DCP to Host Three 2021 Virtual Academies

DCP is excited to announce the application window is now open for its summer virtual Academy series.

The first academy, a Community-Focused Academy, will be held from June 13-15 and will convene core leadership groups from cities seeking to address divisions that are tearing at the social fabric of their communities.

Ideally, the core leadership group will be approximately 8 people and will ideally include two representatives from municipal infrastructure (preferably a high-ranking police official and a city manager or the equivalent), two representatives from the local non-profit community, two community advocates, a member of a religious organization, and a representative from an educational institution.

The second academy, a Campus-Focused Academy, tentatively scheduled for July 11-13, will convene leaders from University campuses who seek to identify and address divisions tearing at the fabric of their institutions.   Ideally each core leadership group will be approximately 8 people and will ideally include two representatives from the president’s  or provost’s office, a representative from diversity and inclusion leadership (may overlap with the first category), a campus police representative, a faculty member, a communications expert, a student affairs staff member, and a student leader.

The third academy, designed for Statewide Attorney General and Civil Rights Commissions, will be held from August 8-10 and will host teams from both state attorney general offices and civil rights commissions to develop approaches for dealing with polarized situations at the community and state level.  The core leadership group will ideally include a diverse cross-section of leaders within the office or commission.

For more information about the Academy program, please look here: https://go.osu.edu/dcpacademy.

CPR Honors DCP Leaders with TWO Awards

On January 27, 2021, Project founders Nancy Rogers and Josh Stulberg, Project deputy director William Froehlich, and Project steering committee chair and inaugural director Grande Lum received awards from the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) as part of CPR’s Annual Meeting.

Nancy, Josh, and Bill received the Outstanding Professional Article Award for their publication Sharing Dispute Resolution Practices with Leaders of a Divided Community or Campus: Strategies for Two Crucial Conversations, Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution [Vol. 35:5 2020].  Their article is publicly available on SSRN at this link.

Grande received the Outstanding Book in the Field of ADR for his book America’s Peacemakers: The Community Relations Service and Civil Rights (The University of Missouri Press 2020).  His book (co-authored with the late Bertram Levine) is available through the University of Missouri Press.  DCP celebrated the launch of Grande’s book in November 2020.  The event recording is publicly available at this link.

A complete copy of CPR’s announcement is available here.

William Froehlich, Josh Stulberg, Grande Lum, and Nancy Rogers, photographed in New York in 2016, shortly after the launch of the Divided Community Project.

DCP to host “Becoming Weavers in a Divided Nation” with Ohio State President Johnson

In partnership with President Johnson, on Thursday January 21 between 5:15 and 6:30 pm DCP will host “Becoming Weavers in a Divided Nation”, part of President Johnson’s Education for Citizenship dialogue series.  Open to the public, the event will take place on Zoom.  Look for details at this link.

Thursday’s event will be fast paced and feature:

  •  Introductory remarks from President Johnson
  • At least eight quick talks from students, faculty, and staff from across the Ohio State Community, including:
    • Sarah Cole, Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution
    • Norman Jones, dean and director, Ohio State Mansfield
    • Jacquelyn Meshelemiah, associate vice provost for diversity and inclusion
    • Teri Murphy, co-director of Conflict to Peace Lab, Mershon Center for International Security Studies
    • Gene Smith, senior vice president and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director
    • Lena Tenney, diversity, equity and inclusion officer, College of Pharmacy
  • Inspirational comments from, David Brooks, New York Times op-ed columnist, and founder of the Aspen Institute’s “Weave the Social Fabric Project.”

President Johnson announced the details of her event in her January 14 message to the Ohio State Community.  We’ve copied excerpts of her message below:

Our “Education for Citizenship Discussion Series,” organized by deans, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and other university leaders, kicked off last night, and I was pleased to join hundreds in a virtual discussion about fostering deliberative democracy in this era of political polarization.

The Divided Community Project has planned the next event, “Becoming Weavers in a Divided Nation,” which is scheduled for 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 21.

 . . .

Subsequent discussions are planned for January 28 and February 4. We will hold additional conversations in the coming weeks. Details are available on the Education for Citizenship Initiative website along with resources for respectful and productive dialogue.

Fostering civil discourse – even, and perhaps especially – among those who strongly disagree, is a hallmark of what we do as an institution of higher learning. 

. . .

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose life and legacy we will celebrate on Monday, said: “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” This is indeed a dark time for our nation, but it is also a time for us to look for those bright points in the form of opportunities to come together in peace. Please listen to one another, especially when you disagree. Stand up for what you believe, but do not engage in violence. Check in on each other and offer support to those who need it. Be kind and be safe, Buckeyes.

Quick Tips for Leaders facing Imminent Protests

Six days into 2021, we witnessed an insurrection at the Capitol in Washington, DC. Now major metropolitan cities and state capitals are bracing for protests—potentially armed protests.

In light of the potential for escalated tension in communities across the country, we wanted to distribute three short videos for community leaders who might be preparing for looming protests:

“Ideas for Community Leaders” with RaShall Brackney, Chief of Police, Charlottesville, Virginia; Thomas Battles, Lead Mediator, DCP’s Bridge Initiative @ Moritz; former Regional Director, Community Relations Service; and, Ron Wakabayashi, Mediator, DCP’s Bridge Initiative @ Moritz; former Regional Director, Community Relations Service. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRdlPkyvsG0&t=7s.

“Ideas for Campus Leaders” with Nancy Rogers, former Dean and former Ohio Attorney General; and Noel March, Director Maine Community Policing Institute, University of Maine at Augusta; former U.S. Marshal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNxbTWSkFkw&t=4s.

“Ideas for Bar Leaders” with Carl Smallwood, DCP co-director, and former bar president.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S14xmm8XPVw&t=3s.

Columbus Pilot Project Hosts Community Conversation

On Sunday December 13, 2020 the Greater Columbus Community Trust hosted “Understanding Criminal Investigations and Processing Community Grief”, a program designed to support the Columbus community following the shooting of Casey Goodson, Jr.  The complete program is available here on youtube.

The complete two-hour program is full of highlights on criminal investigations, trauma resources, and an intimate personal account from Adrienne Hood (Henry Green’s mother).  U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Dave DeVillers made remarks to explain the current state of the investigation at about the one-hour 52-minute mark.

For a case study of the Greater Columbus Community Trust, look here.

Concurrent to the youtube program, the Greater Columbus Community Trust issued the following statement:

We write because the killing of a young Black man by a law enforcement official last Friday should result in an immediate, independent, full, fair and transparent investigation. The investigation should be led by people who quickly make clear they want nothing more than to reveal the truth—and if the truth is that the killing was not justified, justice for the criminal act.

We, as individuals, organizations, and stakeholders in greater Columbus, have watched with shock the events unfolding around the shooting of Casey Goodson, Jr. If 2020, and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, has taught us anything, it is that Black and Brown people are too often victims of police violence in the U.S. A man is dead and a family in our community is in pain. We believe that, to restore confidence, local, state and federal authorities should cooperate and coordinate their investigations to ensure unquestioned confidence that the investigation will be complete, transparent, and independent of the law enforcement agency involved in the shooting. The silence of some voices, and conflict of other voices, deepens our concern that many in our community do not understand what has occurred since Friday and, therefore, will question: Will there be accountability? Will there be justice? What can we do to support the process to investigate and deliver justice for our neighbor?

Our communities—and our community leaders—cannot remain silent. We know protests are planned for this weekend; to express righteous outrage and demand justice for Casey Goodson, Jr. Peaceful protest is “good trouble” as John Lewis would say, and is protected in our country. We hope protesters and the law enforcement response does not result in further injury or loss of life. But, this community needs more than protest—we must assure the entire community that justice will be done.

We, under the name “Greater Columbus Community Trust,” believe the most troubling issues in our community will require each of us—and our neighbors—to listen to each other, to work together to develop relationships, to act resourcefully, to ensure all community stakeholders deal justly with each other’s concerns, and to respond to events that challenge trust in ways that bring us together—not in ways that tear us apart. We invite Columbus residents to make their voices heard peacefully and constructively by joining us for a virtual community conversation [now available here on youtube].

The lesson from protests across the country in 2020 are many. Here are a few:

 – We believe justice demands that a full, independent, thorough and trustworthy investigation of Casey Goodson, Jr.’s death must occur because all parties—Casey Goodson, Jr.’s family, the law enforcement officer, and the Columbus community—deserve and have a right to justice.
 – We believe that, to maintain confidence, the city, state government and local federal leaders should put in place clear procedures for the independent investigation of any future police-involved shooting/violence resulting in a death.

We, under the name “Greater Columbus Community Trust,” aim to make the Columbus metropolitan region more resilient by advancing efforts to:
• Convene community stakeholders to understand deep community concerns;
• Build trust among residents and between leaders and residents;
• Identify/design processes to deal justly with constituency group concerns;
• Prepare the community to respond in resourceful and coordinated ways if an event occurs that challenges trust, and
• Develop shared plans for acting in the midst of community unrest.

For these reasons . . . GCCT, as stakeholders in this community, will convene interested parties for these purposes. We invite all interested and concerned residents to join us in making their voices heard, peacefully and constructively. [Information about the event is now available here on youtube].

 

Announcing “Education for Citizenship Post-Election Dialogue Series”

DCP is pleased to announce the Education for Citizenship Post-Election Dialogue Series developed in partnership with Dr. Kristina M. Johnson, President of The Ohio State University.

The first event, scheduled for November 5 between 6 and 7 pm, Unpacking the 2020 Presidential Election — How we got here and what lies ahead, will feature Election Law at Ohio State experts. To participate in the webinar, first log in to Carmen Zoom with your Ohio State name.#, then follow this zoom link.

The second event – Unpacking the 2020 Election – can we talk? – is scheduled between 6 and 7:30 pm on Tuesday November 10, and will include brief presentations focused on talking, in a positive and productive way, about issues that divide us, as well as breakout sessions to allow for small group discussion.

For details about the event series, look here: https://go.osu.edu/dcppostelection.

This dialogue series was announced on November 2, as part of President Johnson’s pre-election email to the Ohio State community.  An Ohio State News story about the event is available here.  President Johnson’s complete note is reprinted below:

Tomorrow is Election Day, bringing to an end a long and often intense political campaign season.

Many of us are feeling anxious about the outcome of this high-stakes race. Passions are running high on both sides.

Given the unpredictable nature of elections – a situation that has been magnified significantly by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – it is possible that we will not immediately know the outcome of the contest for the White House.

Due to the nature of elections, this much is certain: There will at some point be a winner and a loser. The matter may well be decided by the courts, as we have seen in years past. But the election will, at some point, be decided.

It is crucial to the maintenance of the foundation of our democracy that we accept this result, and that the discourse and disagreement leading up to that moment – and beyond it – remain peaceful.

I know that as Buckeyes we will do what we always do and come together in a spirit of community and reason. We will express ourselves, but also listen to each other. We will be spirited and express our views strongly, but also respectfully. We will move forward together.

Beyond Election Day, we want Ohio State to be a national model in bringing together people of all backgrounds and experiences for respectful dialogue.

I want to share that the university, in partnership with the nationally recognized Divided Community Project at Moritz College of Law, is launching the “Education for Citizenship Post-Election Dialogue Series.” These virtual presentations, discussions and workshops will cover a range of election-related topics. The first will be “Unpacking the 2020 Presidential Election — How we got here and what lies ahead,” a dialogue with Moritz Law election experts on Thursday, November 5, from 6 to 7 p.m. To participate in the webinar, first log in to Carmen Zoom with your Ohio State name.#, then follow this zoom link.

The second virtual event will take place November 10 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and is titled “Unpacking the 2020 Election — Can we talk?” This event will include brief presentations focused on talking in a positive and productive way about issues that divide us, as well as breakout sessions for small group discussion. Registration information for this event will be shared soon.

As part of these discussions, we are also sharing post-election guides developed by the Divided Community Project specifically for students as well as for faculty and staff. These guides can be used at any time, and I encourage you to download them as a resource moving forward.

These efforts are just some of the many resources and events offered throughout our university, including the Education for Citizenship Initiative, a collaboration between Ohio State’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Institutional Equity, as well as the Employee Assistance Program, Office of Student Life, OSU Votes, Your Plan for Health and the Ohio State University Health Plan.

As a land-grant institution, Ohio State takes seriously our role in promoting and supporting public discourse and public service. These are vital to our founding mission and our continued work together.

As I write this, there are still more than 24 hours remaining before the polls close and the final ballots are accepted. Some of us have already cast our votes, either through early voting or by mailing in our absentee ballot.

If you have not yet voted, there is still time to do so. I encourage you to exercise this important right.

You can still vote in the general election by dropping off your absentee ballot or going to the polls tomorrow. For voting hours, locations and other resources, please visit the Ohio Secretary of State website and OSU Votes website.

Voting is the keystone of our democracy. I am personally very excited to participate this year as part of the Ohio State community. Regardless of whom you support, let’s get out the vote, Buckeyes, and make each of our voices heard.

Thank you for all that you do as Buckeyes to lift up and advance our communities.

DCP work in Bloomington leads to Resident-Led Racial Equity Task Forces

On Wednesday October 21, 2020, the City of Bloomington Indiana announced its plan to Advance Racial Equity while recognizing the Divided Community Project’s work with community leaders.

According to the press release, 

The Plan to Advance Racial Equity derives from the engagement of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and its Divided Community Project (DCP)/Bridge Initiative in the summer of 2019 when issues surrounding racism led to the temporary suspension of the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market. The Bridge Initiative facilitated the process of addressing community conflict by activating and channeling the community’s own resources and leadership.

Over several months in 2019, a team from the Bridge Initiative, which offered its services at no cost, was led by former Rochester, New York Mayor, and Urban League President William Johnson. They conducted dozens of interviews with local community leaders and other residents about the overall state of race relations, diversity, and inclusion in Bloomington, and shared their findings in a report December 2019, as summarized in this City press release. The report shares observations about deep, systemic, and underlying problems of racism and other forms of discrimination and sets the stage for a long-term, community-based collaborative process for addressing them.  

The report also called for the establishment of an independent community task force, supported by the City, to lead the process of identifying and implementing further action steps. Pointing to Bloomington’s “wealth of community leadership talent,” the report proposed that the task force include as many of the community’s organizations and movements as possible, disagreements notwithstanding, to manifest “the power of people coming together across different groups to act on initiatives where there can be consensus.” The report suggests that the task force be community-led, with City background support in its formation and operations.

In addition to DCP’s Bridge Initiative, the release discussed a cohort of Bloomington residents who participated in DCP’s Academy Initiative:

The eight residents who have been advancing this racial equity work received training at DCP’s Second National Academy, We, the People: Strengthening Democratic Engagement to Address Civil Unrest for Community Leaders. Joining with teams from three other U.S. cities, the Bloomington team attended a three-day training in early March 2020 designed to strengthen conflict resolution-related planning and capacity building, support and strengthen the development of a local ‘core’ leadership convener group for the communities, and provide planning opportunities for each core leadership group.

The DCP Academy Team included Carl Darnell, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, IU School of Education; Donald Griffin, Jr., owner of Griffin Realty; Lisa-Marie Napoli, Director of the IU Political and Civic Engagement (PACE) Program; Maqubé Reese, Assistant Director for Diversity Initiatives at the IU Kelley School of Business; and community activist Robb Stone; along with City of Bloomington Director of Community and Family Resources Beverly Calender-Anderson, Director of Public Engagement Mary Catherine Carmichael, and Bloomington Police Chief Michael Diekhoff.

To read the full release, click here!

Project to Host “America’s Peacemakers” Book Launch Event

Register here!Thursday November 12 between 5 pm and 6:15 pm Eastern / 2 pm and 3:15 pm Pacific.  A “toast” will take place shortly after 6pm Eastern. 

Join Moritz’s Program on Dispute Resolution and the Divided Community Project, along with the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program, the Stanford Law School Gould Center for Conflict Resolution, and Menlo College, to celebrate the launch of America’s Peacemakers: The Community Relations Service and Civil Rights.  The original edition – titled Resolving Racial Conflict: The Community Relations Service and Civil Rights – was penned by the late Bertram Levine, associate director of CRS between 1966 and 1989, and focused on the first twenty-five years of the agency’s history.

This second edition is co-authored by Levine and Grande Lum, CRS’s Director from 2012 to 2016, provides an account of CRS contributions and challenges during its second twenty-five years of operation.  Grande currently serves as the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Menlo College and as the Chair of the Divided Community Project’s Steering Committee. Previously Grande served as the Director of the Divided Community Project and the Director of the Hastings Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution.

The Book Launch Celebration is scheduled for Thursday November 12 between 5 pm and 6:15 pm Eastern / 2 pm and 3:15 pm Pacific and features the following Panelists:

  • Sarah Cole, Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution, OSU Law
  • Alonzo Emery, Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School
  • David Levine, Bertram Levine’s son
  • Grande Lum, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Menlo College (pictured with Attorney General Eric Holder on the right)
  • Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Distinguished and Chancellor’s Chair in Law, UCI Law
  • Janet Martinez, Director, Gould Negotiation and Mediation Program, Stanford Law School
  • Nancy Rogers, Moritz Chair Emeritus, OSU Law

Time will be reserved for discussion, questions, and answers.

Register here!

Thanks to our program co-sponsors:

Project Hosts Campus Academy

by Jason Ketchum, Salvia Jannat, Rebecca Joseph, and Julia Sivertson

On August 9, 2020, the Divided Community Project commenced a virtual “Campus Academy” for more than fifty leaders from six colleges and universities: Case Western Reserve University, Menlo College, The University of Hawaii at Manoa, The Ohio State University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the University of Oklahoma. Over the course of the three-day program,  these core leadership groups engaged in a variety of learning opportunities to strengthen conflict resolution-related planning and capacity building, to support and strengthen the development of functional local convener groups for these campuses, and to provide space/time to plan  to face the multi-faceted (COVID/racial justice/policing/political polarization) challenges ahead..  The Academy kicked off with a campus-based crisis simulation designed to highlight lessons framed in DCP’s campus-themed reports.  Thereafter, participants engaged in two days of plenary sessions, campus leadership meetings and peer-to-peer conversations designed to support leaders as they consider how to prepare campuses to grapple with potential demonstrations, protests, and divisions which tear at the fabric of the campus community.

The Springton Campus Simulation highlights current tensions on campuses fueled by clashing viewpoints on national immigration policy. The simulation prompted university leaders to consider, in real time, how they might strategically resolve campus tensions in response to contentious proposed legislation, divisive speakers desiring a platform on campus, and the conflicting immigration policy perspectives among campus constituents. Over the course of ninety minutes, Academy participants faced numerous plot-twists which challenged them to think creatively under pressure about their solutions to dealing with campus division.

Following the simulation, Academy participants engaged in a debrief to parse out valuable takeaways while establishing goals, expectations, and points of focus for the following two days. Participants shared with one another moments which were especially surprising or frustrating and important lessons learned from their simulation experience. Academy facilitators concluded the simulation debrief by summarizing strategies identified in DCP’s campus-focused reports which participants could consider implementing on their own campuses.

Because the participants spanned five time zones, from Maryland to Hawaii, the schools were divided into in two groups (east coast/west coast & Hawaii) and the simulations/debriefs were conducted asynchronously.  The two groups came together at the beginning of the second day for the remainder of the Academy.

Beginning Monday, August 10, participants dove into two days of fast-paced plenary sessions and work groups, beginning with a plenary session on dealing with unrest as it occurs. A university chancellor and police chief kicked off the session, providing inspirational lessons by highlighting their own experiences dealing with campus division and unrest, and illustrating concepts including tips for honest and transparent communication.

The second plenary session featured a former U.S. Marshal and a former regional director with the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service and focused on preparing campuses for division and unrest during this time of extreme national polarization. Panelists included leaders from law enforcement and academia. The discussion highlighted protocols and best practices in dealing with conflict and division. Panelists emphasized the need to recognize different categories of incidents on campus in order to respond effectively – distinguishing those incidents that are planned versus spontaneous and those that are structured versus leaderless. Panelists encouraged participants to understand that conflict is a natural phenomenon that is neither inherently positive nor negative, recognizing that once conflict is accepted, it can be managed and channeled into a positive force.

Day two concluded with a plenary session featuring a provost and a chief diversity and inclusion officer who highlighted the need for developing campus resilience, focusing on the proactive positive roles campus leaders can play during times of crisis when a culture of resilience exists. Panelists emphasized a need to rely on pre-existing relationships within the community to create and sustain a culture of resilience. Accessibility and transparency of campus leadership is particularly important. Constituents, including faculty, staff, and students, need to know who their leaders are, what values their leaders align with, and how to reach their leaders when needed.  Transparency builds a culture of trust and respect that fosters the constituents’ willingness to rely on campus leadership. Given the nature of the pandemic, panelists recommended prioritizing technology platforms and social media to sustain accessibility to leadership in a timely fashion. The panelists warned that slow, vague, or defensive responses can be interpreted as invalidatingf constituents’ perspectives. Campus leadership must demonstrate to constituents that the various perspectives are being heard, valued, and considered even, and especially, if the university’s answer is “No” or “This will be a long process.” A genuine, empathetic answer is more important than a perfect one!

On the third and final day, participants attended plenary and small group sessions led by subject matter experts focused on addressing challenges for working in the current context of COVID-19, racial tension, social media and political polarization. COVID-19 brings unique challenges to college campuses. Traditional campuses leveraging on-campus residence halls place great emphasis on sharing common spaces in order to foster community. Social distancing measures and virtual classes can create barriers to the social cohesion. The panelists also discussed anticipating new disciplinary challenges, as thousands of students are asked to adhere to strict public health guidelines. Panelists emphasized the importance of a healthy campus culture that instills communal values in all students, encouraging them to be accountable to each other and themselves.

Panelists highlighted, however, that being “in this together” does not mean that students experience pandemic-related hardships in the same way or to the same extent. Students from backgrounds of privilege may experience new feelings of loss and marginalization due to restricted sense of freedom. Panelists noted that this could create an opportunity to build empathy across student groups, where students in privileged positions could begin to understand the frustration and trauma that accompanies loss of freedom. However, university leaders should be cautious not to allow students in privileged positions to create false equivalencies between COVID-related experiences and the lifelong marginalization of students of color, from low income backgrounds, and other less privileged groups.

Panelists also revisited technological tools for building relationships and provided insight regarding first amendment protections during divisive moments. Notable recommendations included leveraging dispute resolution protocols to help create sustainable environments of empathy and trust on online communication platforms. Additionally, in discussion regarding mitigating and managing hate speech on campus, panelists recommended that campuses provide clear communication on campus values, making clear that hate speech does not align with the campus’s culture of inclusion.

Finally, the third day concluded with an opportunity for participants to self-select from a number of small-group sessions based on their specific interests. Session topics included effective communication on racial issues, designing systems to address conflict and build coalitions to effect systemic change, and understanding social media as a source of abuse and amplification of harmful rhetoric. Participants had the opportunity to engage in small group discussions with subject-matter experts, allowing time for intimate conversation and question-and-answer. Following these sessions, participants came back together for final closing remarks from each other as well as from DCP leadership. Altogether, participants and facilitators spent nearly eighteen hours on Zoom over the course of three days.

DCP will continue to work with the six campuses who participated in the Campus Academy and will look for opportunities to expand this work in the months ahead.

The Campus Academy was funded by the Jacques M. Littlefield Foundation.

 

JAMS Announces Additional Support for DCP

On Monday June 8, 2020, JAMS issued the following press release in which it announces an additional $100,000 contribution to the Divided Community Project through the JAMS Foundation.  With today’s commitment, JAMS has committed a total of $1 million to the Divided Community Project:

A Message From JAMS President & CEO on Anti-Racism and Diversity

As the CEO of a dispute resolution provider that is driven by a core set of values including neutrality and diversity, the tragic death of George Floyd and the loss of so many other lives has left me, like many throughout the world, angry and sad. We cannot be neutral when it comes to injustice and equality. JAMS must fight against racism, commit to speaking up and stand with those whose voices need to be heard. We are unwavering in our support of diversity and inclusion.

We embrace diversity and recognize that each individual is unique. We strive to listen to each other and celebrate the rich dimensions contained within each person. No matter a person’s age, race, color, gender, sexual orientation, disability or religious beliefs, we value everyone.

JAMS may not have a solution for all that is transpiring right now. However, we want to continue to create a work environment that serves as a safe haven for our associates, panelists and clients. We recognize that not everyone is okay right now, and that in particular our black panelists, staff and clients need to be supported and heard. 

As a leading provider of dispute resolution services, it has always been our mission to bring people together.  As an example, The JAMS Foundation is the leading non-profit in providing financial and other resources for conflict prevention and resolution. They continue to support organizations that specifically address the deep divisions within our country and some of the resulting consequences as we have seen during these past weeks.

As a continuation of those efforts, JAMS through our Foundation is making a $100,000 donation to support ongoing and new efforts of the Divided Community Project’s “Bridge Initiative,” which will bring the overall contribution to $1 million over the last five years. Based at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, the Divided Community Project is a multi-pronged initiative that aims to bring together a broad coalition of dispute resolution professionals, government leaders, law enforcement officials, community organizers and other stakeholders across the country. This program provides public officials and community leaders with resources and technical support to plan for potential civil unrest before it occurs and to respond constructively to violent social conflict that does erupt. 

The JAMS Foundation has long-standing relationships with, and provides financial assistance, for many conflict resolution and community mediation initiatives such as The New York Peace Institute’s Police Training and Mediation Referral Initiative, which provides training to police officers to de-escalate and resolve conflict and to foster more positive relations with the people and communities they serve.  This program has demonstrated positive results and is pursuing expansion in several cities across the United States. 

Supporting these types of organizations is incredibly important, especially now. We believe in their work and encourage others to learn more about them, which you can do by visiting JAMS Foundation.

We’re proud of the strong relationships that JAMS has built with dispute resolution professionals and community advocates who are fighting racism, injustice and division through focused and meaningful programs.  This is just a starting point. We are dedicated to not only seeing how we can support diversity and inclusion internally, but also being part of a larger solution. While we cannot alter the past, we can work together to create positive change in the future.

Chris Poole
JAMS President and Chief Executive Officer