The first Con Res Connect event, held in 2009, was designed to be an event to simply bring together students, faculty and practitioners in the field of conflict resolution. The 3rd annual Con Res Connect prevailed in not only building on the successes of the events of the past two years, but also paving new ground for what Con Res Connect could be in the future. The occasion was organized by the Conflict Resolution Graduate Student Association (CRGSA), and took place on Thursday, April 28th at the Wellshire Inn in Denver, CO. In its third incarnation, Con Res Connect was conceived of as an affair designed to offer a chance for students to meet and network with conflict resolution professionals, but also to give those professionals an opportunity to connect and collaborate with each other.
One difference from this year's occasion compared to the past two years was also seen in both the number and diversity of attendees. There were more than 60 practitioners, students and faculty from the Con Res field who participated in this year's event, which was a significant increase compared to the previous manifestations. In regards to diversity, the participants represented areas including mediation, restorative justice, higher education and environmental agencies, just to name a few.
Another new feature of this year's event was the addition of a keynote speaker to the agenda, and Colorado State Senator Linda Newell (D-Littleton) filled this role perfectly. Senator Newell has been a strong supporter of conflict resolution and alternative dispute resolution measures in Colorado and even sponsored a recent bi-partisan resolution in the State Senate to officially designate October as "Conflict Resolution Month" in Colorado. This experience and belief in conflict resolution made Senator Newell an ideal speaker for Con Res Connect. Adam Brown, a CRGSA officer and Con Res Connect attendee asserted that "Senator Newell was a great addition to the event this year because she was able to bring the participants together around a common message regarding the Con Res field."
Finally, this year's version of Con Res Connect featured a ceremony to present a $1,000 donation from CRGSA, in conjuncture with the University of Denver's Conflict Resolution Institute, to the Conflict Resolution Month Organizing
Committee. This contribution was meant to recognize and support their continued efforts to expand the use of conflict resolution in Colorado. This donation was in synch with the overall theme of the 3rd annual Con Res Connect event, which was intended to provide an opportunity to educate
individuals and organizations from the broader community about the value of conflict resolution, help them see ways in which its practices and philosophies can be applied to their lives or activities, and develop potential for future collaboration.
CRGSA officer Adam Brown stated that "we wanted it to be a networking opportunity while also having a focus on providing potential internship or employment opportunities to those attending." In this latter respect, Con Res Connect also appears to have achieved its goal. Numerous guests said that they were able to make promising connections with individuals and organizations with internship or job opportunities, including at least one promising lead with Senator Newell herself.
Moving forward, Con Res Connect can continue to grow and evolve according to the needs and desires of Conflict Resolution students in the future. CRGSA made a concerted effort to involve fellow students in the design and invitation
process in order to make sure that it was reflective of their opinions and inputs, not just the CRGSA officers themselves. The collaborative effort that brought together this year's event was reflected in the experience itself according
to many participants and organizers. Continuing this type of inclusive effort in the coming years can only help to make Con Res Connect more and more beneficial to all parties involved.
Thanks to all those who attended this year's event, and a special thanks to all those who helped bring it all together.
-- Brandon Rhea