"We cannot become what we need to be by remaining who we are.” - Max de Pree
I saw that quote on February 15, 2021, in an elevator at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino while stranded in Las Vegas during one of the worst winter storms in Texas history. I immediately thought, “This is a great quote to use as I take on the role of President of the Texas Association of Mediators!”

When I accepted the presidency from Mark Sims, I used the analogy of a relay team on the track passing the baton to the next runner with a big lead. That is what Mark did for me. I hope to do the same for our President-Elect, Fran Brochstein. I am blessed and delighted to be working with both of them and with our 2022 Board. We have an awesome Board of Directors, and they are all ready and willing to share their expertise and talents.

I would like to thank the 2020 Nominations Committee for this opportunity to take the baton from Mark and to move TAM further forward into its next 35 years. Like Mark, I joined the TAM Board in 2019 when Diane Harvey, our 2018 TAM president, asked me to become the Outreach Chair. I thought, “What can I do to help?” My three years on the TAM Board were filled with joy, inspiration, and challenges, both personal and professional. However, because I was eager to insert myself in this rich history with all of these very capable and experienced professionals, I was willing to dive right in. I was also enthused about introducing myself to the DRC Directors and reaching out to their volunteer cadre. Then the pandemic hit our country. I knew I had to find a new way to reach out to our members, and TAM Talk was born, an online monthly meeting to connect our members from all over the State. Then I was asked to be TAM President-Elect. I again asked myself, “Why me? Why now?” And I heard God in my spirit say, “I have prepared you and preserved you for such a time as this.” As a servant leader, a conflict resolver and problem solver, I wanted to do more, so I said yes.

In my head I felt, I still had to learn more in order to do more and help more. My work at FEMA allowed some additional training in DEI to service our diverse communities. That intrigued me to learn more, so I decided to take a certification course in DEI. The certification course prompted me to create a DEI statement for TAM to present to the Bylaws Committee. The statement was approved and officially accepted as part of the TAM’s Bylaws. I also provided training and speaking engagements to other organizations based on that important work.

Additionally, during the pandemic, I became certified in trauma-informed care to continue my work with families in conflict and crisis. This training and my desire to do something compelled me to create the West Texas Community Mediation Center (WTXCMC), a place to train others and to provide additional services to support our rural and underserved communities in West Texas. In my role as Founder and Executive Director at WTXCMC I have furthered my work through the schools, courts, CPS, parole system, and adult and juvenile probation, as well as through private clients in crisis, conflict, and transition. Truly, we cannot become what we need to be by remaining who we are! That is the quote I stated at the beginning by Max de Pree, an American businessman, leader, and founder of The Max De Pree Center for Leadership, which exists to help people respond to God's calling in their life and leadership endeavors.

If we cannot become what we need to be by remaining who we are; we have to choose to do something or be that someone that someone else needs. That’s why TAM Talk was a great idea. It provided an answer to a need for connection with our members, and now it has become part of TAM for, hopefully, many years to come.

I am committed to seeing our membership grow and to developing creative and innovative opportunities to connect and grow in our profession while increasing our financial base to keep conference fees from increasing.

On behalf of myself and the Board, we would like to thank all of you who attended and volunteered at this year’s conference! The speakers, who were all rock stars, and our sponsors were all so gracious and committed to creating another wonderful TAM Conference. Our conference co-chairs, Sheryl Jackson-Matthews and Omar Samji spearheaded the event, and along with the Woodlands Resort staff created a safe and congenial atmosphere for all of us. We understand that many of you were not able to attend due to yet another winter storm, scheduling conflicts and the pandemic, but we are so grateful to those of you that were able to be with us in the Woodlands this year. We hope you will all return to your respective portion of Texas and share a few gold nuggets of wisdom that you may have learned during our time together and encourage others to join us next year!

I also want to congratulate all of our award recipients! Imagine my shock to be included in that group by being honored with the “Spirit of TAM” award. It was a very humbling experience indeed!

I am so very pleased to report that Elaine Garcia and Elizabeth “Sissy” Preston have agreed to take on the challenge of planning next year’s conference in San Antonio! All of us have been hard at work since the conclusion of the 2022 conference to bring you an even better conference next year. I’m excited already about San Antonio 2023!

Immeasurable gratitude goes to our Past President, Mark Sims and our 2021 BOD again for all of their hard work, and a special shout out to Meg Walker our TAM Treasurer, who is so much more than the title suggests! She really is our incognito Executive Director and administrative assistant and bookkeeper! She is amazing!

Now that you have heard my thoughts, I want to hear from you. What do you believe TAM needs? I have created several committees that our Board members have agreed to organize and develop. We invite you to get involved by joining one of these committees: Grants, Programs and Events, Outreach, Membership, Social Media (combined with Marketing and Advertising), and Newsletter. Please contact tamadmin@gmail.com if you are interested in working with any of these committees or if you would like to share your ideas for TAM.

In conclusion, I want to personally invite those of you who have not yet joined us for a TAM Talk to register for this month’s TAM Talk on April 28 at 4:00 pm. Our cohost and presenter is Patricia Bradley, a long-time member of TAM and a new member of the 2022 Board. She will show us how to “follow the yellow-brick road” to understanding implicit bias using the beloved characters from “The Wizard of Oz.” You won’t want to miss this one!

Another Max de Pree quote sums up how I envision our TAM Talks, TAM’s diversity and my new role as President of TAM:

“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.” - Max de Pree

Thanks again for the opportunity to serve as your President.