April 24 – Check Your Bias: Mediator Perceptions

Speakers: Izabela Solosi and Courtney Burkey

Time: 7:30-9pm (7-7:30pm – networking)register-here-button.png

CME: 1.5 General/Family (pending)

Cost: FREE


This interactive program will engage participants in considering how their perceptions of the parties, often based on partial knowledge, may influence their performance as mediators. The presenters will use activities to open up the conversation and guide participants in reflecting on their own experiences and how they have handled their bias. For example, in court, what assumptions might a mediator be making about the people he or she working with based on their gender, race, culture, perceived education level or the issue being mediated? How do assumptions and biases affect us as mediators and potentially affect the process?  What are ways to prevent our assumptions from interfering with us doing our job and remaining impartial?

Learning Objectives

(1)   Identify existing biases and the challenges they present to effective mediation

(2)   Discuss strategies to help keep bias in check

(3)   Share experiences and resources


About the Speakers

Courtney Burkey is a professional conflict resolution practitioner, facilitator, and trainer with experience leading international community-based peace-building initiatives and implementing conflict prevention and conflict resolution mechanisms to reduce the occurrence of violence. She authored and delivered bully prevention/intervention training to Fairfax County, Virginia Government and Public School youth services employees. She founded and directed the Jamaica Peace Education Program, Rotary Clubs of Savanna la Mar and Indianapolis, Indiana-sponsored program, from 2006-2009, a school-based conflict resolution training program for faculty of public schools, police officers, and community members in Westmoreland Parish. Currently, she is in Negril, Jamaica serving as a consultant to the Rotary Club of Negril and Rotary Club of Washington, D.C. for their newly emerging peace project. Ms. Burkey authored train-the-trainer/facilitator manuals for conflict resolution and public policy processes. She is formerly a public policy analyst that co-authored six policy papers on higher education, immigration, and private provisions of humanitarian aid. Ms. Burkey also developed and coordinated a deliberative dialogue forum for citizens to learn about and discuss public policy options addressing sea-level rise and coastal inundation Anne Arundel County, Maryland. She is the recipient of the Northern Virginia Mediation Service Restorative Justice Facilitator of the Year Award.

Izabela Solosi is a professional conflict resolution practitioner, facilitator, and trainer. Ms. Solosi is currently the Training Program Manager at Northern Virginia Mediation Service (NVMS). In this capacity, she manages a roster or over 30 trainers, mediators, coaches, and facilitators, and works with clients to provide training and range of workplace services – assessment, facilitation, coaching, mediation – that meet their needs and move their teams and organizations forward. Ms. Solosi has designed and delivered training on mediation, communication skills, negotiation, team performance, and conflict resolution skills for local and federal government agencies (Federal Bureau of Investigations, United States Department of Agriculture, Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, Prince William County Schools), as well as non-profit organizations (Shelter House, Community College Preparatory Academy, ServiceSource, Mary Washington University). Her training is designed to respond to audience needs be professionals, adults with disabilities, foreign visitors, or elementary, middle, high school or college students. She is a recurring speaker at conferences such as the Federal Dispute Resolution (FDR) Conference, the Training Officers Consortium, Virginia Mediation Network, they yearly FCPS Peace Summit, and the Department of Defense Alternative Dispute Resolution Day. Ms. Solosi is also a certified Help Increase the Peace Program (HIPP) facilitator and a Total SDI trainer. She is a past Virginia Mediation Network board member, and a current community of practice leader and mentoring program manager for the DC Chapter of the Association of Talent Development. She completed a BA in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and is currently pursuing a MEd. in Instructional Design and Technology with a focus on adult learning, both at George Mason University.