Members Spotlight: Suzanna Norbeck

Suzi-Norbeck-06-06-15It is well known that mediators are excellent communicators, but what often distinguishes first-class professionals from the rest of the pack is their level of empathy. It amplifies their persuasiveness which then flows through their communications, whether or not they know you. That was my first clue that Suzi (or Suzanna Norbeck) – one of Mediators Beyond Borders’ (MBB) founding members – was one of them. Her warmth transpired through our emails and conversations, despite the 1000s of kilometres between us.

Suzi got involved with mediation early in life, after first becoming an attorney, by setting up her own practice in 1992 in family mediation. Helping to support MBB’s focus on building local skills for peace and promoting mediation worldwide, her experience has been both domestic and international. Added to this expertise, she has directed the Rhode Island Foreign Policy program for five years and participated in exchanges with mediators across the globe. She is currently involved with the UN Conference on Climate Change through MBB, which looks to educate and inform delegates about mediation in the context of climate change-related conflicts, and encourage them to include mediation as a dispute resolution procedure in the final accords.

MBB is an important network for mediators, and a necessary tool to promote and help the growth of the practice globally. This was one of Suzi’s objectives when she joined the organization, as she strongly believes in mediation as an effective tool for solving conflict. The Membership Committee on which she serves is very active, constantly trying to ensure members get what they need from the organization. MBB works hard to build up and strengthen the profession, offering frequent and high quality training and skills sharing or networking events.

The organization has excellent mediation trainers says Suzi, who herself co-created and conducted a 40 Hour basic Mediation Training program. ‘MBB has amazing members and I am thrilled to connect with them and welcome them to Mediators Beyond Borders’ she adds.

Her years of experience have enabled her to quickly identify those with the necessary traits: ‘A good mediator has exceptional listening skills, puts judgment aside so he/she can be unbiased and helps each party to engage totally in the mediation process so that the process really does become theirs. Transformative Mediation helps to make that happen’. With so much experience under her belt, Suzi is well positioned to guarantee that MBB’s membership helps develop excellence in the profession for years to come.

She applies an all-encompassing approach when it comes to who should join the mediation family. A good example of this is how she recently gathered members’ interests in an online Peer Mediation and/or Juvenile Victim/Offender Mediation group. While many would think first and foremost about the legal skill, she insists that non-legal mediators bring a lot to the process as well. ‘All want to help bring about peace and harmony in the world! My advice to those from various non-legal backgrounds who want to become mediators is: “Go for it!”

I asked Suzi what else made MBB unique, as there are quite a few mediation networks out there, but was won over by her response:

As a member of several local, state and national mediation organizations, I can report that MBB is unique in that it has members from many countries around the world. We come from diverse cultures and diverse religions, bringing varied expertise and experience to mediation. We each have our own flavour which we share with colleagues at our international Congresses and take home to our respective communities.’

To me that says it all for MBB. It is a forward-looking organization created and sustained by progressive people like Suzi.

“Resolving disputes in peaceful ways is what I think most folks really want”

Indeed, Suzi personally welcomes every new MBB member herself either by phone, skype or email. No doubt she will be kept busy as MBB grows each week with new members from around the world looking to train as mediators and promote peace around the world.

By Florence de Vesvrotte