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NAFCM Announces Karen Michael, Project Sentinel as Recipient of Outstanding Volunteer Award

Tuesday, October 27, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Victoria Tobin
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NAFCM Announces Karen Michael, Project Sentinel & Palo Alto Mediation Services of Santa Clara, CA as the Recipient of NAFCM’s “Outstanding Volunteer Award” for Q4 2015


Cumming, GA (October 27, 2015) —NAFCM is proud to announce Karen Michael as our NAFCM Outstanding Volunteer Award Winner for Q4 2015.  The nomination process allowed community mediation centers from across the country to nominate outstanding volunteers. NAFCM received many dynamic nominations for this quarterly award, which recognizes the significant work volunteers provide to create the positive impacts of community mediation across the country.


A volunteer with Project Sentinel since 2009, Karen volunteer regularly for case development and mediation roles, has served as a co-chair for the mediation panel, offered her services as a tech writer for the center’s briefing book, and volunteers for mediation in communities served by Project Sentinel that are outside the PAMP jurisdiction. 


Program Coordinator Paul Hebert writes, “Karen cares about the mission of the organization as much as she cares about each mediation opportunity. Karen stays in the conversation even if she is frustrated with it. Whether she is talking to disputing parties or fellow mediators or people like myself in the administrative role, she strives for clarity more than control when the temperature of the conversation goes up.”


NAFCM congratulates Ms. Michael on the great work she has done for her community and is proud to recognize her as our Volunteer of the Quarter. 


For additional information, contact: Victoria Tobin, Executive Director of the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM), at (602) 633-4213 or




 After I retired from my job as a corporate IT executive, I met a professional mediator and was fascinated to learn what she did.  I was a trained and experienced facilitator and thought I might make a decent mediator.  At the time, I didn’t know that my community had a mediation program, but very soon thereafter I read that the Palo Alto Mediation Program was recruiting volunteers.  Kismet!  I joined the program in 2009 and have loved every minute of it.  I co-chaired the program from 2010 to 2012, rewrote the group’s training and reference manual, and to date I’ve done well over 100 mediations.  I have been requested to mediate in nine other Bay Area communities, and I have also been invited to facilitate city commissions and outreach efforts.  I recently represented mediation on a panel for a housing symposium by Project Sentinel, the housing nonprofit that administers the city’s mediation program.


Lessons learned?  Mostly, that people just want to be heard!  Mediation has provided me with the skill of being a good listener without trying to solve peoples’ issues—a skill particularly useful as a parent.  And it is such a pleasure in mediation to see angry people make the transition to a successful resolution and even leave on friendly terms.

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