I first caught the mediation bug while living in San Francisco. I was working in-house as a lawyer, running an arbitration program for a regional stock exchange. While arbitration was a cost effective way to settle some disputes, I began noticing that many of our cases were settling through outside mediation. One day, I asked one of my arbitrators, whom I knew also worked as a mediator, about mediation. On her recommendation, I enrolled in a 40-hour mediation training with Gary Friedman at the Center for Understanding in Law. The rest, as they say, is history.
Gary teaches an “understanding based” model that relies heavily on joint sessions and working to have the mediator and the parties fully understand each other’s, and their own, points of view. While this method is emotionally and intellectually demanding, the results are often transformative and deeply satisfying. Plus, the training was held at Green Gulch Farm, a Zen Center and organic farm, just north of San Francisco, a truly spectacular setting.
Before moving back to Ohio, I did an internet search for community mediation centers. Though several organizations came up in my search, I was particularly drawn to CMC. After meeting some of the staff, board and volunteers, I was happy to find that mediation was alive and well in Cleveland. Over the years I have taken CMC’s trainings, served as a trainer myself, volunteered as a mediator, and joined the board of directors. Most recently, I was elected as the board president. In my work life, I serve as the mediator for Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. As someone who lives and breathes mediation in my professional and personal life, I feel honored and privileged to be a part of CMC. I look forward to helping CMC continue to serve our community and work to fulfill our mission.
Matt Mennes has been serving on the Cleveland Mediation Center Board of Directors since 2014, and was elected Board President in 2016.