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K-State Today

April 21, 2017



McCants and O'Conner bring home the Acorn Award

By Anne Rubash

O'Conner; Art Thompson, former State of Kansas dispute resolution director; and McCants, current HMA board member.

Terrie R. McCants, conflict resolution program director and clinical associate professor, and Nancy O'Conner, director of the K-State Family Center Clinic and clinical associate professor, received the Acorn Award from Heartland Mediators Association on April 7. 

The Acorn Award is presented to honor members of the Heartland Mediators Association who have contributed extensively to the field of mediation and to the association. McCants and O'Conner were recognized for their roles in conceptualizing and then implementing Riley·Geary Domestic Mediation Services at K-State. 

"Terrie and I were surprised and honored by the recognition from Heartland Mediators Association. Mediation is such an important service to provide for families who navigate divorce — often a painful process," O'Conner said. "Riley·Geary Domestic Mediation Services also provides for the development of future mediators with state-approved mediators who mentor, support and are committed to meeting the needs of both the student mediators and families."

Riley·Geary Domestic Mediation Services helps parents make sound decisions regarding the co-parenting of their children. The goal of third party mediation is to provide children the opportunity to develop and maintain positive relations with each of their parents, postdivorce, through the development of a mutually acceptable parenting plan. Mediators assist parents through helping define key issues, clarify communications and develop possible alternatives or solutions. 

In summer 2013, McCants and O'Conner identified three distinct community needs: affordable, quality domestic mediation services; a process to locally educate experienced, state-approved mediators; and the ability to provide K-State students in conflict resolution with hands-on learning opportunities. A pilot domestic mediation program was initiated through a collaboration between the Kansas Supreme Court's Advisory Council on Dispute Resolution, the judges in the 21st and 8th judicial districts; and K-State conflict resolution faculty. The success of the pilot in the first year resulted in a unanimous decision to move it forward with permanent status as Riley·Geary Domestic Mediation Services. 

Heartland Mediators Association is a not-for-profit organization that brings together individuals in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and surrounding states who share a common interest in mediation as an alternate form of dispute resolution.  

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