2019 ADR AWARDS - Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

 

2019 ADR AWARDS

 

 The Secretary of Vetrans Affairs
Alternative Dispute Resolution Awards

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 Thursday, May 30, 2019.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Excellence Awardees

 

Jason C. McClellan, Muskogee, Ok, VARO

Category: Individual Effort by a Senior Executive

Jason C. McClellan, Muskogee, Ok, VARO

As the Veterans Benefits Administration’s only regional benefits office whose workforce is not represented by an employee union, Muskogee management and employees have taken a consistent and proactive approach to identifying and addressing issues of workplace conflict. Despite being VA’s largest regional benefits office, with an authorized staffing ceiling of 1,487 employees, the office has received no formal EEO complaints, and only one informal EEO complaint (which was withdrawn), during the past two fiscal years. By focusing on two-way communication between employees and managers, the office has preserved the legacy of a shared responsibility for ensuring a workplace that is free from discrimination, values diversity, and mission-focused. As a result, potential disputes are openly expressed, elevated to the appropriate official, and immediately addressed with the goal of meeting shared expectations for the workplace environment. Efforts using the Employee Solutions Council, Senior Leadership, and Choose VA SharePoint Site, allowed the office to preserve valuable resources verses using protracted mediation or the court system. The office’s focus on two-way dialogue and transparent actions supporting recommended solutions permitted the office to support a workplace not focused on disputes, but on the shared mission of service to Veterans.

 

Paula Webb, West Haven VAMC, CT

Category: Individual Effort by a Manager

Paula Webb, West Haven VAMC, CT

Ms. Webb is the first voice of reason an individual hears when going through disputes. She is a certified facilitator who ensures that all are trained and understands the ADR process, how to resolve issues at the lowest level possible, and how it benefits VA Connecticut. Ms. Webb works closely with the Unions, HR, and supervisors providing EEO and ADR training at new employee orientation; quarterly training for all managers, explains how having monthly staff meetings helps to reveal and resolve issues. She tries to deal with all electronic messages and telephonic calls in a timely fashion. Her efforts to foster an environment of change in 2017 aided the agency to hit a high 71 percent Informal EEO Complaint resolution rate, and at 59.9 days, achieved VISN (1)’s lowest number of ADR resolution processing days. Ms. Webb was instrumental in developing home-grown certified mediators to gain faster scheduling turnaround time. Since 2009, she has been the site coordinator for CREW. Ms. Webb demonstrates ORM’s mission by being proactive against discrimination. Her numbers clearly indication that she is creating an environment of care.

 

Steven Goldman, ADR Specialist 

Category: Individual Effort by a Certified Neutral

Steven Goldman, ADR Specialist, Saint Petersburg, FL

Steven Goldman forged solid relationships with ADR coordinators, EEO managers, union officials, program assistants, and other stakeholders across the enterprise by promoting collaboration and ADR usage in early attempts at resolving concerns. Of 138 EEO and Workplace Dispute (WPD) cases mediated, he resolved 95, a 69 percent EEO and 100 percent WPDs resolution rate, far exceeding the 50 percent metric. Mr. Goldman’s efforts in 2017 resulted in cost savings avoidance of $1,953,000 with over $9,100,000 over the last five fiscal years. For the fourth consecutive year, he achieved a 99.2 percent overall positive ADR Tracker Customer Service Mediator Report Card satisfaction rating, surpassing the 91 percent combined average of all VA mediators. Mr. Goldman’s advocacy and marketing of virtual and video-telephonic mediations to facility leaders increased the usage to 51, over 25 percent increase from 2016, with over $26,000 dollars of travel cost savings to the government. He periodically submits articles for the ORM ADR Newsletter and other mainstream mediation forums, developed the Five Pillars of Successful Interaction in the Workplace training model, and for the second consecutive year became a mentor for ORM’s Mentorship Program. Mr. Goldman is a genuine role model for others to emulate.

 

Kimberly Jacobs, Attorney, Office of General Counsel

Category: Individual Effort by An Office of General Counsel Employee

Kimberly Jacobs, Attorney, Office of General Counsel, CT

Kimberly Jacobs’ uses her skills and knowledge to ensure that the letter of the law is followed so that VA Connecticut is represented in the best way possible. She works with the EEO Manager in discussion of discrimination, hostile work environment, and reasonable accommodations, and gives legal advice to supervisors who concerns may need to be rectified at the lowest level possible. Even though Ms. Jacobs technically represents the agency, she has shown herself to be fair when assessing different cases. Her guidance assists them to not overstep their boundaries and stay on the right path. She is always willing to call back and send e-mails in a timely manner. She is an advocate for change and totes the same mantra wherever she goes: ADR can help resolve issues, choose ADR. She has worked with EEO, human resources (HR) and the Unions in ensuring that ADR is used throughout. With Ms. Jacob’s help in 2017, the agency hit a high of 71 percent resolution rate for informal EEO complaints using ADR.

 

The Iowa City VA Healthcare System (IC/HCS) ADR Workgroup/Team

Category: Team - Workplace ADR Program

The Iowa City VA Healthcare System (IC/HCS) ADR Workgroup/Team. The Iowa City VA Healthcare System Members include: Veronica Jackson-Patrick, Program Analyst, Laura Kaha, Health Care Technician, Lisa Riehle, Program Application Specialist, Miriam Meyer, Psychologist, Melinda Welbes, Program Analyst, Lindsey Rhoades, EC&R Supervisor, and Carol Hardie, Dental Assistant

Between March 2017 and 2018, the team coordinated and initiated new collateral-duty mediator training for approximately 38 VISN 23 employees, which were used to increase communications and bolstered a high level of trust with the VA staff. The team’s recognition of conflict as an effective means to preventing disputes from escalating to higher levels and to patient care helped to prevent and mitigate hostile work environments. In October 2017, they presented to the 120 Supervisory Forum Team to promote the ADR program, their awareness efforts, increased mediations and from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2017, resolution rates have increased from 68 percent to 76 percent, and failure to come to resolution during a session has decreased from 2.3 percent to 1.3 percent. In fiscal year 2018, the resolution rate remains high at 81 percent. The ADR Team conducted climate assessments for troubled units and staffs, allowing their voices to be heard. They meet every other month to debrief, discuss lessons learned, and provide continuous mediator training for the team. The team educate staff and leadership via presentations on EEO and ADR at monthly supervisory and employee forums, service line meetings/trainings, and at new employee orientation.