Gary Doernoefer ’79, Jed Melnick ’94, and Amy Gernon ’94

By Anne Stein ’84

Recently, three Grinnell alumni with expertise in alternative dispute resolution joined other specialists in the field to offer hands-on training in mediation and conflict resolution skills to students. These on-campus interactions provided an insider’s look at career opportunities.
“Mediation is a much more useful and satisfying way to resolve a dispute,” says Gary Doernhoefer ’79. “In litigation it is winner take all, one side wins, one side loses. Mediation lends itself to more nuanced, creative outcomes that preserve relationships.”

A short class and career panel were organized by faculty and staff in Grinnell’s Peace and Conflict Studies concentration, which allows students across all majors to focus on the root causes of violence and conflict and study strategies for bridge-building.

Doernhoefer, Jed Melnick ’94, Amy Gernon ’94, and Alyson Carrel from Northwestern University presented a “Careers in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediation” panel discussion.

Melnick says students were exposed to “a set of skills related to communication taught against the backdrop of conflict resolution” that can help in every facet of their lives. “Active listening, empathy, creative problem solving, expanding the pie, are all skills that are valuable in friendships, relationships, business dealings, and life in general.” Melnick says. In addition, “they heard how those conflict resolution skills can be utilized in their careers in a variety of ways — whether they are in the field of conflict resolution or not.”

For more information about the mediation initiative, email Susan Kriegel.

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