A native of Colombia, Catalina Chaux-Echeverri has been an active member of the MBBI network since 2013 and is a Co-Leader of the MBBI-Colombia Project. She is an accredited lawyer, professional coach, and an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) specialist working to end the cycles of violence in communities by focusing on the youth.

Every seed that you plant is huge, never underestimate the power of positive connections to the newer generations. So, embrace your dreams and make them happen!

Catalina is a trilingual mediator bridging the cultural gaps between Latin and Northern America. She now lives in Canada and works with three separate youth-based organizations to impact the lives of children positively from the outset, teaching valuable skills of intercultural understanding, resilience, and conflict management skills. “You can’t bubble wrap conflicts. Instead, find ways to provide growth and learning opportunities. This is so beneficial to long-term development.”

Finding Common Grounds.

From the differences, we can build bridges and be stronger.

These mantras guide her coaching practice, CHECS Consulting Services, where she focuses entirely on resolving conflicts with an emphasis on cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence is the “awareness of what local communities need and making the finding of local solutions to local problems a priority.” Coming from a unique cultural background herself, she highlights the necessity of understanding the nuances of the community mediators work in.

Catalina Chaux-Echeverri with Andean Region ITI graduates

For example, the phrase “Remove the gloves/the gloves are coming off” in a Northern American context encourages the sides to “go and fight.” Whereas the same phrase in a Latin American context means, “stop fighting and put away the aggressiveness.” This phrase has opposite meanings and so finding the correct types of dialogue is crucial in the mediation settings Catalina works in. Being of this combination of backgrounds has helped her immensely as she is able to focus her conflict management skills on finding the common ground.

This example of the cultural difference is why Catalina has thrived as a coach. She is aware of the cultural dimensions of the conflict and the nuance of each position. Her mediation ability revolves around strong, direct language. “Coaching is a process to give people a moment to reflect on their strengths and choices and think how to gain awareness and to be more effective and successful.” The emphasis on cultural intelligence, languages, nuances, and norms mirrors Catalina’s cultural blend and is how she credits her success as an impactful mediator.

Youth in Mediation

Her mediation, conflict management, and coaching largely focus on youth. She is an active member of three youth-oriented projects in Toronto: LOVE, PACT, and Shift Happens. Leave Out Violence (LOVE) is a community-based program that focuses on art, leadership, and outreach to prevent violence in schools and youth centers. Participation Acknowledgment Commitment Transformation (PACT), Urban Peace Program supports and empowers underserved, marginalized, and at-risk young people as well as youth already in conflict with the law. Shift Happens is a program that aims to ignite and support a sustainable shift in perspective the way youth perceive themselves, make choices, connect with their environment, and lead their lives, using coaching as mail tool

In each of these three organizations, Catalina lends her extensive mediation, ADR and coaching background to provide youth with a positive “GPS for their life through social responsibility coaching.” Specifically, for PACT, she started as a restorative justice practitioner and coach and is now a manager of the coaching program providing tangible skills, learning objectives, and outcomes that are critical to the lifelong success of youth.

Catalina’s biggest driving force is socially-responsible mediation and coaching practices. LOVE, PACT, and Shift Happens, she said, provide her the outlet to continue to give back to her community.

Informal mediations, interventions, facilitation, and coaching can be more powerful and impactful in a young person’s life than formal sessions, and these programs are successful for emphasizing the multitudes of ways to positively impact future generations.

Article by Ben Lutz, MBBI Peace Synergist Writer.