26th Annual OMA Fall Conference
The Alchemy of Conflict Resolution:
Transforming Leadership in Challenging Times
Ambridge Event Center
OMA was pleased to welcome Michelle LeBaron, JD, MA
Michelle LeBaron is an internationally renowned scholar and practitioner. She currently serves as a Professor of Law and Director of the Dispute Resolution Program at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada.
She has done influential work in many areas including inter-cultural, international, family and commercial conflict resolution. In 2003, she joined the Faculty of Law after twelve years teaching at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and the Women's Studies program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. From 1990-1993, she directed the Multiculturalism and Dispute Resolution Project at the University of Victoria.
Professor LeBaron has lectured and consulted around the world on cross-cultural conflict resolution, and has practiced as a family law and commercial mediator. Creativity, leadership, cultural fluency and collaboration are the focus of Michelle LeBaron’s work.
Her current research explores the arts and contemplative practices as vital resources for transforming cross-cultural conflicts. Together with Professor Carrie MacLeod, she recently completed a research project entitled CRANE: Conflict Resolution, Arts and Intercultural Experience, which involved artists, conflict resolution practitioners and members of diverse communities in addressing intractable conflict using the arts. Professor LeBaron’s current work, Dancing at the Crossroads, explores dance and movement as resources for bringing people together across historical divides.
Her books include Bridging Troubled Waters: A New Approach for a Changing World and Conflict Across Cultures: A Unique Experience of Bridging Differences, the product of collaboration among five authors on four continents.
Conference Theme: The Alchemy of Conflict Resolution: Transforming Leadership in Challenging Times
As we approached the 2012 OMA Fall Conference, we were mindful that, in an election year, our country continues to face challenging issues: too many people out of work, high foreclosure rates and a struggling economy in need of consumer confidence. Agreements seem illusive as we search to find ways to repair an aging infrastructure, improve our schools and provide health care at the same time we worry about our increasing debt.
These, and other seemingly intractable problems, challenge us to find common ground, bridge ideological differences and search for effective and lasting solutions. In order to resolve these issues, there is a great need for meaningful and inclusive dialogue.
In this age of instant communication, it is easy to become discouraged by the cacophony of daily sound bites that blame “the opposition” for the failure to make any progress on resolving the hard issues of our times. Yet, examples of effective leadership can be found. In Oregon’s recent legislative session, we saw the passage of health care and education reform bills as well as a bill that offers mediation in housing foreclosures. In our work as facilitators and mediators, we have helped people resolve issues that seem irresolvable, from angry divorcing couples to major environmental challenges. Victims and offenders develop creative restitution agreements. Landlords and tenants work out arrangements around housing. Contentious legal entanglements have been resolved with our skillful leadership.
Our 2012 conference theme encouraged us to consider how conflict resolution contributes to transforming leadership and our role as leaders in these challenging times. Alchemy can be defined as “the seemingly miraculous change of a thing into lent itself to the art and science of our work: the mystery of how individuals relate to one another and the seemingly magical power of turning something as common as ordinary discourse into something extraordinary.
As we explore workshop ideas, we invited you to consider these definitions of leadership: translating vision into reality (Bennis); the realization of intended, real change that meets people’s enduring needs (Burns); creating the environment within which things can be accomplished (Richards & Engle). We can, through our leadership, provide the alchemy, that seemingly miraculous change of a thing into something better.