NYSDRA and the CDRC network all share mixed feelings as we learned that Jody Miller, Executive Director of the Mediation Center of Dutchess County, was moving on to become the EEO/Human Rights Officer for Dutchess County. We all know and admire Jody as a leader in creating cutting edge, diverse mediation programs and other programs that focus on self-determintation and collaboration. She has also been an eloquent and effective advocate for the CDRC network with the Judiciary and Legislature as a leader with the Statewide Advocacy Group.
During her sixteen years of leadership, the Mediation Center’s budget more than doubled and diversified, including an annual giving program and the establishment of an endowment fund. She worked closely with courts and the community to develop and provide mediation and conflict resolution training programs for families, businesses, schools and organizations, as well as creating innovative initiatives to meet community needs. Mediation grew to include 16 town, village and city courts, Family Court and Surrogate’s Court as well as an increase in non-court referred cases. Hundreds of mediators locally, nationally and internationally were trained in the transformative mediation method. Training programs that provided Continuing Legal Education (CLE) for attorneys were established.
In partnership with the domestic violence community, Jody and her team created the award winning, nationally known Domestic Violence and Mediation Safety Project, the first collaborative project of its kind. New intiatives included the Coalition on Elder Abuse in Dutchess County and the Anti-Bullying Initiative, two programs that provide best practices in prevention, response, and collaboration with essential community partners.
Jody also taught mediation at the Maurice Dean School of Law at Hofstra University for 11 years, served as an appointed member of the Mediation Ethics Advisory Committee (MEAC) and served as a NYSDRA board member. She served as a steering committee member of the Dutchess County Coalition of Non-Profits, a member of the Dutchess County Office for the Aging Advisory Board and a board member for the Coalition on Sexual and Domestic Abuse. She has published articles and chapters about mediation and presented at conferences nationally and internationally.
Mark Collins, the Assistant State ADR Coordinator at the Unified Court System, Office of ADR, provided this tribute:
“Jody Miller exemplified the very best in a CDRC Executive Director: a fierce commitment to Dutchess County and the quality of work that the center provides, as well as a valuable network-minded approach to helping community dispute resolution centers in New York State and beyond. Jody has been well known for her innovative work around domestic violence by creating meaningful partnerships with DV professionals with the safety of parties being of utmost importance. She also was successful at creating a countywide coalition around elder abuse issues, an incessant champion for self-determination of parties and an excellent trainer in transformative mediation practices.
I thank Jody the most, however, for her ability to raise the quality of discourse among CDRCs and the ADR community on quality of practice—work that will have a substantial impact for years to come. Although the CDRC community will greatly miss Jody’s work, it is nonetheless exciting for us to see how she brings her impressive skill sets to new areas of practice for the benefit of people in her community.”