CJAM’s first annual women’s event – Part 2

After attendees were treated to a delicious mix of hors d’oeuvres, had a chance to purchase CJAM jam (yes, the stuff you put on toast), and learned more about the work of CJAM, IU Maurer School of Law student LaShaila Spivey introduced the featured panel members:

  • Erika Oliphant detailed her journey from stagehand, through law school, and now Monroe County’s first elected woman prosecuting attorney. She shared stories about how, as a women trial attorney, she was often judged on her appearance and instructed to do things like always wear a skirt and wedding ring.  Oliphant notes that she learned early on that to succeed, she always needed to be the most prepared person in the room, further sharing that, after she showed consistent competency in the court room, she eventually became respected amongst colleagues in this often male dominated field.  She shared other challenges faced during her career and recent campaign, but ended by calling 2018 the “year of the woman” and discussing how the increase in activism by women, especially young women, has been a driving force for moving us forward.
  • Deborah Widiss, a professor at IU’s Maurer School of Law, focuses her teaching and research on employment law, family law, and the significance of gender and gender stereotypes in the development of law and government policy. Widiss started by talking through some of the many gender stereotypes that still exist, including the assumption that women with a family won’t be able to or want to focus as much on work.  She shared a bit about her research and recent trip to Australia to study their paid parental leave policies, noting that the U.S. is out of step with the rest of the world in terms of their support for parents.  Little by little, though, Widiss says that we’re starting to see an increase in focus on these areas here.  An increased awareness of women’s issues, millennial dads wanting to be more involved, and a growing elder population, according to Widiss, have helped bring more attention to the need for flexible family related policy.  Six states and D.C. now have paid leave laws, while 20+ states now have policies to better support pregnant women.  And for the first time, she’s seeing both political parties talking about paid leave – an optimistic sign for continued progress.
  • Amelia Lahn self-identified as a second-generation attorney and shared insight into her upbringing, surrounded by women attorneys and other strong female mentors, and how this has helped shape her work today. She is one of the first women to lead a solo law practice in the Bloomington area and spoke mostly of her focus on Title IX law.  Title IX essentially aims to ensure that everyone has equitable experiences and opportunities despite gender.  Lahn compared the evolution of Title IX law with the more recent advancement of employment law – in the past, many complaints went unheard and some were even reprimanded for speaking up.  We’re now seeing more policy directives and leadership taking action, thus more and more complaints are being addressed.  Lahn spoke about the complexities of these types of cases, especially at the college level, and her aim to help ensure that the processes are fair to all parties.

Follow up comments and question areas included, the impact of moving the adjudication of Title IX cases from school to court on minority students, maintaining work/life balance, and responding to reports of harassment or similar experiences.

CJAM was delighted at the turnout and participation in this first Women, Justice, and Equity event – We’ve Come a Long Way…Maybe?  Thank you to all supporters, attendees, and panelists.  We look forward to seeing you next year!

We’ve Come a Long Way…Maybe? – CJAM’s first annual women’s event

More than sixty supporters gathered at the FAR Center for Contemporary Art on Wednesday evening for CJAM’s first Women, Justice, and Equity event – We’ve Come a Long Way…Maybe?  The event, co-sponsored by the Feminist Law Forum, featured appetizers, community networking, a lively panel discussion, and several opportunities to support CJAM’s work.  Attendees included various local government representatives, court and probation staff, neighbors, friends, other supporters, and even the mayor!

CJAM Executive Director, Liz Grenat, prefaced the panel with some information about CJAM and key reasons for the night’s gathering:

  • CJAM’s focus on community and finding common ground. These are core tenants of mediation, but also in CJAM’s vision of a fair community that learns from conflict, prevents harm, and grows in understanding.
  • Financial support for the important work of CJAM. Funds raised during the evening will go toward training and educational programs, including scholarships for CJAM’s 40 hour basic medication training, helping to keep these valuable opportunities accessible to as many as possible.
  • Recognition of the Women of CJAM recently winning the Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution Award! CJAM volunteers range in age from 19 to 92, and two of CJAM’s founding women, Roberta Wysong and Iris Kiesling, were present and introduced.  Liz continued to highlight other CJAM women as she detailed the mediator training and mentoring process, taking it from apprentice through senior mediator roles.

If you missed the event – there’s still time to support the important work of CJAM by visiting our Donate page.  To read more about what was shared by our featured speakers Erika Oliphant, Deborah Widiss, and Amelia Lahn, check out this second post, CJAM’s first annual women’s event – Part 2 (https://cjamcenter.org/cjams-first-annual-womens-event-part-2/).

Women of CJAM receive the Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution Award

CJAM is delighted and honored to have been awarded the Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution Award as a token of appreciation for the diligence exhibited by our women mediators and volunteers over the past year. Along with other inspirational women in Bloomington, the women of CJAM were recognized at the Women’s History Month Luncheon on March 20, 2019 for their continuation of the progress made by woman throughout history!

CJAM has thirty women mediators and another twenty-two women volunteers who have devoted time, passion, and focus towards halting patterns of wrongdoings in the Bloomington area. CJAM women have stood up to the challenges involved in mediation, taken leadership positions, and upheld a high degree of patience and empathy. These characteristics are synonymous to those once held by activist, Toby Strout.  One of Strout’s contributions to the betterment of our community was her 30-year long role as the executive director of Middle Way House, an organization that provides supportive and empowering services for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking.

During the luncheon, the Woman of the Year award was also presented to Mary Goetz for her attentiveness towards the effects of incarceration on children and the community. Goetz founded the Kids with Absent Parents and Read-to-Me programs which provide support for children of incarcerated persons. Beyond heading these programs, Goetz is an active member of other organizations focused on providing support to current inmates and easing the difficulties faced by ex-offenders upon release.

Congratulations to Mary Goetz and the Women of CJAM!