and peer pressure.
I have also recently begun working with a local task force called the Increase the Peace Day committee. Annually, they conduct a large event involving teens from all of the region's high schools and middle schools. The challenge to the kids is simple: "What can you do personally to increase the peace?" They conduct poster and essay contests, bring in meaningful speakers to talk about ways of resolving problems other than through violence, then culminate the day by creating a human peace sign. There were over 3,000 participants in the 2001 event and we're hoping for 5,000 this year.
May 2003 graduate
I began the CACM program in the fall of 1999. The word Applied in "The Center for Applied Conflict Management" is the most beneficial aspect of the program. The beneficial Applied component was integrated inside and outside the classroom.
The courses helped me to expand my own thinking and not just mold it to that of my professors. They challenged us to take the world's experiences and then our own and think of them in different perspectives. They then encouraged us to test out new approaches to our life and the situations in it. My classmates and professors had a variety of backgrounds and experiences; this allowed for great class discussions where we learned from those around us and learned to be respectful of all the differing ideas. Outside the classroom I used the theory, practices, and skills learned in class to further develop my abilities in conflict management. I did internships in Ohio, Arizona, and Texas, focusing on mediation. These experiences combined with my education allowed me to develop a very diverse set of experiences and skills.
I then used these to become the Mediation Coordinator of a non-profit organization where I continuously used my education and experiences to better the programs and myself. Any experiences you can obtain that allow you to apply your classroom experience I highly recommend. Some great places around the area are Townhall II, Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation, Cleveland Mediation Center, and Northcoast Conflict Solutions, to name a few.
Update as of 8/20/2014:
Kenzi Bisbing, Education Manager, joined Oakland Mediation Center in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in April 2008. She has been active in the field of mediation, dispute resolution and crisis intervention since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Conflict Management from Kent State University and a Masters of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University. She is a Licensed Social Worker, Certified Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Trainer, Olweus Technical Assistance Consultant, Certified Trainer of Staff for the Second Step Program, Certified Trainer of Trainers for the Peers Making Peace Program and an approved Civil Mediation, Domestic Mediation, and Domestic Violence Screening Trainer through the Michigan State Court Administrative Office.
Kenzi has conducted over 130 mediation, conflict resolution, and bullying prevention trainings for adults and youth. She has experience working with a diverse group of students and schools including the inner-city, suburban, rural, private, public, charter and alternative settings.
She has also mediated hundreds of cases across Arizona, Texas, Ohio, and Michigan involving truancy, family, guardianship, divorce, and community issues. In Ohio she provided mediation trainings and mentored truancy mediators on behalf of the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management. Kenzi has also served as Vice- President of the Ohio Community Mediation Association, is currently the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program State Leader for Michigan and represents youth services as a Board Member and Treasurer of the Michigan Southeast Chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution.
May 1985 graduate
I graduated in May 1985 with a bachelor's degree in Integrative Change (the major is now called Applied Conflict Management). I earned a Master of Arts degree in Political Science in December 1987. Currently I am employed by the City of Kent, Ohio working in the field of human resources/ personnel management.
A degree in Applied Conflict Management provides a solid basis for working in the field of human resources/personnel management. Personnel managers often work within a union environment, where labor relations is an integral part of the duties of the manager. A personnel manager may be responsible for administering and interpreting the provisions of one or more collective bargaining agreements negotiated between labor and management. Disputes are settled through a grievance procedure, which outlines progressive steps for filing and hearing the dispute, and may provide binding arbitration as the final step for dispute resolution. A personnel manager may act as the liaison to labor representatives on a day-to-day basis to deal with issues or concerns, may be responsible for hearing a grievance at one of the steps, or may work in consultation with a labor attorney when a grievance progresses to arbitration.
The degree also provides a good perspective for understanding the role an employee's personal problems or conflicts play in the workplace. Personnel managers often oversee and coordinate Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and drug and alcohol policies and testing programs. An EAP is a confidential counseling and referral service provided by many employers at no cost to their employees to help them deal with issues in their personal lives such as relationships, finances, or drug and alcohol use or abuse by themselves or a family member. Drug and alcohol policies and testing programs help employers maintain a drug free environment which in turn helps to reduce workplace injuries and accidents and helps prevent workplace violence. Employers have come to realize that workplace violence often is rooted in the frustrations and lack of empowerment some employees feel, which often manifests itself in the form of behavioral problems at work. Employers try to address the sources of these problems by providing ways to identify and resolve issues before they become serious problems.
The Applied Conflict Management degree program also provides a foundation for the development of listening and decision making skills. The obvious solution to a problem or conflict is not always the most equitable or fair solution. Personnel managers often are involved in team-based project coordination and decision making. They also work with equal employment opportunity issues as they relate to hiring, promotion and termination; workers' compensation matters; compensation and benefits; safety and health; and employee training and development. Each of these areas requires the ability to identify, address, and resolve conflict.
A degree in Applied Conflict Management supplemented with course work in financial administration or business/public administration would provide a good foundation for a career in public human resource management/personnel management. The supplemental course work in business or financial administration would be helpful due the necessity to prepare and administer budgets and to be accountable for the expenditure of public monies.
Feel free to e-mail me at Camr964@aol.com if you have any questions.
Mediation is my passion in life, and once I discovered that Kent State University offered a degree in Applied Conflict Management, I enrolled in the program and graduated in 2005. The skills that I learned and the support of the teachers were extraordinary. The theories that were taught in our classes coupled with practical application prepared me well for the job I have as Mediation Coordinator with the Franklin County Municipal Court, Small Claims Division in Columbus, Ohio. As an employee of the court, I have access to a great number of trainings, but it is difficult for me to find trainings that offer me something that I didn't already get through my education at Kent State.
My duties as the Mediation Coordinator include scheduling mediations, mediating cases, initiating and expanding programs, hiring and supervising work/study students, training and mentoring new mediators, and working with Ohio State University and Capital University staff and students. We handle mediations in a pre-filing program; referrals of cases by judges and magistrates; eviction court; small claims and general division day of trial cases; post judgment cases; and a small number of criminal cases involving family members or neighbors. We have initiated new programs with the court, including a Check and Account Resolution Service, which aims to assist businesses seeking to collect on past due accounts, payday loans, and bad checks. Another new program that we have initiated is a joint collaboration with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to handle pre and post filed foreclosure cases. Our foreclosure program is the first one of its kind in the state. In each program, we aim to serve both parties in getting their needs met, whatever they may be. I also handle foreclosure mediations as a contract mediator for the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. We have traditionally used volunteer mediators but now have a program in place to pay those mediators who handle our judge and magistrate referred mediations. I have long believed that paying mediators to do a valued job is integral to setting mediation on the path to wider application and acceptance.
Whether mediating, dealing with family or friends, or working with judges, magistrates, attorneys, or other parties, I rely on what I learned at Kent State: listen, make the other person feel like they are being heard, and trust what I perceive. I owe a debt of gratitude to my teachers at Kent State for their encouragement and invaluable contribution to where I am today. Feel free to contact me email@example.com.
B.A. Psychology, B.A. Applied Conflict Management, 1998
I am currently an Assistant Resident Hall Director for Kent State University and a graduate student in Community Counseling. In my graduate studies and in my current job, my counseling skills have been aided and enhanced by my earlier CACM training and by my employment experiences in conflict resolution. In particular, skills in active listening, mediation and in understanding the significance of culture have proven invaluable to me. I also have been doing various kinds of independent contract work in conflict resolution and training for community, school, and state agencies since I graduated.
After graduation from CACM, I initially worked for nearly two years as the Violence Prevention/Conflict Resolution specialist on the staff of Townhall II, in Kent. My responsibilities included designing and implementing conflict resolution material and training programs for Portage County students (K-12), teachers, parents, and community. I also did additional programming for mentally retarded/developmentally disabled adults and alternative high school students. Here I was able to work in areas of special interest to me, including designing material and programming that emphasizes cultural diversity and community responsibility.
I am grateful to CACM staff and faculty for their dedication and knowledge during my undergraduate training. Specifically, Introduction to Conflict Management and Theories of Conflict Management with Dr. Pat Coy gave me a solid foundation on which to shape the content themes and activities of my programs while considering individual and cultural differences. Likewise, Dr. Jennifer Maxwell's Mediation Practicum and Seminar in Conflict Management classes are a source from which I have drawn confidence in my abilities as a mediator and innovator in programming. All staff were an invaluable help in career direction and references. I would be most pleased to reciprocate in working with the Center and its students in any capacity.
While agencies and businesses are eager to hire CACM grads, independent work in conflict resolution that graduates wish to do may need to be initially funded with another source of income. I feel that CACM graduates, in all honesty, are only limited by their own creativity and independence.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
After graduation in 1993 with a Peace and Conflict Studies degree, I was involved in various endeavors, but none that directly applied to my degree until now. I am a founding member of the Greater Akron Department of Peace Action Group. We work to educate others about the proposed Department of Peace and to lobby our Congressional Representatives to work to pass this bill that would establish a federal cabinet-level Department of Peace.
Both domestic and international in scope, the work of peace would be addressed in a comprehensive manner, using proven methods of violence reduction as well as funding the expansion of research and new programs. Our group is active in letter writing to newspapers, city and county councils, and Congressional Representatives, as well as beginning face-to-face meetings with Representatives. We give community presentations, and host informational tables at various events. And, of course, to be most effective, we work to educate ourselves in peacemaking as well as sharing information with others. Our goals go beyond passing the legislation and include raising consciousness to shift the beliefs that people hold to the possibility, practicality and necessity of peace.
I graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Applied Conflict Management. When I was looking for an internship, many of the people I interviewed with were very interested in my major. Not only did I land an internship at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland, I was later hired to work full-time at the agency.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is an agency that focuses on positive one-on-one mentoring for at-risk children. My current job title at the agency is "Enrollment and Match Support Specialist." My responsibilities include interviewing potential volunteers (Bigs), children (Littles), and their parents. Following these interviews and assessments, I then match up Bigs with Littles. When a Big and Little are successfully matched, I also check up on them every month to make sure everything is going well. I provide various kinds of support and guidance to any problem that may occur in the relationships. I currently manage 120 successful cases!
Being a graduate of applied conflict management helps me in so many ways. Through the degree program I learned how to relate to other ethnic groups, how to mediate problems between individuals, how to solve problems while maintaining relationships, and how to develop my people skills. My knowledge of these skills really helps me to succeed and to move forward with my work at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Last but not least, my conflict management skills also helped me to negotiate a raise in my salary.
Applied Conflict Management Minor, 2003 graduate
My minor in Applied Conflict Management is a great asset to me as a special education teacher and school counselor. I learned many skills from the CACM coursework that I use on a daily basis. For example, I employ reflective listening techniques to build rapport and trust with students and parents. Another important skill I learned is mediation. I conduct a handful of mediations each month, and I have now refined and adapted my skills as a mediator from the courses I first took in the CACM program. As a school counselor, I am also responsible for developing a comprehensive school counseling program. In that context I find that I regularly use ideas and frameworks from CACM's Strategic Planning course. In my first Applied Conflict Management class I was told that conflict resolution can be looked at metaphorically. Resolving a conflict is like tossing a stone in a still lake, and seeing the waves ripple out to far shores long after the rock sinks. I use this metaphor during my daily job to help those around us move through the conflicts they are facing.
December 2000 graduate
In May of 2005, I accepted a position as an Academic Counselor with the Office of Academic Support Services for Student-Athletes at the University of Pittsburgh. Specifically, I am the Academic Coordinator for the Pitt football team. This was after spending two years as a graduate assistant at the University of Akron working with their athletic academic services program. As an athletic academic advisor, I am responsible for aiding students in selecting classes, checking on athletes' eligibility, monitoring athletes' academic careers, assisting students in selecting a career path, and reporting all academic information to coaches. No question that my experiences with proper conflict management techniques have played a large role in my success within this field.
Imagine calling a coach to tell him that one of his star players is not going to be eligible for the upcoming season because he/she failed a class and the coach wants to blame someone other than the athlete....you can say this is a time to use conflict management techniques! The fact is that we are not employed to hold the hands of the athletes; they are students first and athletes second. If someone doesn't want to do what is expected of them I can use techniques to try to get the student-athlete to take responsibility for his/her actions, but ultimately the decision is theirs. The way in which I handle this conflict often determines whether the athlete will choose an outcome that is best for all parties involved.
The advice I can give to possible graduates is to use the conflict management skills you learn while at KSU and apply them to what most interests you. As you read this website of CACM graduates you will read about a variety of jobs in numerous career paths. In most cases the person used their developed skills of conflict management and entered into a field in which they had interest. In my case, I have always enjoyed sports and believe that student-athletes have a responsibility to succeed in the classroom. I also believe that it is troubling when an athlete has no plans for life after sports. Therefore, I chose a career path where I can make a positive difference in the life of a college athlete.
Right after graduating from the CACM program, I worked with Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation in Cleveland as a mediation assistant. I then taught at Akron North High School with the Jobs for Ohio's Graduates program. I have succeeded in all of the positions I have held since my days at Kent State in part because of my proper conflict management techniques.
Feel free to e-mail me! email@example.com
May 2009 graduate
I entered into CACM the first semester of my freshman year and knew that I had found not only my home for the next four years but also the field to which I wanted to dedicate my life's work. Throughout the following four years, my studies in Applied Conflict Management allowed me to delve into the big field that is peacebuilding. I was guided through my exploration of the field, the theoretical and practical dilemmas that exist, and the opportunities to find my own place therein. A firm foundation was laid at Kent State as I made my transition into graduate school at Eastern Mennonite University where I have been pursuing an MA in Conflict Transformation, concentrating on Development and Peacebuilding.
Now in my final semester, I am completing my practicum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. At CSIS I am researching and writing for the Project on Prosperity and Development, specifically on a publication assessing the closing of USAID missions in middle-income countries. My work at CSIS has allowed me to apply the knowledge that began at CACM in a practical way that can positively impact U.S. foreign assistance in the future.
Congruently with my graduate studies, I have applied and been selected as a Presidential Management Fellow (a federal government fellowship, priming one for leadership in the federal system). As part of this process I am seeking my appointment within USAID or the State Department where I hope to launch into my career, exploring the critical nexus that is peacebuilding and development work of the U.S. government.
What began in 2006 as a fresh face in the classrooms of Kent State's Center for Applied Conflict Management has positively led me to this point in my academic and professional career. I am grateful to CACM for my first steps into peacebuilding and the encouragement and support I have received to continue paving my way.
Choosing a major in Applied Conflict Management was the best educational decision I made. I cannot imagine a more useful major. I learned to read body language, get to the “root” of conflict, learned how to come up with “win-win” solutions for everyone involved, and learned a beautiful array of skills that have helped me in every area of my life from communicating with my family to negotiating for a better deal on a car (I recently bought one from a dealership and negotiated down to $6,000 under Blue Book value) to handling issues at work—and everything in between. The faculty was amazing, and I feel truly honored to have had the opportunity to learn and grow under their masterful direction.
I found the skills and knowledge that I attained during my undergraduate degree in Applied Conflict Management to be so invaluable that I went on to study it further as a part of my Master’s Degree, which I graduated with in May, 2010. After graduation, I was able to find a job in the nonprofit sector very quickly. Less than a year after starting at my job, I was promoted to Interim Director, and then a month later, Executive Director. I am currently the Executive Director of Senior Citizen Resources, Inc. (SCR) in Old Brooklyn, Ohio—an agency with 41 proud years of helping to keep seniors living independently in their homes. We frequently have to advocate on behalf of our clients, and regularly need to communicate with various levels of governmental leaders and agencies. My background in Applied Conflict Management has assisted me in both advocacy and communication efforts.
As an Executive Director, I have used the knowledge and skills gained through the Applied Conflict Management program in all areas of employee relations including interviewing, hiring, coaching, and handling difficult staff members, collaborating with other (competing) senior service agencies, brainstorming and resolving issues that are important to the agency’s future, and in working with our Board of Directors.
I strongly urge anyone who is willing to take a compassionate and thoughtful look at the past and is ready to embrace skills that can help them to create a successful future to consider a major in Applied Conflict Management. If you would like to talk to me personally about my experiences at the Center for Applied Conflict Management, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 2000 graduate
CACM's program of study has provided me with many skills that are indispensable in my position as Director of Campaigns at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In coordinating PETA's animal rights campaigns with activists nationwide, I use my conflict management skills daily while dealing with fellow activists as well as when negotiating with representatives of the institutions I mean to influence. Additionally, the knowledge that I have gained of social change and nonviolence is extremely valuable in developing effective animal liberation campaign strategies. In every CACM class I took, I gained important skills and knowledge that I use in my work.
The top-notch CACM faculty members are extraordinarily receptive to students' needs, and go above and beyond the call of duty on almost a daily basis. CACM courses are taught in a way that encourages students to really "take the material and run" with it. The CACM professors have a knack for helping students not only apply the material in their future careers, but also to integrate it into their personal, everyday lives.
Given my interests and goals in social change and nonviolence, I don't feel that I could have received a better education anywhere in the world!
Class of 2007
As a recent graduate, I have used my degree in Applied Conflict Management in a variety of ways. Right after graduation, I landed a job as Community Educator with the Crime Victim Center of Erie County, PA. I was responsible for doing presentations on crime prevention topics, developing and making presentations to the community on Sexual Assault prevention, Crime Prevention, Good Secrets/Bad Secrets and Sexual Harassment, just to name a few. The knowledge I gained from the CACM courses in Strategic Planning, Nonviolence: Theory and Practice and Mediation: Theory and Training helped me to creatively develop curriculum in these areas for a variety of ages. I also developed presentations on conflict resolution and presented these to businesses and colleges in Erie PA. In the year I worked with the Crime Victim Center, I was one of only two Community Educators that presented over 562 times to over 16,000 students!
My degree in Applied Conflict Management also prepared me to succeed in the career world. I was able to take many independent study courses which enabled me to work outside the box and research and develop new programming for Kent State students. Then I used these skills when I recently decided to take another career choice. After a year with the Crime Victim Center I was offered a position as the Community Education/Volunteer Coordinator with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest PA. This was a brand new position and everything I have started has consequently been from scratch. The independence and training I was given with the Applied Conflict Management program prepared me to do the research, write proposals and take the initiatives demanded by this new position. Without those skills, I do not feel I would be in the position I am in today. I can honestly say that I have used all of my Applied Conflict Management courses in some aspect of my career and life. I am grateful for the knowledge the Center's professors have given me and I thank them for helping me to be independent and for instilling in me the drive to succeed.
Samantha has more recently become the Development Coordinator for Madison County Hospital in London, Ohio. She has this to say about her new job: “I feel privileged to continue my work with not-for-profit organizations by joining the team at Madison County Hospital. I look forward to developing new relationships in the hospital and in the community.” As the hospital’s development coordinator, Samantha uses her organizing skills to plan all of the hospital’s annual Foundation events. Samantha currently resides in Dublin with her husband, Shawn, their dog, Ginger, and their cat, Jesse.
August 2005 graduate
The most common reaction I receive from employers and potential employers (among others) upon mentioning that I studied Applied Conflict Management in college is, "Gee, we sure could use some of that around here." And of course, there are always people who hear one word more clearly at the expense of the other and think the program involves counseling, intervention, or business management, though I suppose when you think about it, conflict management is something that is still relatively new and many folks are trying to pack the concept into what they already know.
But just like the program is many things to people on the outside, it was so for people on the inside studying it. For me, the Center for Applied Conflict Management (CACM) was about community organizing (when I was a student, student organizing). I arrived at Kent in the Fall of 2002, just months before we invaded Iraq. I joined that antiwar movement, and by the time I realized I wanted to do more than hold signs and march around in circles, I had made friends with other student activists who were already studying in CACM. About the same time that I ditched the signs (not forever) for organizing, I also switched my major from English literature to Applied Conflict Management. This was one of the better decisions I have made.
During the time I spent in CACM, I coordinated a student environmental group called Students Eliminating Environmental Destruction (SEED) at Kent. I was very fortunate to be able to apply the skills I had learned in classes during the day in mediation, negotiation, and non-violence (and other electives such as small group-process) into the work I was doing in the evening while organizing. One could only be so fortunate as to hope for such a perfect synchronicity.
Now (by way of a very circuitous path) I've taken a position as an Organizer for a grassroots non-profit in Kentucky called the Community Farm Alliance. We are at our best when we're working on statewide policy to the benefit of small farmers, rural communities and eaters both rural and urban across the state. For an organization as small as ours (3 staff people at the moment of writing), my title is not the extent of my work—a big part of my work is keeping the organization running smoothly. My job is to make sure we have a powerful organization, one that gives people an opportunity to act on their values, so that when the legislators come to town in the middle of winter, we'll be more likely to be heard when we go lobbying for just farming, rural, and food policies statewide.
The power of listening, of active listening, is perhaps one of the most underestimated aspects of my work. Its value cannot be overstated. CACM was instrumental in helping to refine raw skills that I already possessed, such as listening and negotiating.
Feel free to contact me, especially any students interested in student/community organizing: email@example.com
May 1992 graduate
Career opportunities in Conflict Management? I had to think about that for a few moments before I realized that it isn't about a career but about the effect you want to have on the world. My connections to the Conflict Management program run deep, entwining me at the tender age of 9. My first memories of a social consciousness date back to a snowy winter afternoon visiting my big sister at Kent. She took me to the May 4th room in the library and something was awoken inside me. The seed planted that day has continued to grow and I owe a lot of that growth to the Conflict Management program and its professors.
After graduating in 1992, I worked for the Cleveland City Prosecutor's Office as a mediator/intake officer for 4 years. I took misdemeanor complaints from citizens and worked with a prosecutor to determine a disposition: outside referral, mediation or criminal charges. I was liaison within the Police Department and was afforded the opportunity to go on frequent "ride-alongs." It was a fascinating look at conflict--its immediacy and real life implications. The background on theory and technique was invaluable in dealing with the many intractable parties involved in mediation, especially neighbors!!
When I realized that it was time to go to law school or move on, I moved on. I went to Cleveland State and received my Masters in Urban Education-Social Studies in the spring of 2000. Since that time, I have been teaching 9th grade American History at James Ford Rhodes High School in Cleveland. I still am amazed that I actually get paid to do this! The understanding of the dynamics of conflict is essential for successful classroom management.
The Conflict Management program allowed me the intellectual freedom to explore different topics as they relate to world affairs. The program emphasized the importance of critical thinking and the ability to analyze and assess situations in an objective manner. Even though I teach from a social justice perspective, I urge my students to question what I say and to think for themselves. That is what the Center taught me and I am only passing on the same philosophy.
E-mails, comments welcome: Teach1love@yahoo.com
August 2000 graduate
I have been working for Allstate Insurance for the past 3 years in a specialty unit that assists customers when a tragedy has occurred in their home, i.e. fire, flood, vandalism, etc. My title is Claims Associate. I am personally grateful for the training that I received in conflict management because it allows me to calm irate customers when they become upset, distraught, or even unruly. I have many customers that feel the need to use strong language when things don't go their way, and with just the basic knowledge I gained from your department, I am able to handle them and their situations without compromising my integrity.
This degree has also provided me with major advancement within the company as well as recognition from senior management. The classes that are offered by CACM provide skills that need to be used every day. No, I'm not working within the conflict resolution field by saving the world and making changes that will benefit all of humankind, but I am using these skills in my everyday interaction with co-workers, customers and others that I come into contact with on a daily basis. I believe that if you can't coexist with your everyday person, then how do you plan on making everyone else coexist?
Anyway, I will be forever grateful to Jennifer Maxwell and Pat Coy for their passion and guidance!! These courses should be part of Kent State's Liberal Education Requirements so more students will learn about them and take them!!!
I live in Southwest Ohio in a small town called Yellow Springs, about 20 minutes from Dayton. I work with two different mediation programs. I am the part-time Coordinator of the Village Mediation Program of Yellow Springs and a contractor for the Dayton Mediation Center's Police Mediation Project. These organizations are similar in that they are both community-based programs, most mediations are done by volunteers from the community, and the local government gives financial support. Most of my work involves talking to people about mediation to let them know what it is and how they can use it. Other things I do include: training volunteers, creating educational/promotional items, writing grant reports/budgets, and helping create programs for local schools.
When I decided to major in Peace and Conflict Studies (it later became Applied Conflict Management) I thought to myself, "What are you doing? How will you ever get a job?" But as I continued though the program, the opportunities for growth and learning were at every corner. The support from the staff when making decisions about other courses to take, internships and an independent study topic helped me to get the experiences I needed and wanted. My experience with ACM was that it is a very flexible program, and I had to take initiative to make the most of my time in school. So not only did I learn about conflict but also about working to get things done and make things happen for myself, a very valuable skill for finding meaningful work.
I would be willing to talk to any current or prospective students about my experiences. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upon anticipating your graduation from Kent State with a major in Applied Conflict Management, you will no doubt find yourself actively searching for gainful employment. You will in essence be competing for jobs against those with a variety of other degrees. While recognizing the truth in the cliché "you get what you give," if you give this major all you have, you will stand out amongst all the rest. You will learn to market yourself by highlighting the synergy between your interests and your future employer's interests by doing much more than regurgitating a list of competencies found on a job description.
I am a Human Resources Generalist for the largest food and beverage company in the world, a career I started shortly after graduating from the CACM program. Other candidates for my position included those with longer lists of credentials, higher degrees, specialized HR/Business degrees and internal employees seeking advancement. Why would they choose an Applied Conflict Management major for this role? Why would they choose me? The answer is simple. We were looking for each other. Win-win.
In the field of Human Resources, I deal with conflict on a variety of levels and in a variety of areas including recruiting, induction, internal policies and processes, communication strategies, organizational change initiatives, employee development and evaluation, employee relations and governmental compliance. However, while one or many may call attention to a "conflict," I help manage the situation by reframing it as a "challenge." This perceptual change minimizes reactive blaming and avoidance while creating a sense of urgency and positive motivation towards a new goal. A challenge immediately creates a sense of urgency to overcome, to succeed, to grow.
When choosing a major it can be difficult and confusing…your head may be in conflict with your heart. You will be given advice by many different people with varying amounts of influence. The CACM major is not a safe choice. It is not a sure bet to success. You will be challenged with the freedom and encouragement to be creative. You will be challenged by those who ask what you plan to do with your degree. You will be involved and engaged in passionate and intense classroom discussions and exercises. But, you will be supported by a growing list of experienced, personable and intelligent faculty and staff. This major is not for the faint of heart, but for the courageous and adventurous. Remember, this major is not just for political activists but for those who wish to contribute in the corporate and non-profit sectors as well. Choosing it is one of the best decisions I have ever made!
If you have any questions regarding my experience with the CACM program, you may contact me at work at (440) 264-5206.
Fall 2002 graduate
The best part about getting a degree in Conflict Management is that the skills I've learned are so versatile, which is perfect for someone like myself who has a wide range of occupational and social interests.
Upon graduating, my Conflict Management degree and previous experience from internships at a local battered women’s shelter and Amnesty International in Washington, D.C. made me stand out from the crowed during interviews. I began working as a Child Care Instructor for the Lakewood YMCA: two summers with the Preschool summer camp program and one school year with K-5th graders before and after-school program. I have always loved working with children, and found that I was able to put all the skills I have learned in class and from books into real-life use.
The most important lesson I learned from the CACM courses is to separate people from the problem. This is something I use everyday, not just within a job setting, but in regular life. When a child would not be making good choices or was behaving in a way I just did not understand, I always kept that basic rule in mind. That way, I could look at a child and see her as the person she was inside. I would think: "she's just a little girl with a problem that I can help her with, not a brat that wants to cause trouble.
Everyone could benefit from taking courses in Conflict Management because conflict and problems happen to everyone, everywhere, everyday. The fact is, many people just do not know how to deal with them constructively. Through the course work and lectures of the CACM program, I have learned the art of effective communication and problem-solving skills. I have even learned and utilized mediation and negotiation, skills that are unique to the Conflict Management degree program.
The basic workings of Conflict Management have no boundaries, they cross through different cultures, different environments, and in my case different ages. I went from working with children to currently working as a Senior Care Specialist for an assisted-living facility, providing direct care and social support for women with different stages of Alzheimer's Disease. I used my skills learned from taking the course Nonviolence: Practice and Theory during my first day on the job when one of the residents took a swing at me out of nowhere. I quickly remembered rule #1 and thought: "she's not a mean person who wants to hurt me, she's just confused and this is the way she is able to express herself." Then the rules for nonviolent action kicked in: I remained calm yet assertive then let her know that everything was okay. Because of her disease, I knew I just needed to give her some space and in a while I would be able to interact with her as if she never hit me, but also keep in mind that she may behave the same way again and I would need to be prepared.
Overall, it is not just having the Conflict Management degree that makes the CACM department so important to me; it is the way that all the skills are taught by caring and enthusiastic instructors who have made me effective in utilizing those skills in the real world. I plan to begin graduate school at Kent State in the summer of 2005 to become a school psychologist and would like to implement mediation programs in the schools I work at. The Conflict Management program helped me to reduce my fear of conflict by giving me the confidence to deal with my own problems, and even other people's problems, in a constructive and positive way.
I have worked as a field organizer and service representative for West Virginia Education Association since August of 2009. My official title is “Organizational Development Specialist.” Prior to that, I was briefly employed by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America as a union organizer for nearly a full year.
I am proud to say that for the last nine years, I have been utilizing the knowledge I gained as a student in the Center for Applied Conflict Management at Kent State University to perform my job duties and responsibilities.
The bulk of my work is organizing people to join the Association/union, assisting local units in being functional, and representing members with issues adversarial to the administration. I service eight counties throughout West Virginia.
Relationships are key to organizing, and relationship building is a skill that was enhanced through my Applied Conflict Management courses. I work under “right-to-work” conditions, which means it is optional for people to join the Association/union. As a way to encourage people to join and be active in their Association local, it is crucial that I gain their trust by developing a professional relationship with them. Members can join and drop at any moment, so it is also imperative that I continue a relationship with people that is not simply a temporary partnership, but rather something that is more long-term. Juggling membership needs and interests is a constant part of my job.
Assisting members with collective and individual issues they have with administration is another huge part of my job. This is an area where the negotiation skills developed through the Applied Conflict Management program have proven to be extremely valuable, including those skills we learned from the book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury. For example, when there is a dispute between employees and administration, it is always important to look at both sides as a way to reach a fair agreement. In many instances, both sides want an outcome that is only favorable to their side, which would only result in a “win/lose” outcome. For a “win/win” agreement to be reached, there must be a “give and take” on both sides.
When it comes to formal Grievances for West Virginia education employees, there are three steps; Level I (where a decision is made by the administration), Level II (mediation) and Level III (where a decision is ruled by an Administrative Law Judge). At each level, my role is as a representative/advocate for the employee member. For mediation to work, there must be compromises. Other settlements, especially involving Boards of Education, also feature a compromising strategy.
One of the biggest challenges I face is uniting professional (certified) employees with service (classified) employees. I always attempt to find common ground between professional and service members within the same local or school district/county. I always try to connect the values/interests of professional employees with that of service employees and vice-versa. Unity and numbers make employees stronger.
Lastly, I work with people of various political and religious beliefs. As an organizer, I try to be cognizant about being a better listener than speaker. When having conversations with members and potential members, I rarely talk about myself. For a union to be strong, members have to see themselves as owners of the union. I remind people all the time that I am only their assistant. In conclusion, I use the skills I learned from the Center of Applied Conflict Management on a regular basis.
- Founding director, Gahanna Dispute Resolution Center
- Cross-Cultural Conflict Resolution Program, International Rescue Committee
- Community Relations Department, Bechtel Corporation
- Consultant to the United Nations
My time at CACM established a solid and unique foundation from which I have been able to launch an interesting and challenging career path. For me, the ACM major provided more than a theoretical and practical education, it also provided a valuable paradigm through which the world can be understood.
Working in a variety of positions, I have incorporated the skills, approaches and theories learned through the program to build consensus between stakeholders with highly varied perspectives. For example, collaborating with tribally-diverse Sudanese refugees in the US, I was able to develop a mediation training program incorporating traditional dispute resolution methods with proven Western methodologies. I aided the management of a large multi-national corporation to overcome highly dysfunctional public communications techniques and create a socially-responsible outreach strategy. While working in Central Asia, I was responsible for outlining a legislative strategy requiring consensual support of over 40 stakeholders. In all of these tasks, I have drawn on the lessons learned at Kent State.
Finally, what has perhaps surprised me the most throughout my career is the fact that the ACM major has uses and functions in most every field. The skills I gained in the program have proven their worth over and over, and have served me quite well in a range of pursuits.
Please email me with any questions: email@example.com
I returned to Kent State as an adult student to take courses offered by CACM, graduating in 2000. Following graduation I worked at the non-profit where I did my internship, where I provided violence prevention education to elementary school students. As I wanted to work locally I volunteered with the Community Mediation Center where I lived and was employed full time as program manager. I provided case management and mediation services for community, school and court programs and coordinated volunteer mediators.
Today as an associate of the center I utilize the offices to mediate cases referred to me as an independent contractor for family court domestic relations cases and provide truancy mediation services for city schools. I have continued membership with various professional organizations and enjoy participating in case discussions locally with fellow mediators.
Today and at the time I was a CACM student I appreciated the relevance of the coursework to life: a way of thinking and skills for viewing and managing conflict in more respectful and productive ways--very useful as a spouse, mother, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor, and citizen of the world.
I graduated in May of 1986 with a bachelor's degree in Integrative Change (the major is now called Applied Conflict Management), and a minor in Finance.
After graduation I started working in New York City at Macy's in their Executive Management Training, eventually working my way up their corporate ladder over the course of five years. During that time I also volunteered for the City of New York in their "Increase the Peace" program. I worked with community leaders and different NYC agencies, dealing with race relationships, conflict resolution and mediation in neighborhoods and communities. I also went into NYC public schools and taught conflict resolution to high school students. My KSU degree really helped me with the Increase the Peace program. During that same time I also had on-going, daily training since my day job at Macy’s required me to use my conflict management skills while dealing with different vendors and co-workers in the business environment.
I am currently living in Washington D.C. and working for Godiva Chocolatier. I deal with their larger wholesale accounts, creating business strategies for them. I use my Conflict Management degree everyday in corporate boardrooms, including my problem-solving skills, creativity in building solutions, and adaptability and flexibility in negotiations. I also volunteer in my community and in my children's school.
I truly cherish my days at Kent State and my degree. I believe that I have a strong ethical foundation and in the business world that means that I have a competitive advantage due to my degree from Kent State and from the Center for Peaceful Change.
Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
My degree from Kent State University’s Center for Applied Conflict Management has fully prepared me for my current position as Administrative Assistant for BJC Behavioral Health in St. Louis. I am working for the Transitions team, which is a team of social workers who work with severely emotionally disturbed kids within the child welfare system. My conflict resolutions skills come into play every day. Anyone who has ever worked at a non-profit organization knows that you have to deal with a lot of over-worked, under-paid, often frustrated and eccentric people, which leads to plenty of conflict. More than anything, my CACM studies have prepared me to communicate effectively with my team and help them stay organized to keep conflicts and confusion to a minimum. I have also become somewhat of the team de-briefer after learning all those active listening skills during my CACM studies. Whenever any one of my team members has difficult situations with their clients, stressful meetings with parents, foster parents, and children’s division workers or disappointing court dates, I make sure that I am available for them to talk to in order to work through the situation and to vent.
Prior to working at BJC Behavioral Health, I worked at a “father-friendly” domestic litigation firm as a legal assistant. This law firm represented men in divorce, child custody/support, and paternity cases. While working at this law firm, I found the CACM skill I used most was my ability to re-frame issues. As you can imagine, there was a lot of negativity surrounding all the cases I worked with and the people I worked for. So, I forced myself to try looking at everything that had to do with my job another way. I found that one of the best things that CACM armed me with was the ability to look at a situation from every angle, keep an open mind, and come up with creative solutions to problems.
After studying at Kent State, I feel confident and comfortable in any work setting knowing that I have the skills and knowledge to handle most any conflict situation that may arise. These skills have become invaluable to me and to my employer at my current job.
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
I graduated in 1986 with a B.A. in what was then called "Integrative Change." For a couple of years after graduation I worked with Eastminster Presbytery in a part-time staff position titled Peacemaking Enabler, a position that continues to the present whereby the staff person provides resources to help congregants integrate peacemaking into the lives of their congregations.
I then received an M. Ed. in Community Counseling in 1989, and worked in the Behavioral Health Center at Robinson Memorial Hospital until 1991. I also worked as a chemical dependency counselor for Portage County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services until 1992, and provided part-time counseling services at S.A.V.E, Columbiana County's Domestic Violence Shelter until 1995. Currently, I do contract counseling in Kent at Horizon House, Townhall II's halfway house for women with chemical dependency.
The conflict resolution training that I received from my undergraduate work is immensely valuable in my work as a counselor. However, I believe the most valuable aspect of my training is in my personal life, as I interact with family, friends, colleagues, and my community. I fully endorse this program for anyone who wants to learn better ways for being a responsible world citizen.
I would be happy to talk to any current or prospective students about my experiences. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Life after CACM
Once the cap and gown were retired to the closet and all of the celebrations were over, it came time to really search for the position that I had envisioned my last couple of years while at Kent State. I had a few prospects and a few disappointments, but in the end I found the agency that represented all that I believed in and they had a conflict management position available!! Townhall II right here in Kent, Ohio was searching for a new Conflict Management Services Coordinator. I was extremely excited for this opportunity and felt confident that my knowledge gained at the Center for Applied Conflict Management would help me obtain this goal. Townhall II believed enough in my education and in my professional goals to give me the position. I immediately began working side by side with Kenzi Bisbing (also a graduate of CACM) for several weeks before she left.
I want to take this chance to tell you a little about what type of conflict management services I provide and how the Center for Applied Conflict Management prepared me to take on these challenges.
I began work in April, so the Truancy Prevention through Mediation program was still going strong. Townhall II provides mediation services to Portage County school systems for children who are exhibiting truant behavior. This is a preventative measure taken before students are at a point where their truancy takes them to court (along with their parents). Currently, I am working only in elementary and middle school levels, where truancy mediation is proven to be most effective. This kind of mediation was not new to me as I did my internship at Bellaire-Puritas Community Development Corporation with Ian Heisey, and we did many truancy prevention mediations. This experience plus my education in CACM gave me confidence to coordinate the program here at Townhall II.
Not only am I responsible for the Truancy Prevention through Mediation Program, I also am responsible for coordinating and potentially mediating community mediations as well. My main objective in this area is to garner more cases coming through Townhall II. I am working with local police stations to refer disputes they encounter that may be appropriate for mediation. It is frustrating when the amount of community mediations is not as high as one can imagine the conflicts are, because we all know MEDIATION WORKS!! I am taking this frustration and turning it into a goal of reaching out to the community to make mediation more known and available to people.
My position is not focused solely on mediation as I am also part of the Prevention Department at Townhall II. This entails running two programs with similar goals; the first is called After the Storm. After the Storm is for high-conflict divorced/separated parents and is six weeks long. We educate parents on the effects of divorce/separation on children, and teach communication and coping skills. I received some skeptical looks from my class given that I've never been married, but when I explain my training from CACM, that seems to ease their discomfort.
The similar program is called Children in the Middle. Parents learn similar things to the parents in After the Storm, but here children also attend and are educated on divorce/separation during school hours. Guidance counselors at local schools implement the children's portion for me. I have yet to begin Children in the Middle, and while I am nervous, I believe my training and skills will override those fears and the program will be a success.
Finally, here is a short story about my experience at Townhall II and how CACM prepared me for this position. I recently went to a Truancy Prevention Through Mediation roundtable in Columbus, Ohio. While there I had the chance to meet other professionals in the field. I met a man named Nate Witkin from Marion, Ohio who coordinates and mediates Truancy Prevention Mediations in their city schools. He and I began a discussion about the emotional aspects of mediation. He is a recent graduate from Ohio State's Law School who said that his training focused on legal issues but tended to overlook the emotional dimensions of conflicts. I shared that CACM not only taught me the mechanics of mediation but also gave me a chance to enhance my emotional I.Q. and my appreciation of the roles emotions play in mediation. I believe these understandings are coveted in the community of mediators and I have nothing but thanks to give all my CACM professors for taking part in bringing that aspect of my skill forward.
If anyone would like any guidance or more experience stories please feel free to stop into Townhall II or you can email me atKarent@townhall2.com. I am always looking for great volunteers to help promote mediation!
I can honestly say that the education that I received from the Center for Applied Conflict Management has helped me in every aspect of my adult life. I graduated in 1997 and almost immediately opted out of law school. I proceeded into sales and have been here ever since. It is amazing how much of the business world is negotiating, planning and problem solving. I found that the ability to listen and sincerely utilize the skills that I learned during my undergraduate studies was priceless. The skills that I use most have to do with strategic planning and conflict management. They are skills that if marketed correctly can and will get you anywhere.
In the last 5 years, I have consulted on everything from conflict resolution at the federal level to international business programs and business start-up. I have assisted in negotiations and mediations, writing my own ticket with the skills that I've learned. I will say, however, that it is important to continue learning new skills! I do my best to always gain a certification or a knowledge base, if there is one to be had. I have adopted a policy of trying to learn from those around me - but only those who have what I want, whether it is a job, a skill or a talent. Then I - 'Do what they do, to get what they got!'
Currently, I am still in sales and living in Washington, D.C. I am also enrolled in a Masters/Ph.D. program studying Holistics and Naturopathy. I intend to achieve my Masters this coming winter, and am on track to complete my Ph.D., including dissertation, in May of 2005.
(Note: The Center for Peaceful Change (CPC) became the Center for Applied Conflict Management in 1994, and the major was changed from "Peace and Conflict Studies" to "Applied Conflict Management.")
I graduated in 1992 with a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies. I consider peacemaking to be my life's work and have been lucky enough to find and/or create jobs that allow me to have my life's work and my jobs be the same. I am currently working through three different avenues. I started as one of three co-coordinators at The Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) in June of 2000. ICPJ is a multi-issue education and social action organization. Other than the three co-coordinators, all our work is done by committed volunteers. We work through five task forces: Racial and Economic Justice, Hunger, Disarmament, Middle East, and The Coalition on Latin America. You can learn more about what we do by visiting our web page: https://www.icpj.org/. My job responsibilities include being the staff liaison to The Racial and Economic Justice Task Force and the Coalition on Latin America, preparing for and attending monthly meetings of the board of directors, fundraising, general office management, and outreach to the various faith communities.
I am also currently working as a trainer and volunteering as a board member of the Michigan Peace Team (MPT). I am also on the training committee of MPT. MPT empowers people to engage in active nonviolent peacemaking. We provide training and opportunities for people to join peace teams both domestically and abroad.
In addition I have my own consulting business. My partner is a therapist in private practice and we do violence reduction work with children, youth and the people who work with them. Some of the things we do are: I am teaching a class at the local alternative high school called "Nonviolent Action for Social Change." We run a 10-week anger management/violence reduction group called "Unleashing Leadership Skills" for high school students (many of whom are about half a step away from juvenile detention centers). We do in-service training for teachers, employee assistance professionals, and social change groups in team building, group dynamics, conflict resolution, cooperative games etc. We also provide peaceful (cooperative) games for school "field days," birthday parties, etc. We are looking at hosting a summer peace camp in the future.
In all my work I find my experiences at the Center for Peaceful Change have been invaluable! The fact that there was a great deal of flexibility at CPC created a situation where I had to take the initiative to make the most out of my classes/ internships. The flexibility pushed me to find my own passions and create avenues to explore them. This has certainly been a help in having my own business! It has also been helpful in having jobs in social change organizations. When I do trainings with the Michigan Peace Team, I talk about flexibility and creativity being important components of nonviolence. The professors and the studies at CPC helped me to develop these skills in myself.
One of the most valuable classes I took was "Techniques of Nonviolence" (or some similar title) with Karen Cunningham. I am using many of the lessons in the class I now teach at the high school! It has also been helpful in my work with ICPJ as we plan campaigns for various changes. Also the mediation class I took with Jennifer Maxwell was invaluable! I do mediation training as part of my consulting business so that is the obvious connection. However, the skills involved I use literally daily in all my jobs.
With out a doubt the most important aspects of my education came from the work I did in internships, independent study and practicum. Not only was adapting what we learned in class to "real world" situations a tremendous learning experience, the support of the faculty at CPC was incredibly valuable!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions at S_Wander@hotmail.com.
I graduated from "The Center for Peaceful Change" in 1982. Dennis Carey was the director of what was then a very small program. I remember attempting to explain my desire to graduate with a degree in "Integrative Change" to my parents. They were certain that such a degree would provide me nothing tangible upon graduation.
Following graduation, I was a VISTA worker for a year. The experience in successfully navigating potential conflicts, using skills I first learned in classes at the Center, was seminal. After VISTA, I tried a brief attempt at law school. While I believe my conflict resolution training was a benefit in law school, I was not cut out to be this type of bird. The next year, I enrolled at The University of Michigan's School of Social Work and completed a master's degree in social work (MSW) in 1986. Just last year I received a doctoral degree in psychology (Psy D).
I have been a therapist in a community mental health setting for five years, and in private practice for the last eleven. Teaching individuals, couples and family members how to negotiate "win-win" settlements has been the cornerstone of my business. I first explored the theories and skills behind "systems thinking" in Center classes. These same skills have helped me personally and professionally, and are still relevant twenty years later.
So much for my parents' concerns about the usefulness of my degree.
I currently work at the Dayton Mediation Center in Dayton, Ohio. This is a community mediation center that provides services for the community county courts. My job title is "Mediation Specialist." I run both the Montgomery County pre-adjudication juvenile mediation and victim/offender juvenile mediation programs. I receive around six hundred referrals from the Juvenile Court and it is my responsibility to set up appointments for each referral, talk to each party and actively listen to their concerns, and answer questions about mediation. Once the mediation dates are selected, I manage around one hundred volunteers that mediate these cases, and I mediate as many cases as I can. I also assist the Center with mediation training for the community and for other groups that request training, such as peer mediation training for local schools.
I was fortunate to find Kent State University's Applied Conflict Management program because there are so few undergraduate programs in this field. My education from the Applied Conflict Management program prepared me for my position at the Dayton Mediation Center. Some of the courses I found most helpful were Introduction to Conflict Management and Conflict Theory. These courses gave me a basic understanding of important concepts in the field of conflict management. The Cross-Cultural Conflict Management course prepared me for working with a diverse population of clients; it is important that I am aware of the different cultures in the Dayton area. The Approaches to Conflict Management course, taught by Dr. Carey, introduced me to several different approaches to mediation.
Another important aspect of the Applied Conflict Management program that I found extremely essential for succeeding in the field of conflict management was the knowledge of the professors teaching the courses. Not only did they teach us important theories, they integrated their extensive and continuing practical experience in the field of conflict resolution in the classroom to help their students become effective practitioners.
If you have any questions, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
June 2012 update
Michelle Zaremba is now the director of the Dayton Mediation Center.
2016 update: Ellen Zielinski was promoted in 2015 to the position of Director of New York City's municipal renewable energy program.
Ellen Zielinski previously served as the Director of Client Agency Engagement for the NYC Division of Energy Management (DEM). DEM is leading the effort to accomplish NYC's ambitious goal of reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for municipal operations 30% by 2017 (30x17), as described in New York City's long-term sustainability plan, PlaNYC 2030. As Director of Client Agency Engagement, Ellen worked closely with city agencies to develop innovative programs to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and she provided the capacity-building resources needed to ensure successful implementation of the 30x17 plan. Her strategies included developing incentive programs, creating energy master plans, funding personnel, tools and operations and maintenance measures and other energy conservation practices, overseeing outreach and communications and by assisting with training through the Energy Management Institute, a program developed in partnership with the City University of New York.
Prior to joining DEM, Ellen served as Chief of Staff for the NYC Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic and Planning. As Chief of Staff for a Division for 1,400 people working to implement some of the country’s most visionary transportations policies, Ellen served as the focal point for policy, budget and administration. As a member of the Mayor’s Coastal Storm response team, Ellen was trained to set up and operate a coastal storm evacuation shelter. After Hurricane’s Irene and Sandy, Ellen helped manage hurricane evacuation shelter sites, she researched post-disaster logistics and supply chain disruptions and assisted at neighborhood distribution sites. Ellen saw first hand the devastating impact of rising sea levels and the dire need to act immediately to address climate change. Through all her work, Ellen relied heavily on the skill sets she learned through her degree in Applied Conflict Management from KSU – mediation, negotiation, consensus building and a desire to be an agent of change in her community. While implementing contentious urban planning projects such as Bike Share, the Public Plaza program, and Select Bus Service, Ellen’s negotiation and mediation skills were critical at public workshops and meetings to build consensus and facilitate discussions.
In addition to her degree in Applied Conflict Management from KSU, Ellen graduated from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service with a Master’s in Public Administration, specializing in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. Ellen is currently pursuing a Certificate in Global Affairs from NYU’s Center for Global Affairs to broaden her perspective on climate change and sustainable development. Ellen graduated from the CORO Leadership New York program in 2008, a nine-month program for professionals designed to explore current public policy issues and cultivate the leadership skills needed to create informed change in NYC. She also served as the Chair of the Scholarship Committee for the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) professional association from 2010 to 2013, which allowed her to mentor young professionals and award scholarships through the competitive scholarship competition. Ellen intends to continue her career in NYC government, advocating for strong environmental and sustainable development policies.