Brian Beck, who graduated from the Conflict Resolution Institute in Winter 2010 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 to parties in conflict. 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 to increase 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. Because JCMS operates with a flat organizational structure, various people take 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 JCMS 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 program at DU grounded Brian in a sound understanding of the conflict resolution field, specifically related to mediation. His studies have helped him identify areas where JCMS could expand within the community in resolving various conflicts.
Brian 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, and workplace conflict to Division T small claims court cases, the variety of cases is huge. JCMS has handled over 15,000 cases since its inception in 1994, with a case load growing about 13% each year since 2007. In these times of tight budgets, the program has provided the county with a program that has provided an invaluable service for solving conflict in a cost effective way. This is in large part due to the dedication of over 240 volunteer mediators and small JCMS staff.
In terms of growth, Brian is working hard on getting the JCMS services involved in schools by showing the benefits of mediation and facilitation to 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 challenge to market such 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 something government municipalities appreciate as budgets are continue to become tighter.
In terms of making it during these tough times, Brian has some sound advice for current and recently graduated students. Because "Conflict Resolver" is not a common job title, Brian believes it is important to network in areas beyond conflict resolution. This endeavor is critical in helping organizations see the benefits of a student's conflict resolution skills and helping students find a particular niche. Also, he says that involvement in volunteer opportunities or internship opportunities is key, but recommends to not 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.
Brian was featured in the Summer 2010 Newsletter.