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!

Keeping it Civil! Read our op ed…

Greater Civil Discourse Benefits All Parties

Imagine that you are fighting with your next-door neighbor over his dog that just loves to bury things in your yard. Your neighbor just doesn’t seem to care, but his dog is ruining your yard. Even worse, your neighbor refuses to discuss the matter with you or take any action to prevent his dog’s bad behavior. Sure, you could privately seethe, plot ways to sabotage your neighbor’s yard, or threaten to sue him. But what can you do to resolve this conflict without resorting to a stressful and costly law suit?

In the above scenario, and in many other disputes, mediation may be a great option to consider. Rather than continuing or escalating tensions and conflicts (which may be the unfortunate result of a law suit against your neighbor) mediation is a process that helps parties in conflict to communicate with one another, to understand the opposing party’s concerns, and to identify and consider possible solutions. A mediator, who is a trained, neutral party, will assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable solution and will help them put the agreement into a written form.

Because a mediator has no decision-making authority, the mediator’s role is to help the parties understand each other so that the parties themselves reach a solution that works for their unique situation. Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, a mediator does not decide what is right or wrong or make suggestions about ways to resolve a problem. The resulting benefit is that the outcome is driven by the creativity and desires of the parties themselves, rather than imposed upon them by an outside authority. Human nature tells us it is easier to abide by an agreement that we had a hand in crafting versus an arrangement in which we had little or no say.

While some citizens are undoubtedly familiar with mandatory mediation programs associated with our courts, fewer people may be aware that voluntary mediation services are not only readily available, but highly successful and affordable. Community Justice and Mediation Center (CJAM), a local non-profit founded in 1996, provides cost-effective community mediation through its skilled team of volunteer staff and mediators. CJAM’s mission is to promote a civil and just community, and restorative justice.

This year, as part of bringing awareness to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) “Mediation Week,” October 14-20, CJAM has partnered with the Monroe County Bar Association (MCBA) to bring professional growth opportunities to attorney-mediators and to expand our community’s awareness of mediation as a conflict resolution option. MCBA, a non-profit organization for legal professionals, not only provides its members with professional growth opportunities, but also supports organizations that provide citizens with greater access to justice.

Monroe County is fortunate to have both volunteer community mediation and professional attorneys to mediate conflicts. Many MCBA member-attorneys also serve as professional mediators, helping parties to resolve their disputes. This role is in line with the professional charge that attorneys have been given by the ABA to take steps to promote greater civil discourse. Further, as attorneys and judges, MCBA members are well acquainted with disputes that would have been more efficiently and satisfactorily resolved through voluntary mediation.

In our current climate of discord, it is important to remember that resources to promote civil discourse and dispute resolution are available, if only we take the time to look. CJAM’s resources provide an excellent opportunity for community’s citizens to resolve many types of disputes in a civil manner without resorting to the legal system.

To learn more about the services that CJAM can offer, visit cjamcenter.org. For information about finding an attorney-mediator, visit the directory on the MCBA website at monroecountybar.org.

This post was written by J.L. Siefers, attorney at Jones, McGlasson & Arter, P.C. and CJAM board member, and Erin Martoglio, attorney at Freitag & Martoglio, LLC and President of the Monroe County Bar Association.


A Big Thanks to Nick’s & Natalie’s Dine & Donate for CJAM!

Thanks to Nick’s and veteran waitress Natalie Cabanaw, and all our CJAM supporters!  The Dine and Donate raised $408 thatincluded $263 in donated tips!  Wow – we are blessed to live in a community that displays such strong civic pride and generosity!  Thanks to Natalie, Susan, Raggs and the staff at Nick’s for supporting all the important work that non-profits are doing each and every day.

About Natalie Cabanaw:  For the past 25 years, Natalie has been serving patrons at Nick’s and for the last 15 of those years, she has been supporting local non-profits and causes by donating her tips on one Thursday evening each month!   Driven by a deep seated value of giving back to our community, Natalie started her grass-roots fundraising  and community outreach after the disappearance of IU freshman, Jill Behrman. The Behrman family were regulars at the Bloomington local pub and Natalie was eager to help in any way she could and Nick’s Third Thursdays was born.  Due to the overwhelming community support of these evenings, Nick’s ownership soon followed suit by also donating 20% of all food and beverage tabs.

Please  share our Facebook Event   You don’t  need to present a flyer, but to help us spread the word, you can also can download one here.

Photo: Nick’s Manager, Cameron Flannigan (left)  and Natalie Cabanaw (right)

Monroe County Bar Association & CJAM Partner

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER! As part of the ABA's Mediation Week October 14 - 20, the Community Justice & Mediation Center and the Monroe County Bar Association present Ethics for Advocates and Mediators with Stephen L. Shields, BA, JD, LLM.  Steve, a partner in the Memphis law firm of Jackson, Shield, Yeiser & Holt, a Civil Mediator, as well as Rule 31 General Civil Mediation Trainer.  A Bloomington native and frequent hometown visitor, Steve is looking forward to presenting an engaging and lively workshop that has been approved for 1.0 Ethics or General CLE/Ethics CME.  The cost is $30, with all proceeds going to CJAM!  CLICK HERE TO REGISTER. 

When: Monday, October 15, 2018, 4:00-5:30 PM

Location: Bloomington Transit Center, 301 S. Walnut St, Bloomington, IN

Click here for event flyer.


STEVE SHIELDS, JD, LLM is the founding member of Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute and a Partner in the Memphis law firm of Jackson, Shields, Yeiser & Holt. He is a Tennessee Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rule 31 General Civil Mediator as well as Rule 31 General Civil Mediation Trainer. Mr. Shields was recently appointed for a three-year term as a Tennessee Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission Commissioner. He is a Listed Mediator in the Mediator Profile Directory of the United States District Court Western District of Tennessee. Mr. Shields is a frequent speaker and author regarding alternative dispute resolution topics. He is also a founding member as well as the Chair of the Mid-South Community Justice and Mediation Center. He is the current Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Executive Council and he is the current Past-President of the Tennessee Association of Professional Mediators. He is an adjunct professor at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis where he is the Director of the Mediation Clinic. In 2015, Mr. Shields was chosen as the recipient of the prestigious Grayfred Gray Public Service In Mediation award. He has been listed in Best Lawyers since 1991.

A BIG THANKS! Bucceto’s Dine & Donate for CJAM

Thanks Bucceto’s!  We couldn’t have asked for more.  You friendly staff provided great food, great service, and needed support. We appreciate your investment in helping to make our community more caring, civil, and just.

Yes you heard right…it’s Pizza & Pasta with Personality & Purpose on Wednesday August 29 at Bucceto’s!  Take a night off from cooking and enjoy award winning pizza, pasta and a whole lot more.  Bucceto’s is donating 20% of the total you spend between 4 pm and close at both Bloomington locations.  Their generosity extends to dinning-in, carryout, and even delivery!  Just mention CJAM’s name when you are ordering, or print or download the flyer on your phone. Click here for the flyer.   

Download Bucceto’s carryout-menu here!