Mediator Community of Practice

Become a leader in our community!

This is your opportunity to shape what your continuing professional development looks like.


NVMS has had a long standing tradition of organizing events through which mediators could network, get to know each other, and complete recertification requirements under the Monday Night Forum program. In 2018 we will continue this tradition with an increased focus on bringing conflict resolution practitioners together as a Community of Practice (CoP). The goals are to:
  • Provide a safe, respectful, and positive environment for members to exchange ideas and problem solve challenges they encounter in their practice.
  • Build a network of peers and experts in the field that can serve as a resource.
  • Explore and share best practices, models, tools, and theories that enhance subject matter knowledge and practical approaches.
  • Enhance your reflective practice and refine skills with challenge sessions on fundamental and advanced topics.

WHEN: Last Monday of the month, 7-9 pm
WHERE: NVMS Office (9653 Fairfax Blvd, Suite 203, Fairfax, VA 22031)
CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDITS: Select events carry CME and/or CLE credits.

June 25 Event – Ace Your Orientation

Time: 7-9pm (7-7:30pm networking)
Cost: $15
Facilitators: Cindy O’Connor and Kevin Dillon
1.5 CMEs – Pending Approval

Program Description

The Orientation, and the Agreement to Mediate that informs it, is the mediator’s opportunity to build trust, rapport, and set the framework for a successful mediation. As each case is different, Orientations and Agreements to Mediate can vary with the type of client and type of mediation (e.g., family v. civil, mediations with attorneys present, parties who are voluntarily in mediation v. court-referred, etc.). Panelists Cindy O’Connor and Kevin Dillon will discuss the issues to be considered in drafting an agreement to mediate and a tailoring the orientation to the parties. Participants will have the opportunity to examine examples of Agreements to Mediate that have been designed for particular situations. The discussion will provide food for thought for mediators at all levels — students, new mediators, as well as those who have many years’ of experience.

Learning Objectives

  1. Review considerations for tailoring the Agreement to Mediate.
  2. Review considerations for tailoring your orientation.
  3. Analyze examples of Agreements to Mediate that have been designed for particular situations.


To register, complete the form below:

COP Event Registration


Get Involved! Successful COPs depend on the active involvement of their members at all levels.

We are looking for individuals interested in becoming engaged with this process in the following roles:

  • COP leaders: 1-2 individuals, 5-10 hrs/month
    • Responsibilities: Manage the technical and administrative aspects of the community: contact and coordinate speakers, facilitators, and members; create a quarterly calendar of events; spread the word about the event; prepare materials; communicate with interested participants about event details; submit events for CME and CLE approval; send reminder and follow-up emails; collaborate with the Program Manager to ensure the smooth operation of the CoP.
    • Position location: 25% in the office (planning meetings), 75% remote
  • Event facilitators, 2-5 hrs/month
    • Responsibilities: Facilitate events; sign in participants; introduce speakers; run icebreakers; managing Q&A; assist speakers during events; prepare speakers for online events by familiarizing them with the software.
    • Position location: 100% Remote, in the office during events
  • Contributors, 2-5 hrs/month
    • Responsibilities: Add content in the form of presenting on various topics; writing blog posts; leading social media (LinkedIn, Facebook) discussions.
    • Position location: 100% Remote

To apply for any of the roles listed above, please visit


Archive of Past Events

January 2018 - Sustainable Resolutions

January 29 Event - Sustainable Resolutions: Agreement Writing for The New Year and Beyond

Time: 7-8:30pm
Cost: $15
Facilitator: Izabela Solosi, NVMS Training Program Manager
CME/CLE credits: pending

Program Description
Agreement writing is an essential skill every successful mediator must master. How do your skills measure up? In this workshop participants will have the opportunity to review agreement writing best practices, receive feedback on their agreement writing skills from their peers, and work in small groups to analyze real agreements and identify ways to improve them.

Optional: Bring along samples of agreements you have written and ask your peers for feedback!

Learning Objectives

  1. Review considerations for agreement writing
  2. Identify best practice techniques
  3. Analyze agreements and identify opportunities for improvement

Sustainable Resolutions - Participant Handout (PDF)

February 26 - Co-Mediating Effectively: The Pre-Mediation Conversation

February 26 Event - Co-Mediating Effectively: The Pre-Mediation Conversation

Time: 7-9pm
Cost: $15
Facilitators: Julia Morelli and James Meditz
Approved for 2 CMEs

Program Description

Co-mediating offers benefits and challenges. In this workshop, participants will learn to better identify their own and their co-mediator's preferences, techniques, and approaches to the mediation process and managing the parties dynamics.

This session is for all mediators will draw on group's experience. It emphasizes the importance and value of the co-mediators having a purposeful pre-mediation conversation in advance of convening the session. In recognizing and discussing their individual preferences and expectations, co-mediators can best assist the parties in achieving a successful outcome. While drawing on existing lists of topics and processes used in advanced mediation training and the mentoring process, this interactive session will expand on those topics as well as look deeper into the nuances of them that may be significant for co-mediators.


This session is intended to benefit mediators with all levels of experience.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop an appreciation of the value of and complexity of preparing to co-mediate.
  2. Develop an approach to co-mediator conversations that align expectations around professional and individual preferences between co-mediators.
  3. Develop a comprehensive approach to preparing for future co-mediations.


April 2018 - "Selling" Mediation: From the First Phone Call to the First Mediation Session

April 30 Event – “Selling” Mediation: From the first phone call to the first mediation session

Time: 7-9pm (7-7:30pm networking)
Cost: $15
Facilitators: Dr. Virginia Colin and Philip Mulford
1.5 CMEs – Pending Approval

Program Description

The first phone conversation with a client is a crucial part in whether an inquiry turns into a mediation. The facilitators will guide participants in considering how to create party buy-in and address challenging questions that may deter parties from moving forward. Some questions that will guide the conversation:

  • If one party is eager to mediate and the other is reluctant, how do you handle that?
  • What aspects of mediation may parties be hesitant about?
  • To what extent are you still “selling” mediation in your first face-to-face meeting with clients? 
  • If one party decides to drop out of mediation and the other calls you asking how to pull them back in, what do you say?

Learning Objectives

  1. Explore techniques to build trust and rapport with parties and encourage them to try the process.
  2. Develop ideas on how to address challenging questions.
  3. Share experiences and approaches.


Session Summary

Dr. Virginia Colin and Philip Mulford, led the April0 COP session on “Selling Mediation: How Do You Get from the First Phone Call to the First Mediation Meeting?” The facilitators first established the following three basic precepts to which all participants agreed.

  • Mediation sells itself as a more efficient, less expensive, and less distressing alternative to litigation, with party control over the outcome;
  • To “sell” mediation is basically to describe the process; and 
  • A mediator must preserve neutrality and confidentiality from the start. 

The facilitators then raised, and the group explored, the following ideas to sell mediation from the initial call while preserving neutrality and confidentiality:

  • Limiting a party’s discussion of facts in the initial conversation and focusing on providing general information about mediation verses permitting the caller to tell his/her story as an opportunity to show compassion and build trust and provide general information about mediation.
  • Declining requests to call the non-calling partner to discuss mediation versus encouraging the caller to suggest the other party contact the mediator and provide the mediator’s contact information and website.
  • Initiating follow up calls and/or emails versus awaiting the client’s contact.
  • Initiating screening questions - to screen for physical abuse, substance and alcohol abuse, intimidation, restraining orders, the need for separate rooms, etc., - in the initial call verses screening by various other means from the initial contact throughout the mediation process.
  • Inviting third party support persons and attorneys to attend mediation and setting parameters, as required.
  • The group also explored some frequently asked questions posed by the facilitators and considered the following potential responses:

“How long will the mediation take?”
Response:  Ask what the parties plan to mediate and estimate the time based on the issues.

“What can I do to prepare for mediation?” 

  • Review the mediator’s website.
  • Bring as many documents listed on the site as reasonably possible.
  • Avoid trying to resolve the issues before mediation, (as it tends to cause parties to lock into their positions.)

“May I bring my attorney?”
Response:  Attorneys are welcome.  However, the parties are the primary participants in mediation.  If only one party is represented, all parties must consent to allow the attorney to attend the mediation sessions.  Third party support persons may attend the mediation only with the consent of all parties.  All non-parties who attend the mediation sessions must agree in writing to confidentiality.