Folks, I’m all kinds of lucky to work with such a great team, and I’m fixing to introduce you to all of them, one by one. Here’s Melissa Appleton, ace Program Manager. She’s a joy to work with, and is able to see detail and understand complexity in a way that hurts my head. Have a look above — that’s her dropping mediation knowledge to NYPD officers. In addition to her amazing work with us, she has a background in international relations, and has worked to build peace in such places as East Timor and Kosova. Also, she’s Canadian, eh.
Melissa. So what do you do around here?
As Program Manager, I do a few overlapping things. The first is that I work to build and strengthen referral relationships with organizations and agencies with the goal of increasing overall awareness and use of our services. I work closely with our awesome case management team, who engages directly with clients and referral sources. I get excited about excel spreadsheets and using a data-driven approach to support our growth. And lastly, I provide oversight for our Youth-Involved and Parenting Mediation Programs.
What was your first paying job?
My father and grandfather ran a family business selling Native Canadian art and we held monthly auctions in the gallery. When I was little – like 9 or 10 years old — I was an auction runner. That’s what we called the person who brought the notes from the auctioneer confirming successful bids to the back, where clients would go to pay for and collect their purchases. I eventually graduated to taking payments and packaging the art. It’s unrelated to mediation, but you might say it was an early start on customer service!
If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
This is the hardest question! Maybe an orca? They are spectacular, highly social, and incredibly intelligent. (And they live in my favourite part of the world, the Pacific Northwest!)
Editor’s note: Look how she spelled “favourite”! See — Canadian!
What inspires you about your work?
Everything! It’s really rewarding to know that we give people support in the midst of a difficult situation and they often reach greater clarity about how to move forward. And I get to enjoy being a part of our work from all angles – working directly with clients, mediating, and helping mediators grow in their practice.
Who would play you in the movie of your life and why?
Staff once voted on Scarlet Johanssen, which is hard to give up…
Tell us about a time you felt you really helped make a difference for our clients or mission.
Honestly, I feel really good about all the people we serve who don’t end up in mediation…these are the people who have been directed to us mistakenly after going through a bureaucratic maze, who keep getting the run around, or who aren’t savvy enough to find answers online. Maybe they need advocacy or legal information – not mediation – but we do our best to listen and direct them to some one or someplace who can actually assist. I think being kind and helpful makes a difference for people, whether or not they become our clients in the end.
If you could have any 3 people, living or dead, for dinner, who would it be? OK, now you can only have 2 — who would you kick out?
Maybe this is cheesy – but it would be pretty great to spend an evening with my grandmothers, both of whom are no longer alive. Or, for a more fun option, I’d spend the evening with 2 or 3 people who throw great parties, like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera!
Editor’s note: See how she skipped the part of kicking someone out? That’s so Melissa.
What else should we know about you?
Editor’s note: I’ll put you down for “I’m Canadian.” And that Melissa deeply, deeply cares about her teammates, our trainees, mediators, clients. Recently, I’ve been working with her to train and facilitate a group of New Yorkers heroically struggling with mental illness while emerging from homelessness. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in this challenging and rewarding endeavor.
Support New York Peace Institute & have fun while you’re at it by attending our PeaceRaiser on November 5th!