Mensch of the month! Dr. Tammy Lenski

While I love packing for trips, I’m no fan of airports — what with the $8 water, security theater, uninspiring shopping, and nagging, low-level mix of boredom and fear. (There’s probably a German word for that.)

Returning from my recent trip to New Orleans for the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) conference, I had that rare positive airport experience.  I got to hang out with a true peacebuilding luminary —  Dr. Tammy Lenski, recipient of ACR’s Mary Parker Follet Award.  Her acceptance speech was, to say the least, unorthodox…for which I’m bestowing upon her Mensch of the Month status, previously received by Dr. Alan Gross and Detective Jeff Thompson.

Here‘s Tammy’s official bio, followed by my interview with her.



7 thoughts on “Mensch of the month! Dr. Tammy Lenski

  1. Brad, I started to write, “Thank you for the very kind and generous comments and for giving me the best time I’ve ever had in an airport,” then thought perhaps I should choose my words more carefully. 😉 You’re a treasure to the ADR and the ADR blogging world and it’s my good fortune to have connected with you.

  2. What resonates with me in this interview is the following sentence: “I was a college VP and kept finding myself in the mediator role.” IMHO, working in a large and complex organization with people with a variety of backgrounds, perspectives and interests can be a great training ground for conflict resolution. I also believe that people who have the aptitude for this kind of work emerge in such institutions as the “honest brokers” to whom others look to help people communicate and collaborate more effectively. On the other hand, I respectfully disagree that mediation or other forms of dispute resolution practice cannot exist as complements to other professional practices.

    • Lisa, I’m so glad you commented! I went back to look what I’d said to Brad and you’ve given me a chance to clarify something — so thank you.

      I’m on the same page as you with respect to dispute resolution practices existing as complements to other professional practices. Actually, I think that’s where the vast majority of conflict resolution does –and should — occur.

      What I was trying to say, and apparently didn’t say very well, is that I don’t believe mediation *training* should be skimped on solely because one’s profession of origin has contained work related to conflict/negotiation. In other words, I don’t believe that counselors, HR managers, attorneys, social workers, case managers, etc can master the complex art of truly effective conflict resolution with only a work week’s worth of learning. Folks who hail from those professions bring a unique set of valuable skills to the table, to be sure, but none of those professions, solely by that profession’s preparation, assures someone will be a skilled mediator. Hope this clarifies…you may still disagree, of course…I recognize I’m an outlier on this topic and am quite comfortable on the edge!

      • Thanks for the clarification of your views. In addition to being added as complements to other professional practices, I also see dispute resolution processes and skills being incorporated into larger organizations in ombudsman, customer service, and similar functions.

  3. Tammy,
    I loved how you said, clarified, that you shouldn’t skimp on your training. I felt I was a ‘serial’ basic and beyond training junkie when I started my quest to bring mediation into my law practice. I didn’t mediate, other than as a volunteer at a community mediation center in Jamica, Westchester and Rockland, for a year post training. Now that is all I do. I feel comfortable in my skin telling people who are desiring my prior litigation skills that I don’t do that anymore. Boy was that hard.

    I to have that proper and risk-taking theme in my head! Must be women of an age! I have been hearing that voice for over two years now…and ignoring the proper voice! So here I am with my own focused mediation practice and loving it. I wish I had a dollar for everyone who said I’d never make a living. I’d be rich!
    We who embraced mediation as an avocation and not just an addition to our profession, serve people in a more supportive model than helping them sustain conflict. Your comment regarding continued education is so right. Keeping yourself in a think tank of sorts to help with your own bias’ is incredibly educational and supportive.
    Bravo, Congratulations, and I wish I could have gotten to NO for ACR and your acceptance speech live. Looking forward to meeting you soon.
    Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton
    Hamilton Law and Mediation
    Helping people in conflict about animals.

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