Following a Gifted Leader

We are all familiar with the phrase “bitter- sweet”.  I’ve experienced it deeply several times.  When my daughter left for university in Montreal, 1,373.93 miles from home, I was elated that she was beginning an exciting life journey, and I missed her so much I physically ached at times.  It was difficult yet necessary, sad yet joyous.

At the Community Mediation Center, we are experiencing a “bitter- sweet” transition.  Our Founder and Executive Director, Diane Kyser, will retire after 12 years of dedicated service to the organization.  More than a director, Diane is a mentor and teacher for staff and volunteers at CMC, and for many other Restorative Justice and Conflict Resolution practitioners in the Kansas City area.

Six years ago, I met Diane at the Community of Christ Peace Colloquy in Independence, Missouri. The keynote speaker was Howard Zehr, a professor at Eastern Mennonite University, where I had just begun a graduate program in Conflict Transformation.  Coincidently, Diane was completing the same graduate program; there was an instant and strong connection.  After hearing Diane give a brief presentation about mediation, I approached her and asked if I could “follow her around”.  We set a time for me to come see the mediation center, meet the staff, and find a way to plug in.

I soon realized that Diane has a ‘find an open door and walk through it’ philosophy.  Even with the tough, Midwest mentality toward crime and wrongdoing, CMC had forged connections with adult and juvenile courts, schools, churches, and public offices.  With the acquisition of a Federal grant to do work in schools, I was hired part time to help with that effort.

Through the years, I learned the inner workings of a non-profit organization.  Grant- writing, public speaking, group facilitation, the practice of mediation, financial planning, and networking; Diane guided me through insecurities and missteps along the way. CMC is thriving today because of Diane’s dedication to the core concepts of peace building and careful planning for the future of the organization.

As I continue the job Diane began, her expertise of 25 years will not go untapped.  While not involved with administration at the mediation center, and we all feel that loss, she will continue to train, teach and mediate regularly.  All who know and support the mission of CMC, old friends and new friends, please take a moment with us to reflect on past accomplishments and celebrate future possibilities!

Your comments are welcome.


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