This is National Volunteer Week! CMC wants to celebrate our talented volunteer mediators without whom we could not do what we do. Volunteers are essential for CMC to provide mediation services to those regardless of their ability to pay and to mediate in a way that allows ordinary people to make decisions and resolve their own disputes on their own terms.  At any given moment, CMC is lucky to have 50 or more mediators who send us their availability every month and stand ready to mediate when a case is set.

In our photo, you will see two of our best and most prolific mediators, Emil “Bud” Muly and Marita Vornehm.  They’ve both been mediating for CMC for 20 years, and when you add up what they’ve done, they’ve mediated more than 750 mediations between them, many of them as co-mediators in our Day of Court Civil Sessions Mediation Program.  They do what good volunteers do—they show up, and they provide excellent mediation service for folks who need it, giving freely of their time and considerable experience.

At any given moment, CMC is lucky to have 50 or more mediators who send us their availability every month and stand ready to mediate when a case is set.  Our staff program directors stay busy conducting intakes and screenings to make sure mediation is the safe and appropriate choice for disputants, and so the mediation can be scheduled efficiently with two available co-mediators.

CMC defines “best practice” of mediation by looking to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 which provides guidance and regulation of the mediation profession in Tennessee, including volunteer mediators.  We also model our Center on the 10 Hallmarks put forth by the National Association For Community Mediation (NAFCM).

A Community Mediation Center:

  1. Is a private non-profit or public agency or program thereof, with mediators, staff and governing/advisory board representative of the diversity of the community served.
  2. Use trained community volunteers as providers of mediation services.
  3. Strives and is committed to providing mediation to all people in their community.
  4. Provides direct access to the public through self­-referral and strives to reduce barriers to service including physical, linguistic, cultural, programmatic and economic barriers.
  5. Provides service to clients regardless of their ability to pay.
  6. Provides service and hiring without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, disabilities, national origin, marital status, personal appearance, gender orientation or identity, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, or source of income.
  7. Provides a forum for dispute resolution at the earliest stage of a conflict.
  8. Provides an alternative to the judicial system at any stage of a conflict.
  9. Initiates, facilitates and educates for collaborative community relationships to affect positive systemic change.
  10. Engages in public awareness and educational activities about the values and practices of mediation.

Volunteers exemplify that the practice of mediation is open to all.  They are often CMC’s greatest referral source because they know how mediation works and how many advantages and benefits it offers.    Through their volunteer mediation, they are always striving to figure out how to reduce barriers to service including linguistic, cultural, programmatic and economic.  Volunteers are the face of CMC in our community and are always engaged in public awareness-raising and educating about our values and mediation practice!




This weekend CMC held its annual Peace In The Valley fundraiser at the Historic Southern Railway Station/Blue Slip Winery.  Much fun was had by all: refreshments, wine tasting, dancing to the Chillbillies rock and roll with Judge Irwin singing lead, from “I saw her standing there” to “Free Bird!  We had a lovely wine-themed silent auction, all items in their new homes, and a blind wine auction where guests bought a bagged bottle of wine, sight unseen.

Besides our amazing Board of Directors and Staff, I’d like to draw your attention to our list of sponsors.  We appreciate them so much:

Platinum level:

Breeding & Henry, LLC
900 S Gay St #1950, Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 670-8535

Divorce Better Knoxville
Elizabeth Cooper, PhD, Rule 31 listed family mediator
(865) 236-1164

Sherry Mahar, Esquire
Law Offices, 300 Montvue Rd, Knoxville, TN 37919,
(865) 691-9011

David Valone, Esquire
Valone Law, 625 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 522-8381

Gold Level:

John Anen, Esquire
Law Office, (865) 925-3177

Angela Blevins, Esquire

Caitlin Elledge, Esquire
Sobieski, Messer & Elledge, PLLC
612 South Gay Street, 5th Floor, Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 546-7770

G.C. Hutson, Hutson Mediation Firm, PLLC
(Knoxville, Tri-Cities, Nashville)
119 E Watauga Ave, Johnson City, Tennessee
(423) 217-4888

Laura Metcalf, Esquire
Law Office, First Tennessee Plaza, 800 S Gay Street, Suite 1600, Knoxville, TN 37929
Phone: (865) 637-3900

Adam Moncier, Esquire
Law Office, 1318 Clinch Avenue, Knoxville, TN  37916
(865) 200-4615

Elizabeth Kammer Psar, Esquire
Law Office, 7450 Chapman Highway, # 314, Knoxville, TN 37920
(865) 806-0053

Vanessa Samano, Esquire
Law Office, Bank of America Building, 550 W. Main Street, Suite 310, Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 291-1550

Tennessee Land Development Services
Timothy Howell, Rule 31 listed civil mediator
(Knox & surrounding counties)
121 Dorothy Drive, Talbott, TN 37877
(865) 742-2557

Tennessee Mediation School
Laura Metcalf & Sarah Easter, Esquires, Rule 31 family mediators & trainers
Upcoming Rule 31 family trainings in June and August, 2017.

Mary Ward, Esquire
Law Office, (865) 671-4480

Heidi Wegryn, Esquire
Law Office, 5701 Lyons View Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
(865) 622-8121


Herston on Tennessee Family Law is a blog maintained with great care using clearly written case summaries by a local Knoxville attorney (who is also a mediator and a collaborative family attorney), K.O. Herston.  He reports some of the more interesting and important Tennessee appellate cases having to do with diverse family conflicts.  Reading about how courts decide family cases is an important and ongoing educational process for family mediators.  We know that mediators do not “advise” parties, and even though Rule 31 gives attorney mediators permission to vocalize opinions if competent to do so, we also realize that we risk our most necessary quality, the participants’ perception that we are impartial and on no one’s side, when we skate close to the place of saying “Here’s what I (the mediator) think.”  Still, it’s very helpful to know the way cases are decided so we as mediators can ask reality-checking questions and make sure that parties understand reality!

Attorneys who participate in mediation and help their client understand how the law affects them are worth their weight in gold to a mediator.   In the world of community mediation, its the norm for people to have no attorney at all or, at best, to have someone they might call if they “have to.”  Mediators handling cases as volunteers or pro bono for the courts must take pains to screen parties to see if they need legal advice.  All the more reason for community mediators to have an overview of family law outcomes to construct helpful BATNA/WATNAs (or BATMA/WATMAs) for their clients.

He also has a page of article links on divorce matters, including divorce mediation in Tennessee.

KO also posts his nature photography and helpful news articles on divorce, children, and best practices.  His blog was voted in the top 100 “blawgs” (law blogs) again this year, now two years in a row.



One of the best online resources for mediators is the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution.

  1. National Clearinghouse for Mediator Ethics Opinions  This link takes you to a compilation of mediator ethics opinions from 43 states.  Just click and search by key word or ethics principle, or browse by state. Confidentiality? Scribing? Termination? Here is a good place to begin after checking out your own state’s opinions. (Tennessee’s opinions are compiled here.)
  2. Committee on Mediator Ethical Guidance  The Committee receives ethical questions from anonymous mediators (many are attorneys, but not all) and writes Advisory Opinions for all to read.  Anyone, ABA member or not, can submit a question.  The opinions, numbered by date, are listed on the page—there’s only 17 of them—and are fun and educational to read in no particular order. (PDF format for download)


One of the best books on the mediation experience—written for mediators about the process experience—is a collection of essays by mediators called “Bringing Peace Into the Room.”  (Daniel Bowling and Davide Hoffman, editors, John Wiley & Sons, 2003, 310 pp).  Through 13 chapters contributed by a roster of wise mediators, the book sheds light on how an individual mediator’s way of mediating can impact the experience of the disputants in the room.  It sounds obvious.  Yes, it matters what the mediator does and who she is.  Yet the analysis of what is hard to describe is fascinating.  It touches on the “heart of the mystery of mediation.”  (Thanks, Gary Friedman).  Examples of chapters:

  • Ken Cloke (one of my favorites, and the author of many books, including “Mediating Dangerously”) has written about “What are the personal qualities of a mediator?”  (He calls it their “presence”.)
  • Richard Benjamin from the Straus Institute has written a chapter called “Managing the natural energy of conflict: mediators, tricksters, and the constructive uses of deception.”  Wait, I thought mediators wanted to discourage deception and advocated transparency!  But what about the “tricks” involved in reframing, and structuring the process?  How does the mediator use methods to help, not trick, but still bust through boundaries?
  • Another mediator, Michelle LeBaron, has written about “Trickster, mediator’s friend”, describing mediators as boundary crossers, with a skill of “stepping over fences and deep trenches” in the conflict.  (She has written extensively on the design of the conflict resolution process and multiculturalism in mediation practice.)
  • Lois Gold, one of the founders of the Academy of Family Mediators,  has written, “Mediation and the culture of healing,” bringing in the topic of spirit, higher consciousness, and relational fields to help clients find their inner wisdom out of the conflict they are experiencing.  Again, the presence of the mediator is all important.
  • Long associated with the George Mason ICAR program, Sara Cobb wrote a chapter, “Creating sacred space: toward a second-generation dispute resolution practice.”

Reading this book, whether from cover to cover or piecemeal, is a delight, and offers beginners and experienced mediators an opportunity for self-reflection and discussion on how the neutral presence intentionally changes the conflict.  Examining this allows the practitioner to be more clear about what works and what doesn’t for that specific case.  What a good book for a mediator book group to take on! Highly recommended by Jackie.

P.S. Use Amazon Smile and donate to CMC while buying your books!