2012 ADR AWARDS - Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
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Veterans Crisis Line Badge

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)



Confidentiality in ADR

ADR Awards


The Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Alternative Dispute Resolution Award



The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Excellence Awards Program was established in April 2007.  The Program emphasizes the importance of effectively managing conflict and resolving disputes, thereby saving time and resources.  Below are the ADR award winners that were recognized on October, 2012.



Alternative Dispute Resolution Excellence Awardees




Category A: Individual Effort by an Employee

Ms. Elizabeth Jenkins, ADR Program Manager,
VA Medical Center (VAMC), St. Louis, Missouri

VA St. Louis Health Care System's ADR program has been proactive in resolving Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints. During the past 3 years, the resolution rate at this facility has exceeded the VA-wide goal of 50 percent reaching 56 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2011. Ms. Jenkins has worked diligently to ensure timely mediations as evidenced in the number of days to schedule mediations decreasing from approximately 90 days in FY 2009 to 51 days in FY 2011. She provides a thorough explanation of the ADR process to ensure parties are well prepared to resolve their complaint. Ms. Jenkins ensures that all settlement agreements are reviewed by regional counsel prior to the signature of the Medical Center Director. The relationship established between the Medical Center Director and the regional counsel has had a positive impact on the timely resolution of many EEO and non-EEO workplace disputes.



Category B: Individual Effort by a Manager

Ms. Judith A. Burke, Associate Director,
Patient Care Services, Eastern Colorado
Health Care System, Denver, Colorado.

Ms. Burke is being recognized for her leadership in maintaining a positive work environment in patient care services. She uses strategic goals and objectives as tools to ensure the effective utilization of ADR throughout her service. Her effective management of conflict and focus on early resolution ensured that a wide perspective of thoughts are incorporated into addressing issues and concerns involved in planning and delivering the highest quality health care to our nation's Veterans. Ms. Burke is a great example for leadership throughout VA for emphasizing the importance of ADR and demonstrating on a daily basis an unprecedented commitment to ADR that fosters an atmosphere supportive of employee satisfaction and engagement.


Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Regional Office, Muskogee, Oklahoma. In the picture from left to right Kathy Wentzel, VR&E Office; Lynda Armstrong, SSD Chief; Eddie Keefe, Chief Information Officer; Phyllis Curtis, EDU Officer; Jason McClellan, RO Director; Emily Wilson, Lead CAREA Management Analyst; Judy Sikes, Asst. Director; Tim Clark, VSC Manager; Linda Pinto, Asst. Director; and Debbie Salmon, HR Liaison.

Category C: Workplace ADR Program Recognition

Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
Regional Office, Muskogee, Oklahoma

Many conflicts arise as a result of a breakdown in communication. To prevent avoidable conflict or disputes, it is important to ensure that communication takes place as frequently and effectively as possible. The Muskogee leadership team recognized and discussed this important issue at the beginning of FY 2012. The team developed 10 supervisory themes in FY 2012 and encouraged all supervisors to embrace, embody, and promote a culture that values open communication and respectful support for all employees. These 10 themes emphasized communication between management and regional office employees and stressed the importance of tone and consistency of the message. Some examples of these 10 themes are: being visible to employees, setting the right example, meeting with employees face-to-face, going to employees for suggestions and ideas to tackle work problems, having open discussions regarding general complaints or concerns, stressing a community view of the workplace by fostering higher interpersonal interaction with team members and staff, and sharing information with employees as frequently as possible.



Category D: Certified Neutral Recognition

Ms. Suzanne Fry,
Information Technology Specialist,
Office of Information Technology, Boise, Idaho.

Ms. Fry has been a VA certified neutral for the past 2 years, during which time she successfully mediated eight cases, six of which were EEO complaints. Ms. Fry's mediation services have been characterized as "exceptional" at the Boise VAMC where the majority of her mediations are conducted. On multiple mediation process assessment forms, both representatives of labor and management gave high praise to Ms. Fry's impartiality and the efficient and effective manner in which she would guide the discussion keeping it on-point and productive. It is abundantly clear from speaking with her peers, and from the many letters of thanks that Ms. Fry receives, that she has played a vital role in the fair, efficient, and effective resolution of workplace disputes and EEO complaints.


Category E: An Office of
General Counsel Employee Recognition

Ms. Nicole K. Price,
General Attorney,
Region 5, Decatur, Georgia.

Ms. Price was able to suggest and assist in implementing a superior reporting method for the Office of General Counsel (OGC) to report its ADR activity to ORM. Paper reports were filled out by the ADR Regional Coordinators and either faxed or scanned into an e-mail report. This report, typically 320 pages, was accumulated on a semi-annual and annual basis and submitted to ORM. Ms. Price designed a prototype model wherein ADR Regional Coordinators could go directly to a central OGC ADR SharePoint site and enter ADR reporting data on the site after each ADR activity was completed. The ORM office no longer has to manually input updated ADR reports. Hundreds of pages of hard copy reports have been eliminated, and timely monthly reports are now readily available. Ms. Price developed the solution on her own initiative and tested the prototype in Region 5 before recommending implementation throughout OGC. Her implemented recommendation has saved copying resources and time and has led to more timely and complete ADR reporting.



Category F:
A Senior Executive Service Official Recognition

Ms. Marilyn Iverson, Director,
Veterans Canteen Service (VCS),
St. Louis, Missouri.

Senior-leadership support is necessary for an ADR program to succeed. When senior-level managers endorse ADR processes and principles, lower level managers are more likely to employ ADR. A critical step in garnering leadership support is fostering awareness and confidence in ADR systems.  No one understands this better than Ms. Iverson. In 2010, she mandated that all supervisors in the VCS attend the Justice Center of Atlanta Training (JCA) for Senior Leaders, “Managing Conflict and Resolving Disputes through Mediation” coordinated through ORM. VCS exhibited the highest leadership commitment among all program offices (and administrations) by having 71% of its leaders participate in the training. The VCS Director, who attended the training and mandated all VCS managers attend, likely aided VCS' results. Upon training completion in FY 2010, significant and positive changes in VCS occurred from FY 2010 to FY 2012 including: a 35 percent decline in informal and formal EEO complaint activity, a resolution rate exceeding the VA-wide goal of 50 percent, a 30 percent increase in ADR participation, and a reduction in average processing time for ADR cases from 90 to 50 days.



Category G:
An ADR Committee/Council/ Forum Recognition

VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System's (VAPHS)

The VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System's (VAPHS) Labor Management Forum was established in the winter of 2011 in response to Executive Order 13522. Since the inception of the Labor Management Forum, VAPHS and the American Federation of Government Employees locals 2028 and 3344 have partnered to discuss and resolve mutual problems affecting employees and have generated ideas to improve the work environment. VAPHS's Labor Management Forum has discussed and resolved many workplace disputes and taken an additional significant and important step in marketing and communicating the use and benefits of ADR through training on the Master Agreement, specifically the Article related to ADR.


Additional 2012 ADR Awards Photos