Brian Beck, whom recently graduated from the conflict resolution institute this past winter after completing his thesis, is currently the Systems Manager at Jefferson County Mediation Services. (JCMS) In general, Brian takes on the responsibility of 'selling' mediation. More specifically, He spends time talking to parties or people that may be interested in mediation, answering questions about mediation and discussing how mediation may be beneficial to different organizations within the county. Brian is also responsible for managing court calendars, website updates and working on increasing the use of technology in mediation settings. This includes having computers in all meeting spaces, digitizing forms (e.g. agreements to mediate, memorandums of understanding) and developing video conferencing capabilities. In reality though, the organizational structure of JCMS is flat, with various people taking on responsibilities that fit their interests or skill sets.
Brian's degree in conflict resolution was immensely helpful in getting him where he is today. One thing that helped was the networking opportunities that came up while in school. Brian first connected with Jeff Co. at a networking event put on by the students, where he met director Mark Loye and eventually started working on a database project for the organization. The degree helped him land a position directly related to the field of conflict resolution and also expanded his networking opportunities within the field. Of course, the degree from D.U. grounded Brian in a sound understanding of the confict resolution field, specifically related to mediation. This has helped him identify areas where JCMS. could expand within the community in resolving various conflicts.
Brain enjoys his position at JCMS and not only appreciates seeing the positive impact that JCMS has on the community, but also the potential it could have. JCMS handles a wide range of cases. From neighbor-neighbor disputes, child custody to Division T court cases, the variety is huge. JCMS has handled 8,548 cases since its inception in 1994, with 5,984 reaching a satisfactory settlement. This has provided the county with an invaluable service for solving conflict that is cost effective. This is in large part due to the dedication of the volunteer mediators and small JCMS staff.
In terms of growing, Brian is working hard on getting the JCMS services involved in the schools by showing how mediation and facilitation my be beneficial to the districts in the county. Specifically, he sees a great need for helping parents resolve conflicts in connection to the conflicts that their children are having in school. It is a difficult challenge to market the services to the schools, but one that Brian enjoys. One of JCMS's great selling points is the fact that the services offered are free, which is a word government municipalities appreciate in a time when budgets are tight.
In terms of making it out there in these tough times, Brian has some sound advice for current and recently graduated students. As there are not a lot of specific jobs in the conflict resolution field, Brian believes it is important to network in areas beyond conflict resolution. This is critical in helping organizations see the benefits of a student's conflict resolution skills and helping students find a particular niche. Also, be involved in volunteer opportunities or internship opportunities but don't take on projects that aren't fulfilling your specific goals. Because the application of conflict resolution is broad, it is important to make it your own and stay focused on where you, as an emerging specialist, want to see conflict resolved differently in society.
- Jonathan Howard