March 5, 2021
Spring 2021
Message from the Executive Director

The new year certainly started with a bang! Most Americans' expectations were hopeful that there would be a "peaceful" transfer of power with the historic election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We believed the former president would concede election results. The anxiety many of us experienced, heightened by the existing pandemic, was further victimized by the terrorists who organized deliberate actions to physically destroy our democracy, harm elected officials, and diminish the American spirit by holding us hostage. Instead, the events of Jan. 6, 2020 demonstrated the resilience of our national spirit and appealed to the greater humanity of America. On Jan. 20th, bruised but not broken, we celebrated the words of Inaugural and Poet Laurette Amanda Gorman, "We strive to forge a union with purpose,.... to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man." Anchoring this newsletter is an example of hope in the representation of Ms. Gorman. We salute her efforts to bring peace through the art of words.

As I think back to March 2020, the fear of what was to come and not knowing how the Center could respond to the crisis was honestly daunting. During this year of uncertainty and constant conflict and change, AACRC continued to function, expand our services, in sometimes-novel but effective ways, and thrive. When many businesses were forced to close, curtail services, or lay-off staff, we kept pushing forward, implementing virtual options, continuing our programming where we could, and reaching out to help alleviate the stressors and hardships caused by the conflict that accompanies trauma.

I want to thank our staff, board of directors, volunteers, funders and everyone who reached out to us for help, those who answered our Call to Action, donated money, time, and talent to hold up our community, even under the burden of racial injustice, inequity and personal pain. Please continue to answer The Call. It is never easy to do the right thing especially when the evidence before us is seemingly concrete and points towards hopelessness. That is when belief in the human condition, the truest value of man, when we are called upon to peer deeply, beyond the obvious, and into the impossible, find and share compassion and love. This too is conflict, but somehow we work through it because we have not choice.

We are not yet on the other side of this pandemic. With many roads to cross and many mountains to climb, the collective spirit, intellect, knowledge and talents in our community will be called upon to keep pushing forward. Your support greatly eases this journey for all of us!

Most Appreciatively,
Georgia Noone-Sherrod

The Invisibles
Every now and then a program comes along that not only surprises, but renews one's hope in humanity. In 2019 AACRC launched a Conflict Management Training program for a cohort of Black and LatinX youth between the ages of 11 and 16 as part of a partnership with the Center of Help/Centro de Ayuda. The youth meet weekly, even during the Pandemic, now virtually, to discuss a myriad of topics around conflict - everything from aggression, de-escalation of conflict, to self-esteem. The youth role-play in groups and learn invaluable skills that help them cope with the stress of isolation during COVID, peer pressure, fitting in or not fitting in, and other young adult stressors. We are so pleased to announce The Invisibles, as they've named themselves, and who have the superpower of being seen just as they are -- self-defined, willing to take on hard tasks, and empowered to do great things! We look forward to seeing all that this incredible group of young people will do to educate themselves and change their communities.
AACRC Appoints 3 New Directors to the Board
Dawn Austin
Carlesa Finney
David Jason Ross
New Directors:
  • Dawn Austin - Attorney and Volunteer Mediator
  • Carlesa Finney - Educator and Administrator, Child Advocate, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist, Mediator and Community Activist
  • David Jason Ross, Chief of Staff, DC Dept. of Human Services, and CASA volunteer

Returning Directors:
  • Bill Davidson, President, Retired Engineer
  • Kate Tkacik Sweeney, Vice President; Dir. of Development, St. John's College
  • James Denora, CFP, Treasurer; CEO, Leading Edge Wealth Advisors
  • Ed Simon, JD, Secretary; Edward Simon Law
  • Kate Bohanan Baker, Compliance Manager, Deepwater Wind
  • Kristin Chappell, Volunteer Mediator, Retired
  • Kathy Gray, Retired Educator and Volunteer Mediator
  • Pam Landry, Retired Educator and Administrator, Volunteer Mediator
  • Martha Mihaly Black, PhD, Independent Grant & Proposal Consultant
  • Sonya Penn, JD, Chief Negotiator, US Patent & Trademark Office
  • Makayla Hanington, JD, Estate Planning
Board Meetings for 2021: March 10, May 12, July 14, Sept. 8, and Nov. 10
Eviction Prevention Assistance

We continue to provide mediation assistance to families facing the possibility of evictions through the County’s Eviction Protection Program. AACRC is one of several partners in assisting Anne Arundel County residents facing evictions due to an inability to pay their rent as a result of COVID. We encourage residents of the county, both landlords and tenants, to seek our assistance. The moratorium on evictions has been extended, giving residents more time to negotiate agreements with their landlords. Rachel Brauer, AACRC Manager of Community and Family Mediation Services spoke at County Executive Steuart Pittman’s press conference held on September 17, 2020 announcing the program. For more information about this program, see the news conference here.  We are working with the Arundel Community Development Services (ACDS) to find ways to avoid going to court and allowing residents to reach settlements that work in their best interests.

AACRC was asked by the county to co-chair Healthy Dialogues on Race alongside the State's Attorney’s Office and the county’s internationally recognized Police department’s CIT (Crisis Intervention Team). Two of our volunteers, Outreach Committee Chair Darlene Gamble and Mediation & Program Support Chair Kris Chappell completed the videos, both presented to county employees and the general public during a November launch. The videos were published by the center on our YouTube channel and presented in advance of Conflict Resolution Month (October). Healthy Dialogs Reflective Listening Tips can be accessed using this link. Schedule a presentation of Healthy Dialogs with your organization, please call the center at 410.266.9033.
Human Relations

In the last quarter of 2020 the Anne Arundel County Human Relations Commission (AACHRC) referred eight (8) cases to AACRC for mediation through its county liaison Alanna Dennis, County EEO & Senior Compliance Officer. 

Several of these referrals were Hate Bias Incidents, which are instances where someone is a victim of hateful remarks or comments, but the remarks, albeit offensive, do not rise to the level of a “hate crime.” The police department initially investigates each incident and determines whether or not to refer cases to the State's Attorney’s Office or AACRC. We have always found these case to be the most difficult to schedule. In these situations the “harmed” party may wish to further the discussion, in which case we offer conflict coaching. We are pleased with the progress of this program and look forward to resolving more conflicts of this nature.
Build Community - Feed Souls

Late last year we started assisting the Anne Arundel County Police Dept. with preparing and delivering meals to families throughout the county. An excellent way to start a conversation is over a meal, and our staff took time to use this opportunity to develop relationships with officers on the ground. It makes it easier to train those officers once they feel comfortable with us. We believe in nourishing the body, building relationships, and understanding the importance of building bridges between the police and members of vulnerable communities.

AACRC has provided AACPD our ever popular one-page tear-off resource sheets to distribute to county residents when officers respond to domestic calls that should not result in arrest or direct police intervention. The tear-offs list the Center’s name, phone number, website, and a brief description of the types of conflicts people can bring to mediation. We have delivered over 500 of these pads to the police department (25 sheets/ pad), and shared how and when to best use the one-pagers. Police officers' initial encounters with families can be used to measure the extent of a dispute and encourage the use of mediation at the beginning of a dispute.

AACRC is expanding our breadth of programs with the Anne Arundel County Police Department to include inter-office mediations. Our hope is to have the county police incorporate the use of “Workplace” mediation for officers facing interpersonal conflicts. According to Police Major Katherine Goodwin, command staff has strongly encouraged the Department to use AACRC for mediation for disputes between officers prior to formal disciplinary action. We hope to make a formal announcement of all programming with the police department next quarter.
We believe that if officers personally use mediation, they will see the value in our service and be more likely to refer members of the community to use it.
Trained Police Reduces Violence

Our team presented a day-long training to approximately 60 Cadets at the Anne Arundel County Police Department in early December. The session was originally designed to take place over several weeks; however, due to COVID and an inability to train in-person, we had to redesign our program to accommodate short-terms goals of providing a brief course in Conflict & Emotion Management. We hope to re-engage with new officers with our original training plan once they return to a regular schedule.

This training gave the new officers an opportunity to see how heightened emotions play a role in a person’s emotions during conflict and what might lead individuals to escalate a situation to the point where police may be called. We talked with the Cadets about empathy and how they, as officers, play a role in escalations with and among community members. We hope that this training encourages them to consider the value of mediation as an intervention in preventing violence. We hope they also understand how bringing police into communities can cause further violence instead of resolution. The officers were well-engaged, asked thought-provoking questions, and seemed to have been impacted by the workshop.
$$ Fundraising: Thank You!!!
End of Year Giving
Our End of Year Giving Campaign 2020 surpassed our $14,000 goal by $3,000, a feat we are proud of in pandemic-caused funding challenges.

We are fortunate to have reached new donors, acquired new friends, and benefitted from our ongoing supporters, proving again how dedicated they are to our organization.

Peace in Our Backyard
Likewise, we also successfully completed our first crowd funding campaign under the guidance of Vice Chair Kate Tkacik Sweeney.
Kudos to the Development and Marketing Committee, AACRC staff & volunteers, and to all who give!

Fundraising is a necessarily ongoing activity of the Center, and we are anchored by our supporters.
Education and Training Notes

We continue to expand our video series, which is launched from our YouTube site and shared with county and other partnership agencies, as well as the general public. Content includes Conflict Coaching and other topics related to our services. You can view these educational and informative videos over our YouTube channel, our social media sites, and the County’s Library system.

Annually, our volunteers participate in formal mediation training, dispute resolution role-plays, in-service sessions, and other continuing education classes. AACRC staff engage in a variety of professional development opportunities and we anticipate offering advanced training to our office and AmeriCorps staff later in the year.

Volunteer of The Year
Annually the center recognizes a volunteer who exemplifies the values of mediation and one who goes above and beyond the normal call of duty. This year we were unable to recognize our Volunteer of the Year Ms. Darlene Gamble at our annual gala, so, we are pleased to share with everyone the 2020 Winter/Fall issue of What's Up? Annapolis article that featured Darlene. She is an extraordinary human being, a trained volunteer who not only mediates, but leads the Center's Outreach Committee, and leads our Education and PEACE Team for school-based mediation programming. We salute you Darlene!
The Center's Renaissance Man
Rich Isaccman is a man of many talents -- a retired rocket scientist, photographer, and volunteer mediator -- truly, a modern-day Renaissance man. His photography talent is now being prominently displayed on a 52' electronic billboard in downtown Baltimore, across the street from the train station, at the entrance to Baltimore's Art District. The display rotates through eight of his photos interspersed with advertising. A collection of his work can be seen here.
My Sistah's Keeper
In October, AACRC ‘s Executive Director presented a Conflict Management Training workshop for My Sistah's Keeper, a program for women of color, offered by women of color. This self-sufficiency program provides seminars and training programs throughout the year with a cohort of women working together to improve their skills and communities. Feedback from the participants, program mentors, and Anne Arundel County Human Relations Commissioner Toni Strong Pratt was so enthusiastic that we were invited back to repeat our presentation this spring.
The Center in the Media
Podcasts are the new new, a format of communicating, and an opportunity to educate and connect with people internationally on issues of relevance over an easy to access medium. Executive Director Georgia Noone-Sherrod sat with John Frenaye, founder of Eye on Annapolis to talk about what the center does and how our services assist residents in resolving conflicts they ae experiencing.

Annually we attempt to speak with residents in a number of different ways. AM radio has a dedicated following, and as always are honored speak to the audience of WNAV.
In the fall Leah Berry, Director of Prison Re-Entry was interviewed by WNAV's Donna Cole to discuss our programming and how we are able to address conflict during COVID-19.
Black History 365
For the last few months we have stepped up our outreach on various social media platforms with the goal of reaching residents where they live and communicate. Take a look at our Facebook page at some of the trailblazers of peace we've highlighted during Black History Month. Also if you can, "friend" us "like" and "share" our posts.
AACRC and Youth

AACRC collaborated with Annapolis High School as one of the Community Partners on ReNew You Wellness Event on Jan. 23rd; This was the 4th year this event has been held. ReNew You Wellness is for the entire Cluster (10 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 1 high school). This year the virtual event included 6 virtual yoga classes and a variety of Virtual Partners activities.
In an effort to expand our services to youth, we were invited to present our youth services to the Hip-Hop Youth program and worked with residents on shared-living management skills. When people are living in transitional situation, learning to be respectful of common spaces and sharing responsibilities is important. As always, we leave these sessions feeling as if we have learned as much as we have taught.
We would be remiss if we did not mention our two new AmeriCorps staff members, Sarah Most, Wellesley College sophomore, and Morgan Richards, who previously worked for the Center as a college intern and is an experienced mediator. Morgan attends college at U of MD in College Park. Sarah and Morgan go above and beyond, as expected! They are trained in Basic Mediation, Parenting Plan Mediation, Marital Separation Mediation, and Intakes. They mediate regularly and manage all the cases while being overseen by our Manager of Community & Family Mediation Services, Rachel Brauer. Our AmeriCorps staff assists our Director of Prison Re-Entry and AmeriCorps Site Supervisor Leah Berry with our Conflict Coaching program. Fortunately for us, Sarah is fluent in Spanish, which allows us now to provide services to a portion of our population that we have been unable to fully serve.
AACRC welcomes volunteers! Not everyone has the time to mediate, but participating on one of our committees is a great way to support the Center. For example, the Outreach Committee is looking for help right now. Outreach works with Center staff to schedule, coordinate and facilitate outreach events and activities in the community and at schools. We table at events and activities by providing brochures, bookmarks, flyers, swag, and answering questions about the services we provide. Our next virtual meeting is March 11, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.  If you are interested in joining the Outreach Committee please email Darlene Gamble at
Additionally, our Development and Marketing Committee (DAM), which plans and oversees the marketing, development and fundraising activities of the Center, is looking for assistance with our annual gala and other fundraising events. Interested? Apply at 
We Salute Amanda Gorman

Only 22 years old, and already a literary star! Amanda amazed and inspired Americans everywhere with her recitation of "The Hill We Climb" at President Biden's inauguration. Amanda attended a socio-economically diverse school in upscale Santa Monica, CA and her mother taught middle school in Watts, an underprivileged neighborhood outside LA. She credits her movement between these two communities as helping her understanding of inequities that exist between communities. She also credits the impact of her mother's influence on her students' understanding of the power of language as a motivator in her life. Amanda's amazing impact is proof of the importance of language and context in successful communication.