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March 2012 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Recently, I asked you to send a postcard to Chief Judge Lippman as part of the statewide community mediation center request to restore funding.  That effort,  the first of its kind for community mediation centers, was successful in raising awareness about how our work matters - and to how many.  People in support of mediation centers representing all 62 counties submitted more than 2000 postcards.  We will continue to request reinstatement of funding by showing the impact we make that includes working with the courts throughout the state to provide dispute resolution in more than 36,000 cases and  to more than 95,000 parties in 2010-2011.

You have also shown us how the Mediation Center's work matters.  2011 turned out to be an incredible year thanks to your generosity.

Heading into the year, it was clear that there would be difficult decisions, new endeavors and the need to substantially increase fund raising activities.  Thanks to the heroic efforts of so many including our dedicated volunteers, hard working board, staff and friends like you, the Center ended the year with a balanced budget.  Everyone helped. Volunteer Barbara Greenberg organized a County Players raffle to benefit the Coalition on Elder Abuse. Volunteer mediator Stuart Hubbard spent hours researching grants at the Adriance Library.  Our board, chaired by Don Murphy,  donated more money so that they led by example. Our friends and mediators responded to appeals and attended events to show their support.  A special appeal to our judiciary was answered by personal donations.  Whether meeting with people to ask for a gift, attending an event with a portion of the proceeds to the Center or bringing new people to the Mediation Center, everything that you did helped us and we are deeply thankful.

This year with more hard work we will strengthen the Mediation Center's sustainability with a number of exciting plans for 2012 beginning with the 1st Annual Anti-Bullying Walkathon and Anti-Bullying Art Show, March 31, Walkway Over the Hudson. Board member Carla Lisa Rovere-Kistner is the event chair and has been hard at work with a small group of volunteers as they organize the event including a student art show depicting the effects of bullying. County Executive Marcus Molinaro will kick off the event with opening remarks along with Michael Caldwell, MD, MPH, Commissioner, D.C. Health Dept. honorary event chairman.

On June 15, the Coalition on Elder Abuse in Dutchess County, under the Mediation Center's auspices, will hold its 4th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, "There's No Excuse for Elder Abuse: Joining Forces and Building Partnerships." Adrian 'Butch' Anderson,

D. C. Sheriff, is the honorary event chair.  Lastly, in October, 2012, the Center will hold an Anti-Bullying Youth Summit, showcasing the work that students and adults are doing in their schools to address bullying.  We have heard of wonderful, creative and engaging programs that are intended to educate and prevent bullying from continuing.

Join with us at one or all of these events and help us make 2012 a meaningful year as we raise awareness, take action and continue to make a difference.



Community Comes Together to Find Solutions to Bullying at Mediation Center Roundtable


The Mediation Center hosted a Roundtable: What are the Gaps to Overcome Bullying: A Community Conversation, at Marist College on February 15.  The purpose was to bring together people from diverse disciplines and experiences to identify gaps and solutions to bullying.  Dr. Caldwell began the evening with opening remarks about the public health issue that bullying has become.

Dr. Caldwell's opening remarks
Dr. Caldwell's opening remarks

Rob Vanessa and participants at Roundtable

Participants discussing how to overcome bullying

The evening was structured around three questions:

1. What are the gaps and barriers to overcome bullying?

2. What has worked or been successful in your experience to overcome bullying?

3. How can we work together to overcome the gaps and barriers?

Many strategies emerged such as training all school personnel to be able to identify bullying, ensuring confidential reporting for students, training youth and adults how to be allies when someone is bullied, creating a clearinghouse that lists all of the local programs that are currently addressing bullying, holding bullies consistently accountable for their actions and teaching youth social-emotional skills. Because bullying is about power and control through fear and intimidation, there is often a power imbalance between bullies and students who are bullied.  It is critical that there is a coordinated school community response to bullying to send a clear message that all students deserve to be safe and respected at school.  One of the most effective responses to bullying is creating a change in the culture of the school.

With the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) going into effect July 1, 2012, schools will be required to have policies intended to create an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment.  For more information about DASA go to and

Anti-Bullying WalkathonJoin us for the 1st Anti-Bullying Walkathon

Bringing people together to resolve conflict, make decisions and take action is what the Mediation Center does best. Whether we are training volunteers to mediate, teaching children and teens to understand conflict's effects and appropriate responses, or facilitating an organization's planning process, the Center works to address the issues facing our community.  To raise awareness and collaborate with others to prevent and respond to bullying, the Mediation Center will hold its 1st Annual Anti-Bullying Walkathon and Anti-Bullying Art Show, March 31, on the Walkway Over the Hudson.  Dr. Michael Caldwell has joined with us as the honorary event chairman. County Executive Marcus Molinaro will provide opening remarks to kick off the event. Pre-register here or 
send us your registration and receive an Anti-Bullying T-shirt. Groups with the most walkers will receive a prize.  Invite your neighbors and friends to donate and the group with the most donations will receive a prize.  Donation forms can be found here. Become a  sponsor and support our work to end bullying.  For more information, contact Bill Valente at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 471-7213.


HV Federal Credit Union
Allan Page Associates
Marshall & Sterling
Central Hudson
Corsino cakes


Thank you to all of our sponsors including

Platinum Sponsor

Melissa D. Bisaccia Memorial Donor Advised Fund of the

Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley

Mediation Center Receives Grants for Projects

The Mediation Center is fortunate to receive support for current work as well as new projects.  First, the New York State Bar Association provided a grant to develop the first phase of the Surrogate's Court Mediation Pilot Project that will allow families to address contested wills, estates and guardianships through mediation.  Families, either on their own or with their attorneys, can develop workable solutions that reduce time spent in court.  The project was initiated by the Hon. James Pagones, Dutchess County Surrogate Court and in cooperation with the Dutchess County Bar Association.

MHA grant award
Brian Riddell, Dutchess Outreach, Nevill Smythe,
Community Foundations, Jacki Brownstein,
Mental Health America-Dutchess County,
Renee Fillette Grace Smith House, Jody Miller, Mediation Center

Second, the Mediation Center was honored to be chosen as a grant recipient of the Mental Health America's Staff Charitable Fund of the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley.  The Center was joined by Dutchess Outreach, Grace Smith House and Mental Health America-Dutchess County, also chosen to receive a grant.

Last, the Dutchess County Bar Association Fund of the Community Foundations awarded a grant to the Center for Meetings with a Mission that will allow the Center to purchase new tables for its conference room to support the many large group meetings hosted.

The Mediation Center is very appreciative to the NYS Bar Association, Mental Health America-Dutchess County and the Dutchess County Bar Association for their support.

Volunteers and Professionals Learn 
Transformative Mediation

To meet the growing demand for people who want to learn how to help others resolve conflict in personal or professional life and for those who want to give back to the community through volunteering, the Mediation Center holds two 35 hour Basic Transformative Mediation Trainings per year.  People from a range of professions including graphic design, social work, prisoner reentry, mental health, law, and technology as well as students and retirees completed the course.

Whether as volunteer mediators for the Center or for personal or professional use, the training provides a strong relational theoretical foundation that views conflict as having a negative effect on ourselves and the way we are with others and an approach to helping people become calmer, clearer about options and more decisive.   Another aspect is helping people become more open and able to see other perspectives.  When these changes occur, problem solving and finding solutions become less challenging and more efficient.

Training participants ranged from Dutchess County residents to New York City and Rochester to as far away as Berlin, Germany.  One of the highlights of the training is getting to know each person in the group and many stay in touch.

The Mediation Center will hold its next training June 2-3 and June 9-10 at Marist College.  32 Continuing Legal Education credits (pending including 2 ethics).  For more information go

Mediation Training March 2011
Mediation training 10.11
2011 Mediators, trained at Vassar College
Alice Retires
Bonnie Alice Mary Nov. 2011
Bonnie Allen, Alice and Mary Mulligan at Alice's Retirement Party

Alice O. Mann, Elder Program Manager and founder of the Coalition on Elder Abuse, retired in November, 2011.  Alice was a beloved member of MCDC's staff and community, always ready with a witty comment, always willing to help others and instrumental in helping shape the Mediation Center's trainings and programs.  She developed the Wise Talk Elder Mediation Program into an important program in the senior serving community.  As a result of safety concerns in many cases that were referred to mediation, Aliceinitiated Dutchess County's first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, 2009.  The Coalition on Elder Abuse in Dutchess County was founded as a result of the communities overwhelming response and today is leading the way for raising awareness and convening the entire community to address and respond to elder abuse.  We miss Alice but know that she is happily enjoying the sun on a Florida beach as well as organizing in her community.

Staff and Mediator News

JodyJody Miller has been invited to present at the international forum at Shanghai University's Institute of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Arbitration on March 22-24.  The forum, titled"ADR and Arbitration Under Multiple Cultural

Perspectives," will include scholars and practitioners from China, Europe, and the United States. Her presentation will discuss the use of transformative mediation in commercial cases.

Judy Saul, founder of the Community Dispute Resolution Center in Ithaca, New York, will also be teaching about the theory and practice of transformative mediation during three sessions of a class for recent graduates from Shanghai University's School of Law.  Jody and Judy are Fellows of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and adjunct professors at Hofstra Law School.

Mediator Catherine Michelin recently received Volunteer Ombudsman of the Year from Hands On! the Hudson Valley for her advocacy on behalf of residents in local nursing homes.  Congratulations Catherine!

The Mediation Center is pleased to welcome Kathy Sheehan,Kathy

Coordinator, Coalition on Elder Abuse in Dutchess County.  Kathy has been a volunteer extraordinaire with the Coalition since it began, working closely with Alice Mann.  Kathy holds a Masters in Social Work from Hunter College, has been involved in working with older adults in a number of roles and is passionate about advocacy and research on aging and elder abuse.  Kathy is a member of the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and participates in the Multidisciplinary Team Peer Leadership monthly meetings with the NYC Elder Abuse Center.

billCongratulations to Bill Valente, the MediationCenter's Community Program Manager, who recently completed his Masters in Social Work at Aldelphi University.  Bill has been actively involved with the Safe Schools Roundtable, hosted by GLSEN Hudson Valley and the LGBTQ Center, with a focus on bulllying prevention and intervention. Congratulations Bill!


SAVE THE DATE:  World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, 2012
There's No Excuse for Elder Abuse: Joining Forces and Creating Partnerships, will focus on the importance and effectiveness of the multi-disciplinary approach to eradicating this devastating and costly public health and human rights crisis.  Dutchess County Sheriff Butch Anderson is the event's honorary chairman.  Hosted by the Mediation Center's Coalition on Elder Abuse in Dutchess County, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day focuses the community on learning about elder abuse.  Last year the event saw a 40% increase in attendance over the prior year. To be a World Day sponsor information can be found here or for further information contact Kathy Sheehan atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 471-7213.

Rochelle and Marge Smith
Rochelle McDonough, Crime Victims Specialist, NYS Police
Marjorie Smith, Special Victims Bureau Chief,
DC District Attorney's Office at 2011 World Day

Help support the Mediation Center at our next Lia Sophia Jewelry Event, May 10, 5:30pm at the Center. For more information contact Jody at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Susan atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

September 2011 Newsletter

Coalition on Elder Abuse's World Elder Abuse Awareness Day recognized by Dutchess County Legislature

WEAAD Proclamation 2011

Legislator Gerry Hutchings reads the proclamation; 
Kathy Sheehan and Alice Mann accept on behalf of the Coalition.

On Monday, May 9, legislator Gerry Hutchings presented a proclamation in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, 2011 to Alice Mann and Kathy Sheehan.  The proclamation was in recognition of the work of the Elder Abuse Coalition that operates under the auspices of the Mediation Center.  Founded in 2009, the Coalition is a group of individuals and public and private agencies whose mission is to protect elders from abuse, neglect and exploitation, and improve the quality of their lives.

A Conversation with Baruch Bush

Baruch, Barbra, Mary, Melody
Baruch Bush, Barbra Cockerham, 
Mary Mulligan and Melody Mordock

Robert A. Baruch Bush, co-author with Joseph P. Folger of The Promise of Mediation joined the Mediation Center staff and volunteers for a conversation about transformative mediation, the history of the mediation field among others.  It was a rare treat to have Professor Bush join us here in Dutchess County.  He signed mediators' copies of The Promise as well as copies ofTransformative Mediation: A Sourcebook: Resources for Conflict Intervention Practitioners and Programs, a new joint publication of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and the Association for Conflict Resolution. The new book combines research and many applications of transformative practice.  Mediators enjoyed the opportunity to talk with Professor Bush in an intimate setting.  For more information about the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation go to


Mediation Center Staff Shine

Mary Mulligan, with Alice Mann, will teach the workshop Restorative Justice in the GED Classroom at Dutchess Community College on May 26th. The course will explore how restorative justice principles and practices can support students' learning thereby enhancing the classroom community experience.


Congratulations to Bill Valente who was awarded the Social Work Student of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) - New York Chapter.  A reception for Bill was held at Adelphi University's Poughkeepsie campus and he received the award at NASW's conference in Albany.


The Mediation Center is pleased to welcome Bonnie Allen to our staff.  Bonnie has a wealth of experience working with families, most recently as the project coordinator for the Dutchess Collaborative Reentry Project. Among her many roles, Bonnie has developed and lead parenting classes, was a facilitator for the Domestic Abuse Awareness Class and for many years, ran a women's group in the Dutchess County Jail.


Bonnie Allen
Family Program Manager Bonnie Allen


Bonnie has taken over for Alexis Gowen, who recently completed her Masters in Social Work, reaching her goal of becoming a child and family therapist and is now working at Astor Services for Children and Families.  Bonnie will serve as the liaison with Family Court, working with judges as they refer families to mediation as well as accepting referrals for mediation from other sources.   She will also be coordinating the Domestic Violence and Mediation Safety Project.