Folks, here’s the next installment in our Get-to-Know-a-New-York-Peace-Instituter series: Meet Jeff Sybertz, Case Manager Extraordinaire. From time to time I have the pleasure of seeing Jeff in action with our clients, and I’ve learned a lot from him. He truly embodies our values of empathy, creativity, and optimism. Let’s see what he has to say for himself.
So, what do you do around here?
I am a Case Manager working in both Brooklyn and Manhattan. I am responsible for a variety of community mediations. The topics of these mediations include: noise disputes, landlord tenant disputes, parenting issues, issues between youths, and many, many, many more. I am responsible for the life cycle of the case, from determining its appropriateness for mediation, presenting the process to all involved parties, scheduling qualified mediators, debriefing said mediators, to following up with the clients after the mediation.
What was your first paying job?
Snowboard instructor at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont. Probably one of the coolest first jobs ever, in my humble opinion.
What animal would you be and why?
I think if I had the choice and if I were to be described as any animal, I would like to think a Beagle. They are loyal, smart, never give up on something once they find the scent, and they never shut the hell up.
What inspires you about your work?
Luckily, I have never been involved in the legal system (knock on wood). However, after dealing with people who have been involved in that system day in and day out, I’ve realized how it can consume nearly every aspect of someone’s life. I’m often speaking with these people on one of the worst days of their lives. What inspires me about this work is that we are the ones who these people will call when their situation seems so grim. They are looking to us for help. It is our responsibility to do whatever we can as mediators to work with these people to resolve their disputes. Also, the fact that people are willing to open up and share the most personal details of their lives to us (who are complete strangers to them) inspires me to be accountable to them and prove to them that putting their trust in me was worth it.
Who would play you in a movie of your life and why?
Survivalist Bear Grylls because he always seems to be able to get out of a sticky situation. We sometimes have to deal with a lot of sticky situations around here and I feel like he would be a natural. Also, I imagine that the movie version of working in a mediation center would be great if it were filmed on the side of a cliff or in white water rapids.
Tell us about a time you felt you really helped make a difference for our clients or mission.
Without breaking confidentiality, we recently had a mediation between two sisters who were trying to work out a number of different family issues surrounding their ailing grandfather and his assets. Both of the sisters were having a really difficult time communicating while they were trying to grieve the loss of their grandfather and tackle the complicated task of dividing up the assets. They were very thankful for the mediation process and the space that we provided because it enabled them to slow things down and figure out how to move forward collaboratively.
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?
New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Former US president Bill Clinton, Survivalist Bear Grylls would be a great meal. Sorry, President Clinton, no dessert for you.
What else should we know about you?
I am a Massachusetts transplant who is extremely proud of his New England roots. When I am not working on making the world a more peaceful place, I am generally outside in the woods of New Jersey or the mountains of Utah.