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  • ROUNDTABLE BREAKFAST: Rikers Island Training: Think Like a Mediator

ROUNDTABLE BREAKFAST: Rikers Island Training: Think Like a Mediator

  • Thursday, December 07, 2017
  • 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice: 899 Tenth Avenue, Room L61 - NYC


  • The event is free and open to anyone interested in the topic. Please register in order to attend.

Registration is closed

sponsored by
The Association for Conflict Resolution
of Greater New York
The CUNY Dispute Resolution Center at John Jay College


Coffee and networking 8:00 AM.

Program begins promptly at 8:30 AM.


Think Like a Mediator

Members of this panel will describe their experience teaching a six session course called “Think Like a Mediator” on conflict resolution to inmates at the women’s jail facility (the Rose M. Singer Center) at Rikers Island in New York City. The course curriculum was highly interactive. It both taught and used mediation skills, such as developing active listening skills and understanding underlying interests, as opposed to positions. The inmate-students were highly engaged by the subject matter and the learning process. Learning to resolve conflict by using mediation’s core principle of self-determination, was clearly empowering for inmates at a time in their lives when they were experiencing the powerlessness of a prison environment. The trainers concluded that conflict resolution and mediation training (in jails and long-term prison environments) offer significant benefits to inmate-participants both during and after incarceration. It also benefits the communities to which the inmates will return.  The presenters suggest that this conflict resolution approach has the additional potential to reduce recidivism by encouraging the inmate-students to think more fully about their choices and the conflicts they experience.  The Rikers course provides a valuable pilot program for similar programs in other jail and prison environments. The presenters’ experience at Rikers illustrated that mediation skills have broad application outside the traditional mediation of disputes between parties.  Many, including incarcerated individuals, former inmates and others, can derive substantial benefit from learning how to think like a mediator.

MARY AUSTIN is an attorney with an independent mediation and arbitration practice in New York City.  In addition to her work with prison mediation education, Ms. Austin’s practice focuses on commercial, employment and health care disputes.  She is on the AAA Commercial and Health Care Arbitration Panels; the American Health Lawyers Association Mediation, Arbitration and Hearing Officer Panels; the Pro Bono Advocacy Panel for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York’s pro se employment mediations; and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Intermediation Panel.  Ms. Austin was a commercial litigator for twenty years and served as in-house counsel to UPMC for thirteen years.  Ms. Austin is a graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Michigan Law School.

RICH BREWSTER has an ADR and prison reform litigation consulting practice. He is a lawyer with over 35 years of litigation experience, equally divided between commercial litigation and public service as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York; a Special Prosecutor in Kings County; and an Assistant Attorney General and Special Litigation Counsel in the New York State Attorney General’s New York City Office. In the Attorney General’s Office, Rich was responsible for defensive civil rights litigation relating to the State’s criminal justice agencies under three successive Attorneys General, and handled landmark prison reform cases involving prison mental health services and the use of solitary confinement. Rich obtained his bachelor of arts degree from Princeton University and law degree from Harvard Law School.

NINA MARTINEZ is an associate at Outten & Golden LLP, and a member of the firm’s Class Action Practice Group. Prior to joining the firm in 2017, Ms. Martinez served as a Skadden Fellow at the New York Legal Assistance Group where she developed the Employment Mediation Project. In this role, Ms. Martinez provided mediation to parties embroiled in employment disputes and represented plaintiffs in employment matters at the EEOC, SDNY, and EDNY. Ms. Martinez has also served as an adjunct professor for CUNY Law School’s Mediation Clinic where she supervised law student mediators in the Queens Civil Court. Ms. Martinez received her B.A. from the University of Florida in 2010, an M.S. in Elementary Education from Hunter College in 2012, and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 2015. During law school, Ms. Martinez worked as a law clerk with the office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Regional Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor, and the employment department of the nonprofit organization, Make the Road New York. Ms. Martinez received her training in mediation as a clinical student in the Penn Law Mediation Clinic where she mediated matters at the EEOC, small claims court, and family court. She subsequently participated in an Employment Mediation Clinic exclusively mediating matters at the EEOC. Ms. Martinez authored the “Working Models: An Analysis of Workplace Mediation Programs Available to New York City Complainants,” which was awarded the Penn Law Herman Lazarus Prize for the Best Student Paper in Comparative Labor/ Employment Law. 

HILLARY S. ZILZ is a mediator and corporate attorney who practices law with the New York firm Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP.  She counsels business and not-for-profit corporations (both charitable and non-charitable) on operational, governance, and governmental matters.  Hillary also serves as outside general counsel to several not for profit corporations, and has served as inside general counsel in various industries.  In addition to prison mediation training, Hillary mediates civil court matters through the New York Center for Interpersonal Development, the Community Dispute Resolution Center on Staten Island.  Hillary graduated with honors from both McGill University (BA and MA) and Harvard Law School (JD).  





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