What Now? PEACE Now!

| April 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

If we need a little hope for the world, we could consider that at the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC), the organization that selects the awardees for their annual Peacemaker event, always have plenty of excellent choices. And, says CEO Steve Dinkin, “It’s our mission and pleasure to honor our ‘peacemakers’ and hope they lead folks everywhere to solving problems via mediation – a vital, proven process for managing conflict without rancor, without broken relationships.”

The 2016 Peacemakers are: actor Richard Dreyfuss, the National honoree, recognized for his Dreyfuss Civic Initiative, where youths learn the importance of civil discussion and critical thinking; Linda and Mel Katz, community leaders who have earned the Philanthropy in Peacemaking Award; and, for the local award, “Reclaiming the Community,”  a music project produced by the Pipeline Project Musicians in southeast San Diego,  which has helped to foster positive change in the historically disenfranchised community.

Carol and Jeffrey Chang are honorary chairs for the 28th Annual Peacemarker Awards.

Carol and Jeffrey Chang are honorary chairs for the 28th Annual Peacemarker Awards.

NCRC has also named Carol and Jeffrey Chang Honorary Chairs a dynamic couple devoted to promoting civility in all aspects of our society. Among other activities, Carol chairs the UCSD Foundation, and heads the Balboa Park Conservancy; Jeffrey is Professor Emeritus and former head of the Reproductive Endocrinology Division, School of Medicine at UCSD.

Carol Chang and I had a talk:

LW: How had your career in Health Sciences informed the impressive volunteer work you’ve done here; the Balboa Park Conservancy – and now, co-honorary chair with Jeffrey, of NCRC’s Peacemaker Awards?

CC: My education (psychology and public health) led me to a career in healthcare delivery and organizational behavior. On moving to San Diego and taking early retirement (so Jeff and I could live together – we’d been at different UC campuses for the first four years of our marriage.), I decided to see if the volunteer world would have a place for me, to engage my interest and skills – primarily in education and science.

LW: How did you two connect with NCRC?

CC: Elaine Galinson and I served on the UCSD Foundation Board. Through that exposure, I recognized the amazing work that Murray and Elaine had done in this community. It is hard to be involved here and not become aware of Murray’s legacy. In any case, Elaine introduced me to UC’s campus civility program (initially funded by them and operated by NCRC). From both Jeff and I having worked in higher education, but also being exposed to undergrads and campus life, a program focused on teaching civility was really on the mark. Giving students opportunities to learn how to listen, to solve problems, to resolve conflicts without anger, alienation, etc. – well, we hope the program will become part of UCSD’s curriculum. The impact from the participating students is just inspiring. I’m happy to be an advocate/broker to ensure that the program continues to thrive.

LW: Tell us about the program– serving student/faculty? Who are the mediators? Any outcomes to report?

CC: Right now, UCSD’s program only serves students, but there is an interest in eventually serving faculty and administrators. NCRC provides trained mediators, and along with Student Affairs leaders, are tracking outcomes.

LW: Have you used, or had any experiences with mediation in your own careers, in your own lives?

CC: In my professional career, I’ve been a facilitator in organizational behavior, and have worked with outside mediators to effect change with numerous organizations.

LW: As honorary chairs, have you had any input into the choice of this year’s Peacemakers? What are you thought about their merit?

CC: The choices were strictly an NCRC board decision. That said, we’re delighted that Mel and Linda Katz were chosen as the community philanthropists. We look forward, too, to hearing from the musicians as well as Richard Dreyfuss.

LW: You describe your volunteer work as “So much fun!” Dies it qualify for “leisure” as well?

CC: That is an insightful question! I do think there is an element of leisure in volunteer work: it stimulates but relaxes, engages – yet enables me to control my schedule. So we do have time for theater, reading, travel, and fortunately, we do lots of it.

The 28th Annual Peacemaker Awards will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m., Thursday, April 14, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine. RSVP: Heidi Stafford: 619-238-2400, ext. 222, or hstafford@ncrconline.com.

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