December 2019
We hope you enjoy this edition of  the Texas Mediator. Our goal is to provide members with the latest "news you can use" about mediation. In this issue, you will find:

  • TAM President's Message - Melissa Back McAlpine
  • Dancing with Discord - Hesha Abrams, J.D.
  • Philosophy of Giving - Dr. Habib Chamoun-Nicolas
  • Bandaging Wounds: Healing Through Mediation
  • Remembering the Father of ADR in Texas - Albert Amado
  • In Memoriam: Joe Bontke - Dr. Barbara Manousso
  • Are Mediators Really Santa Clause in Disguise? - Joe Bontke
  • 2020 Annual TAM Conference
  • TAM Membership Information
  • Call for Nominations for the Susanne Adams Award
  • Members on the Move
  • Events in January
Melissa's Messages
A Note From the President
The Spirit of Gratitude and Hope
Seasons greeting to all! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are feeling gratitude leading into the Holidays! For many, this season can be full of stress and perhaps conflicts. But, this can also be the most wonderful time of the year with family and friends. Thus, I would like to encourage you to embrace a spirit of gratitude and hope!l

Dancing with Discord
By Hesha Abrams, J.D.
Most of us are conflict avoidant. Either we are passive aggressive or aggressive-aggressive. Both can be obnoxious and unproductive. An aggressive person is, in fact, often conflict avoidant. They come on so strong in an effort to stop the conflict quickly and aggressively. A passive person can wait and look for his/her turn to retaliate.

There has to be a better way and yet…. Why do people act this way?
Neuroscience has known for a long time that the reptilian brain – called the amygdala – sees things as demanding fight, flight or freeze. If you see that black line ahead of you, is it a snake, is it a hose, or is it a crack in the sidewalk? Your amygdala, in the back of the brain, responds in a nanosecond, faster than your cognitive brain can keep up. 

Philosophy of Giving
Dr. Habib Chamoun-Nicolas
In the book Negotiate like a Phoenician (Chamoun & Hazlett 2007), “Tradeables” are defined as favors unexpected by the other side, outside of a deal, which set the tone for future business dealings. The side creating Tradeables doesn’t expect any direct reciprocity from the party receiving the Tradeables. Tradeables are by definition outside of the scope of the initial negotiation. Tradeables with conditions become Trade-ins or Trade-offs during the negotiation process. Gifts or favors with the intent to manipulate or buy an inside position are not Tradeable. The spirit of Tradeables is one of elevating the other person and business concern above the present DEAL. The Phoenician business model is one of fairness, openness, and integrity. Use of Tradeables must be within that overall framework of building a business partnership with mutual gain and mutual trust.

Bandaging Wounds: Healing Through Mediation
Mediation can set parties suffering from the trauma of a dispute onto a path of healing, regardless of whether the mediation successfully resolves the dispute. This is a central principle underpinning the work of the Aga Khan Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the United States of America (CAB USA). This article outlines some of the restorative practices employed by CAB USA when seeking to initiate a healing process, i.e. “bandaging wounds” of parties.

Remembering the Father of ADR in Texas
By Albert Amado

“Hi, my name is Frank. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Those words, and a broad and welcoming smile and handshake, were how most of us met Frank Garrettson Evans, III . He passed away peacefully on November 9, 2019 at 91 years of age at his home in Bastrop leaving a legacy of decades of groundbreaking work in our field.  

In Memoriam: Joe Bontke
In celebration of the life of the late Joe Bontke, below are a few words in his honor from well-known mediator Dr. Barbara Manousso. We’ve also republished an article Joe submitted to the TAM newsletter last year, "Are Mediators Really Santas in Disguise?"

Joe Bontke was a dream lecturer and audiences' euphoria. Students never forgot his imposing size or astute lessons. Joe gave a wonderfully funny and personal lecture, replete with depth and visually memorable examples on cultural diversity and sameness, relating to conflict in the workplace and life in general. Before Joe was introduced to speak, we recommended that all the students use the facilities to empty their bladders to avoid an accident from laughter.  

Last year, while holding a large training a few weeks before Christmas, the hotel classroom doors burst open, accompanied by the jingle of bells and a loud and hearty ho-ho-ho came through the overgrown, real white beard. There stood Santa in his holiday suit. As Joe would say, the best suit that he ever bought. 

Are Mediators Really Santas in Disguise?
By Joe Bontke
Are Mediators Really Santas In Disguise?

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" is a phrase from an editorial in the New York Sun, September 21, 1897 entitled "Is There a Santa Claus?" and has since become part of popular Christmas folklore in the United States. We all believed in Santa Claus when we were children and our faith was rewarded with presents on Christmas Day every year.

Well, I am a Santa Claus. At least for one month every year when I am not serving as the Outreach and Education Manager for the EEOC’s Houston District. From January to just after Thanksgiving my daily grind is hearing the stories of unlawful discrimination, harassment, retaliation and workplace conflicts. I am, however, surrounded with a great team at the EEOC and I don’t go it alone. The Mediators, Investigators, Litigators, and Administrators all work to carry out our mission preventing and remedying unlawful employment discrimination and advancing equal opportunity for all in the workplace. The sum is way more than the parts.

2020 Annual TAM Conference
Join us for the annual TAM professional development conference featuring renowned experts in the field covering a wide range of topics at Lakeway Resort and Spa.
Check out the conference schedule , speakers, and sessions on the TAM website.
2020 Early Bird Registration Rates
  • $250.00 for 2020 Members, Candidates and Friends of TAM
  • $325.00 for Non-Members

Registration fees and 2020 dues must be paid or postmarked by  December 31, 2019 , to qualify for the Early Bird rates. Full-time Student and Group Rates are available.
TAM Discounted Room Rate - $149.00

Click  here  to book online or call Central Reservations at 844.822.2621 and reference the Group Name: Texas Association of Mediators or Group Code: 1037WP.

Please Note: the Group Block is close to capacity and the hotel will add rooms to the TAM block, based on demand and availability, up until the cut-off date January 29.
If you encounter a problem with your reservation please contact:
Frances Cruz, Group Rooms Coordinator
512 261-7302
There’s something all new at this year’s TAM Conference :

From My Mediation Library to Yours
TAM Book Sale!
The TAM conference is an excellent opportunity for you to show your support for TAM and your commitment to the field of mediation and conflict resolution practitioners. Your tax deductible contribution will help TAM keep registration fees and membership dues affordable while continuing to present an outstanding conference and provide valuable resources and services to members.  

Sponsors receive recognition from TAM through a variety of mediums or platforms :
• Emails to list of over 1700 subscribers
• TAM Website
• Social Media
• Printed Conference Program
• Verbal and other visual recognition at the conference

Sponsorship forms, payment options, and information can be found on the  TAM website  .
Nominate Someone Great for the Susanne Adams Award!
Nominations are now open for the Susanne C. Adams Award, TAM’s highest honor.  The award is given to persons who have performed exceptional and outstanding efforts in promoting or furthering the use of mediation in Texas. 

Please help TAM continue our tradition of honoring outstanding individuals who have significantly impacted the use and/or promotion of mediation in Texas by nominating someone you feel deserves this honor.   

TAM Membership
If you are not a current member of TAM, please JOIN now or RENEW your TAM Membership for 2020!   
TAM Members...        
  • are listed in a searchable online Membership Directory available to the public with the option to include a bio, photo, and list areas of practice.
  • receive discounted fees for the annual conference featuring workshops taught by experts of national and international stature.
  • have access to malpractice insurance designed especially for mediators available through Complete Equity Markets
  • are featured in the TAM newsletters
  • are a statewide network of mediators who support TAM’s mission
  Show your support of TAM by renewing your membership for 2020.
Members on the Move
Kim Sullivan has recently moved from her position as Director of the University of Texas' Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution Office to VMware's Austin headquarters, where she now serves as Director of Employee Relations and Dispute Resolution. Kim is helping the company implement an internal alternative dispute resolution system utilizing both restorative justice and mediation processes to resolve workplace conflict.
Michael Kuhn retires from Bracewell LLP as of January 1, 2020, but his practice continues to focus on all forms of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration. 

He is certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Civil Trial Law; included for many years in U.S. News & World Report, Best Lawyers, Commercial Litigation; and maintains credentialed status by the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association. His new website is 
Irene Zucker was awarded the 2019 Dallas County Dispute Resolution Center Spirit Award for all of her hard work and determination in promoting mediations in Dallas County and for her excellent service with the Dallas County Dispute Resolution Center.
Belinda Allen has published her very first book!
New Executive Coaching Program
Through Mediators and Arbitrators of America

Today’s organizational settings require leaders and executives to have skills that allow them to quickly adapt and thrive in changing environments. Transformational leaders teach and coach others to acclimate and succeed in their organizations. MAA’s Executive Coaching programs provide the skill sets for leaders to gain the knowledge, strategies, and confidence to be successful at the individual and team levels.

MAA’s programs are tailored to individual needs and goals. The core elements of these programs include self-awareness; leveraging existing strengths; and developing new skills to see others more clearly. Other skill sets focus on how to be intentionally responsive and not reactive; ways to build more productive relationships; professional communication techniques; understanding of core beliefs; worldview; values; unconscious biases; and identifying strategies to achieve goals.  

Call Dr. Char Wittenberg for more information at 512-966-9222 or email INFO@MAAPROGRAMS.COM
R. Bruce Wallace recently opened his own coaching business, Custody Coaching.

From Bruce:
On October 1, 2019, I officially opened Custody Coaching, LLC. Through my personal life experiences, I’ve become passionate about helping divorcing couples effectively navigate their stressful circumstances. I’m very interested in helping make sure the results of custody resolutions are in the best interests of involved children. I’m not an attorney or a professional counselor. I won’t be giving legal or psychological advice. However; what I will do, is listen carefully to both sides to clearly understand the best way to reach a middle ground.

I graduated Baylor University in 1980 and have an outstanding track record of marketing and distribution success. My most recent position was Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for National Western Life Insurance. I’m excited about my new career path and look forward to getting to know my fellow members of the Texas Association of Mediators.
Events in January
T exas Modern Mediation Conference - Houston, Texas

January 24, 2020 - 8:00 am to 6:00 pm 

10 hours of FREE State Bar of Texas CLE. Featuring over 50 of Texas' most respected family law judges, attorneys and paralegals on 20 topical panels to help you improve your mediation preparation and participation. Download the flyer here . Only 400 seats are available for this FREE event.  Click here to register  before December 20, 2020 (but only if you will attend, please). Hosted by the  Texas Justice Center  in Bellaire, Texas.

This event is not sponsored by the Texas Association of Mediators.  Have questions about Texas Modern Mediation Conference?  Contact Mediator Tom King, J.D.
TAM "Keep Calm" Shirts
Now Available!
TAM "Keep Calm" T-Shirts were such a hit when introduced at our 2017 Annual Conference. Now, you can purchase your TAM tee on-line!

$20 Plus $5 S&H

Texas Association of Mediators
P.O. Box 2537
Galveston, TX 77553-2537