The story of the Independence-Kansas City Community Mediation Center (CMC) began 20 years ago, with two women, Sandee Gamet and Diane Kyser. Beginning in Iowa, the two friends enrolled in an intensive, week- long mediation course, then, after two years of going to every conflict resolution training and event they could find and afford, founded and managed a mediation center for about 10 years. In 1998 Diane’s husband’s job moved the family to Independence, and, coincidently Sandee moved at about the same time to take the job of Peace Building Specialist at the Community of Christ Headquarters.
Very soon, Diane’s energetic nature propelled her to build another non-profit from scratch. Sandee served, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors, and the mediation center has been growing ever since then. During the first few years, Diane augmented a master’s degree in education by obtaining a master’s degree in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University, and her ability to offer a wider range of conflict resolution processes and practices expanded. In 2011, with dedication from all 8 staff members, CMC served 10,386 people with conflict resolution processes, increasing 65% in just two years.
Serving clients using a sliding fee scale, about half of those served, are low income individuals and families. Diane is known for recognizing opportunities to bring restorative processes to conflict situations. With staff, many quality volunteers and a dedicated 12 person Board of Directors, she has worked tirelessly to further the reach of mediation and alternative conflict resolution processes to everyone seeking assistance with harmful conflict. Schools, neighborhoods, families, landlords and tenants and churches find help at CMC.
In January, the Independence Human Relations Commission honored Diane with the Martin Luther King award, recognizing her efforts to help conflict parties create peaceful plans to move forward, with a focus on repairing relationships whenever possible.
In March Diane received the Jackson County Inter-Agency Council award for Humanitarian of the year, and fittingly, Sandee Gamet made the introduction. In her acceptance speech, Diane recognized all of the agencies present for bringing competent, compassionate service to those in need in the community. She went on to say, “We walk with all those in need from a place of mutuality, recognizing that we are them and they are us; that we all are of worth and that in our interdependence we are all enriched by the love and goodness in each of us”.
Recognition for a life spent supporting others through difficult times, with graceful tenacity. The peace party is in full swing at CMC!
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